COMMENT: Well that's positive. Premier League clubs now getting together to end the lunacy of the shortened summer transfer window. And once that vote has passed, they can turn to another destructive motion just introduced and scrap that...
Friday night. Liverpool's U23s versus Arsenal. It was frustrating. Even sad. Watching Lazar Markovic of Serbia. A three-time league winner. A past member of UEFA's Europa League team of the year. At 24 running, well that depends on your definition of 'running', around with 17 and 18 year-old kids in front of scores of local fans. No motivation. No target to work towards. Nothing. He barely went through the motions. Stuck in limbo. A farcical limbo. All thanks to English football's powerbrokers and their decision to scrap the loan window this season.
By rights, Markovic should be long gone from Melwood. Last month Liverpool wanted to sell. Markovic wanted to leave. But when it came to the crunch, Anderlecht couldn't come up with the right offer. A deal that had been brewing for much of the summer fell through on deadline day. And with that, the Serb was left facing a lost six months. Omission from the national team. A dulling of his game. Of his skills. Of his motivation. Everything which could still be kept in-check by a loan move to a Championship club.
And we mention motivation because on Friday, what had Markovic to play for? Even if he had taken the game by the scruff of the neck. Even if he'd managed to hit a double hat-trick. There'd be no reward. He couldn't be considered for the first team as he's not registered with Liverpool's Premier League squad. As he isn't with the Champions League. So what exactly is the point? Indeed decision-makers, why on earth make this call?
It isn't just Markovic who has lost six months of a career. Liverpool are watching a multi-million pound asset devalue before their eyes. Week-by-week. Day-by-day. Thousands. Millions. Are being wiped from Markovic's market value. Send him to an Aston Villa or a Derby. Playing in front of big crowds. Influencing games. Promotion chances. Even titles. And Liverpool can protect their asset. But that option was taken from them this season. A deal in the region of €3.25m had been mentioned with Anderlecht. What would be a price on the continent for a demotivated, half-fit Markovic in January? €2m? €1m? Just more money lost from the English game.
Markovic is no Robinson Crusoe. At Leicester City, manager Claude Puel went with an injured Matty James ahead of Andy King for the final spot in his Premier League squad. Registration being made the week after the summer market closes. Again, just genius from those in charge.
So King, at 29, in his peak, is stuck. He can't get a move away. Hopes of breaking into Ryan Giggs' Wales squad are on-hold. His career. His life. Everything now in limbo. But don't blame Puel. He's having to work within the boundaries set by those above. If the loan window was available, the solution would be easy. But that's now off the table. And King, like his Aussie teammate Callum Elder, is having to write off six months of a career.
Two highlights of England's World Cup campaign were Jesse Lingard and Harry Kane. Both players genuine products of the English loan system. At Manchester United, they always knew Lingard wouldn't click until he reached 23, even 24 years of age. Four spells away on-loan helped maintain his progress while he still wasn't ready for the demands of being a United first teamer. Club and country benefitting from United's ability to work the loan system to their player's advantage.
Just as Tottenham did with Harry Kane. Like Lingard, a late developer and one who also spent time - with various degrees of success - away on-loan at four different clubs. And the question begs: what chance Kane or Lingard reaching the same heights today with the same powerbrokers denying them access to the loan system? Given the achievements of these two, English football should be examining ways to make loan windows more flexible, not trying to pull it all back.
This column long pushed the Premier League to drop plans of shortening the summer transfer window. And it was nice to learn club representatives citing the 'Eden Hazard dilemma' we put forward in multiple instances this year. That wiser heads have prevailed after just the one summer market is encouraging.
And when that gavel drops. And the vote confirms a return to norms next year. Clubs need to get together and make sure this destructive decision to scrap the loan window also becomes just a ridiculous one-off.