Transfer deadline day: the football fans’ Christmas and Jim White is our Santa. It is the day those brave men in suits report to us from the dark alleyways behind stadia as they are heckled by mobs of excited fans. The day Harry Redknapp comes to us live from the window of a Range Rover, reminding us that while he “isn’t a wheeler dealer” there are still “deals to be done” (namely in his case Niko Kranjcar – whom he has just signed for a fourth time!). But most of all, it is the day records tumble. Premier League summer spending hit a new high of £835m (up £75m) and the record spent by an individual club was also broken by Manchester United’s £149m splurge which topped rivals City’s 2009 spending spree by £1m. Although this summer the blue half of Manchester was outspent by relative minnows Southampton £50m to £58m as Pellegrini looked to bolster current players’ contracts rather than introduce fresh blood.
Here at Impact Sport we’ve toiled through the night to help you make sense of the last-minute madness, and this is it, our comprehensive guide the the deadline day winners and losers:
1. Hull City
Ladies and Gentlemen… Steve Bruce! Five years ago he was the nowhere man of English management, heckled by home and opposition support alike, he was even beaten up on his own doorstep by a fan during his Birmingham reign and many felt he should have bowed out of the game when his days as a player came to an end. But he persevered and, finally, won. Last season his Tigers drew acclaim for their free-flowing yet spirited performances, due in no small part to the shrewd acquisitions Tottenham pair Huddlestone and Livermore. He then appeared to pull off another master stroke with the July signing of Robert Snodgrass for a fee believed to be just £5m. But then disaster struck on the season opener when Snodgrass was ruled out until at least Christmas. No fear, deadline day arrived and up stepped Steve Bruce. He somehow managed to get £3m out of Burnley for bit-part Boyd and then replaced him with Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa on loan – the man once tipped as France’s hottest prospect since Henry. He may have lost his way in recent months but just ask Fulham and Bolton he’s still got it. And so long as Bruce gets him focused and makes him feel loved, it’s a certainty the Tigers will take up their option to buy next summer. Hull then supplemented this with another deadline-day diamond in the form of club record buy Abel Hernandez (£10m). Even at that price, he is a bargain considering he averages a goal every other game for Uruguay, notched 31 for Palermo and the Tigers still have £2m of change left over after the £12m sale of Shane Long to Southampton back at the start of August.
Steve Bruce somehow managed to get £3m out of Burnley for bit-part Boyd and then replaced him with Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa on loan.
2. Manchester United
LvG’s reign seemed to get off to a dream start as United swept aside the likes of Roma, Inter, Liverpool and European Champs Real Madrid on their pre-season tour (fundraiser) of the United States. But then the competitive games began and so did their problems. Winless from their first three and dumped out of the cup 4-0 by MK Dons, United looked a shadow of their former selves. Di Maria was an astute buy, if not a little expensive at £59.7m, but the reason they’re an Impact winner isn’t him, it isn’t even the last minute loan of Falcao, instead it is the £13.8m signing of unassuming utility man Daley Blind. He is the exact type of player Van Gaal needed in his ranks – star quality without the star status. He can play across the back or in the holding midfield role where united so desperately need him. From here he can both anchor the side, shelter the defence, and release the front men – as he did with compatriot and now fellow club mate Van Persie for his wonder header against Spain in the World Cup this summer.
The life of a Valencia fan hasn’t been an easy one of late. Once the 55,000 men who filled the Mestalla were treated to the likes of Mario Kempes, Pablo Aimar and the two Davids – Villa and Silva – who helped the club reach lofty European heights, becoming the third-most successful La Liga side of all time. Since then the club has fallen behind on the financial side and this has inevitably taken its toll on the pitch where a mass player exodus has meant last season’s eighth place is about as good as things have gotten for Los Che recently. However, the 55,000 never lost faith and even though the biggest names they have to chant for now are Dani Parejo and Sofiane Feghouli, things are starting to look up. Even more so now with the deadline acquisition of Alvaro ‘The Beast’ Negredo on loan from Manchester City. He’s a proven entity in La Liga after his prolific spell with Sevilla and his goal every other game record with the Spanish national side. And he was far from shabby in the Premier League too, with 23 Man City goals. But the last of those was back in February as he couldn’t seem to stay fit. For a big lad it seems he wasn’t cut out for those wet Monday nights at the Britannia, which has only played into Valencia’s favour as they managed to pick up a 30-40 goal man without spending a cent.
