Friday 29 August ~
Like his mentor Sepp Blatter, UEFA president Michel Platini is prone to giving a full public airing to any football-related thought. Today he's been musing on that major bugbear of British managers, the transfer window. Transfers through the season had been permitted here since the 19th century, so there has been endless whinging since the window was made compulsory by FIFA six years ago. Now Platini is wondering if the window, which runs for three months from the beginning of June, is too long: “The season starts in many countries in July or early in August, yet the transfer window does not close until the end of August. I think we need to look at the way the system works." A shortening of the buying season would generate more Europhobic apoplexy here but at least it would spare us the ludicrously drawn-out transfer sagas that have rumbled on throughout the summer.
Two such inter-connected deals are about to be wrapped up. Spurs and Zenit St Petersburg have been playing footsie since Euro 2008 over Andrei Arshavin and Sergei Pavlyuchenko. Now the latter does actually seem to be poised to move to White Hart Lane even though, like Arshavin, he had earlier declared that he would only consider a move to a Champions League club. Spurs may have been tracking the player for a while but their hand has really been forced by Dimitar Berbatov's determination to not come out of his bedroom until he is allowed to move to Man Utd (the Bulgarian having been declared to be in the “wrong frame of mind” to line up against Sunderland last weekend).
With Darren Bent looking isolated and forlorn during that defeat last Saturday, Spurs are aiming to sign another forward before they let Berbatov go – and it may yet be Arshavin. Their last experience with a high-profile striker from the former USSR was not a happy one. After signing from Dinamo Kiev in 2000, Sergei Rebrov made more headlines for his interest in short-wave radio, with his broadcasts inadvertently triggering his Essex neighbours' burglar alarms, than he managed for his achievements on the pitch which amounted to ten goals in 59 games. Then again, Rebrov also echoed the complaint made by many overseas signings that the club had made little effort to help him settle in. If they move in tandem, Sergei and Andrei will at least have someone with whom they can share disgruntlement about Aaron Lennon's wayward crossing.