Is An End Of Season Swap Weekend Now A Thing In Football

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The 2023/24 Premier League campaign will probably be more remembered in history for Video Assistant Referee shenanigans and the authorities hitting certain clubs with Financial Fair Play breaches, whilst significant others in the wider world of football got away with their own presumed ones.

It seems that more clubs are now more willing to legally exploit the true letters of the Profit and Sustainability Rules in order to protect themselves. This is not a new trend, we have had stadium and hotel sales in order to comply, and using Academy products is not new – but this looks like it might be a summer where Academy sales and potential ‘swap’ deals are used to their fullest financial extent.

It will not be the first deal of the summer transfer window, neither will it be the last, but Aston Villa have confirmed a £35 million deal for Chelsea’s Dutch defender Ian Maatsen. The over all deal for the 22 year old could rise to £40 million, and whilst a medical still needs to take place, it is being reported that a six year contract has already been agreed.

The size of the fee is surprising given his game time and experience in some ways, but with loan spells to Charlton, Coventry, Burnley and German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, where he was very much a regular, he comes into Villa Park with over 130 career starts to his name, and European experience to boot.

Their entry into the Champions League was obviously a pull, and it is speculated that from Chelsea’s side they wanted to make striker Jhon Duran part of the swap as their interest in him has been heavily documented on the transfer window rumour mill – but this deal moves forward here on isolated terms.

From an FFP perspective this is Academy jam for Chelsea and their claimed financial problems giving the spending that we have seen since Todd Boehly took charge, but whilst Maatsen’s fees seems high, it should not be forgotten that back in the summer of 2022, Chelsea paid Villa a reported £20 million for the services of their Academy graduate Carney Chukwuemeka. At that point he was devoid of loan experience, had three starts to his name, and 13 substitute showings.

Maatsen agreed to a contract extension back in January that involved a release fee that loan club Borussia Dortmund were not willing to meet, but Villa were as they see value in him moving forward.

The cynic would say we will see more moves like this, where youth products and assets are maximised for financial return (as opposed to real club growth) until the Premier League address the real issues with FFP and make a decision on what feels like a 100 year war with the elephant in the room.

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