January deadline day is usually such a drab affair. Ordinarily very little happens, low profile moves, loans and perhaps one or two names of note moving. This year however, Liverpool and Chelsea blew that trend out of the water, with transfers totalling a staggering £134 million between them. Manchester City were predictably in the market and surprisingly, even Aston Villa got involved with the madness, bringing in their own big money player.
The first big move of the window was Edin Dzeko’s £27 million switch from Wolfsburg to Manchester City. The Bosnian arrives in England with a huge reputation, as someone that can convert and make chances for his team. His former boss Steve Mclaren said “Dzeko has everything to succeed.” Dzeko is probably hoping he will be used as more than just an expensive target man and he is more than capable. Dzeko is strong, athletic and a clinical finisher. Roberto Mancini will be hoping he can strike up a partnership with City talisman Carlos Tevez as quickly as possible to aid City with their push for the title.
The biggest move of the window, and now British record transfer, is Fernando Torres, for a fee believed to be in the region of about £50 million. Some pundits have been saying that if the Spaniard can reproduce the form of 2007/2008, then he will prove to be a bargain. Well, not exactly. When shelling out £50 million, its fair to say there is no such thing as a bargain.
If he can produce his best for Chelsea then they have undoubtedly purchased a quality player who will improve their squad, but how will Torres fit into their system? Some have suggested Ancelotti may revert to a 442 with Drogba and Torres up front. More likely is a continuation of the current 433 with either Torres taking Drogba’s place as the central striker, or being put in one of the wide positions currently occupied by Malouda and Anelka. Perhaps a 4222 could be on the cards.
Liverpool fans are understandably disappointed to lose one of their star players, but many have accepted that if the player wanted out, selling him was the best thing to do. The hefty £50 million they gained from his sale certainly softened the blow. With it (and the £6 million earned from the sale of Dutch rapper Ryan Babel) they have been able to purchase Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll with a net spend of only £2 million. Suarez will be a great player for Liverpool, at a very reasonable price for a player of his caliber. He is technically gifted, comfortable with both feet, a natural goalscorer and has a strong work ethic. Liverpool fans will just be hoping he can avoid biting opposition players.
Carroll is being seen as a bit more of a gamble. He clearly has ability but most people think Liverpool have paid over the odds to get him. This is not really surprising though, it is a common theme with English players these days. Look at Darren Bent’s transfer to Aston Villa for £18 million (going on £24 million) or Glen Johnson’s staggering £18 million price tag and we can see that English players are massively overpriced in the market. None of these players are worth such extravagant amounts.
Has home grown status become so valuable that it is driving the prices up? The answer is of course no, you dont have to be English to be classed as home grown. Cesc Fabregas for example is classed as a home grown player. Is it because top quality English players are a rare breed? Much more likely. World class English players could be counted on one hand. You dont often see average players in Spain going for £20 million and more. English players of moderate ability are seized upon by clubs, driving the prices up.
It is not just inflated prices for English players, but also inflation in general. Without pointing a finger of blame (even though we all know who is to blame) it must be said that if Zinedine Zidane was around today, he would comfortably command a transfer fee equal to Christiano Ronaldo’s £80 million. If he was English, it would be much more.
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