Since the last update on the Premier League there have been numerous intriguing transfers. Here are a few of them:
Jan Vertonghen to Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs signed the former Ajax captain in a deal that could eventually rise to £10m. After a shaky start to the season Vertonghen was again instrumental in leading Ajax to their second successive Eredivisie title and his contribution was recognised in the form of winning the Eredivisie Player of the Year award. His ability to carry the ball out from the back, often being tightly covered by converted midfield anchor Anita, always made him a threat from deep and he finished the season with a mightily impressive 8 goals in 31 league appearances. At times it almost felt as though playing centre-back was too easy for him in the Eredivisie. Ajax by the final third of the season became an unstoppable beast obliterating any side that stood in the way of the title and Vertonghen himself was one of the most in-form centre-backs in the whole of Europe.
Transfer Rating – 8/10. Circumstance undoubtedly benefited Spurs in this deal. Vertonghen was entering the final year of his contract and therefore Ajax had to sell him or they risked him walking away on a free. This move is a coup for various reasons. Firstly, he is a centre-back any club in the Europe would like to have. Secondly, it looked at one point that Bayern Munich were clear favourites to land Vertonghen. Thirdly, he is a £18m centre-back being bought for almost half that price. And finally, it is difficult to imagine a better centre-back Spurs could have attracted to White Hart Lane. A superb piece of business and a great and welcome addition to the Premier League.
Fabio Borini to Liverpool
Liverpool opened their transfer campaign with a bang. Here is the view of our Serie A correspondent Jeremy Lim on this transfer:
“A fee amounting to £10.5 million may seem steep for a 21-year-old, but in Borini, Liverpool have secured a real gem of a forward, whose experience in England as a youth player will only see him adapt that much faster to the natural bustle that is the EPL. No longer one-for-the-future, Borini’s spell in Serie A with AS Roma has helped him gain vital international experience that will see him better prepared to stake a claim for a place in Liverpool’s first team from the off, providing the club with an immediate return of investment. Early comparisons with compatriot Filippo Inzaghi abound given Borini’s credible return of nine goals in 24 Serie A appearances last term. His ability to finish is undisputed, but so unlike the fox-in-the-box the veteran former-AC Milan striker was, goals remain just the icing on the cake for the gifted hitman, who is just as adept taking up striking positions outside the area. A hardworking player who never shirks his defensive duties, Borini’s all-action style saw him chalk up 34 fouls committed last season, the fifth-highest number of fouls committed by the entire Roma squad. Indeed, the young striker is very much more mobile than Inzaghi might have been, with a propensity to play out wide on the right in Brendan Rodgers’s preferred 4-3-3 with pace and power an added string to the Welsh coach’s bow.
A little adaptation time to bed into his fourth team in as many years will be necessary, but the already-matured Italian international is one to keep an eye out for. Whether on the lung-bursting run or volleying the ball high into the back of the net, make no mistake: Borini is back in the EPL to stay, kick starting the Liverpool revolution in the process.”
Transfer Rating – 7/10. The Roma fan base seem to be at odds over this transfer. Some feel that they have received a healthy sum for a someone who is not a key player to their squad. Others are however disappointed at losing a player who was one of the few bright spots of last season and someone who could go on to become a future star of the national team. For Borini it is a good move. At Roma he was always going to be continually moved to a wider role to accommodate either Osvaldo or Totti in the starting line-up, and in wide roles his limitations as a player are exposed. His high intense approach and clinical finishing will be something that will quickly endear him to the Liverpool support. The £10.5m fee is a risky one as Borini is still relatively inexperienced in top flight appearances but it does fairly reflect the ability and promise he showed with a struggling Roma side last season.
Steven Naismith to Everton
Naismith opted not to join Rangers Newco and instead cut his ties with the club and joined Everton on a free transfer. The Scottish internationalist’s versatility means he is more like three players than one. He is just as comfortable playing on the right as he is behind a striker through the middle or even on the left. His is also not one to shy away from defensive responsibilities and in doing so offers plenty of cover for the full-back playing behind him.
Transfer Rating – 6/10. A good move for Everton that comes with little risk. Naismith has been out with a long-term injury but he has recovered fully from a similar injury before. Getting Naimisth on a free who at another time would have probably cost upwards of £4m is a great piece of business. A good player and a solid addition to Everton’s squad.
Carlos Cuellar to Sunderland
As Martin O’Neil starts to mould Sunderland into the side he wants, it is no surprise to Cuellar join him. He is someone already proved to be extremely comfortable in O’Neil’s tactics whether it be at right-back or centre-back in a four man defence or as one of three central defenders in a three-man defence. Cuellar will slot nicely in this Sunderland side that I expect to glide right up the table this season.
Transfer Rating – 7/10. Another free transfer and one that will almost certainly work. He is the kind of player Sunderland lacked and he offers various tactical choices to the manager. Just like the Naismith deal, it is very difficult to see any risk in this move.
Park Ji Sung to QPR
A signing that surprised quite a few people. A long time favourite of Ferguson finally leaves Old Trafford and it is one of the players Ferguson mentored that saw the value in picking him up. There were criticisms last season aimed at players such as Cisse and Taraabt for them becoming passengers in spells of games and not pulling their weight defensively. With Park there will be no such complaints.
Transfer Rating – 8/10. Mark Hughes was visibly delighted at this signing and so he should be for £2m. Park may not be the player he once was but he is only 30 and still has plenty to give. A player of Park’s characteristics will be worth his weight in gold for QPR.
Hugo Rodallega to Fulham
With what seems like the imminent departure of Clint Dempsey to Liverpool, Fulham have signed an excellent replacement. Like Dempsey, Rodallega is also comfortable coming deep to link play, working the channels but also offers the threat in behind. He should also work as a lovely foil for Petric.
Transfer Rating – 7/10. Rodallega’s stock fell slightly due to injury forcing him to miss a chunk of last season but move could prove to be one of the bargains of the season. I always felt Rodallega would eventually make the step up to a more ambitious club and in Martin Jol’s Fulham he has done exactly that.