Tag Archives: bale

Chaos and superstars: A round-up of the summer transfer window

Over the summer, there was an incredible amount of money spent on players shifting clubs. The biggest deals include Gareth Bale joining Madrid (€100 mil), Radamel Falcao joining Monaco (€60 mil), Neymar to Barcelona (€57 mil), Edinson Cavani to PSG (€67 mil), Mesut Ozil to Arsenal (€45 mil) and Peter Odemwingie to Cardiff City. OK, maybe not the last one. But at least he did get transferred this time instead of just hanging around a stadium in the hope that someone signs him.

I’ll start off with Serie A, and Juventus strengthened their strike-force with Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente while the criminally under-rated-on-these-shores Alessandro Matri joined league rivals AC Milan. Speaking of the Rossoneri, they brought Kaka back to the San Siro on a free – four years after they sold him to Madrid for €65 million. Nice!
Roma brought in the likes of Gervinho, Adem Ljajić and Kevin Strootman but lost out on stars such as Marquinhos, Bojan, Erik Lamela and Pablo Osvaldo. Interesting times ahead in the eternal city. Whatever happened Inter? They slipped off the radar in recent times. Didn’t they win the Champions League not long ago?

In Spain, Neymar was dominating all the headlines for months. Until a certain Welshman joined a certain club from the capital. Real weren’t afraid to splash the cash as they also purchased Asier Illarramendi and Isco. City rivals Atlético Madrid got David Villa from Barcelona for the bargain price of around €5 million. They also got Argentine defender Martín Demichelis from Malaga. But he stayed for all of five minutes before departing for Manchester City. Who says loyalty is dead in football?

European champions Bayern Munich signed not only a new coach in Pep Guardiola, but they also acquired the much-sought-after playmaker Mario Götze from rivals Dortmund. Barcelona midfielder Thiago also joined the side, pairing up with his former manager from Barça.
Borussia Dortmund signed Liverpool target Henrikh Mkhitaryan last month, but one can’t help but feel there will be a massive Götze-shaped-hole in Jurgen Klopp’s midfield. It’ll still be between the two sides in the Bundesliga, but how will Pep fare? As I said before, the only way is down.

Finally in England, and £624,560,000 later, it was non-stop in the Premier League. Tottenham and Liverpool made some interesting signings with Spurs bringing in Paulinho, Erik Lamela, Roberto Soldado and (one of my former ones-to-watch) Christian Eriksen. Liverpool brought in the Spanish duo of Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas. Along with the Simon Mignolet, Kolo Toure and PSG starlet Mamadou Sakho, Brendan Rodgers’ side will certainly be fighting alongside AVB’s men for a Champions League place.

Transfer deadline day was an interesting one. I believe Arsenal got the star signing in Ozil, but Man United done well bringing Marouane Fellaini to Old Trafford. And £27.5 million is quite an amount for him. But is he worth it? In footballing terms, yes. United however faced some unusual situations – such as getting the signature of Ander Herrera from Bilbao. One minute he was ready to put pen to paper, the next it was all off with various reasons as to why.
This was then followed with news of signing of Real Madrid left-back Coentrao on loan – followed by reports that the deal had not in fact gone through. At least they got Fellaini.

Manchester City and Chelsea surprised nobody by splashing the cash on Fernandinho, Jesús Navas, Álvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetić (Man City) and André Schürrle, Willian, Samuel Eto’o (Chelsea). But Chelsea did surprise everyone by hanging onto Fernando Torres. Surely he is surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge? The Special One has decided to hang onto for now him anyway. Same goes for the frankly brilliant Juan Mata who was rumoured to be joining either PSG or Liverpool. But he’s still a Chelsea player. For now.

Everton may have lost their star player, but along with the hugely-promising Gerard Deulofeu and Arouna Koné, on deadline day they snapped up our very own James McCarthy on a permanent deal as well as Man City midfielder Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku. There is life after the afro’d one, Evertonians.

Other Irish players that moved in the window include Keith Andrews (Brighton), Stephen Ireland (Stoke), Enda Stevens (Notts Co), Noel Hunt (Leeds) and James McClean (Wigan). No move for Robbie Keane to (another) boyhood club then. That joke really is old.

Phew. That’s the transfer news until January.

 

Who were your favourite signings this summer? Tell Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

 

The top 15 players of 2012

Along with the Euros, the second half of last season and the first half of the current football season, made 2012 to be quite an exceptional footballing year. But who have the best players been? Well, here’s my top 15.

15. Robert Lewandowski. Borussia Dortmund and Poland.
Lewandowski would be the first to admit that his stint with his national side in the Euros were a little underwhelming. No doubt this is probably due to the huge expectations from the 24-year old prior to the competition. But in the Bundesliga, he absolutely tears defences apart – and one Sir Alex Ferguson is keen to bring him to Old Trafford for big money.

14. Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Shakhtar Donetsk and Armenia.
Mkhitaryan is probably the biggest footballing product to ever come out Armenia – and he’s still only 23. At club level, he is one of – if not the – biggest talents in Ukraine. He was voted Shakhtar’s Player of the Season at the close of the 2011-12 season and continues to play some incredible football. He’s enjoyed a phenomenal 2012 – watch out for him in 2013.

