As Sky Sports News struggle to squeeze another rumour onto their rolling on screen ticker, and the football pages of the tabloid media seem to have more spies and insiders than MI5, it’s a sure sign that the transfer silly season is well and truly underway. From bargain basement wheeling and dealing, to the multi million pound super deals, here are a few of the types of transfers you might just come across before the 1st of September.
He’s One Of Us
In the mercenary world of modern football, fans love nothing more seeing one of their own turning out for the club they supported as a boy. It might not always work out, but at the very least it can add a certain feel good factor to the million pound merry go round that is the transfer window. With Rickie Lambert still beaming from his recent return to Anfield, football has been graced with many players togging out for the teams they once cheered on from the stands. Who could forget Alan Shearer’s momentous return to Newcastle United, Stan Collymore’s unveiling at Villa Park, or Robbie Keane proclaiming his joy at finally having the opportunity to join his boyhood heroes Wolves, Coventry, Inter Milan, Leeds, Spurs, Liverpool, Celtic, LA Galaxy……
As the transfer window kicks into gear, it isn’t just the players who can find themselves destined for new surroundings. Managers too are often subject to the whims of embattled chairmen, convinced that a change at the helm will breathe new life into an otherwise flagging squad. However, walking into that new dressing room full of big name stars can be an intimidating scenario for any new boss to deal with. How might the new gaffer help to smooth over such a difficult transition? By crowbarring in a few familiar faces, that’s how. Managers have often resorted to plundering their former clubs for players with whom they enjoyed success in the past. However it can often seem that these types of transfers are made with little or no thought as to how they will fit into their newly adopted sides. It can be a bit like switching the bits in two jigsaw puzzles, hammering hell out of them to make them fit together and then sitting there wondering why you’ve ruined the pieces and yet still ended up with a pretty disjointed result. Just ask Marouane Fellaini.
While having mainly been the preserve of sides such as Real Madrid or Barcelona, this type of signing was all the rage at the beginning of the noughties. It seemed you couldn’t move without another transfer fee record being smashed by some club or other. Then we were told that football had to tighten it’s belt and that sustainability and frugalness were the mantras by which the future of the game would be safeguarded. No more frivolity and no more record smashing, sensible business practice was to be the order of the day. That was before some people at the top European clubs decided that sensible business practice was boring. So they all got their cheque books out and soon it seemed as if everyone was partaking in a Europe wide game of no limits poker: “I’ll see your Radamel Falcao and I’ll raise you Edison Cavani”. At least some of the other clubs have benefitted from the reckless spending of Europe’s elite. Tottenham, Napoli and Athletico Madrid are just some of those to have pocketed large wads of cash in recent times and all have gone on to reinvest wisely to improve their squads. Well, Spurs got their hands on the money at least.
The World Cup Wonder
What’s that saying? Form is temporary, class is a distinctly average player having a decent World Cup and leaving with a hugely over-inflated price tag. It seems that every four years, some club somewhere is convinced that based on a couple of decent performances on the international stage, they have seen something no one else has. That somehow, a certain player has slipped through the scouting nets of all the top clubs, and now they’re about to pull off one of the greatest transfer coups of all time. And then the player arrives. And he’s not very good. Cue general head scratching and looks of embarrassment as another skewed shot ends up in Row Z. Mind you, it was just this type of signing that led to the arrival of El Hadji Diouf in English football, and that is something for which everyone can be.….err….thankful?
We’ve Signed Who?!
In the age where ‘Google’ has become something we do rather than use, this type of signing isn’t as prevalent as it once used to be. Every club has had at least one however. The unknown foreign import nobody can pronounce, let alone recognise. Nowadays, a quick internet search will often present everything you need to know about even the most obscure of footballers, right down to the name of his first pet or his favourite colour, or the favourite colour of his first pet. Pronunciations can still present difficulties however (Chelsea fans resorted to referring to Cesar Azpillicueta as ‘Dave’ owing to the complexity of the Spaniard’s surname) and this type of player can also present numerous headaches for those charged with the penning of the club’s latest song or chant (just try finding something decent to rhyme with Jussi Jaaskelainen). The level of success of such signings can vary greatly. For every Georgiou Kinkladze and Tony Yeboah, there are twice as many Sieb Dykstras and Fumacas. Only a few enjoy long and successful careers at the top level, an awful lot more fade back into obscurity, quicker than a West Ham fan can say Florin Raducioiu.