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Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Best Buys In English Football

Deadline day was as hectic as always on Friday, however, it was a very exciting Summer for fans of a number of clubs with the amount of transfers both incoming and outgoing. Here are my 10 top transfers and the 1 that just missed out. So, in no particular order....

Eden Hazard (Lille - Chelsea) 
Chelsea were the real big spenders this Summer with Roman Abramovich seemingly allowing new manager Roberto Di Matteo to splash the cash for the newly crowned Champions League Winners. The long-wrangling saga of where Hazard's destination would be, was all the rage; the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona, Chelsea, Real Madrid etc were all rumoured to be interested and I think I even heard that Dave Whelan was trying to entice the Belgian to Wigan Athletic (possibly unfounded). Anyway, Chelsea won the race for the signature of Hazard and he has impressed greatly in the "new Chelsea" system. He has linked up with fellow playmaker Juan Mata excellently and already has 6 assists in just 3 league games so far as well as scoring for Chelsea too. Excellent signing and, at the minute, looks to be worth every penny of the reported £32m transfer fee. Whelan must be looking on enviously - image the goals Franco Di Santo could have scored with that service!
HAZARD: A dangerous player
Clint Dempsey (Fulham - Tottenham Hotspur)
On the topic of transfer sagas, I think it's very appropriate that we now move on to our American cousin, Clint Dempsey. It looked for all the world that Dempsey was heading for Merseyside to join Liverpool when the window opened. For one reason or another, that didn't work out (LFC surely didn't splash their whole transfer budget on Joe Allen?!) In a bid to try and force through a move to Anfield, Clint refused to play for Fulham again, effectively going on strike to get his move. On deadline day, the Texan was still a Fulham "player" (not that he would play). Aston Villa tried an audacious move to bring him to Villa Park, Fulham agreed a fee with Paul Lambert's side however, Dempsey turned it down and, in a remarkable turn, out of the blue came Spurs and snapped up the USA international for a fee believed to be £6m (typical Spurs). Liverpool fans weren't happy. Spurs fans were. Clint... well, he certainly clocked up the mileage!
DEMPSEY: Got his move... in the end!
Steven Naismith (Rangers - Everton)
The Rangers situation wasn't a good one... unless you are managers that are trying to snare their players on free transfers. That's exactly what David Moyes did. The Scotsman (Naismith, not Moyes) decided against transferring his contract from "Rangers" to the "Newco Rangers" in a long wrangling case involving the club. Naismith linked up again, with his old strike partner, Nikica Jelavic. It looks a deserved signing for Moyes, after spending £7m on Jelavic just 6 months before he would have probably been available for nothing. A good signing for Everton, who seem famed for their lack of finances to sign a player. Naismith has already found the net for the Toffees, grabbing a hat-trick in Tony Hibbert's testimonial against AEK Athens... having said that, even Hibbert scored in that game so perhaps it's not that great an achievement. I'm sure he'll do well in blue.
NAISMITH: Back with his old pal Jelavic
Jan Vertonghen (Ajax - Tottenham Hotspur)
It was an interesting Summer for Spurs fans. The makeover took place; AVB (Andre Villas-Boas) came in to replace Harry Redknapp and Andre got straight to work in tearing apart a decent side, replacing a number of high profile names. Luka Modric joined Real Madrid, Rafael Van der Vaart returned to Hamburg are 2 examples. The Vertonghen signing was something that was needed; the centre back positions at Spurs were something that needed sorting out with the likes of Michael Dawson and Ledley King (now retired) being rather injury prone. At 25, he's a good age to develop, as well as having some good experience. He's another Belgian who seems to have a good future and he's not the last in this blog. Good capture for Spurs when you think he was courted by a number of decent sides. A fee of £14m is a reasonable price for a player in this day and age too.
VERTONGHEN: Will be a mainstay in the Spurs side
Julio Cesar (Inter Milan - QPR)
This was another transfer that almost came out of nowhere. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who took this move with a pinch of salt after first hearing about it. Julio Cesar, a goalkeeper, who, a couple of years ago was the best, if not, one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Now, he's turning up at Loftus Road to sign for QPR?! For some reason, Inter got shot of their Brazilian number 1 and it appears Tony Fernandes sold the club to him, especially after hearing this quote from Cesar: "I joined QPR because I feel we can win the Premier League". I'm not saying they won't, but can you imagine, in your head, Mark Hughes lifting the trophy?... No, me neither. Julio also has to realise that there may be times when the likes of Clint Hill and Shaun Derry will be in the same starting XI as him. On a more serious note, it's an excellent signing for QPR and it's a player I've always wanted to see in the Premier League so everyone's a winner, right? Well, unless your name's Robert Green.
CESAR: What is he doing at QPR?!
Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund - Manchester United)
You don't often get many talented Japanese footballers. I think the last half-decent one was Junichi Inamoto, who played for Fulham. However, this one is a very good player! In inaugural part of Borussia Dortmund's recent success, Kagawa was on the radar of a number of clubs for his impressive goals and assists tally during his time in the Bundesliga. United won the race for his signature after agreeing a fee believed to be around £15m... a tidy profit for Dortmund, who signed him from Curezo Osaka in 2010 for just 350,000 Euros. Good business! Kagawa likes to play "inbetween the lines", linking up with the midfield and the impressive strike-force that United now have to choose from. He'll make an impact in the Premier League and still has a long time left in his career. He's already opened his account for the Red Devils. Could be a United great.
KAGAWA: Good addition to United's squad
Santi Cazorla (Malaga - Arsenal)
It appears that Malaga's gamble of signing big names in a bid to shake up La Liga and the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid failed to pay off. The club's financial difficulties meant they had to sell their prized asset just 1 year after signing the talented Spaniard from Villarreal. Arsene Wenger soon swooped to grab the little schemer for a fee of £15m. Wenger spending money I hear you ask!? He's probably been 1 of the stars of the Premier League in these early games and he scored in Arsenal's latest win against Liverpool. Wenger would have been hoping Robin van Persie just ahead to bang the goals in but unfortunately for the Arsenal boss, Olivier Giroud is the man who is meant to score the goals. They've still got Marouanne Chamakh though. Finally, let's be honest, would I put Cazorla in my Fantasy Premier League team if he wasn't a good player?
CAZORLA: Arsenal's Spanish schemer
Andy Carroll (Liverpool - West Ham United)
This may be a little bit of a surprise to a few of you but I think the big man's move to Upton Park is a bit of a master-stroke by Sam Allardyce. Carroll reunites with his old pal and mentor Kevin Nolan in east London and Allardyce will be expecting goals from the Liverpool loanee. On Liverpool, I bet they're kicking themselves after letting the £35m man leave with only Luis Suarez (who's hardly prolific) and a youth team striker as the only recognised centre forwards on their books! Expect to see Carroll, with a run of games, to notch around 15 goals this season, especially from the service out wide from fellow new boy Matt Jarvis. An impressive debut against Fulham showed no signs of needing to gel in his new team in a 3-0 win. The move away from the north-west could just be the kick-start he needs to revitalise his slightly  flailing career.
Carroll (L) and Nolan (R) are back together again!
Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea - West Bromwich Albion)
The move to West Brom for Romelu Lukaku is an ideal opportunity to show everyone at Chelsea just what he can do. Since joining from Anderlecht last Summer, the striker's opportunities at Stamford Bridge were limited. Dubbed "the new Didier Drogba", Lukaku should work well up from with Shane Long in a little 'n large partnership. He caused problems against Spurs the other week as WBA started the season off very well. A shrewd move from Steve Clarke who's negotiations for Lukaku's services may have been helped by being pals with Blues' boss Roberto Di Matteo. Could play a big part in West Brom's season. On the topic of West Brom, for me, they've been a real surprise this season so far.

