Isn’t it usually the greatest indicator as to how good a player is or might be if big clubs go after him? Loic Remy could have done a good job at many clubs further up the Premier League table, but yet it was QPR who managed to entice him away from France. A missed opportunity, or well played by the big boys in the league? The French striker is now out for two months and is said to have a history of injury problems.
It’s also quite easy to point the finger at the bigger clubs for failing to act when players like Moussa Sissoko become available. When Toulouse announced that the midfielder was available at a knockdown price, it should have sent most in the Premier League scrambling. But you have to praise clubs like Newcastle for having enough to swat away any potential challenge from those higher placed in English football. Its deals like that which can often force you to forget that Newcastle are indeed a big club in England. Some will view it as a bit of a sideways move from the midfielder, but if Newcastle play their cards right over the next few months, they could have a very capable squad.
But it doesn’t really take away from the fact that others in England should have taken the gamble. And let’s be honest, paying £2 million for a young midfielder who was once incredibly highly spoken of in France is hardly a gamble. Sissoko may not be the next Michael Essien that he was touted to be, but he is far more versatile in his game than he was two years ago.
You’ve got to ask managers like Arsene Wenger what exactly is wrong with Sissoko, who scored two on his debut and who arrived from Wenger’s go-to market in France. More than anything, here is a player who is the ready-made replacement for Abou Diaby. He’s powerful, he’s direct and he is exactly what Arsenal needed. It’s funny, then, that £10 million can get you Gervinho, but a combined total of £4 million can get you Sissoko and Michu. But I suppose that’s the humour that comes with hindsight.
Manchester United are far from struggling for cash, as they proved when they signed Wilfried Zaha for something in the region of £15 million. But isn’t Alex Ferguson’s side crying out for a figure in the mould of Sissoko in the middle of the pitch?
Again, it will probably come out some way down the line as to why so many clubs passed on deals like that. However, it’s often difficult when you can only look at it from one perspective and try and justify why clubs are willing to shell out big money but ignore the bargains.
And much of the same can be said about Lewis Holtby. Tottenham have got a good talent on their hands, and a player who would have been good enough to play for any other team in England. And before the protests start, Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell are currently on the books of Manchester City.
The thing about Holtby is that it makes a little more sense as to why other clubs passed on him. Chelsea were never in need of another attacking midfielder, especially with players like Kevin De Bruyne away on loan. Arsenal have a good number of players who can operate in that position, as well as two young Germans waiting in reserve. However, Wenger was said to be interested, and the free transfer and youth of the player are enough to see obvious links between Holtby and Arsenal.
But again you have to say that Tottenham have come out for the better on this one and are only strengthening their position near the top of the league table. They’ve got a young player with plenty of potential and experience at the highest level, and the fact that Holtby is a well-known name for most would also make this seem like a coup for Spurs.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with either player, but clubs taking a gamble when others dither is reason enough to be applauded. There’s little to no risk with the signing of either Holtby or Sissoko, and like with the case of Yohan Cabaye or even Michu, you may see the other big clubs begin to swarm when the new arrivals in England prove their worth. One way or another, Tottenham and Newcastle will benefit in a big way from their smart January purchases.