Deadline Day Dissected
The transfer window slammed shut in Europe last night as clubs across the continent tried to lock in their squads for the next four months. It was, of course, a breathless night of rumour, half-truth and outright fabrication, but there were plenty of real deals done over the course of the day, including the most expensive loan signing in football history. Here is our take on the best, the worst and plain strangest.
Seemingly determined to play a 2-3-5 formation for the rest of the season, Manchester United’s beleaguered manager Louis Van Gaal added to an already overflowing attack with the loan purchase of Monaco forward, Radamel Falcao.
While loans are historically supposed to save clubs a bit of money, the lank-haired Colombian is said to be costing United a record wage packet of around $265,000 a week, in a one-season transfer worth up to about $33 million.
And while United’s attack can now be firmly considered Champion’s League standard, their defence remains resolutely League Two. How it’ll all pan out, is anyone’s guess.
Least surprising: Nico Kranjar Dynamo Kiev to Queens Park Rangers (season-long loan)
Not content with having snared half of his old club Tottenham’s midfield, like a film director who insists in using the same cast members in every one of his productions, perennial Deadline Day wheeler dealer ‘Arry Redknapp nailed down a repeat season-long loan for yet another player he’d managed before. Three times before, actually. The perfectly respectable but not exactly devastating Croat Nico Kranjcar will line up for Queens Park Rangers for a second season, on a seemingly permanent secondment from Dynamo Kiev.
Under the radar: Hatem Ben Arfa Newcastle United to Hull City (season-long loan)
This is certainly one of those sneaky purchases that will have many a punter around Britain nodding into their pints and churning out cliched guff like “I tell ya what John, he ain’t a bad player for a team like ‘em”, etc, etc.
Forgetting for a while his relative exile at old club Newcastle and penchant for – shall we say – ‘going it alone’ on the pitch, a trip 140 miles south to neighbours Hull City could be just the breath of fresh North-Easterly air needed to revitalise the talented Frenchman’s fortunes.
The one that got away. Again: Jermain Defoe Toronto to… anywhere
While there are few certainties in modern day football, over the last decade you can almost stake your life that on any given transfer deadline day, Jermain Defoe will be supposedly heading somewhere. And it’s probably back to Tottenham again.
Having ventured abroad to continue his footballing career in Canada (or put the maple-syrup-dipped nail in its coffin, depending on your perspective) few expected to see JD back in the Premiership fold ever again. But, in a typically frantic, rumour-driven finale to the transfer window, the diminutive frontman apparently almost joined Arsenal, QPR, and of course, Spurs.
Fortunately for the MLS, a possible public relations nightmare was avoided and Defoe’s move was blocked. Whether they can stave off further interest in January, however, remains to be seen.
Most divisive: Danny Welbeck Manchester United to Arsenal ($26m)
Raising eyebrows in both Manchester and North London, Arsenal’s purchase of the 23-year-old striker has been seen as either an utter folly or an astute addition. Welbeck was told in the summer that he could find another club and his first-team prospects were further dented by United’s interest in Radomel Falcao, while Arsenal, recently deprived of the services of Olivier Giroud though injury, needed striking support. In this case, two and two do indeed make four. Although critics have pointed to a slight timidity and lack of finishing power, Welbeck does have pace, mobility and good feet, which ought to bring the best out in new recruit Alexis Sanchez. He might not score 20 goals but he will help Arsenal play their expansive game.
Much like Welbeck, Mexican striker Hernandez was always going to struggle for game time at Old Trafford. Indeed, as a goal-mouth poacher, he seems cut from a cloth that no longer seems to suit the modern game, with appearances for both club and country coming increasingly from the substitute’s bench. That does seem how he’ll be used at Real Madrid, too, offering support for the perennially underwhelming Karim Benzema and feeding off chances created by Bale, Ronaldo and James Rodriguez. But in reality, he will be more Michael Owen than Morientes.
Most intriguing: Micah Richards Manchester City to Fiorentina (season-long loan)
With Ashley Cole opting for the rigours of Italy’s Serie A and not, as expected, the easy riches of the MLS or even the UAE after his deal at Chelsea expired, it was similarly refreshing to see an English fullback at the other end of his career doing the same. Micah Richards’ career at Manchester City hadn’t just stalled, it had been raised on bricks and left rusting and forgotten in a Salford lock-up, so a move to a top five club in technically demanding league ought to be the kick-start he needs. Hopefully, other young English pros will follow and learn better footballing habits.
The shrewdest: James McArthur Wigan Athletic to Crystal Palace ($11.5m)
A couple of generations ago, the best English sides would invariably have at its core a battle-hardened midfielder carved from Scotland’s hillsides: Mackay at Spurs, Bremner at Leeds, Souness at Liverpool. These days, they’re a rarer breed, but James McArthur seems to be built from similar – albeit less blessed – stuff than his illustrious countrymen. A scrapper who can pass, a ball-winner with an eye for goal, he is ideal for a lower-half Premier League team who will have to fight for most of their points this year.
Words: Tom Norton and Eddie Taylor / Images: Getty