Premier League Mix-Up

Radoslav Ivanov

With the transfer window in Europe fi­nally closed, it is now time for a recapitu­lation of the last couple of frantic weeks of spending. Unsurprisingly, the last day of the window provided us with a lot to think about before the resumption of the Champions League and the decisive stages of each of the national leagues.

As usual, Chelsea was one of the big players when it comes to buying. In ut­ter denial of the English Football Associa­tion’s decision that, beginning next season, no team will be able to spend more than they earn, the Blues spent 71million Brit­ish pounds on the last day of the transfer window alone. Having just declared a loss of 70 million pounds for 2010, Chelsea bought Liverpool striker Fernando Torres and Benfica defender David Luiz in an at­tempt to finally get out of their current slump of form that has seen them drop to fifth place at one stage of the campaign.

It is unclear, however, whether this in­vestment will be worth it in the end since Chelsea already have a lot of competition among their forwards. Yes, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka are both not in their teens anymore but they’re still among the top 10 strikers in the world. In addition, there are numerous examples of great stars failing to impress when they go to Chelsea or Real Madrid; sometimes the expecta­tions are so great that the players just can­not handle them. Andriy Shevchenko, for example, went to Chelsea just after win­ning the Ballon d’Or, and, unfortunately, that move marked the end of his top-for­ward career. From this point of view, it seems likely that Torres will turn out to be the next Shevchenko; given how prone to injuries he is, it will be very difficult to compete with the incredibly fit Drogba and Anelka.

Liverpool, on the other hand, made a profit from the transfer window, but purely from an accounting point of view. While I think Torres is worth less than 50 million pounds, the 35 million they paid for Newcastle striker Andy Carroll is many times more than his actual price. After all, players like Tevez, Berbatov and Villa, all renowned world starters, cost less than Carroll. Even though the guy does have some talent I don’t think he will ever become one of Anfield’s greats. Liverpool’s other new acquisition, former Ajax striker Luiz Suarez, is much more promising and 10 million pounds cheap­er. Suarez played a crucial role in Uru­guay’s fourth place finish in the World Cup last summer and might just bring the class and goalscoring capabilities that will help Liverpool back to the top where they really belong. In fact, he even scored his first goal at Anfield during his debut in the 2:0 win over Stoke City on Wednes­day. So, while I consider Torres’s sale a mistake on the part of Liverpool manage­ment, his replacements might prove to be the necessary change that will finally get the team going.

Of course, no talk of transfers can ever go without a mention of Manchester City. The team’s Arab owners have spent so much in the past two years that it is incredible that the team is still struggling to stay in the top four in the league. It is probably hard for the City supporters themselves to keep track of all the players that went to and left Eastlands recently. Just as with Chelsea and Real Madrid, buying a whole bunch of good players does not translate to a well-working and consistent team. Having perhaps realized this, City only bought one big player this winter, namely Edin Dzeko from Wols­fburg. Dzeko has been in top form for quite a while now, and it was only a mat­ter of time before one of the big clubs fi­nally bought him. Going to City is a risky move but he seems to have started well so far and might form a good partner­ship with Carlos Tevez. Even so, I do not see City finishing anywhere higher than fourth in the league this year.

Finally, Manchester United and Arsenal were unsurprisingly completely inactive on the market. The two teams’ only acqui­sition is goalkeeper Anders Lindergaard who made his debut for United in the FA Cup fourth round win against South­hampton. With both Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger supporting the thesis that no big changes should be made in mid-season, both sides focused on consol­idating their current squads and just sur­viving the enormous quantity of matches they have to play in the winter. However, United have suffered a big, but somewhat expected, loss as Gary Neville announced his retirement yesterday, due to recur­ring injuries and an inability to return to competitive form.

Overall, the January transfer window did not bring any unexpected news. Play­ers have again been largely overpriced, and the only three big teams on the market were the usual suspects in Chel­sea and Manchester City as well as the increasingly desperate Liverpool.