Sir Alex Ferguson used to say that there was no value to be had in the Winter transfer-window. He practiced what he preached, too, with Manchester United traditionally doing very little business in January.
Ferguson was right. Not only are sellers generally reluctant to part with players in the middle of a season, but buying clubs are usually shopping as a reaction to something untoward. They’re desperate, panicked and willing to pay over the odds to fill whatever shortage stands between them and their end of season objective.
Which brings us neatly to Swansea City.
Before the end of the weekend, Wilfried Bony will likely be a Manchester City player. Bony’s sale will likely generate somewhere between £30m and £40m and, the moment the transfer goes through, a whole raft of European agents will start a figurative pilgrimage to South Wales.
Agents, like moths to a flame, will go where the money is and Garry Monk and his technical staff can expect to be offered all kinds of players over the next few weeks.
The temptation must be to replace Bony: the Ivorian is a rare forward who has been an integral part of Liberty Stadium life this season. As forgivable a reaction as that would be, though, it’s worth taking stock of what Swansea are and where they’re going in the next six months.
On the basis that the club have only been in the Premier League for three-and-a-half years, a top-half finish would be an excellent, steady return from 2013/14. With Bony in the side, a Europa League spot may have been very achievable, but is it not worth sacrificing that for the sake of entering the Summer market with the majority of this £30m+ still in the bank?
When a club of Swansea’s stature receive a fee of this size, it represents an enormous opportunity. Progression in football is all about finance, but without an oil Baron’s backing or a Middle-Eastern slush fund, Swansea are not really in a place to develop in anything other than an organic fashion.
Other than, of course, when they sell a player for an enormous amount of money.
Remember, while Bony’s departure is very disappointing, it’s not as if Garry Monk has been left with a empty shirt at the top of his formation. Bafetimbi Gomis is stylistically different to his departing teammate, but he is a seasoned European goalscorer. He may not represent the future, be as three-dimensional as Bony or complement the rest of the attacking unit as well, but over the short-term he is very nice option to have.
Depth is important. It’s fine to elevate Gomis to the top of the forward depth-chart, but it’s probably inadvisable to bank on his fitness for the rest of the season. If the club can bring in a temporary, squad-filling loan signing, then there’s no obvious harm in that being the limit of this month’s activity.
In the Summer, things change. Not only is the market more favourable, but a bigger upgrade - the kind which can turn a tenth-place side into a consistent European challenger - is much more practical logistically. 2015 will feature a very interesting free-agent market which can be exploited and, in a more general sense, that pre-season period is a far better time to absorb player turnover.
Swansea are in a good state, with or without Bony, so there’s no need to unsettle that balance in the middle of a season.
This club is not far away. If, between June and August, a full-time replacement for Bony can be found, an alternative to Jonjo Shelvey can be brought in and, maybe, an additional full-back can be added, then they will look extremely competitive.
The Bony revenue creates the opportunity to make that progression, so don’t waste that chance by being exploited now.