Last night’s horse trading was chaotic, nerve-wracking and fun. Let’s not do it again for another five months. The Cutter looks back at this summer’s window and finds out who the biggest winners and losers are.
Best early movers –
If United had managed to bring in any one from Sneijder, Ganso, Thiago, or Kagawa to replace the retired maestro Scholes then this would have constituted the perfect summer’s trading for Ferguson. He managed to off-load several unwanted fringe players and even – miraculously – brought in a decent fee for Obertan.
His outfield newcomers have hit the ground running, largely due to arriving nice and early in the summer and enjoying a full pre-season in their new surroundings. We’ve also been impressed with how old bacon-features has paired newbie Jones with Smalling – his familiar defensive partner throughout the Under-21 Euros in Denmark – to give him the best opportunity to settle.
De Gea has looked comically shaky at times though we still attest he’ll be a top notch keeper for years to come.
Biggest losers of the window –
At the start of this week Arsenal would have tied jointly for this dubious honour with Everton and Blackburn but, in the past twenty-four hours, they’ve finally, finally let the mothballs spill from their bulging wallet.
Everton’s travails are financially determined so we’ll go relatively easy on them, though the sale of Beckford is just plain baffling for a club who are notoriously goal-shy up front. If they needed the money surely a defender would have been more sensible collateral damage? The loss of their elegant schemer Arteta is potentially insurmountable but even more exasperating is that Arsenal were pushing for a Bendtner-plus-cash deal yet Everton dug their heels in for cash alone.
These are extremely worrying times for bluenoses.
Finally we come to Blackburn. Must we? The situation at Ewood Park is just depressing and is illustrative of the worst kind of modern-day football ownership. The Rao family have £23m nestling in their coffers following the sales of Jones and Kalinic yet they have spent chicken feed. Two of their key signings require Googling whilst Dundee United’s David Goodwillie is a Championship player, which is quite appropriate considering that’s where he’ll be playing next August.
Literally as this is being written the Scott Dann and Yakubu deals have been confirmed. Dann and Samba is potentially a formidable back pairing but it is still too little too late.
In a midfield deprived of flair Cabaye could shine on the Toon this year
Best individual signing –
A few contenders here. Jose Enrique could turn out to be a steal for £6m for Liverpool whilst Roger Johnson all but guarantees safety for Wolves for the very reasonable outlay of £7m. Shane Long has the goal-sniffing abilities to do likewise for the Baggies for the same fee and simply for his experience alone a mere million for Wes Brown amounts to a pittance.
Then there are the luminaries such as Mata and Aguero who will surely light up the Premier League and last night’s deals for Meireles to Chelsea and Arteta to Arsenal which both represent extremely safe bets.
The Cutter however are sticking our necks out and plumping for Swansea’s new number one Michel Vorm. Not only was he brought over for the measly sum of £1.5m but Swans gaffer Brendan Rogers faced a huge challenge in replacing the departed De Vries who was such an instrumental figure for the Welsh side last term. To lose one exceptional Dutch keeper then find another in a matter of weeks, for such a relatively minimal outlay, is nothing short of miraculous. Rogers would piss Bargain Hunt. He’d have the opposing couple for breakfast.
Potentially best individual signing –
Though he has just stepped foot on British shores new Gunner Andre Santos could prove to be a far better proposition than Clichy, and for a million less.
It is hoped that Manchester City’s Dedryk Boyata gets plenty of games under his belt during his season-long loan deal at the DW Stadium. If so he could help bolster an already sturdy back-line.
Daniel Ayala could continue his impressive apprenticeship at Carrow Road, especially now he has signed and can settle properly following last year’s loan from Liverpool.
The Cutter however is going with Yohan Cabaye at Newcastle. There is a definite glint of steel behind the silky passes and link-up play and the 25-year-old was unfairly overshadowed at Lille by the likes of Hazard. In a midfield deprived of flair Cabaye could shine on the Toon this year, especially when his exquisite countrymen Ben Arfa returns from injury. A lot more has been spent elsewhere on CMs with nothing like his ability (O’Hara for £5m to Wolves?) so Pardew has done some wily business here.
A second shout-out also goes up that way with yesterday’s arrival of Davide Santon.
Who has done the best business overall –
A three-way tie for different reasons goes to Liverpool, QPR and Fulham.
Liverpool evidently have a long-term plan in place and they have begun their reconstruction in earnest this summer, largely concentrating on the midfield. In our opinion Aquilani could have been given more time to prove himself after being cursed with injuries whilst Dalglish didn’t appear to rate the superb Meireles from the start. But each to their own and when we’ve won a double we’ll get back to the incoherent Scot. Adam and Downing are solid buys whilst it is extremely commendable how they’ve gone for youth in Coates rather than the safer, short-term option of a Shawcross or Samba. Bellamy meanwhile is a terrific piece of business and is exactly the fiery, passionate type with a point to prove they needed to keep Carroll and Suerez on their toes.
QPR initially drafted in Premier League experience – arguably over quality – with the free signings of Gabbidon and Dyer. With the impetus of a new owner who recognizes the need for investment in order to remain in the top flight Warnock has bought shrewdly since. Barton is a gamble well worth taking; alongside Derry the hoops won’t be losing too many midfield battles this term, whilst DJ Campbell and Luke Young are decent recruits who improve the squad immeasurably.
At the time of going to press both Shaun Wright-Phillips and Anton Ferdinand are at Loftus Road in negotiations with the club.
Mertisacker’s shocking lack of pace means its unlikely confidence will be restored to the Arsenal defence any time soon.
Lastly, Fulham have retained their squad and only tweaked it here and there with a few minor improvements. This is prudent of Martin Jol when you consider the nucleus of this side has finished no lower than 12th in the past three seasons. They know what they’re doing. Young midfielder Kasami looks a prospect whilst John Arne-Riise makes a welcome return to Blighty. Meanwhile Juve defender Zdenek Grygera’s determination to play in the Prem has allowed Fulham to snag a player capped 53 times for the Czech Republic for nothing. Last night’s one expensive splurge on Bryan Ruiz from FC Twente means they will not be so reliant on the aging legs of Duff.
Worst signing –
Harsh maybe but Jordan Henderson looks very over-priced at £20m whilst Mertisacker’s shocking lack of pace means its unlikely confidence will be restored to the Arsenal defence any time soon.
Best sale –
Getting £6m for Kalanic, who never really imposed himself over here, was decent business for Blackburn and then there’s the aforementioned Obertan donation to United.
The best outgoing by some distance though must go to Manchester City for haggling £15m out of Bayern Munich for Jerome Boateng. For a player who cost roughly that amount one year ago before his reputation plummeted after a string of injuries that is a good day at the office indeed.
The quantity over quality award –
This must go to Sunderland. Over the summer months Bruce has drafted in enough players to form a new team and half a subs bench. And yet out of them all only one or two really take them forward from last year. It is usually better to splurge on a master or two rather than several jacks of all trades.