So with the stroke of 11 PM GST/6 PM EST, the 2013 Summer Transfer Window officially closed. Barring free agents and youth loans, players cannot be moved from club to club until the window creeps open for its January dalliance. I’ll have a more detailed breakdown of Arsenal’s along with some opinions later. For now, I just wanted to get thoughts down on the Premier League on e-ink and the “awards” cliché is an easy mechanism to do that. With that said…
Transfer of the Summer: Mesut Ozil (42.5 million pounds to Arsenal). How can I pick anything else? That Madridistas were openly chanting at Real Madrid’s President to not sell Ozil while he’s unveiling the world-record transfer, who will replace him in the squad, kind of tells it all. Once Gareth Bale arrived at the Bernabeu someone had to go. The surprise is that it’s Ozil, one of the best midfielders in the world and a man capable of transforming any side. Arsene Wenger’s patience paid off.
Best Summer: (tie) Everton and Tottenham. I’m calling it a draw in regards to which team had the best overall summer. On one hand, Everton managed to hang onto Leighton Baines while bringing in all sorts of attackers and defenders: Arouna Kone, Joel Robles, Antolin Alcaraz, Gerard Deulofeu (Loan), Romelu Lukaku (Loan), James McCarthy and Gareth Barry (Loan). Meanwhile, Tottenham, knowing that they were going to sell Gareth Bale for world-record money, spent to spread his responsibility around and brought in a major haul of talent from around the world: Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue, Erik Lamela, Vlad Chiriches and Christian Eriksen. In short, both teams strengthened well and ensured that they will be challengers every time they step on the pitch.
Worst Summer: Manchester United. Odd to think of United screwing things up, but that’s the feeling they left their own fans with after tonight. Yes, they did manage to bring in Marouane Fellaini, but that was only after weeks and weeks of trying to find anyone else. Cesc Fabregas wasn’t going to go to Manchester, even if Ed Woodward left their Asia trip early. They let Thiago Alcantara run to Bayern Munich in the meantime. They bid low for Fellaini and Baines and got knocked back twice. They apparently turned down Mesut Ozil. They got involved in a mess with Ander Herrara. They put in a last minute bid for Sami Khedira and a failed loan bid for Fabio Coentrao. Who’s in charge back there?
Oddest Strategy: Newcastle United. I know that they spent like mad men during the January window. But isn’t it odd that, besides the loan of Loic Remy and the transfer of Olivier Kemen, Newcastle chose to not add during this summer? It’s not like they ended the season any great. Plus, they brought in Joe Kinnear and his global connects. No desire to use them at all? They managed to keep Yohan Cabaye and all, but if Newcastle struggle, any business done next January will appear to be a panic.
Oddest Summer Saga: Luis Suarez and “the pound.” It’s tough to beat a world-record transfer for headline sizzle and yet Suarez’s mooted move away from Anfield did just that. Arguably the best player in the league last year, Suarez was looking for a move out of England. Which is why his people looked to Arsenal. Who are in North London. The Gunners pulled out of the Gonzalo Higuain sweepstakes when they thought they could get Suarez for that mythical 40M pounds + 1 more price – a clause they weren’t even supposed to know existed. The fans twisted themselves in knots to justify the move or for standing by the player. John W Henry began tweeting like a lunatic. The clubs’ attorneys got involved. In the end, Arsenal had egg in their face, Suarez was stuck at Anfield and Brendan Rodgers demanded apologies. Hope he ain’t holding his breath.
Transfer that Should Have Happened: Asmir Begovic. The Bosnian Keeper was long rumored a target of clubs like Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool. Liverpool got Simon Mignolet. Begovic meanwhile stayed right where he was at Stoke City. It actually ended up causing an issue for Mark Hughes, who has Jack Butland ready to step into the #1 shirt. Instead, rumors of a loan move for the England youngster began to surface. Was the money Stoke asked for too high? Did Man City, Arsenal and whatever other teams that asked just afraid of unsettling their #1 keeper?
Transfer that Should Not Have Happened: Johan Djourou. I know that I’m skewing heavy on the Arsenal so far, but bear with me. This has less to do with the players’ position and more to do with the club’s. It’s one thing to loan out a player when you have others ready to take his spot. It’s another when you know you’re down one for months of rehab and could lose another to injury or suspension. This past Sunday, Arsenal had only 1 defender (RB Bacary Sagna) on the bench. And he was ill with the flu!
Who’s Happiest After Today: Roberto Martinez. He managed to get the players he wanted and for far cheaper than many would have expected. He got scorers, defenders and midfielders. He got the replacement for Fellaini. He managed to hang onto Leighton Baines. He can now work on getting his team to start turning draws into wins.
Who’s Unhappiest After Today: Robin van Persie. You left your club for a heated rival in an ugly move because you did not like the direction they were headed. You leave one legendary coach for one even more legendary, thinking that first title is but a taste of things to come. Now, that coach is gone, the one they got isn’t what the old ones were, the midfield feeds you nothing and you see the best passer in the sport move to your old club, who’ve got talented midfielders everywhere. Oh, and Wayne Rooney hates your guts for taking his spot.
THAT Transfer. I guess we ought to touch on it now. Gareth Bale’s 86-million pounds record-setting move to Real Madrid is impressive. It could actually cover the fees of Ozil (42M), Erik Lamela (30M) and Gervinho (8M) that dominoed around it with room to spare. The question will be “Is he worth it?” The answer is “No, not yet.” Bale is extremely talented, but he’s not yet at the level of a Messi or a Ronaldo – the players he will be compared to now. However, if Real Madrid wanted him – and Florentino Perez clearly did – then they had to make that move now and not when he would be worth it. To wait was to run the risk Bale would end up at Manchester United or Barcelona or Bayern Munich. Or worse, they could have ended up in a massive bidding war with another megaclub for him and pay even more crazy money. Bale will go into the attacking trio with Ronaldo and Isco behind Benzema and hope to out-Bayern clubs like Bayern. The pressure will be immense.
What the hell, Mourinho? Chelsea were busier sending players out on loan – Lukaku to Everton, Moses to Liverpool – than buying this Deadline Day. Which didn’t keep their name out of the headlines as they had bids and interest for Juan Mata from Manchester United and PSG. This would be the same Mata who was one of the three best players in the league last season and the key cog in their success. But he’s not a Mourinho-style guy and so he’s seen less of the pitch than I have. I get not selling him to United. (For the love of God, don’t do that!) But if Mata is not in your plans, don’t cage him. Let Mata be free!
I think that’s enough for one day. Let us all sing Jim White to sleep.