Two opposite ends of the transfer spectrum (sort of) but equally baffling considering the state of the economy across Europe. Wolves would have been the happiest team last week (again, sort of) as the rest of us watched two of their key players return to the Premier League following big transfer bids from Sunderland and West Ham. Now, the impact of Matt Jarvis moving from the Midlands down to London is not quite the same as Thiago Silva swapping Milan for Paris, but both transfer would have left many, many fans shaking their head in disbelief.
Lets keep in mind that the double figures and potentially rising to double figures deals for both Jarvis and Steven Fletcher are for players who were both relegated last season. Maybe those who sign off on the deals in England’s top-flight are a little scared or even lack a little knowledge of the footballing bargains away from England. Or maybe they just really fancied the players on offer at Wolves. I’m inclined to go for the first one.
Steven Fletcher was bought by Sunderland to get among the goals and help the club force it’s way up the Premier League table. 12 league goals is ok for a player of his calibre, but so much more could have been done with that big transfer fee than landing a player who wasn’t good enough to keep his side away from relegation.
Swansea have impressed me again this summer, but I’ll get onto them soon. Instead, Wigan were one of the teams to make use of good players in foreign leagues. I’m sure they weren’t the only club in England to notice the excellent form of Arouna Kone last year for Levante—a team who made headlines by finding their way to the top of the La Liga mountain for the first time in the club’s history. Helping to take them there and to a fairytale Europa League finish (they really were unlucky not to grab a Champions League spot) was the 15 goals of Arouna Kone, on loan from Sevilla.
If a fee around £3 million can get you—a club pushing for mid-table safety—15 goals and the assurances of a player in his prime, then why bother with the inflated transfer demands of English clubs? Wigan are evidently one of those clubs who need to sell to buy, and yet they were the ones to outsmart bigger clubs by landing a very good striker in the Ivory Coast international.
Fulham, like Newcastle in recent years, have also really impressed in the transfer market. Among another set of arrivals this summer was former Hamburg striker Mladen Petric. The Croatian isn’t a player who is going to win Manchester United the league title, but he is an absolute steal for a club like Fulham. Martin Jol needs results now, not in a few years when a young striker realises his potential. In Petric, the Fulham manager has an experienced goal scorer who knows how to find the net. Petric’s lack of a “prolific striker” tag was more than made up for by his arrival on a free transfer. A smart pick up and one that does deserve praise.
The situation is Spain is well-known to everybody—those clubs are in a financial mess. The nice weather and attractive football does help to sweep those unbelievable levels of debt under the carpet, but it’s only for a while. Premier League clubs need to start picking up on the vulnerability of many Spanish clubs and the real likelihood of a top bargain.
Spurs are a clubs who have been looking for a goalkeeper all summer, with Hugo Lloris reportedly topping their wish list. The club don’t have long term stability in Brad Friedel, while Heurelho Gomes simply can’t be trusted. But instead of wandering around trying to think of ways to force Lyon to lower their price, why not look to Villarreal’s situation and the chance for a bargain goalkeeper?
That ship has of course sailed as Diego Lopez joined Sevilla all the way at the beginning of the summer transfer window. The Andalusian club were quick to notice the state of Villarreal and their need for cash and rightly swooped to land Lopez at a great fee of just over 3 million euros. He’s not exactly grabbing the headlines as Lloris is, which is in part due to the fact he’s overshadowed by bigger names in Spain, but he’s more than capable of playing for a top side in England. Teams like Tottenham really could have landed a long term starter in goal for a very attractive price.
We’re always likely to touch on the transfer of Michu to Swansea (and the move for Jonathan De Guzman was also an excellent piece of business), but what were bigger clubs thinking when they let this gem of a player slip the net? There’s hardly a case for suggesting Michu couldn’t adapt to the Premier League from La Liga’s smallest Madrid-based club, as the player has already found his way onto the score sheet in his first two games for Michael Laudrup’s side.
Bigger clubs might have looked to the idea that a player like Michu represents to much of a risk to trust him with your ambitions for the season. But really, where is the risk when the player cost Swansea £2.5 million and grabbed 15 league goals last season? He wasn’t mentioned as a possible addition to the Spanish national side for his ability to cut oranges in perfectly measured and equal pieces of four. This is a player who could have really helped to add great depth to a side whose ambitions are beyond just mid-table.
Guillem Balague mentioned last week that many clubs in Spain are looking to sell their best players, including Alvaro Negredo at Sevilla. Balague said a fee around £15 million would force Sevilla to part ways with their striker, as I also suggested last week. Instead, Steven Fletcher of Scotland is preferred for a similar fee to Negredo of Spain.
Arsenal were smart in their capture of Santi Cazorla, capitalizing of Malaga’s situation, while Swansea and Wigan have also shown their eye for a good deal in Spain. There really is no excuse for English clubs continuing to overlook the excellent players available at teams like Real Betis, Sociedad and Bilbao. Until that changes, it will continue to be teams on the continent unearthing the bargains that are staring them in the face.