The Summer Transfer Window
At the close of the football transfer window last week, the English Premier League club had spent a grand total £835M ($1.38 Bn). A lot of that money went to transfers for quality players, though there were certainly some head scratchers. The inherent issue is that while some clubs will be better this year as a result of the moves they made during this long window, others might actually suffer because they ended up with the wrong players.
Everton, despite not signing too many players, made their transfers count. Among them, they brought back Romelu Lukaku on a permanent basis for £28 million. This may seem like a lot, but for a player of Lukaku’s quality, it’s hard not to see why manager Roberto Martinez was so eager to bring him back. For a striker of real quality, Everton got a steal when they signed Samuel Eto’o on a free transfer. Yes, Eto’o is old (33 years old to be exact), but he can still play at a world-class level. Finally, Martinez got Christian Atsu on loan from Chelsea. As he showed at this summer’s World Cup, Atsu has incredible potential and the move for him underscores Martinez’s genius.
Like Everton, Arsenal did not grab many players during the window but three of their moves stick out as ambitious. They paid £35 million for Alexis Sanchez, a dynamic winger who can control the game with or without the ball. Also in the group of dynamic playmakers, Arsenal raided archrival Manchester United for Danny Welbeck for £16 million. Welbeck’s addition is an ingenious one as he Is clearly one of the strikers of the future. Manager Arsene Wenger also decided to grab a phenomenal defender, Mathieu Debuchy for £12 million, which could be considered a bargain given that Southampton was so adamant about not letting him go.
Speaking of Southampton, even though they lost many key players during the window, they signed a number of others of quality in return. For instance, Dusan Tadic (£10.9 million) is a winger who was feared in the Eredivisie in Holland for his goalscoring ability while with FC Twente. Another addition was goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who returns on loan to his home country from Celtic. Forster is a mountain of a man, standing at 6’7”, which is huge even for a goalie. Manager Ronald Koeman did not stop there, using deadline day to add a defender to Southampton’s depleted ranks, getting Belgian international Toby Alderweireld on loan from defending La Liga champions Atletico Madrid, a wise choice considering that Alderweireld will be eager to get regular first-team action.
Continuing with the theme of clubs who had a great number of personnel changes comes Liverpool, which probably lost the biggest player of the window in star striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona. Never to be outdone however, manager Brendan Rodgers decided to replace Suarez with none other than the fiery Italian striker Mario Balotelli (£16 million), who can instantly replicate what was lost with Suarez’s departure. Also adding pizzazz is £20 million man Lazar Markovic, who joins from Benfica in Portugal. Markovic is quite simply a sparkplug who creates at will. [he’s younger than this writer by about 5 months]. Finally, they raided Southampton for three quality players. Striker Rickie Lambert (£4 million), wingback Dejan Lovren (£20 million), and winger Adam Lallana (£25 million) all made the trip to the north to play for Rodgers. If their collective performances at Southampton last season were any indication Liverpool’s £49 million investment in these three players is well placed.
Last, but definitely not least, is Manchester United [As my readers know, I am a HUGE Manchester United fan.] I would love to talk at length about every one of the Red Devils’ transfers, but I’ll just keep it to three: First, their signing of Ander Herrera (£29 million), while expensive, gives new manger Louis van Gaal a badly needed upgrade in center midfield, an area where Manchester United has been lacking for some time. Moving on, the Red Devils broke the EPL single transfer record by signing Angel di Maria for a whopping £59.7 million ($99 million). The advantages of having a player of di Maria’s quality are not up for debate. He dictates the pace of every game he plays by making everyone go faster (MUCH faster), he knows how to pick people out, and he can even score at a consistent rate. Lastly was a transfer no one saw coming. On deadline day, Manchester United shocked the football world by grabbing Radamel Falcao on loan from AS Monaco. For a player who was linked with just about every conceivable team EXCEPT Manchester United, the fact that he is now a Red Devil for the year highlights the promise this team has with its new manager.
In the middle of all of this, there were a lot of transfers that never actually materialized. Two in particular stand out and happen to involve Manchester United. However, this disappointment might actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the Red Devils.
First, Manchester United lost out on Juventus center midfielder Arturo Vidal. This was a rumor that flooded transfer rumor websites throughout the summer, though it ultimately fell apart because of worries about Vidal’s knee. Why is this good? Because Manchester United got Daley Blind (£14 million) instead. Now, I understand that Blind is nowhere near the caliber of someone like Vidal nor am I suggesting that, but the fact that Blind comes to Manchester United to play for a man like Louis van Gaal, who really made Blind’s game shine at the World Cup, means that the club got a quality defensive midfielder for a fraction of what they would have paid for Vidal.
Second, Manchester United never were able to complete a deal for Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels. This was a real problem for the Red Devils because they’d lost defensive stopper Nemanja Vidic to Inter Milan over the summer, and they heard the disapproval of the fans about this. However, van Gaal saved face by getting Marcos Rojo (£16 million). Rojo is a young defender full of promise who shined for Argentina at the World Cup this summer and hopes to replicate that usefulness at Old Trafford. One important note, Rojo initially had some problems in securing a work permit from the British government, but the British Government has finally given him a work visa, and he will make his debut on September 14th against Queens Park Rangers.
All in all, the summer transfer window was very long but full of excitement and interesting moves. Now all that remains is for these transfers to prove their worth. Whether they do so depends on how badly these players want to succeed. If not, teams might use the January transfer window to fix any problems that didn’t get solved.