Transfer Deadline Day and early season internationals are contributing to player burnout with a rethink required.
There was an abundance of football during the Northern summer as the the Copa America Centenario and Euro 2016 played out. It gave fans something to amuse them until the club season started again. Then, barely a few weeks after the new season started, the top leagues in Europe were put on hold to accommodate a set of international fixtures. If that wasn't enough disruption, the transfer window slammed shut right in the middle of it all.
Despite all the concerns with player burnout and fixture congestion, these annual events seem to make a mockery of those concerns. It is counter-intuitive and both the transfer deadline and early season international break need a rethink.
There are two solutions.
One is to move the transfer deadline to before the season kicks off and the other is to move the September international break.
If the transfer window could be shortened so it closes before the season starts, clubs would adjust accordingly. The most organised clubs try to sign players as early as possible anyway so there is ample time for pre-season. The others would need to plan in advance and make sure that all business was conducted in time.
That said, there would still be panic buying on the eve of the season, it would just end as the season starts rather than a few games in and players would have certainty about where they would be playing, at least until the next transfer window.
In terms of the international break, players are unsettled by transfer speculation and aren’t able to focus on their performances for their countries. In some cases, they could leave to play for their national team and then return to a new club. It’s unfair and unnecessary and devalues those fixtures.
The September international break does no favours to the players. This season there was a major tournament in America and Europe. representing their countries so early into the new club season- with all the travel that that entails- contributes to player burnout and increases the chance of injury.
A compromise could be reached and it wouldn’t require much adjustment. The September internationals could be scrapped and replaced with a longer break in October. That way, the players get a longer period of time with their clubs at the start of the season therefore they wouldn’t have to travel twice to represent their countries. It would cut down on two travel days, which could allow more time for training and recovery. This is especially relevant to players that have to fly to other continents during these breaks.
While some might argue it would disrupt the club season too much and devalue international football, it would actually have the opposite effect. The clubs would get a smoother start to the season and the national team coaches would then get a longer period of time- albeit a little later in the season- to work with their players. It’s a win-win situation.