Tomorrow marks one week until the transfer window closes for English Premier League clubs this summer.
Last summer, Leeds United moved for Raphinha in the dying embers of the market’s operating hours, securing his signature in a £17 million deal from Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais.
As with most windows, the final week of transfer activity tends to be the most hurried and frantic as clubs jostle to land transfer targets before it’s too late.
Crucially though, there is another reason clubs behave so erratically in the closing stages of the transfer window and it is particularly relevant this time around.
Balance sheets across Europe have never looked as worrisome as they currently do. Clubs are still reeling from an 18-month period without matchday revenue and no reduction in their overheads.
Some organisations – including Leeds United – struck agreements with their playing staff to temporarily cut wages in order to stave off redundancies in other departments, but these reductions were far from permanent.
In short, clubs need money.
Throughout this summer’s window, there has been a marked reduction in mid-to-low level transfer fees being exchanged between clubs.
This has been attributed to a lack of liquidity within the market, meaning that clubs who wish to buy do not have the funds to meet the asking prices of clubs who want to sell.
But this impasse won’t last forever.
Buying clubs need players, otherwise they would not be targeting them, making enquiries and seeing derisory bids rejected.
Meanwhile selling clubs need cash, to abide by profit and sustainability rules and Financial Fair Play conditions.
Ordinarily, teams are only permitted to make a loss of €30 million over a three-year period under FFP.
This season, clubs are allowed to make losses in excess over that three-year period, provided they can show evidence the majority of these losses came from a drop in revenue.
At some point, asking prices will fall or buying clubs’ resolve will crumble, as they accept they will need to pay a premium to secure their man.
Leeds United are waiting for the former scenario to happen, not the latter.
The club have taken a strong stance: they are happy with this summer’s business, conducted promptly and for the most part, cheaply.
Murmurings within the fanbase have been discontented with just the three senior additions.
A replacement back-up goalkeeper and a player with already over 100 appearances accrued during a three-year loan spell are hardly moves to set pulses racing.
As demonstrated last summer though, Leeds’ finest piece of business was secured right at the death, after a phone call to Director of Football Victor Orta alerted him that Rennes were willing to offload Raphinha for a paltry £17 million.
Not even twelve months on, the Brazilian displayed yet again in the draw with Everton how his market value is at least twice that now.
As Sporting Directors across Europe feel the pressure to raise funds, asking prices will inevitably fall.
That is precisely what happened in Raphinha’s case, and with Orta’s breadth of contacts throughout the footballing world, he will almost certainly be informed if one of Leeds’ long-term targets is slapped with a ‘50% off – all stock must go‘ sticker.
Reading further into Leeds’ transfer stance this summer, at no point have the club insisted the shutters are down and they are closed for business.
They remain alert to potential transfer opportunities which will boost the overall quality of the starting XI and fall within a price range the club deem suitable for the player concerned.
It also goes without saying, any last-minute business would require the green light from Marcelo Bielsa.
Much like last summer, when the expectation was Leeds were done in the market, Orta leapt at the chance to add Raphinha.
As the chaos, impatience and acute financial pressure during the final week of the transfer market is felt, one phone call is all it would take to fire up Orta’s negotiating engines one final time in 2021.