Well it’s the 1st of September, which means it’s the end of the transfer window! Over the years what used to be a non-event, is now a ‘transfer extravaganza’, in which the papers, radio and TV- especially Sky Sports News- scatter their reporters up and down the country to try and be first to the huge exclusive.
Many windows have often failed to live upto the hype in the past, however, with one of the former champions Arsenal in a crisis, and the likes of QPR, Stoke City and Blackburn all threatening to splash the cash, would this window be any different?
The first place to start, then, has to be Arsenal. After the humiliation of being thrashed 8-2, by once near rivals Manchester United on the Sunday before, Arsene Wenger was under massive pressure to spend money to stay in a job. And, unsurprisingly, spend he did. Mikel Arteta, Andre Santos, Per Mertesacker, Yossi Benayoun and Park Chu-Young all costing in excess of £29million. It’s a serious statement of intent from Wenger, and will reassure many worried supporters. A lot is expected of Mertesacker and Arteta in particular, as they are in positions Arsenal are particularly lacking. Mertesacker, will slot in as a part of a defence which has been lacking a leader, becoming Thomas Vermalen’s partner, whilst Arteta will look to bridge the creative hole in the team, left by Cesc Fabregas’ departure to Barcelona. The Gunner’s now hope to push on and turn their appalling start to the season around.
The next biggest movers on ‘Deadline Day’ were Stoke City, ploughing £20million worth of transfers into their team. Peter Crouch and Wilson Palacios led a mass exodus from Spurs (more on that later), whilst Cameron Jerome joined from recently relegated Birmingham City. It was a strong end to the summer by Stoke, who’d backed their squad up defensively with the free transfers of Jonathan Woodgate and Matthew Upson, both England internationals. The squad, is now brimming with talent, and good times look likely for City, especially as they enter Europe for the first time in 37 years. A cup final, or perhaps the Carling Cup, and a top 7 finish must be the targets for Tony Pulis’ men.
Tottenham always play some sort of role on Deadline Day, however, the surprise this year was the amount of exits made from White Hart Lane, five yesterday alone. Palacios and Crouch, David Bentley to West Ham and Alan Hutton and Jermaine Jenas both moving to Aston Villa. The sole purchase was England midfielder Scott Parker, finally making the move that had become the most protracted of the summer. All in all, not a bad day for Spurs, the wage bill will have gone down as many ‘squad members’ have now left the club, whilst their number one target has arrived, good stuff from Harry Redknapp once again.
Relegation threatened QPR and Blackburn Rovers, both utilised wealthy owners to sign up some much needed Premier League experience. Rovers purchased Yakubu from Everton, and widely sought after defender Scott Dann from Birmingham City, both look to re-invigorate a struggling side, who need a bit of support. QPR, also signed two experienced players, in Shaun Wright-Phillips and Anton Ferdinand, both of whom who know exactly what to do in this division. With a rumoured £6million for both players combined, it seems Neil Warnock has bagged a bargain.
The three remaining ‘big name’ transfers of the window were: Craig Bellamy to Liverpool, Raul Meireles to Chelsea and Owen Hargreaves to Man City.
Bellamy, 32, returns to Liverpool, having not played a massive amount of football since his depature from Anfield 4 years ago. However, he’ll look to prove a point to City boss Roberton Mancini, who has left him in the cold the last couple of seasons. He will be back-up to Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, but will still play an important part for the Reds, as they look to return to the top four and the Champions League.
Meireles, after a brief season at Liverpool, moves to Chelsea for £12million, to bolster a very attacking midfield. Liverpool themselves have a lot more options, so it’s not a surprise Meireles has been sacrificed, as he wants ‘first-team football’. Andre-Villas Boas now has moulded the squad into his own, and will look to push on and challenge City and United for the title.
Hargreaves to City is perhaps the most peculiar. He’d been linked with all manner of clubs all summer, but the injury-plagued midfielder eventually joined mega-rich Man City. On his day, Hargreaves is a fantastic holding midfielder, as shown for England back in the 2006 World Cup, but the question is whether his long-running problems will hold off, and then will he even fit into an already bulding squad?
All in all, then, a satisfying summer of transfers, and the major work, the football, can begin with a number of questions to be answered. Will Arsenal return as a major force? Will QPR and Blackburn stave off relegation? Will Spurs’ small squad be able to cope with the demands of both the Premier and Europa League’s? Only time will tell!