SUMMER window shopping is a fraught process.
Do you pounce early, only to regret it because of what later becomes available?
Or do you wonder whether it was panic or clever tactics that led to buying the goods so near to closing time?
On the one hand, there are the aristocrats. Manchester City, naturally, who by the way have spent over £1billion on players over the past seven years, making them the biggest spenders in the world.
And on the other hand, there are the bargain hunters like Tottenham, for one.
There are plenty of clubs, too, who play cat and mouse from start to finish, deep into the two or three weeks of overlap from when the season starts until the transfer window closes.
Sometimes it has been difficult to distinguish the cat from the mouse.
It is hard to tell whether Ross Barkley is a piece of cheese offered by Everton at about £50million for the delectation of potential takers, or whether a possible buyer — rumoured to be Spurs — knows something we don’t and might not only get him on the cheap but make a considerable saving on his off- season wages.
The Premier League clubs largely have tired of this kind of everlasting circus and plan to cut out the August transfer overlap next summer by closing the window on the eve of the first game of the season.
At the last Premier League meeting, 17 clubs were in favour of closing the window before the season starts, mainly because you have your confirmed squad and the integrity of team selection is more certain for managers.
If it happens, I suspect the scramble will be intensified rather than ended but at least football will begin transfer-free.
Take for example Southampton, who this month are trying to ward off suitors for the services of Virgil van Dijk, the central defender whose mind has apparently been boggled by transfer talk.
No one would be surprised if the Holland international defender ended up at Anfield.
But what about the Saints? The season has kicked off and they don’t know whether they can count on their transfer-seeking Dutchman or not.
Yes, they might secure a small fortune for him but at such short notice they then have to find a replacement — at an inflated cost — and integrate the new player into the team as well.
That makes it an early puzzle for new co-owner, Jisheng Gao, the sixth Chinese businessman to dabble in English football.
He has to decide whether to cash in on at around £50m — a tidy profit on a player Saints paid Celtic £11.5m for two years ago — or damn the Van Dijk and keep hold of him. The rest of the world will carry on abiding by the current rules.
The Premier League’s recommendations cannot cover moves to foreign countries so, for example, next August Philippe Coutinho could still be sold by Liverpool to Barcelona but a player swap coming back the other way would be blocked.
There are hints of Brexit about going it alone this way.
But outside of Barcelona and Real Madrid, the English are the masters in the money game and European minds will be bent by that. How different in real life . . .
Still, I am sure there would be an outcry if someone as influential as Coutinho were hijacked.
Although Liverpool absolutely have the right to say ‘No fear”, we at West Ham know from our experience with Dimitri Payet just how hard it is to keep a disillusioned star. And then there is the real problem of the club promoted by way of the Championship play-offs.
They, probably more than any other team, need to improve their staff, yet have three weeks less to do it.
Huddersfield acted quickly and tidily in the ten weeks they had this summer but it would be even less next year.
Newcastle would have needed until Christmas.
The new deadline doesn’t exactly remove the risk of buying the right players, so West Ham will continue to employ a mix-’n-match approach.
When the player we want is clearly available, we will buy as soon as we can.
Sometimes there’s a late opportunity to grab a juicy option and in future we will have to move faster than ever.
The final vote will be put to the clubs at next month’s Premier League meeting and WHU will be voting in favour of it.
Keep up to date with all the latest news, gossip, rumours and done deals in SunSport’s live transfer blog