Why January was the wrong time for Quincy Promes to leave Spartak

Quincy Promes in action against Rubin Kazan in September. Photo: Epsilon.

Transfer Deadline Day, for many across the European continent, is a way of quietly pushing through a last minute deal done with a minimum of fuss and social media attention. Contrast this with England where both summer and January Deadline Days see a flurry of social media activity, non-stop coverage on both the BBC and Sky Sports News, fans outside their teams ground anticipating news on an imminent player arrival and even fans logging onto a flight tracking website in anticipation of the arrival of a flight carrying a new signing, as was the case this January Deadline Day with Arsenal’s new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Upon loading up the page on BBC Sport on Deadline Day just days ago, a list of Deadline Day deals likely to go through had been compiled. One such potential deal was the rumour about Spartak Moscow’s star winger Quincy Promes signing for English club Southampton. However, as the day went on, the likelihood of the deal completing grew more and more unlikely until the potential deal was officially called off in the afternoon. Despite this dea l not being completed, Promes staying at Spartak, and a no deal between themselves and Southampton is the correct decision for the player.

Not just a matter of not finding a replacement for Promes

Many news sources stated that the failure of the transfer was down to Spartak’s inability to find a replacement for Promes. This is true to an extent. Spartak did sign 27-year old Algerian attacking midfielder Sofiane Hanni from Anderlecht on deadline day and many posed he was the replacement, however, Hanni is seen more as a potential successor for Spartak’s 30 year-old Bulgarian attacking midfielder Ivelin Popov who has been linked with a move away from the red-whites. However, this only paints part of the picture.

Firstly, Promes appears well settled in Moscow, now playing in his fourth season for the club. The player, therefore, may not want to move right now to a new country and a new environment. A player moving clubs entails more than just swapping a shirt with one badge on it for another. The player will have to uproot himself, his family, find his children a school and will likely have to live in a hotel for the first few weeks or even months while he house hunts. All of this means the immediate aftermath of a transfer can result in a hectic and stressful time for the player.

To elaborate further, the time of the year is also important for a player. Whilst hectic off the pitch, a June/July transfer for a player means the player is not thrust straight into a competitive environment where points and positions are at stake. This makes the transition period a little easier post-transfer. In the January transfer window, however, the player has all the aforementioned issues off the field to deal with on top of being thrust straight into vital competitive matches.

Southampton’s current predicament makes them a hard-sell for Promes

A major obstacle in this transfer, however, was Southampton’s league position and the possibility of relegation from the EPL this season. Southampton currently sit in 14th place out of 20, just two points off the relegation zone. For Promes, who has just come off the back of a title win at Spartak last season and currently plays for one of the big clubs in Russia who win far more games than they lose, swapping this mid-season for a team who are losing more than they are winning is a difficult sell.

Over the past year, Promes has played in the Champions League with Spartak Moscow and proved himself on the biggest possible stage. Suddenly fight to avoid relegation probably didn’t tempt him.

European football post-Christmas and likely trophy opportunities are still massive attractions for players

Had Promes moved to Southampton, he would have had a relegation battle and a potential FA Cup run to look forward to. However, despite still being in the FA Cup, Southampton’s chances of winning it are a long shot, with Tottenham, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Leicester City all looking more likely winners on paper.

Contrast this with Spartak, currently third in the RFPL, eight points behind leaders Lokomotiv with ten games remaining, who they play in the first game post-winter break. If Spartak were to beat Loko in that game, the gap would be down to five points with nine to play. Spartak are furthermore still in the Cup, where they face second tier Krylia Sovetov in the quarter final. Spartak are odds-on favourites for the Russian Cup and coupled with a wobble from Loko in the league, a League and Cup double could still be on.

Lastly, Spartak have the attraction of European football post-Christmas which Southampton cannot offer. After finishing third in their Champions League group and dropping into the Europa League, Spartak have a last 32 tie against Spanish club Athletic Bilbao.

Ever since they were re-promoted to the EPL at the start of the 2012-13 season, Southampton have been heralded as an ideal blueprint on how to run a club. High value sales and scouting to find capable replacements, together with the promotion of players from their academy, has seen them win many admirers. If they were to preserve their Premier League status for next season and armed with the £75m they received from Liverpool for defender Virgil van Dijk, going back for Promes in the summer seems a likely option.

However, right now, staying at Spartak was the best option for Promes. Already a fan favourite, Promes feasibly could still lead Spartak to a league and cup double. If he can put in some stellar performances against some of the larger teams in the Europa League, he could attract the attention of larger clubs than Southampton, which would further justify the decision to remain at Spartak for now.

Author: Richard Pike

Wigan Athletic season ticket holder whose first memories of Russian football were TV highlights of Spartak’s 4-1 victory against Arsenal in the 2000-01 Champions League. Huge fan of the Russian Premier League, other mid-ranking European leagues and the English Football League

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