The 2013 football transfer season has come and gone. For all the feverish wheeling and dealing that this last two months have brought, we can all finally sit back, relax, and see how much of all these board room transactions actually translates to wins on the pitch. It should be easier for some teams who obviously accomplished what they set out to do in acquiring and selling off players. But for others, the football transfer season was a case of swinging and whiffing over and over again (why hello there, David Moyes).
So without further ado, here are our winners and losers of the just-concluded transfer season.
Winner: Gareth Bale
It’s hard to argue against a man who parlayed a spectacular season in the English Premier League into becoming the biggest transfer purchase in the history of this circus of a two months. The focus will now be on Bale to live up to the hype and money Real Madrid paid for his services. He’s only 24 years old and he should form a dynamic tandem with mainstay superstar Cristiano Ronaldo for years to come. At the very least, the two could try one-upping each other in “hair-manship”. That alone should be worth the price Madrid paid to secure Bale’s signature.
Loser: David Moyes
Poor David Moyes. He probably thought that moving to United and its expansive checkbook would be enough to get all of his desired players without even breaking a sweat. Not only did that never happen, but he managed to give his former team Everton a huge Christmas present by wildly overpaying for midfielder Marouane Fellani to the tune of 43 million euros only two weeks after he offered 28 million euros for Fellani and Leighton Baines. He may end up being a worthy successor to Sir Alex Ferguson on the pitch, but he’s got a ways to go to fully understand the United way of doing business with that check book.
Winner: Real Madrid
Just when you thought Real Madrid couldn’t top the record purchase it paid to acquire Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United in 2009, the Galacticos proved that they could still open up their wallets like nobody’s business. Bale follows in a long line of marquee signings for Madrid and if their last record-breaking deal was any indication, the Welschman should help usher in a new era of Real Madrid prominence in the world of football.
Signing Neymar is a huge deal and normally, it would be enough for Barcelona to land on the winners list. But as is often the case, a marquee signing ends up ringing hollow because the team failed to address its most important need. You only need to remember Bayern Munich slapping Barca silly in the Champions League semi-finals to know that the latter needed a capable central midfielder in the worst way. Barcelona addressed that during the transfer season by signing…nobody. Yup, that means the ageless but broken down Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique will have to hold down the fort for at least four months until the next transfer window opens up when the calendar flips to 2014.
Monaco signaled its return to Ligue 1 in the most explosive way possible, spending 166 million on the back of new Middle Eastern ownership to sign a smorgasbord of top-caliber players highlighted by Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao and Porto’s dynamic duo of James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho. Monaco also had the advantage of striking early in the transfer market, allowing it to shape its roster well-ahead of the chaotic deadline. So far, it’s been a masterstroke as the Ligue 1 returnees sit on top of the standings after winning three of its four games with one draw under its belt.
PSG countered Monaco’s Falcao signing by winning the signature of the equally irrepressible Edison Cavani from Napoli. On paper, that’s a tremendous move. That is, until current striker Zlatan Ibrahimovich sees said paper, notices that Cavani plays his position and has better hair, and unleashes a seismic tantrum befitting his giant ego. As the Adam Sandler movie appropriately called itself, “Nobody Messes With The Zlatan”, least of all an Uruguayan copycat who does all the things he does, except he’s younger and better at it.
Losing Gareth Bale was a gut shot to Tottenham, or was it? With the pile of riches being sent from Madrid to White Hart Lane in exchange for their (now former) talisman, Tottenham made good use of all that cha-ching by snagging a bevy of talents across the board to make Bale’s departure a little more palatable for Spurs fans. The real score was acquiring a pair of 21-year old rising stars in Roma’s Erik Lamela and Ajax’s Christian Eriksen. Oh, and Valencia forward Roberto Soldado and Corinthians midfielder Paulinho also went to Tottenham. Do the math, and that four-for-one trade netted Tottenham some serious talent moving forward.
Loser: Wayne Rooney
Not much to say except that Wayne Rooney is still with Manchester United and if there’s one thing that will be as certain as the sun rising in the east, this Rooney-United saga will play on until it becomes a full-blown soap opera. Don’t be surprised if Wazza’s gone by the next transfer window. Only in that case, it should’ve happened much sooner.
Winner: Arsene Wenger
In Arsene we Trust, so says every Arsenal fan after their skipper pulled a fast one on the rest of the competition by unexpectedly signing Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Ozil at the 11th hour of the deadline. Not only did it vindicate Wenger’s wait-and-see approach during much of the transfer season, but validated the enormous 80 million euro purse given to him by ownership to make a splash during the window. For his efforts, Wenger scored with an under utilized Ozil who is still only 24 years old while also scoring on acquiring midfielder Mathieu Flamini and keeper Emiliano Viviano. But it’s all Ozil, all the time now for Arsenal fans and having the German dynamo on that midfield should give the rest of the Premier League cause to pause.
Loser: Luis Suarez
Contrary to what he says, Luis Suarez wanted out of Liverpool because the team wasn’t competing in any continental tournaments this year. But he’s still with the team, which means that he’s still in the Premier League, which means that he can can still scout the lot on where his next meal is going to come from. On second thought, Luis Suarez wins!