What are quick fixes in football?

As a football fan, you might have come across the terminology ‘quick fixes’ once or twice, either online or in papers. But, what does it really mean and what roles do they play in guaranteeing that a club’s goals are met?

How often are they used by football clubs? And what are the ultimate aim for bringing in quick fixes into a team’s system?

We take a look at a club that uses quick fixes, as well as the contributions of these players to retaining the club’s competitiveness. Also mentioned are some noteworthy players who have been used briefly by a football club to achieve an objective.

The terminology

Quick fixes are used colloquially in football to describe players who have been transferred into a club to fill a vacant role temporarily. Regardless of their status or impact, they are rarely considered by a football club for long-term contracts.

This is mainly because many clubs often have their favourite players for a certain position, but for one reason or another cannot get them yet. Some clubs will even commence building the structure and playing environment for their target in order to expedite his arrival.

Therefore, whatever a player of this standing does for his club will only be on temporary basis. Whether that be scoring, assisting, creating chances, making great tackles, or wonderful saves, there are still high chances such players will not stay past their contract at these clubs.

Barcelona’s recent utilization of quick fixes

Barcelona signed Adama Traoré (Loan), Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (free), Dani Alves (free) and Ferran Torres (€55M) in January, 2021.

However, Ferran is the only player remaining at the club after one or two years due to its undoubted interest in him. Adama, Aubameyang and Dani Alves were brilliant players at Barcelona. Nonetheless, they were not considered long-term replacements for lagging positions at the club.

Players who can come in and improve the course of a club’s season with minimal costs attributed to their arrival. In the highlighted list of players, Barcelona only spent money on Ferran. Not surprising, because of the plans the club had for him in their project.

Speaking of having their ideal players modeled up for a system, Barcelona signed Polish striker, Robert Lewandowski in the summer transfer window to replace the free agent Aubameyang.

Jules Koundé also replaced Dani Alves and Adama returned to Wolves to make way for Raphinha. Koundé and Raphinha were the perfect players for whatever project was being constructed at the club. This gave them the liberty to discard of ones who might be unnecessary and probably make some profits off them, like Aubameyang’s €15M transfer to Chelsea.

Why clubs make use of quick fixes

Many questions have been asked concerning various clubs’ solution to tactical problems and why they push for players whose retaining services cannot be firmly guaranteed. The question is: why bring in a player you most likely want to sell rather than one who can stick with you for a long time and achieve results?

After Barcelona recorded heavy debts in the summer of 2020 while the world was recovering from the global pandemic, situations changed for the club. This was immediately evident as football resumed again in Europe.

In the same season, they lost their seven-point lead atop the La Liga table to Real Madrid, and were famously whitewashed 8–2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League in Lisbon.

It was a calamitous ending to the start of such a promising season, coming off the back of winning a domestic double (La Liga & Copa del Rey) and getting to the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League in 2019. Barcelona’s drastic financial decline shocked the footballing world.

As a result, they can no longer compete with other teams for the signature of the best players. Instead, they now depend on their name and building trust in their targets before pushing for a deal.

Of course, this has contributed to their withdrawal from breaking the table with record transfers as they previously did with players like Philipe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembélé and Antoinne Griezmann.

The post-pandemic fiscal problems also extended into the team as they suddenly had to reduce their wage bill and off-load some players. In this period, the contract of Lionel Messi could not be renewed and club captains Sergio Busquets, Gerard Piqué and Jordi Alba took significant pay-cuts to improve the condition of the club.

Primarily, the club had to look out for free players on the market with lesser wage demands and thus, the era of quick fixes began at the club. Most times, football clubs utilize short-term players to fill pivotal but vacant positions on the team when they are incapable of bringing in their preferred options.

For economical, regulatory or financial reasons, the transfer of some players cannot be executed. Therefore, having defined the role such a player is expected to play at the club, another player who can mimic the attributes of their identified solution must be considered.

The only difference this has from a regular transfer is the relatively cheaper conditions surrounding the arrival of such a player.

Are there still quick fixes in professional football?

Quick fixes can be found across many leagues in professional football and the biggest clubs are not excluded. In the past, there were players like Frank Lampard (with Manchester City), Antonio Reyes (Real Madrid), David Beckham (AC Milan) and Carlos Tevez (West Ham).

The likes of Odion Ighalo (Manchester United), Frank Kessié (Barcelona), Christian Eriksen (Brentford) are other recent quick fixes.. Currently, the Real Madrid duo of Joselu and Kepa Arrizabalaga as well as Jonny Evans are examples.

When a player is considered a short-term solution to a club’s headache, they are often not signed for a huge sum of money. Many times it can be a free transfer or loan deal which primarily aims at filling a vacuum at the club. And as much as many players will hate been categorized as ‘quick fixes’, it is the reality many clubs cannot avoid.

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