The transfer window is a period the tabloids love with their continuous volumes of rumours to fuel the avid fan with belief his team is going to invest heavily in a top class forward, finally. The window at the turn of the year is traditionally one which sees low costs moves, usually mid-table clubs investing heavily to help avoid the drop. But this January saw an anomaly in England; big signings. Fernando Torres (£50m), Andy Carroll (£32m), Luis Suarez (£22m), David Luiz (£25m), Darren Bent (24m) and Edin Dzeko (£27m) all moved for prices above £20m, in deals you would generally expect to see in the summer. But what was the general trend across Europe?
The difference between the other European nations was drastic. With UEFA implementing new financial regulations next season in which clubs cannot spend more than their annual turnover, it seems the powerhouses of England – riddled with debt – wanted to make one last splurge. Overall in January a reported £225m was spent in the Premier League, a record amount which even surpasses the previous milestone of £175m which was set back in 2008, mainly due to Manchester City’s spending. The Citizens would be part of proceedings once more, but the big spenders were Chelsea. Russian oligarch Roman Abramovic has been reluctant in the past few seasons to invest, hoping the influx of youth signings under Frank Arnesen would be promoted and provide an ending to the Jose Mourinho years of economically draining investments.
Over in Spain money was spent, but not in large quantities. Barcelona’s sole purchase was young Dutchman Ibrahim Affelay from PSV Eindhoven who cost roughly €2m, while Real Madrid’s recruitment was the flimsy loan signing of Emanuel Adebayor from Manchester City. Malaga, under the ownership of a Qatari millionaire, helped spice up the transfer window signing six new players, the most costly being former Arsenal forward Julio Baptista who returned to Spain from Italy for €3m.
It seemed to be a trend amongst the rest of Europe. Most clubs had invested in their important players in the summer, and new additions in the winter window would be in small quantities to aid them with their personal pursuits of success. Reigning European champions Inter Milan and fallen giants Juventus were the busiest in Italy, with their new centre forwards being the most expensive acquisitions. Long term Juve target Giampaolo Pazzini completed a €13m move to the San Siro from last season’s surprise package Sampdoria, with fleet footed Jonathan Biabiany going in the opposite direction. While the Turin giant’s best signing was Cagliari hitman Alessandro Matri, who joined on loan, and has a €22m purchase clause which will seemingly be triggered come this summer; after his impressive start.
With the worldwide recession, clubs have not been affected as much as initially suspected, but reluctant and wise transfer strategies are important at a time when their owners are not assured about financial security (unless backed by the oil tycoons from the east). While all the mad money was spent on the final day of the window, the two willy old managers in the Premier League must have been chuckling to themselves over a bottle of Chardonnay watching the rivals splashing the cash. Both Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson barely dipped their toes in the transfer water, with Manchester United recruiting Danish keeper Anders Lindegaard for £3m and the North London club making no additions to their squad. Their policy of investing in promising youngsters, although a lengthy and patience testing procedure can be the most rewarding, and their owners must be rolling around in the money in glee at their philosophies.
Abramovic hopes that will be him one day.
Biggest signings in top European Leagues
Italy – Giampaolo Pazzini – €13m + Jonathan Biabiany to Inter Milan from Sampdoria
Spain – Elias – €7m to Atletico Madrid from Corinthians
Germany – Luiz Gustavo – €15.5m to Bayern Munich from Hoffenheim
Portugal – Lionel Carole – €750,000 to Benfica from Nantes. (Few others undisclosed)
France – Razak Boukari – €4m to Rennes from Lennes
England – Fernando Torres – £50m to Chelsea from Liverpool