A Kolasinac-shaped left-back aside, this June was hardly flaming in the transfer department. July is where the action usually is, I tell myself, and it’s an opinion I can justify with the exciting and growing chatter about Lacazette.
However, there’s a lot of hot air out there when it comes to transfers, so I’ve put together a useful guide to navigating some of the well-worn phrases used almost uniquely during the summer months to tell us what’s really happening in the world of transfers.
1. Arsenal swoop on Nigel Dixon
Ah, the infamous ‘swoop’. The swoop is an elaborate high-risk technique used by teams to lure players away from teams desperate not to sell. The swoop needs to be quick and lightning-like, because by the time of the swoop, all other avenues have been closed.
It’s usually performed in a paraglider, though since Russian oligarchs parked their tanks on our lawns, the microlite has been known to be used, and some clubs are even trialling drones to perform this job in the future.
You can’t spirit these players away when they’re in their gilded mansions or locked away in their blacked-out Range Rovers – their clubs are wise to this – which is why you often see several paragliders circling in the thermals above swanky beach resorts or shopping streets, ready to swoop down, grab the required player and soar away to make them sign a contract.
2. Nigel Dixon issues a come-and-get-me-plea
The come-and-get-me-plea is part of the mundane bureaucracy of football. Should the club who hold the restless player’s registration refuse to budge, the next step is for the player himself to formalise his desire to leave. It’s quite straightforward and simply requires a trip to the Post Office (avoiding other clubs’ paragliders as you go). The come-and-get-me-plea is then duly filled in (with a black ball-point pen only, or it will be void), then issued by telegram to the club in question once the player has paid an administration fee of £5. A messenger in a peaked cap will then deliver the message in person to the manager of the club he wishes to join.
3. Arsenal have joined the race for Nigel Dixon
A physical challenge, this one. When more than one club is interested in a player, and the selling team or player can’t make their mind up who to sell to, it goes down to a 100m sprint. At Arsenal, in times gone by, Ken ‘Quickfoot’ Friar was known to be fast out the blocks, but since 1996 the long legs of Arsene Wenger have taken this role. He doesn’t like to delegate this task and is particularly proud of how he pipped the field to the line by a nose in 2013 to buy Mesut Ozil, despite spending most of the summer trying to find his running shoes.
4. Arsenal and Manchester City set to fight it out for Nigel Dixon
When all diplomacy fails, and money is not a factor, out come the fists. It won’t surprise you to hear that, despite hating confrontation, this task is another that Wenger is loathe to delegate to Steve ‘Bruiser’ Bould.
Back in the 90s and early 00s, Wenger was nimbler on his feet and would often find himself in the ring on his own, because nobody else knew about the player he was hoping to buy. TKO. But as his tenure has progressed, there are fewer unknown gems left in football so the boss has had to go against his better judgement and start jabbing with wily streetfighters. He’ll jab away forever to wear his opponent down (again, his long arms are a bonus here) but when it comes to the big slugs, he tends to get Bouldy to throw the towel in in the second round.
5. Nigel Dixon delivers a transfer ultimatum
No need to get the Post Office involved in this one – only the Foreign Office. The transfer ultimatum happens when things get political, and it’s just one step away from a transfer war. In practical terms, the ultimatum used to be delivered by a player to his manager using a battered red-leather diplomatic briefase attached to his wrist by a handcuff. These days it’s done using the ‘I want to leave now’ Snapchat filter.
6. Nigel Dixon just wants to concentrate on his football
Summer is not only for buying and selling, but for extending contracts too. But when a player doesn’t want to extend his contract, or is hoping for other clubs to swoop, join the race or fight it out for his signature, he needs a good excuse to delay things. He’s used ‘the dog ate my homework’ already, so it’s time for ‘I just want to concentrate on my football’. Given most players spend their summers taking selfies, and it only takes 10 minutes to tell your club what you intend to do anyway, and they have advisers and agents coming out their ears, this excuse stands pretty low on the credibility scale. So just in case his manager makes an impromptu visit to his player’s house to check upon this claim, the player will set up a football room where he amasses books about football history, swots up on the rules and watches old VHS tapes about the glory days of yore. The manager will be duly chastened and will leave impressed at his wantaway player’s dedication.
That’s your lot. I hope this has cleared some of the more confusing aspects of summer transfers. Roll on the new season.