With the January transfer window looming, imaginations once again run wild to the endless possibilities that lend themselves to fans and their respective clubs. All kinds of rationale develop to convince yourself that X player is a plausible buy for X club, but unfortunately history tells us that January is a generally tepid month in the market (give or take an Andy Carroll or Fernando Torres transfer or two).
An estimated £58,300,000 was spent in the 2012 January transfer window (with Manchester City about too, I know) according to accountancy firm Deloitte. This figure was approximately 70 per cent down on the number seen in the previous year’s January 2011 transfer window. A big deal of 2011’s window was Papiss Demba CIsse swapping Germany for Tyneside after joining Newcastle for £10m. That transfer was to serve as support, to continue the momentum the Magpies were riding. Quite the opposite tonic is needed for Newcastle with January on the horizon one-year on.
In the Keegan (more so Freddie Shepeard) era, Newcastle was a club associated with money capable of funding big swoops yearly. From the great Alan Shearer to Carl Cort (Ok, I didn’t say they were all smash-hit buys) money was to be spent. With Mike Ashley at the helm, it’s a different time in the North-East, a time I firmly believe Alan Pardew was hired in mind of. His transfer say is borderline non-existent; with head scout Graham Carr (see Tiote, Cabaye and Cisse deals for CV) in charge of what little money the Mags do throw around.
The Demba Ba transfer saga appears to be concluding with a move to Stamford Bridge meaning Chelsea will be activating his well-publicised release clause of around £7m. Makes sense, Ba has scored over half of Newcastle’s goals this season thus far which has still seen Pardew’s men only 3 points from relegation, whilst Chelsea who admittedly are 9 points behind leaders Manchester United, do remain in touching distance, and in serious need of firepower to support the apparently renewed Fernando Torres. It’s a logical transfer.
Mathieu Debuchy should be coming across the channel to St. James Park to conclude a sage of his own stretching six months for about £5m. Another Frenchmen inbound to the same destination is Loic Remy. The pacey forward has been subject to £10m rumours all-week long and with Ba’s impending departure, I can only think it’s virtually a done deal. Given Newcastle’s inability to finalise deals last-summer however it’s safe to say believe it when you see it.
Another club who’s under the scrutiny almost every window now is Arsenal. Any Arsenal fan you speak to will tell you they’ve got money coming out of their ears. Every window though, for every penny Arsenal spend they handsomely recoup too. If I told you I could knock out David Haye every time he offered a fight, but didn’t, would you believe me?
Granted, I’m not as half a decorated fighter as Arsene Wenger is a manager, but you catch my drift. The board keep making promises of the funds available and insist it is Wenger himself who is reluctant to spend. After seven going on eight trophy-less seasons, are we really to believe Wenger is that enamoured with his own philosophies that he would neglect basic team needs, principles in fact, that need addressing? I don’t buy that.
With Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song Wenger was faced two players who had opportunities to go and play for the arguably (although you’d really struggle to argue it) the best team in the world. That’s a scenario that the Arsenal gaffer can’t really counter, he just has to smile and take the money. However, with Adebayor, Nasri, Clichy and of course RVP, he’s lost players in their prime that he’d spent years moulding as a team. Looking at how those four players have turned out, no one would argue first Wenger’s eye for a player and second the development of said player.
For a man of such divine intellect and foresight though (apparently) you would have thought for a plan that requires time like his, he would be very diligent when it comes to contracts, and have contingency plans in place for when the sad scenarios that have laced his reign recently do occur. I can understand to a degree how the board and even Wenger himself will have wanted to solidify Arsenal financially following their stadium move and provide a platform that offers suitable and realistic growth.
Such hindrances on transfers though in the face of mass spending in the new oil-rich world of their Premier League rivals is an insurmountable task, no matter how good your theory is. There has to come a time where someone in Arsenal (Wenger himself perhaps) says, we’ve tried it that way, enough is enough. What they spend in January will go a long way to suggesting the clubs immediate direction. At the risk of alienating fans further with their frustrating activity, it might be advisable that Wenger spend. Don’t be surprised though if you get the usual interest in everyone, substance in precious few.
Another club who’s transfer policy has been the butt of many jokes in recent memory, is Liverpool. Brendan Rodgers has done a very meticulous job of rebuilding the Anfield clubs style and direction. Allowing Damien Commoli a war-chest wasn’t the most prudent decision owner Tom Werner ever made, Stewart Downing for £16m, Jordan Henderson for £20m and (wait for it) Andy Carroll for £35m showed the kind of expensive taste the Frenchmen sported while acting on behalf of the Liverpool hierarchy. Considering the £71m invested in those three, I don’t know where to start when dissecting the ratios of money to performance. Michu is taking the Premier League by storm following a £2m move from La Liga. Hatem Ben Arfa cost £5m. Mohammed Diame went to West Ham on a free! It only pays testament to the over inflated prices British players suffer.
You can’t sign a worldie every time, even Sir Alex will tell you that. To be fair, Commoli did bring in Luis Suarez and Jose Enrique who are important parts of the Liverpool side today. Manager Rodgers finds himself at an important juncture of his tenure on Merseyside, where for all the nice football he’s trying to bring to the club, he needs to equip himself with the players to facilitate it. Unearthing Raheem Sterling and Suso, two players who have impressed at various times this season (it’s surprising how much of an ever-present Sterling has been) are two early bonuses in what the Northern Irishman must think is a very tangible project.
Tom Werner though, must be thinking about the last time he entrusted such cash to an individual. Rodgers may have to suffer where his careless predecessors (Liverpool fan’s don’t scorn me for bad-mouthing King Kenny) rushed their deals and bought a host of players hoping for a team, rather than a system to buy players for. Rodgers has got that system now, and buys like Joe Allen signify the start of that. A couple of buys and Liverpool can really start thinking about being a regular fixture in the top 6 again, at least. I have my doubts about Fabio Borini, but one more striker is needed to give the squad some reliable depth. Daniel Sturridge may be that striker with a reported £12m deal all but done, but he hasn’t showed me much as a striker so far in his career. Whether his farming out to the right-hand side has restricted that, only time will tell. Either way, a man with the ideologies Rodgers has, I’d really like to see him get some success and transform Liverpool, from a football purist point of view. He signalled his intentions when Andy Carroll, a £35m striker (in name only) was allowed to leave on loan. That’s simply not the football Rodgers has an interest in giving to the fans, he’s scrupulous in his endeavours. Much to Sam Alladyce’s staunch disbelief I’m sure.
There’s the three clubs I believe will be/need to be most active this January 2013, excusing QPR whose need of new players in painfully obvious. With both Manchester clubs always in the market, Wesley Sneidjer available and Harry Redknapp’s electric car windows bound to take a hammering, the scene is set for an interesting window.