Another January transfer window is over, with the mantra that players come at a premium in the winter perhaps putting off many clubs from making a season-defining move.
Financial fair play has ensured that plenty of book-balancing needs to take place before an outlay is made on buying a player. Before the deadline day, the only real major money move was Manchester City’s purchase of Swansea’s Wilfred Bony. And those anticipating a final blowout will have been disappointed, with Chelsea’s move for Cuadrado the only stand out signing.
Teams are under increased scrutiny in terms of their accounts, so finding a player that doesn’t cost a premium is a necessity. Did Manchester City and its Premiership rivals miss the chance of a bargain by looking for the right player abroad using currency conversion rates?
2014 saw a lot of movement in terms of currency values, as global economic recoveries moved at vastly different paces and played out in global FX trading. That means that clubs in some countries can take advantage of dominant currencies: whereas others can find purse strings tightened.
Sunderland spent much of January seeking out a striker, for instance, before identifying Jermain Defoe as the new man to lead their line. That deal went through on January 16 but if the deal had gone through eight days earlier, the pound would have been worth three cents less against the Canadian dollar. That might not sound like much, but if the deal to buy Defoe was worth £10 million (the actual fee is undisclosed) it would have amounted to a $300,000 increase in cost.
Sunderland shouldn’t be celebrating too much, however, as waiting a week to sign Jermain Defoe on January 23 could have saved them a further $400,000.
All in all, though, Canada’s economic recovery and ties to the USA have ensured that its currency has not moved too much against the pound over the past few months. Perhaps Arsenal and Leicester had a better idea by hunting for new talent in eastern Europe: buying Krystian Bielik and Andrej Kramaric from Poland and Croatia respectively.
Currencies have suffered in both countries recently – thanks to weakness from the eurozone, amongst other issues – to the point where buying a player in late January 2015 could represent a saving of over 10% when compared to January 2014. For the signing of Andrej Kramaric, that would amount to around 1.11 kuna more for every pound spent, or almost $10 million kuna saved in the transfer (or £970,000).
But the best deal a club could have found in January would have come from Russia. Well known problems with oil prices, sanctions and economic mismanagement caused a tumble in the value of the rouble before Christmas, and while the rouble has recovered somewhat it would still amount to a 70% saving year-on-year for much of January.
Clearly, then, there is a lot of value to be found in being choosy about where you buy your players from. In terms of scouting for a summer bargain, though, where should clubs begin looking now?
Currently the currency looking ahead with dread is the euro. A new bout of quantitative easing, bumpy roads to recovery and the possibility of a collapse have all rocked the single currency in 2015. At the moment, most commentators do not see the euro returning to strength any time soon, instead questioning when it might hit parity with the dollar. For British clubs that could mean bargains in Germany, France, Italy or Spain.