Let’s be honest, the British transfer window has so far proven to be something of a damp squib. Sure there has been plenty of domestic movement – in fact probably more than anticipated at this stage – but, Aguero and De Gea aside, there hasn’t exactly been an array of new faces to the Premier League. Instead it’s been a roll-call of familiar faces exchanged between the top clubs like Panini stickers. A Villa player to United, a United player to Sunderland, a Sunderland player to Liverpool, a Liverpool player to….ah, well, nobody seems to want their midfield swapsies.
Meanwhile on the continent they are making merry and snapping up all the exciting exotic talent we were promised. Where are the Neymars, Lamelas, and Pastores? In Spain, Italy and France that’s where. Countries who aren’t shackled by British reserve and didn’t just admire from afar but instead stumped up shed loads of Euros to secure their signatures. If you listen very carefully you can just make about out the sobs of frustration from the bedrooms of thousands of Football Manager addicts.
Below are just a sample of the ones that got away…so far. So come on Arsene, Alex Bobby and Andre, stop coveting your neighbour’s asses and start putting your trust in your foreign scouts. Because ultimately football fans are like vampires – we need fresh blood to keep us entertained.
Alexis Sanchez – Udinese to Barcelona (£30m)
Barca were always the favourites to be fair. In fact they appeared so confident of luring this Chilean firecracker of defence-splitting dribbles and goals aplenty they simply hung back and let City and Chelsea drool all over him for awhile before casually swooping in. A big loss because he would have absolutely exploded in the Prem.
Erik Lamela – River Plate to Roma (£12m)
You don’t get a lot for twelve million these days in football. A burger and chips at Stamford Bridge or two Craig Gardners. Lamela is a teenage left-footed attacking midfielder of immense promise who likes nothing more than to get his head down, use his pace and take on defences. The one shining light in a River Plate side that suffered the ignominy of relegation last season his future is assured. Enjoy him Rome you moped-tooting bum-pinchers. Jealous? Yes. He could have been ours to savour.
Javier Pastore – Palermo to PSG (£40m)
Although this transfer has yet to be publicly confirmed it’s expected to be officially announced by the end of this week. Pastore is the next Kaka – a similar build and nonchalant running style and all flicks and turns.
Chelsea were reportedly keen but ultimately the nouveau riche PSG flexed their new-found fortune to bring in a superstar in waiting.
Manuel Neuer – Schalke to Bayern (£22m)
Granted Neuer wouldn’t have got anyone on the edge of their seats – it’s kind of hard to do so if you’re a keeper unless it’s for all the wrong reasons – but the uber-reliable German was prominent on United’s radar until Munich called. But he is not on this list because Ferguson missed out and went even younger with De Gea. He’s here because Wenger could have finally brought in a world-class number one to bolster a vulnerable back-line that constantly derails their title hopes every season. Instead the Mad Professor was probably too busy trying to sign up a ten year old kid he saw doing lots of keepy-uppies in a Parisian street.
Never mind, because there is always Ajax’s brilliant Maartin Stekelenburg….oh no, he’s just been snapped up by Roma for a measly five mill. Another year of Almunia clangers it is then.
Nuri Sahin – Dortmund to Real Madrid (£12m)
Wonderful technique, dead ball specialist, endless vision and energy….and only twenty-two. This Turkish delight (I regretted that as soon as I typed it) is a left-footed schemer who would have significantly enhanced any of the Premiership big guns. Meanwhile Chelsea are desperate to splash out three times his fee on a player of a similar ilk Modric. Is Modric three times better? It’s questionable whether he’s even remotely superior.
Mourinho is crafting a young exciting team at Madrid and if Neymar joins too (as is expected) then – I know that Franco was a bad chap and all – but sod it I’m in.