As Christmas approaches, it has come to that time of year again – fixtures are coming thick and fast, the yellow ball has arrived, gloves and now the obligatory snood are popping up as often as Dani Alves dives, and the January rumours are beginning.
My dad once joked to me that the media would have two bowls, one containing players names, and the other a club. Whatever combination was picked out, that would be the rumour of the day – judging by some suggestions in season’s gone by, this may not be too far from the truth! Rumours and speculation aside, one of the most common things we are now seeing in the winter transfer window is that of panic buying – but does this really work?
It is inevitable that we start with the most recent and shocking January transfer – that of Fernando Torres – and you would be hard pressed to think of a transfer before or since that will highlight the dangers of panic buying so harshly. For the not too shabby price of £50 million, Chelsea bought themselves a Spaniard who would be better suited to a part in the nativity as a donkey than a starring role as a striker, and for the price they paid for him, this is no joke.
It is becoming a standard thing for Abramovich to do – buying a player who is overpriced and underperforming, but it is not just Chelsea who have been guilty of buying under pressure as transfer deadlines approach. This summer, after the humiliation at Old Trafford, the normally calm Wenger delved into the market so close to the deadline, and bought players that perhaps with a little more time and thought, he would not have spent so much on. Out of the players he bought in, only Arteta has made any kind of positive impact, with questions still lingering over Santos and Mertersacker especially. Benayoun offers no lingering questions – he is simply not good enough.
Andy Carroll is another who illustrates how dangerous panic buying can be, with Liverpool so eager to atone for the sale of Torres, they spent £35 million on a striker who in terms of records doesn’t boast a great one. Carroll and his ponytail spend most of their time warming the Liverpool bench these days, and when you contrast this to the purchase of Suarez, it is clear how poor the decision to spend so much on Carroll was.
The examples of transfer deadline day flops could go on forever – City fans may well be thinking of Robinho here, and regretting their decision to gazump Chelsea on deadline day in 2008, with the player bought for £32 million and sold two years later for £15 million – less than half the initial price, and this is after being on loan at Santos too!
Of course, some deadline day deals are good ones, and fans will look back and be thankful they were completed, but in reality although these deals are completed on deadline day, they were considered over a period of time and the players looked at and analysed by clubs. It is clear a mile off which deals were purely panic purchases, and both the players and clubs suffer as a result.
For teams such as Chelsea and City, spending tens of millions on poor players is not something their accountants would lose sleep over, but for the vast majority of clubs, they cannot afford to spend money on players who quite simply do not perform, and nor should fans have to spend money on tickets to see such players. So a word of warning to all those clubs who are preparing to delve into the January transfer window – remember this time last year and Fernando Torres. For £50 million the brightest highlights Chelsea fans have seen are the ones in his hair.
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