As usual, Europe’s, and some British footballing flotsam and jetsam flooded the negotiating table of the twenty top teams in England in the Premier League this summer. Up and down the country, English airports became the hub of footballers exchanging contract details and the result was – some transfer horrors and some gems which have been realised at this short time, at the conclusion of September.
Whilst on my list, most of the high profile signings occur, some of the low fees agreed, such as Michu trading the sunnier shores of Spain for the South Wales club and last season’s surprise package in Swansea.
Meanwhile, the big money moves such as Robin van Persie’s switch from the Emirates to Old Trafford and Eden Hazard’s big move from Lille to Stamford Bridge dominated the sports tabloids all summer long.
Even at this short of a period of a few weeks, flops have been etching their way out of the woodwork for which the players had previously cowered behind their big wage packets and transfer fees.
Players that haven’t had such an impact are accommodated in this article, although if you’re reading next summer – they might have become the next Pele or Lionel Messi, such is the turning table of football. But for the time being, I think a few flops in here are acceptable cases at the time of writing.
Researching this article and, in fact, when Shinji Kagawa was signed from Borussia Dortmund by Manchester United for a fee over 10 million in June, I was skeptical. I had heard his name being smeared over magazines, newspapers and the current FIFA title but I had to pay a visit to YouTube to see what the Japanese playmaker had to offer.
After a brief trip to the video website, I discovered he was an amazing talent and in the matches I have viewed of United’s this season – I have to say he has been a contender for the man of the match award in almost every single match. His debut was a tough birth into English football as United floundered to a 1-0 defeat at Goodison Park but he still dazzled under the lights in Merseyside, providing neat link-up play that the likes of Giggs and Scholes would welcome into the fold with open arms.
By the end of September, you can often have a stab at who you might think deserves the award of the best summer signing, albeit a little premature. But for now, the goalscorers burst out of the page looking for acclaim and obviously are the most attractive selection.
The likes of Michu for Swansea, who has netted four goals in as many matches seems promising whilst Lukas Podolski has netted a few times since his high profile move from his hometown in Cologne. Steven Fletcher has proven his worth and got Sunderland out of some scraps in the early part of the season and deserves a mention on the list.
Robin van Persie, even though looking as though he isn’t at his best in the first couple of matches this term has still netted five times in the league which included a hat-trick at St. Mary’s, pulling United over the line in what could have been a second defeat in the opening month – an unwanted statistic in the north-west for Ferguson.
Although these names blatantly jump out at people – it can fall the other way – when money, no matter how much or minimal it is – is thrown at players who couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo.
Olivier Giroud, snapped up for the costly fee of 12 million pounds showed little to impress the gazing eyes at the European Championships in his substitute appearances for France. However, he is a startlingly talismanic record for his previous club, Montpellier – yes, it’s only the French leagues but he did steer them to their only Ligue 1 title in their history and carried the team with 25 goals in 43 appearances.
He hasn’t hit the net once at Arsenal. However, sometimes players need time to sink into the foundations of a team – especially if you’re a top European footballing outfit that is Arsenal. His poor early form has seen him hit with sporadic appearances at best after missed opportunities as he has failed to score in six opening appearances for the club.
Wenger has definitely regained his spending power as he proved his worth in the transfer window with a little more than the usual spending of little money for future talent. This time he brought in the aforementioned Giroud and Podolski to bolster his front line and broke the club transfer fee with the 16.5 million signing of Spanish playmaker Santi Cazorla.
With the outgoing expenditure of 40 million, Wenger still maintained a profit through the sales of Alex Song and Robin van Persie for the summer in shroud business from the French manager who is nearing his 18th year in charge of the club. Cazorla has been a revelation at the club, and especially with the long-term absentee of Jack Wilshere and even longer term absentees of Song, Nasri, Fabregas and Van Persie who have all left within the past twelve months.
Cazorla has had to fill four sets of very large boots and he has performed spectacularly, putting in a decent shift in a tough game at Anfield whilst netting during the 2-0 win. Wenger’s spending compared to last season when he lost two players of similar importance to those who departed this summer has been a lot wise.
Wenger has seen the panic buys of Mertesacker, Arteta and Benayoun on the final days of last summer’s window reverted with Cazorla and Podolski – not so much from Giroud but in time I’m sure he shall have the same effect.
Whilst Wenger has spent big – Chelsea have also, reverting to their old ways in capturing two of the biggest upcoming stars in the Premier League at this very minute in the two midfielders, Eden Hazard from Lille and Oscar from Internacional.
The 57 million distributed to those two clubs was money indeed well spent as Hazard has been integral to Chelsea’s early surge to the summit of the Premier League. Whilst Oscar hasn’t featured much, his two spectacular strikes in the Champions League tie with Juventus has made him an instant hero at Stamford Bridge.
Whilst throwing money at players in the hope that they work can pull off sometimes but in the case of Fabio Borini who, let’s not forget was signed for 10 million by Brendan Rodgers, has flopped spectacularly Anfield thus far. He only hit the net in the Europa League third qualifying round tie with Belarusian club FC Gomel and has struggle to fill the overpriced boots of Andy Carroll who has made a stunted start to his loan career at Upton Park due to injury.
The final high points of the transfer window prove to be players who had been signed at a snip. Romelu Lukaku who had been shipped to the Hawthorns from Stamford Bridge on a loan deal has made an impressionable start for the Baggies, his huge presence providing a decent start in the league this season.
Meanwhile at Craven Cottage, the 4 million signing of Dimitar Berbatov from Manchester United (yes, that’s a 26.25 million loss for Fergie in a matter of four seasons) could prove to be the bargain of the season as he netted twice in a dominating display against West Brom in his home debut, although it is early days for Dimitar.