As the shutters draw down inexorably towards the end of yet another ‘fun-filled’ transfer window, we learn once again what a complex and occasionally bewildering business this can be.
English clubs especially, now awash with wonga following the Premier League’s new television deal and therefore unable to plead poverty to their success hungry fans are beginnng to shop with the kind of commitment normally best demonstrated by crowds seen at Toys R Us one hour before closing on December 24.
Football enjoys good, bad, brilliant and indifferent times. These are the 'silly’ times. The 'who blinks first’ times. In fact, the sort of times when you get the impression that most fans are less interested in who is bought, as long as someone is.
A case in point is Lucas Perez. Last season he was offered to a number of Championship side who took a look at him and politely declined.
Over the last week or so Everton and Arsenal have been slugging it out among themselves to ascertain who would have the right to trigger his £17 million release clause that would see him leave Deportivo for the Premier League.
Everton looked to be in the pound seats until, according to some reports being leaked, negotiations became rather sticky because the Toffees did not want to work with the agent that had the mandate to sell the player to the blue side of Liverpool.
While the parties tried to resolve matters, Arsenal stepped into the breach, so by the time you read this, chances are that Snr Perez will probably have already held up a Gunners’ shirt brandishing his name.
Perez is indeed a fine player; a good finisher, hard worker and fast, although my only doubt is whether or not he will adapt to the Premier League.
I certainly hope he fits in better than his fellow Galician striker, Iago Aspas who never settled when he came to the Premier League to play for Liverpool and is now back home at his beloved Celta Vigo after a miserable time at Anfield.
Perez should fare better, not least because he has experience of playing abroad in Ukraine and Greece, but it is nonetheless a £17 million gamble from Arsenal. They wanted Lacazette (Lyon) but when they were quoted €55m they went for another option. I would be happy if my club decided not to participate in this crazy world that the football market has become.
Valencia is another example of how complex the transfer windows is becoming.
Pako Ayestaran announced to the media after Valencia’s 4-2 defeat at home to Las palmas that, “(Shkodran) Mustafi is not for sale and will not be leaving the club.”
Bearing in mind that he is almost certainly his best central defender, quite why he didn’t start the match with Mustafi in central defence instead of leaving him on the bench until the interval by which time the porous Valencia defence had already conceded three goals, is somethng that only he can really know.
If nothing else, the decision whether of his own making or one imposed on him by the club would certainly have told Arsenal in no uncertain terms that all talk about Mustafi not going anywhere was just that - talk. If they wanted him badly, his buy out clause is €50 milion, Arsenal were told
It now looks odds on that he is travelling as I write this to London for a fee that it is estimated could rise to around an eye-watering £35 million, €40 million. There seems to be two forces acting in Valencia, the owner (who is happy to sell their best assets) and the rest of the club.
Ditto the 'will he-won’t he’ move of Paco Alcácer, a move effectively brokered by the two chief honchos at the respective clubs (Peter Lim, Valencia’s owner and Josep Maria Bartomeu (Barcelona’s President).
What could be simpler? Well quite a lot actually. Valencia want to sell him because they need the money but don’t want to give Valencia’s passionate, though currently, less that 100% content supporters the impression that they want him to go.
Paco Alcácer has finally decided to 'get them out of jail’ and officially tell the club that he wants a move to Barcelona which now permits the club hierarchy to shrug their shoulders, raise both palms to the sky, go tut-tut, and reluctantly sanction a move.
Unfortunately, yet again, the last man seemingly to know is a justifiably irritated Pako who has summoned the striker for the match against Eibar saying that as far as he is concerned Alcácer is still a Valencia player and as such will pick him.
Needless to say Mustafi is not his squad - a squad that is currently being depleted by the day in front of his eyes.
Crazy days which bring to mind the wonderful pre-resignation quote from Geoffrey Howe on Margaret Thatcher who he accused of sabotaging his efforts on European negotiation.
“It’s rather like sending our opening batsmen to the crease only for them to find that before the first ball is bowled, their bats have been broken by the team captain.”
Pako Ayestaran will know exactly want he meant.