Winners and losers from the transfer window: Arsenal did better than Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton impressed, Manchester United were careless
Glenn Moore takes a look at the movers and shakers of this summer's transfer window, and what it means for the rest of the season
So what have we learned from the summer transfer window?
Spain is the new France
Once it was the Scandinavians who managers coveted. They spoke English, worked hard, and had the muscle to thrive in the English game. Then, as English football became more sophisticated, demand increased for French players driven by their success at Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. They were cheap, technically skilled and settled easily across the Channel. Now the nationality of choice is Spanish. This is partly because of a number of managers are either knowledgeable about La Liga, influenced by Barcelona, or Spanish themselves, or – vis Michael Laudrup, Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez, and partly because Laudrup’s recruits proved such outstanding value, notably Michu. The new factor this year is Spain’s economic collapse. Outside the big two every club has ‘for sale’ signs up. Even with Neymar and Gareth Bale arriving La Liga made a £95 net profit on transfers. This year Premier League clubs have signed 15 Spanish players with six arriving from Sevilla alone, at a cost of £61m.
Few buy English
One nationality not in demand was the native one. Of the 77 players who moved for at least £1m a mere dozen were English, most of them signed by the promoted trio. Andy Carroll, at £15.5m, was the sole Englishman among the 19 players signed for £10m-plus. Had Wayne Rooney and Leighton Baines been allowed to move these figures would have been higher, but the reality is there are too few English players of substance, and many of them are premium-priced.
Arsenal have done better than Tottenham
After all the abuse, the criticism and the mockery it seems Arsene Wenger has out-performed the Daniel Levy-Andre Villas-Boas combo, at least in the short term. In signing Mesut Ozil, and retaining Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott, Wenger has reversed several summers in which Arsenal ended the window weaker than they began it. It is very arguable that an experienced goalkeeper, inspiring centre-half and expert goalscorer were all more urgently required than another attacking midfielder, but Ozil is a class act who will provide a new dimension to Arsenal’s attacking play. Meanwhile, across north London, Spurs have lost their best player and now have to assimilate a raft of new signings with the season already underway. However, Levy got an incredible price for Bale, and if they have inevitably overpaid for some of the recruits Spurs do look less likely to suffer another of the late-season collapses that have bedeviled their ambitions.
The Premier League is not first choice
Ozil would not be heading this way if he thought he would retain his place at Santiago Bernabeu. Cesc Fabregas preferred to stay at Barcelona once it became clear he was a part of Geraldo Martino’s plans while Gonzalo Higuain and Thiago Alcântara left La Liga’s big two for Serie A and the Bundesliga, not the Premier League. The summer’s star movers, Neymar, Mario Gotze and Radamel Falcao had already snubbed English suitors. The Premier League may be the most watched league, and often the most watchable, but it struggles to attract the elite.
For Manchester United to lose their chief executive at the same time as their manager was careless.
Gary Neville tweeted a year ago: “What the transfer deadline gives you is a clear indication of which are the badly run football clubs!!!” He could not have imagined 12 months on that while Manchester City did most of their business early (aside from scrambling at the death for a centre-half), his alma mater handled the transfer window very badly indeed. David Moyes had enough on his plate filling Sir Alex Ferguson’s shoes without being paired with a chief executive who was also finding his way. Edward Woodward was a wiz at United’s marketing operation, but the lawless, back-scratching, eye-gouging transfer window is a different commercial world. On the plus side, Moyes held on to Rooney, and shipped out Bebe, Ferguson’s most inexplicable signing
Merseyside clubs did well
Not for the first time Everton cut it fine, but eventually did superbly. Marouane Fellaini has looked increasingly as if his mind was elsewhere and may not have fitted into Roberto Martinez’s playing style in any case. To get £32.5m for him and Victor Anichebe was outstanding business. Romelu Lukaku will help replace the physicality lost with Fellaini while James McCarthy and Gareth Barry should help the transition from Moyes’s approach. And they retained Baines. On the other side of Stanley Park Brendan Rodgers, who this time last year had been left frustrated when the owners refused to bankroll a £6m deal for Clint Dempsey, has brought in a number of targets, and held on to Luis Suarez.
TV money has turned middling clubs into major buyers.
Arsenal obliterated their transfer record while Tottenham shattered theirs, but plenty of smaller clubs also smashed their transfer record this summer. Cardiff broke theirs three times; Southampton, West Ham, Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City also set new marks. The Premier League’s relatively equitable distribution of TV income guarantees every club £60m and even with the introduction of Financial Fair Play rules that gives many unparalleled spending power. Premier League clubs spent £400m net on players from outside the league far eclipsing the next-highest spending competition, Ligue 1, and that outlay was almost entirely due to two clubs, Monaco and Paris St Germain.
Palace are going down…
For the last four seasons the lowest net-spender club of the three promoted clubs has been relegated. Cardiff’s net-spend is £32m, Hull £13m, Crystal Palace £10.5m. That outlay is actually £500,000 when taking into account the £loss of Wilfried Zaha from last season’s team. The odds are on them following Burnley (£6m net in 2009), Blackpool (£5m in 2010), QPR (£6m in 2011) and Reading (£4m in 2012).
Harry Redknapp took until 11.20pm to appear leaning out of his car on transfer deadline day
…while QPR are coming up
Deadline Day bingo was complete when Harry Redknapp did the obligatory interview from his car window soon after the window closed. Having added Tom Carroll, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Niko Kranjcar to what was already the Championship’s strongest squad ‘Arry had every right to feel pleased. Promotion seems certain, as long as Joey Barton and Karl Henry can refrain from dressing-room hostilities. The big question is how, given players like Cesar, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Barton are still on the wage bill, QPR will pass the Championship’s Financial Fair Play regulations even with the aid of their parachute payment. The reality is they may not care. Promoted clubs are fined for a breach with penalties on a sliding scale ranging from 1% on the first £100,000 excess spend to 100% on anything over £10m. Since promotion is worth £100m-plus ambitious Championship clubs may feel it is worth breaking the rules.
World Cup wannabees will be first out when it starts again in January
While many fans believe players do not care about international football the majority of footballers do, and never more so than when there is a World Cup in the offing. Kaka, Clint Dempsey and Gareth Barry all traded down this summer with Brazil 2014 in mind. Come January Julio Cesar will desperate to get away to put together a run of matches and it will be interesting to see how much football James Milner, Jermaine Defoe and Juan Mata have played by then.
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