IT’S quite incredible that the Premier League can wrap up over $1 billion dollars in transfers for the season and we’re hailing it a quiet Deadline Day.
That’s due to the fact the traditional big spenders, under a veil of coaching uncertainty, were quiet while middle to lower tier clubs spent lavishly, right until the death, spurred both by the growing coffers from the league’s television revenue and the fear of missing out on that money if they get relegated.
Indeed, of the five clubs in Europe to spend more than £10m on one player, four of them were Bournemouth, Stoke, Everton and Newcastle, joining Roma, who signed Gerson from Fluminense.
So who were the winners and losers from Deadline Day?
Mark Hughes’s Stoke City revolution continued with the headline deal of the day, snaring Giannelli Imbula from Porto for a club-record £18.3 million. Indeed, it was a bigger splurge on one player than the likes of Real Madrid, Barca, Bayern or City made this year. The last record was set just in the last window, when Xherdan Shaqiri arrived hot on the heels of Bojan Krkic previously.
Hughes has spoken vocally of the need to buy a midfielder to replace Steven N’Zonzi and feels Imbula is the final piece of this season’s puzzle. “It’s a huge vote of confidence from the owners, who like what I’m doing here and they will back my judgment,” Hughes said.
Steve McClaren has spent more in this transfer window than the entire Bundesliga, so he’d better hope he can steer Newcastle clear of relegation. The dominant narrative heading into Deadline Day was his desperation to get another striker. He did just that with Seydou Doumbia joining on loan from Roma, with Ayoze Perez re-signing in a long-term deal too. Suddenly, frugal Mike Ashley has splurged £54m in the summer and another £29m in January. Only Manchester City have been a bigger net spender this season.
While the likes of Leicester and Tottenham talked about wanting more depth up front, it was Roberto Martinez at Everton who got a deal over the line. The Toffees lured Oumar Niasse from Lokomotiv Moscow for £13.5m. It will not only provide competition for Romelu Lukaku, but also provide reassurance should the Belgian depart in the off-season.
There’s serious concerns that Pep Guardiola’s arrival next season will derail this season’s endeavours, but there’s no doubting that the Spaniard’s arrival at the Etihad is the final piece of the City Group’s masterplan in building Manchester City into European superpowers. He’ll bring tactical innovation and attract the world’s best players. He stole the headlines on Deadline Day and with good reason.
How about the Hornets? Quique Sanchez Flores broke the club’s record for the third time in his tenure — then farmed the player out on loan immediately for the rest of the season. Watford’s £8 million deal for Rennes midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure saw the EPL surprise packets reach their quota of foreign players in their top 25, so they’ve farmed the 23-year-old to Granada, in La Liga — a club owned by the same family, the Pozzos, as Watford. Why now? Chief executive Scott Duxbury said: “The opportunity to sign Abdoulaye Doucoure now was one we wanted to act upon, given our longstanding interest in the player. He is very much part of Watford’s future plans and in the time between now and pre-season he’ll be experiencing high-level competitive football in Spain.” Their £24.6 million net spend included Venezuela teenager Adalberto Penaranda.
The Championship high flyers managed to snare 25-year-old Blackburn star Jordan Rhodes.
Given Jurgen Klopp wasn’t going to be bluffed by Shakhtar Donetsk, the Reds could be left out off this analysis completely. But the German had been keen on bringing in another attacking spark, and missed out on the Brazilian Alex Teixeira, and if you believe certain reports, Denis Cherychev, who went to Valencia from Real Madrid on loan.
Klopp’s asked the Liverpool faithful to trust his judgment on Teixeira and now he can play in the European summer with a full deck of cards, without having blown the budget with a January panic buy. “It’s not that we haven’t got money or anything, but you have to work respectfully and responsibly,” Klopp said. “That’s what we do. We will do things, for sure. Not in this window, but we will. It is like it is and it’s not you should buy and sell, buy and sell.”
Tottenham: no. Newcastle: no. Stoke: no. Play at West Brom: not really. West Brom’s refusal to let Saido Berahino go in the last two windows seems peculiar, particularly given his insolence at times, but Tony Pulis and the club’s board have shown tremendous resolve. Now that the English striker hasn’t got the move he desired, he needs to focus on getting back onto the pitch regularly.
LEICESTER AND TOTTENHAM
Both Claudio Ranieri and Mauricio Pochettino are blessed with deadly marksman but both are clever enough to know how reliant Leicester and Tottenham’s campaigns are on Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane respectively. Capable deputies were sought, but the Foxes’ attempts to sign Eder from Sampdoria, CSKA Moscow’s Ahmed Musa and Chelsea’s Loic Remy amounted to nothing, while Fulham scuppered Spurs’ deal with Moussa Dembele.
FALCAO AND REMY
Both Chelsea strikers have failed at Stamford Bridge and the arrival of Alexandre Pato on loan is a clear indication of the club’s faith in the pair getting the job done alongside Diego Costa. But Remy couldn’t get a loan deal anywhere and a late flurry to get Falcao back to La Liga, either with Valencia or his old club, Atletico Madrid, amounted to nothing. Apparently had Jackson Martinez left Atletico, Falcao could have moved.
ASTON VILLA AND SWANSEA
Remi Garde threatened to fall on his sword after he failed to orchestrate any business for Aston Villa, who are in a dire situation this term. They were the only club in the bottom six not to do any business, failing with the likes Seydou Doumbia, Wahbi Khazri, Mathieu Debuchy and Lovre Kalinic. “I am disappointed as well. I’m not happy about this. I’m not stupid by saying we need nobody,” Garde said. If Swansea were looking for omens, they might not want to look at Leroy Fey’s record — relegated with Norwich and QPR already in his career.
SSSHHHH AT OLD TRAFFORD
Pep Guardiola or Louis van Gaal? Which Manchester manager will the world’s best players be clamouring for? Not only is it a blow to the egos at Old Trafford, but with the uncertainty currently around the club, they failed to sign someone in January for the first time since 2005.