So, we’ve made it to the end of yet another wild summer transfer window. Here’s hoping that your favorite side made the additions that you hoped they would, or just as importantly, didn’t subtract anyone of great importance without failing to find a proper replacement.
As is the case every summer, top clubs were expected to try to lure well-known names, and at the close of business, very few of them had actually come to fruition, as is often the case. Of course, that didn’t stop many from hoping that deadline day would bring some major cash splashing.
As disappointing as that may be to some, there was still no shortage of movement on Wednesday, including a few last-minute stunners.
The Deals That Did Happen
– It was a busy day for Arsenal from start to finish, as they finalized deals for defenders Andre Santos and Per Mertesacker, which were already on the verge of completion coming into Wednesday.
They weren’t done yet though, as they nabbed Yossi Benayoun on loan from Chelsea and then finished with a real flourish by signing Mikel Arteta from Everton for £10m in a deal that was on, off, and then on again just in time to make the deadline.
Good enough business to make the Gunners title contenders again? I don’t see it, and I have my doubts that they’ll even finish in the top four, due to the early hole they’ve dug for themselves, the solid starts by Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool, and questions that justifiably remain about firepower, big-game mettle and how they can handle adversity, but we should see a much better team than the one we’ve seen thus far. Now, if only they could get a handle on that red card issue…
– Aston Villa had a quieter summer than their supporters might have hoped after receiving a huge windfall from the sales of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing. But Alex McLeish didn’t let the deadline pass silently, signing Alan Hutton (undisclosed fee) and Jermaine Jenas (loan) from Tottenham.
Hutton is a quality replacement for Luke Young, while Jenas could be a low-risk, high-reward signing if he can make the most of this chance to resurrect a flagging career. He may be 28, but it’s never too late.
– Given their lack of quality in attack, adding reinforcements in attack was a must for Blackburn, but perhaps they could have done better than add Yakubu, whose best days in the Premier League may well be behind him. Young Sheffield United striker Jordan Slew, who was signed an initial fee of £1m, has star potential, but he’s not the answer right now either for a side that’s scored only once in three Premier League games. On the positive side, they should be much better at the back after landing center back Scott Dann from Birmingham City for an initial fee of £6m.
– Perhaps Rovers should’ve made an attempt for David N’Gog, who departed Liverpool for Bolton, who also landed Gael Kakuta on loan from Chelsea.
– Speaking of Chelsea, the Meireles deal was quite the last-minute stunner, and they didn’t have to overpay to make it happen. Good piece of business, but will he be a regular? Competition is tight in Chelsea’s midfield, but you usually don’t spend eight figures on someone if you don’t intend to use them as much as possible.
– Everton could have tremendously benefitted from being able to spend even a tenth of what Chelsea spent this summer. Alas, the Toffees’ unfortunate financial limitations only saw a couple of loan deals come through on deadline day, with Argentine striker Devin Stracqualursi coming in from Tigre and Royston Drenthe arriving from Real Madrid.
It might well not seem like much, but these two deals could actually pay real dividends. Stracqualursi scored a total of 21 league goals last season for Tigre, 11 in the Apertura and 10 in the Clausura, so he’s not short on ability. As for Drenthe, production hasn’t matched promise thus far, but a successful campaign at Everton could put him in contention for a place in Holland’s Euro 2012 squad, so he should be motivated to do well.
– While the last-minute moves by Arteta and Meireles might garner the most attention, Fulham secured their own late prize in FC Twente attacker Bryan Ruiz, but it wasn’t without some late drama. It looked like the Cottagers were all set to land him after agreeing a fee on Tuesday, but Newcastle swooped in with a £12m bid that was accepted. However, Ruiz was unable to agree terms with Newcastle, and he ended up making the move to Craven Cottage after all. One of the best deals of the summer, in my opinion.
– As for the most surprising? Well, that could be Craig Bellamy’s return to Liverpool after severing his ties with Manchester City. Surprising as it may be, it’s a good deal. Bellamy’s a proven commodity in the Premier League, and he’ll provide quality depth and experience in attack for Liverpool. And for those who point to his past, he does indeed have a checkered one, but it’s the past, and even if he wanted to be a distraction, Kenny Dalglish wouldn’t stand for it.
– The other top contender for the most surprising late deal is Owen Hargreaves signing for Manchester City on a one-year deal. The last thing City are short on is midfielders, so he likely won’t receive the kind of regular football that he would had he signed with one of his other suitors. However, if his injury issues are well and truly behind him, he could make a bigger impact than many might expect.