LUKAKU: Loan star
Pablo Hernandez (Valencia - Swansea)
The signing of Hernandez is another great piece of business by new Swansea boss Michael Laudrup. Laudrup seems to be taking more players from Spain than Rafa Benitez did at Liverpool and it seems to be working. Michu has been a real star for the Swans so far and with Hernandez whipping in the service from the right hand side, he should score goals for fun. A real snip at just £5.5m and at 27, you'd think that Hernandez would be in the prime of his career. A quality player who should set the Premier League alight. For me, a better replacement for Scott Sinclair, at a much cheaper price. If I was Laudrup, I would have tried to tie him down for longer than the three-year-deal he signed.

HERNANDEZ: Great signing
The one who missed out...

Gaston Ramirez (Bologna - Southampton)
The signing of Ramirez was one that sounded a little too good to be true. The negotiations seemed to go on for a lifetime before boss, Nigel Adkins finally tied up the deal. It's strange that Ramirez chose the south coast with (respectfully) bigger clubs chasing his signature. It looks a great piece of business, however, why has he missed out? The fee of £12m could be good for the long term however, it's a little bit of a gamble if the Uruguayan's potential doesn't come off. Added to the fact that he came from Serie A in Italy, and you do wonder whether there is some third party involved. We all know what happened with the Carlos Tevez/West Ham situation a few years back.

RAMIREZ: Hot property this Summer
Photos courtesy of Zimbio, Southampton FC, Swansea City FC, The Telegraph

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