September 3, 2012 by Gerry Johnston
The transfer window has closed and in the last day or two of the window, almost every Premier League club was involved in the madness, whether it was buying or selling. It’s hardly surprising that big spending Manchester City stole the headlines, making five signings.
Javi Garcia, Maicon, Matija Nastasic, Scott Sinclair and Richard Wright all completed moves to the champions. Javi Garcia was the most expensive, with City paying £16m for the Benfica man. Garcia should be a good addition and can play in a defensive midfield role or centre-back. Both are positions were City needed to strengthen so as long as he settles into the league, he should prove to be a good buy. Maicon has come in as “cover for Pablo Zabaleta”. Maicon has been linked with moves to Chelsea and Real Madrid for huge money as recently as a year ago. Zabaleta is a decent player but I think Maicon will quickly take over him in Mancini’s plans. Nastasic is a young Serbian, centre-back. Other than Vincent Kompany, City are a bit short in quality centre-backs. Kolo Toure and Joleon Lescott are both prone to errors so if Nastasic is as good as he is being built up to be, he could be in the first team quick enough. Scott Sinclair has completed his move from Swansea. While I do think Sinclair is a decent player, I just don’t see were he fits in with Manchester City. I can only imagine he is a direct replacement for Adam Johnson on the bench. Another bench warmer, if he even makes it that far, is Richard Wright. I’d be amazed if he ever makes it into the City team for a league match. City did lose a few too. Stefan Savic moved to Fiorentina, as part of the Nastasic deal and Nigel de Jong moved to AC Milan. Savic was poor and I can’t see him being missed but I do think de Jong’s absence will be more noticeable. De Jong wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I always liked him. He is a tough tackler and exactly the sort of player big teams need to help break up counter attacks. I think de Jong will do well in Italy but Mancini has at least brought in a like for like replacement in Garcia.
Another big spending club, QPR, made a few big deals in the last few days of the window. Julio Cesar, Esteban Granero and Stephane Mbia all completed moves to Loftus Road. Cesar comes in from Inter Milan and surely it will only be a matter of time before he displaces Robert Green in goals. Esteban Granero is an excellent signing. He is a technically gifted, creative presence in midfield and I am looking forward to seeing him in the Premier League. He has played a part for Real Madrid in recent seasons as a squad player and he will improve with regular football. Stephane M’bia is a Cameroon international who can play in defence or midfield. Manager, Mark Hughes has suggested he sees him primarily, as a centre-back. At 6 foot 2, he should be a big presence in the QPR defence. QPR did resolve another issue on deadline day when they loaned Joey Barton to Marseille. Barton isn’t a bad player but his character and attitude are a disgrace to the game. When it’s a young player it can sometimes be excused but Barton is 30 and still behaves like a petulant child. I don’t watch a lot of French football and Joey Barton’s presence will certainly not encourage me to start watching more of it.
Tottenham, had a busy day bringing in Hugo Lloris from Lyon and Clint Dempsey from Fulham. Lloris is a very good goalkeeper and at 25 should have a good career ahead of him. He has been goalkeeper of the year three times in France and is already the captain of the national team. Brad Friedel is a good keeper but Lloris is the future and could well be the number one for the next 10 years. Dempsey will be a direct replacement for Rafael van der Vaart who moved on to Hamburg. Dempsey can play in the midfield or up front and should be a good signing. He scored 17 league goals last season and Spurs have struggled at times to score, so it should be a good move.
West Ham made a pair of loan moves bringing back former Hammer, Yossi Benayoun and Liverpool’s, Andy Carroll. Benayoun was never going to get a chance at Chelsea with all the attacking talent they have brought in and Carroll had been left in no uncertain terms by Brendan Rodgers that he’s not required at Anfield. Carroll will do well at West Ham. Sam Allardyce has always favoured a physical, direct approach and Carroll is the perfect front man to lead the line. He is superb in the air and if they play long to Carroll, he will win his fair share of flick ons. If West Ham can get Nolan, Jarvis etc getting onto the end of them, then they could see some joy. Carroll’s style didn’t suit at Liverpool and it is everything that Brendan Rodgers is against. Carroll will flourish in a team who will play to his strengths and Big Sam is the perfect manager for him.
Tony Pulis brought three midfielders to Stoke City with Steven N’Zonzi, Maurice Edu and Charlie Adam all joining. N’Zonzi signs from Blackburn Rovers and is a former France U-21 international. At 6 foot 4 he should be another good addition to Stoke’s aerial threat. Maurice Edu comes in from Rangers but I can’t see him making a big impact in the Premier League. He was quite inconsistent in the SPL and I can’t see him improving in a more difficult league. Charlie Adam, whilst I don’t particularly rate him as a player, will be a good signing for Stoke. Stoke have a team full of 6 footers and they try to make the most of set pieces. Charlie Adam is one of the best set piece takers in the league and if he provides high quality crosses, there are plenty of players who are capable of applying the finish.