– Another contender for best deadline-day deal could be Shaun Wright-Phillips’ move from City to QPR. SWP might have gotten lost in the shuffle in his second stint at City, but he has the goods to be a star in Neil Warnock’s side. That trio of Barton, Taarabt, and Wright-Phillips is not bad at all, is it?
Along with their move for SWP, QPR signed defender Anton Ferdinand from Sunderland late on after being unable to land Tottenham’s Sebastian Bassong due to Spurs’ inability to land Bolton’s Gary Cahill.
– Stoke City manager Tony Pulis said he had money to spend, and he did just that as the Potters ended the summer transfer season with a bang. Stoke finalized an £8m deal for Tottenham midfielder Wilson Palacios early on Wednesday, and they went the distance to break the club’s transfer record, forking out £10m for the well-traveled Peter Crouch, who’d also been linked with Sunderland on deadline day.
Consistency isn’t Crouch’s strong point, but he brings a record of success in Europe, averaging a goal nearly every other game in European competition, and he should bag double-digit goals for Stoke (he’s done so for seven straight seasons, at four different clubs). He wasn’t the only addition Pulis made to his strikeforce, as Cameron Jerome signed from Birmingham City for an undisclosed fee. Jerome is a solid, inexpensive addition, as he scored 11 Premier League goals for Birmingham two seasons ago, and at 25, still has his best years ahead of him.
– Sunderland missed out on Crouch, but they were able to land a striker late on, signing Nicklas Bendtner on loan from Arsenal. There’s a lot of potential in this move. If Bendtner decides to make the most of this opportunity for regular first-team football and can strike up a good partnership with Asamoah Gyan, Sunderland could cause a lot of problems. At the very least, they should be more entertaining than they’ve been thus far.
– To a certain extent, deadline day could be considered a disappointment for Tottenham, as they missed out on a top target, but Scott Parker, who signed from West Ham for £6m, is an excellent addition to their midfield. Now if only they could get that defense sorted and perk up that Modric fella…
Of course, it’s not all about Premier League transfers, as there was plenty of action happening elsewhere on Wednesday. Here are the highlights from several of Europe’s other top leagues.
– So, Joe Cole goes from being on the outside looking in at Liverpool to being able to suit up for the reigning French champions and play in the Champions League? Not bad, not bad at all.
Remaining in the Premier League would have made it easier for Fabio Capello to assess him regularly, but his loan move from Liverpool to Lille opens up the chances to resurrect his career with a top team in a top league, along with getting the experience of moving abroad and playing in a different style and environment. Ligue 1 is highly competitive at the top, and this season should be no different, with Lille, Lyon, Marseille, and PSG all contending for the title (and maybe a surprise contender or two), so he’s by no means making a step down.
– AS Roma’s exit from the Europa League was a shock, but it didn’t slow their transfer activity. On deadline day in Italy, Roma signed left back Simon Kjaer on loan from VfL Wolfsburg, midfielder Fernando Gago on loan from Real Madrid, attacking midfielder Miralem Pjanic from Lyon for €11m, and Italy U-21 striker Fabio Borini on loan from Parma.
While age is an issue for some of their other Serie A rivals, Roma added a great deal of youth this summer, signing nine players who are 25 or younger, several of whom will have key roles to play this season. And that doesn’t include Maarten Stekelenburg, who’s at 28 is a relative youngster in keeper years. They haven’t won a Serie A title since 2000-01, but that drought has an excellent chance of ending within the next few seasons.
– A couple of their Serie A rivals made key additions on deadline day, as Inter Milan signed forward Mauro Zarate on loan from Lazio, Juventus landed Dutch winger Eljero Elia from Hamburg SV for €9m, and AC Milan signed Palermo midfielder Antonio Nocerino for an undisclosed fee.
– Atletico Madrid wrapped up a busy summer by picking up Brazilian midfielder Diego on loan from VfL Wolfsburg. That’s a fantastic addition if he can recapture the form that earned him his big-money move to Juventus two summers ago.
Atletico were surprisingly blanked in their season opener against Osasuna, but with the additions they’ve made (Falcao, Diego, and Turkish playmaker Arda Turan being the most notable), it’s only a matter of time before the goals start flowing again. But will the leaking stop at the back enough to make them a serious contender to beat the likes of Valencia, Villarreal, Sevilla, and perhaps Malaga to third? We shall see.
– For those who are fans of the Eredivisie, there were a couple of high-profile Dutch transfers on Wednesday. FC Twente spent €5m to land Feyenoord midfielder Leroy Fer, who they should make a tidy profit on in a few seasons. And PSV Eindhoven added even more firepower to their front line with the €7m signing of Slovenian striker Tim Matavz, who scored 36 goals in the last two seasons for FC Groningen.