Connor Southwell: City aren’t a charity and have made their negotiating position on stars very clear
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It’s a compliment to City that Barcelona want Max Aarons but they are right not to just hand him over to the Spanish giants at a knockdown price, says Connor Southwell
Transfer windows are often unpredictable and complex periods, but that seems to intensify when underscored by a global pandemic - as Barcelona’s cheeky loan offer for Max Aarons graphically illustrates.
Norwich City’s youngsters have been the subjects of intense speculation ever since their Premier League relegation was confirmed - with some global powerhouses being linked alongside their names throughout the window to date.
You could have forgiven supporters for doing a double-take when they saw Barcelona’s name linked with Aarons. The sheer thought of a player exchanging Carrow Road for the Nou Camp seemed difficult to comprehend.
Every football fan has witnessed some iconic moments from some of the best players ever to grace the planet for that club either on video or in the flesh.
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Lionel Messi is football’s equivalent to a superstar - his brilliance is discussed in all four corners of the world by aspirational players hoping to follow in his footsteps.
The allure of that football club is overpowering - the history, tradition and rich success of that institution requires no description or need for a sales pitch.
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From Johan Cruyff’s dream team to Pep Guardiola’s tika-taka based squad full to the brim of technicians, along with unrivalled success comes generations of exquisite football that many players would dream of becoming associated with.
Often, when Barcelona come in for a player, the weight of their name and their financial muscle prove enough to make a deal happen.
The coronavirus pandemic has left numerous clubs looking to cut their cost and preserve the finances as they continue to suffer from the ramifications of behind closed doors football.
After a summer of playing tug of war with Messi, Barcelona are currently in a heated political situation as they continue their inquest to their failures in La Liga and the Champions League last season.
City, on the other hand, have seen plenty of churn in their squad. Eleven new faces have freshened Daniel Farke’s options and there is a feeling on newness in the current group.
Financially, the Canaries aren’t in a position whereby departing with their assets is a necessity. Instead, they hold the cards with those players in question signing long-term deals after promotion to the top-flight in 2019.
It would have been easy for the powers that be at Colney to become overawed by discussions with Barcelona - to crumble as Barca attempted to use their muscle to get Aarons to Catalonia.
City are no longer a club easy to negotiate with, they don’t buckle and accept below their asking price for a player who they have developed. Not even for Barcelona.
Whilst some national outlets have opted to cast the Canaries in the role of the antagonists for denying another one of their talents a ‘dream move’, the reality is a football club is run as a profitable business and not a charity.
Barcelona may be keen to exploit other clubs financial insecurity during a period of unprecedented proportions globally - but the resounding message from City is this: pay up or Aarons doesn’t go anywhere.
You can understand, given the current state of the market, why Barca wouldn’t want to commit a sizeable chunk of cash to securing Aarons’ signature given the uncertainty that is dominating everyone’s lives at present.
Football clubs, however big, will be affected in the same way as any business. With limited revenue streams conventionally supplied by match days, they have to cut their cloths accordingly.
That’s why a loan deal does make sense. But only with an obligation to buy.
If City were to loan Aarons to Barcelona with only an option to buy - then they are in a holding pattern, unable to invest in a replacement and Barca have the option to return to sender next summer.
That means City could see one of their prized assets stagnate on the bench without being compensated - his development stifled.
An obligation would give City clarity. They could dip into their budgets to sign a replacement with the assurance that the hole would be covered next summer.
The nature of transfer deals is that they get structured in instalments over three years commonly, so a loan with an obligation at the right price, would allow City to prepare at their end.
Whether it’s Barcelona or Burton Albion, City won’t shift from their position unless a deal they deem to be acceptable is reached.
As for Aarons, he is a 20-year-old who does possess humility, maturity and gratitude to the opportunity provided to him by City.
Under Webber, City will never be held to ransom - regardless of the calibre of side they find themselves negotiating with. But it is a testament to their youth development that a global institution is interested in one of their homegrown talents.