Swansea replaced Scott Sinclair by spending a club record fee of £5.5m on Pablo Hernandez. Hernandez arrives from Valencia and should be a good addition. He had 10 assists last year. If he takes to the Premier League like the rest of Swansea’s imports from La Liga, he should be an asset to Swansea and the Premier League.
Fulham’s business will receive a mixed reaction. They brought in Dimitar Berbatov, Kieran Richardson and Ashkan Dejagah but lost Clint Dempsey and had already lost Mousa Dembele. Berbatov will be a good signing. He had quite a good record at United when you compare it to the amount of time he spent on the pitch. Kieran Richardson, I’m not so impressed with. He has never really lived up to the hype from when he was a youngster at Manchester United. He has played left midfield, left back and centre midfield but I expect Fulham to use him in the centre of midfield and he is a downgrade from Dembele. Dejagah comes in from Wolfsburg and can play on the wing or in an attacking midfield role. I expect he will be regarded as Dempsey’s replacement in an attacking midfield role but it will take a huge effort to replace the void left by the American.
Kieran Richardson’s replacement at Sunderland is former Leeds youngster, Danny Rose, who has joined on loan from Tottenham. Rose is a similar player to Richardson and can play anywhere down the left. I can’t see him displacing Ireland’s James McClean on the left wing but he would be adequate cover in case of injury.
Aston Villa manager, Paul Lambert, brought in two more signings. Christian Benteke from Genk and Ashley Westwood from Crewe have arrived. Benteke is a 21 year old, Belgian international. He had a good record at Genk scoring 33 in 37 games. The Premier League will be a significant step up in class but Benteke has age on his side and could well be a good signing for Villa. Westwood is another player who will be making a significant step up. 118 of Westwood’s 123 league appearances have been in League 2. He is another youngster at 22 and I believe he has likened himself to Manchester United’s, Michael Carrick. I don’t think he should have put that pressure on his shoulders, as moving up to the Premier League will be a tough enough task.
Southampton finally completed the transfer of Uruguayan winger, Gaston Ramirez. Ramirez is very highly rated and has had two good years at Bologna, scoring 15 goals. The Saints also completed the signing of Maya Yoshida, a Japanese centre-back from VVV-Venlo. Southampton certainly needed a new centre-back so we will see how Yoshida fits into the Premier League .
Bryan Oviedo completed his move to Everton for £5m. Oviedo is a Costa Rica international who can play anywhere down the left side. He is 22 years old and was playing for Copenhagen in Denmark.
The final Premier League moves were Harry Kane moving to Norwich on loan and Goran Popov, the Macedonian left-back, moved to West Brom on another loan deal. One of the biggest fees paid on deadline day didn’t actually involve a Premier League club. Huddersfield’s, Scottish international striker, Jordan Rhodes, moved to Blackburn Rovers in a deal that could be worth up to £8m. Rhodes is a great talent and only improves a team I would have already regarded as the best in the Championship.
Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal were all heavily linked with players but none of them made any signings. However, they did get rid of a few high profile players. Chelsea let Michael Essien go to Real Madrid on loan. Liverpool sent Andy Carroll to West Ham and Jay Spearing to Bolton, on loan and sold Charlie Adam to Stoke. Arsenal sent Nicklas Bendtner and Park Chu-Young on loan deals to Juventus and Celta Vigo.
Essien is a fantastic footballer and if he can keep himself fit then he won’t be out-of-place in Madrid. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has been receiving criticism for letting so many go but I think overall his business has been good. He has dramatically improved the midfield, getting rid of Adam and Spearing and bringing in Nuri Sahin and Joe Allen. He has let Andy Carroll go but he doesn’t fit into what he wants to do at the club, so why have him there? I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rodgers play Steven Gerrard in the front three, if required. Gerrard doesn’t really fit into what Rodgers wants to do. He is very direct which would be fine if asked to play on the right hand side of the front three. Arsenal are another side short of attacking options but they have let their back up options go. Bendtner, in particular, could have been asked to stay. I am also quite surprised that Wenger didn’t sign another midfielder. He has a decent starting midfield but if someone gets injured before WIlshere returns then they could be short of options.
The window is now closed and teams are stuck with what they have until January. Some teams will be happy, some won’t and some just won’t be good enough. Either way we’ve a good four months of football ahead of us before the window opens again. The picture will be a lot clearer by that stage but no doubt there will be plenty of teams trying to add players for a title race, Champions League qualification or to avoid a relegation battle. The January transfer window is the footballing equivalent of Christmas Eve when people go mad panic buying and I for one can’t wait for it.