13. Zlatan Ibrahimovic. AC Milan/Paris St-Germain and Sweden.
Serial-title winner Ibrahimovic broke tradition this year when he didn’t win a league winners medal with AC Milan who narrowly missed out on the Scudetto to Juventus. Aside from that, the Swede enjoyed a brilliant Euro 2012, scored the best goal of 2012, and now plies his trade with the noveau riche Paris St Germain, who have their eye on the Ligue 1 title. This Malmo native causes concern for every opposing defender he faces.

12. Robin van Persie. Arsenal/Manchester United and Holland.
Following his controversial £22 million move from Arsenal to Man United, van Persie arrived with huge expectation given his reputation with the Gunners over the previous number of seasons – and he delivered. Totalling 20 goals for his new club so far, van Persie & co finish 2012 in the Premier League’s pole position.

11. Gareth Bale. Tottenham Hotspur and Wales.
Bale’s performances for Spurs throughout 2012 have been stunning. His sheer pace, agility, and that brilliant left foot of his make him one of the most fearsome players any player in the Premier League can face.

10. Mesut Ozil. Real Madrid and Germany.
Madrid’s playmaker and Cristiano Ronaldo’s right hand man may not have played as well as he’d hoped at the end of last season. But he was certainly one of Euro 2012’s better performers and is now considered a crucial element for José Mourinho’s  current Madrid side.

9. Neymar. Santos and Brazil.
The Brazilian wonderkid is constantly being linked with a move to Europe – and very often with both Barcelona and Real Madrid. His 31 goals and 15 assists this year, coupled with his sheer ability and dazzling displays makes him easily the best player in his country’s domestic league. He enjoyed a fantastic spell during the Olympics in London, picking up a silver medal in the process.

8. Sergio Ramos. Real Madrid and Spain.
Ramos’ natural ability to change from his preferred position on the right side of the pitch to partnering Barcelona’s Gerard Pique during Euro 2012 is a testament to his footballing brain. Not only did he end up winning Euro 2012, but he played out of his skin. And I haven’t even mentioned how powerful he has been for Real Madrid during 2012 yet.

7. Andrea Pirlo. Juventus and Italy.
He may have won the Champions League twice with previous club AC Milan, but the 33-year old midfielder has just enjoyed possibly his finest 12 months in football with new club Juventus. Maybe it’s the new beard? Nicknamed “The Architect”, Pirlo was hailed by pundits, along with Andrés Iniesta, to be one of Euro 2012’s best performers.

6. Wayne Rooney. Manchester United and England.
A key player for club and country, Wazza is easily one of the biggest natural talents in British football for the past decade. Depsite being banned for England’s opening two games in Euro 2012, he still scored 4 goals in 5 games during the calendar year all the while playing phenomenal for the Red Devils.

5. Xavi. Barcelona and Spain.
Xavi is, by many people’s opinion, the greatest Spanish player of all time. I agree. His remarkable vision, ability, precision and consistency makes him easily one of the world’s best. The midfield maestro also set a record for pass completions during the summer. I can’t even remember the last time I witnessed Xavi give the ball away. Has it ever happened?

4. Ramadel Falcao. Atlético Madrid and Colombia.
A sheer goalscoring machine, Falcao is one of 2012’s biggest sensations. Recently the Colombian star became the first player for a decade to score five goals in a single La Liga game. His nasty habit of finding the back of the net in almost every fixture is causing him to be the focus of all the big-spending clubs.

3. Andrés Iniesta. Barcelona and Spain.
Many fellow professionals, pundits, managers and fans believe Iniesta to be the finest midfielder in the world. He’s regularly the only player outside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi who is even mentioned about for the Ballon d’Or. Dazzling displays for both club and country, Iniesta is on every manager’s dream-list.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo. Real Madrid and Portugal.
CR7 has been hugely influential in Real Madrid’s quest to claim the La Liga title off rivals Barça. He enjoyed a superb Euro 2012 and at club level, aside from his impressive performances, he is currently sitting nicely on 20 goals in 24 games this season alone. The last twelve months has been kind to the Portugese winger. But what could be considered a poor season for Cristiano is still better than most.

1. Lionel Messi. Barcelona and Argentina.
It was never in doubt was it? Leo Messi is, and has been for some time, the world’s greatest player. His ability is beyond phenomenal. Sometimes there are no words to describe exactly what I had just witnessed when watching Messi play. His 91 goals in the calendar year is a record – one that may take some time to break it too I should add. One he may even break himself in 2013 if he carries on. The scariest part? He’s still only 25. Diego Maradona once famously said back in 2006, “I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentine football and his name is Messi”. El Diego was not wrong.

Honorary mentions must go to Mario Gomez for his eye for goal for Germany during Euro 2012 as well as tearing defences to shreds for Bayern Munich. Yaya Touré and his forceful, direct style constantly causes many an opposing manager headaches. Mats Hummels has been the full package for both Borussia Dortmund and Germany, giving strikers serious problems. Likewise with Sergio Aguero who has been fantastic for both Man City and Argentina – and forever a legend in east Manchestester following that goal at the end of last season. Juan Mata’s consistency has been remarkable for Chelsea and he picked up a winners medal at Euro 2012. Edinson Cavani has been wonderful for Napoli with his insane 19 goals in 17 starts for the Serie A club.

Who do you think have been the best players of 2012? Hit Rob Smith up on Twitter (@robsmithireland)