4. Real Madrid
Carlo Ancelotti’s Real side is, on paper at least, arguably stronger than the great Galacticos of seasons gone by. The front three of Ronaldo, Bale and James alone would set you back £228m! But after surrendering a two goal lead to Sociedad and going down 4-2, Ancelotti set his sights on Radamel Falcao and was allegedly prepared to pay the best part of £40m for a season’s loan. Despite what the Colombian’s own Instagram would have had us believe, the deal fell through, thus paving the way for a deadline day master stroke from Real – the loan signing of Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez. A Man Utd fringe player, so what? Well, as it happens, Hernandez has the 3rd greatest Premier League goals to minutes ratio of all time. By notching a goal every 128.2 minutes, ‘Little Pea’ destroys the likes of Van Nistelrooy, Drogba and Alan Shearer. Madrid have picked all this up for nothing, with the option to buy for a fee estimated to be just £6m next summer.
For the Craven Cottage faithful, this season is the nightmare from which they cannot wake up. Four games in they sat bottom and conceded nearly five times as many goals as they scored. But then they got a cup win at rivals Brentford, drew with Championship high-fliers Cardiff and then, on deadline day, swooped in silently for Leeds Utd starlet Matt Smith. No, not the one time Doctor Who, but the 6ft 6in CF whose partnership with Ross McCormack last term produced over 50 goals. The fee is rumoured to be around £500k and speculation has been limited, but Smith looks set to provide a youthful Fulham side with the strength and steel they’ve lacked thus far. It’s early days in his career but the University of Manchester graduate could well be what the Cottagers need to get their season back on track.
Over the years, Wenger has been responsible for the purchase of some of the Premier League’s all-time greats (Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira, Walcott) but this summer he went on a striker hunt – but for who? Falcao? Cavani? Lavezzi? No. Try Danny Welbeck… for £16m. A short-lived tweet from a leading betting firm likened the buy to that of a used urine sample that had already tested negative. While Welbeck isn’t that bad, the sentiment is true – he has played at Premier League level for a few seasons now and hasn’t done anything spectacular, making it very unlikely that he will be able to add anything to Arsenal’s already potent attack.
Welbeck has played at Premier League level for a few seasons now and hasn’t done anything spectacular.
2. Manchester United
They have already made it into the winners list for deadline day thanks to the acquisition of Blind. But it is the signing of the man that has got their fans most excited that sees them feature as losers – Radamel Falcao. The man is undeniably a goal-scoring sensation, he netted 41 times in 51 games for Porto and got 52 in 68 for Atlético Madrid. But United have paid £6m for a year’s loan and are shelling out a reported £346K a week for a man who adds little more than goals even though they already have Rooney, RvP, Di Maria, Mata and Herrera for that. Van Gaal inherited a top-heavy team and, rather than buy defenders, he took his bodybuilder-that-skipped-leg-day of a side and trained chest and arms. Falcao is an exciting addition but he doesn’t solve United’s problem (unless of course he can fill in at centre half).
3. Newcastle United
Alan Pardew and Mike Ashley have been lambasted in the past for their transfer dealings, as gems like Yohan Cabaye have slipped out of their grasp. But this summer they seemed to have turned a corner, signed well and hadn’t let anyone leave. Then they fell victim to a deadline day smash and grab as they loaned out their most creative (if not a little troublesome) attacker Ben Arfa to rivals Hull. And then minutes later did the same with talented young centre back Yanga-Mbiwa (to Roma). The toon army have struggled for goals so far this season and they haven’t looked great defensively either, with a severe lack of quality depth. Rather than selling Pardew should’ve seen deadline day as a chance to make some valuable additions.
4. Leeds United
A textbook example of how not to use social media on deadline day. At around 9pm Leeds tweeted that their fans mustn’t ‘go to bed yet’ as there was business still to come… The two tweets that followed announced the sale of the club’s most promising attacking talents Poleon (to Oldham) and Smith (to Fulham). Their next, final tweet, confirmed the end of the club’a transfer activity. This stirred up an absolute maelstrom among the Elland Road faithful who were furious that their club had slipped further into disarray following the departure of manager Hockaday just days earlier. Obviously Leeds had hoped to bring players in and the deals must have fallen through, and that’s not necessarily the club’s fault but still, don’t announce anything on social media until the players have signed on the dotted line.
5. Aston Villa
Two words that say it all: Tom Cleverley.