I sat down to catch up with For British Eyes Only, a noted Gooner here at indirectkicks.com, to get his take on the happenings from this summer’s transfer window:
American Manc: So, it took until deadline day, but United and Arsenal finally made their moves. Who do you think filled more of a need, United with Fellaini or Arsenal with Ozil?
For British Eyes Only: This is a difficult question to answer. I feel that United filled more of a need on the pitch, but Arsenal filled a need in terms of their stature as a “big club.” We’ve heard too much over the last few years that Arsene Wenger is ready to splash the cash, but those were empty promises until Ozil signed his name on the dotted line. There were some big names being passed around in the rumor mill for both clubs – Modric, Suarez, Higuain, Falcao, Mata, Ozil, Bale (just off the top of my head), but most football fans would have guessed that Arsenal would not have pulled the trigger on anything substantial. It felt eerily similar to past transfer windows.
Both teams still missed the boat in my opinion. They each had clear needs and left things very late. Arsenal are clearly thin at striker – I’m a Giroud supporter and have been since he’s come to London, but the Gunners are one injury or suspension away from having a real deficiency in their ability to finish. It couldn’t hurt to shore up the defense as well, but they can squeak by if Vermaelen can come back and contribute.
With all that being said, Arsenal purchased a superstar (for a superstar price). Mesut Ozil is a player that real football fans know well. He’s not too flashy, but his style and skill near the ball is what makes him the type of player that could thrive in a system under Arsene Wenger. His creativity and passing ability will add to a piece of Arsenal’s attack that was already a strength. Ozil will make all of Arsenal’s attackers that much better – I keep imagining Theo Walcott running onto perfectly weighted through balls (as if Arteta, Wilshere, and Cazorla weren’t providing enough already).
United is in a different pickle. Winning the title in 2012-13 and losing arguably the best manager of all time puts their expectations on another level. While Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, and Liverpool all brought in upgrades to their squad rather early, United waited until the last day to purchase a player that most had expected to sign much earlier and for a lower price. Fellaini is a very good player, but does he make United a much better team than they were last season? Pairing him with more of a playmaker was the real wish of the United supporters. Things could have really been bad if the window closed and Fellaini did not join, but United should still be in the thick of the title race throughout the season. It will require players like Cleverly or Fellaini to step up and take control of the midfield, and they’ve shown that they have the talent to do so.
AM: After all the talk around the three big transfer sagas this summer (Rooney, Suarez, and Bale), only Bale ended up completing a move. How did you think the three would play out this summer and are you surprised by any of the outcomes?
FBEO: I’m not very surprised with the outcomes. Even when Arsenal was making £40m+ bids, I never thought Suarez would be wearing an Arsenal kit. I thought that most of his posturing was to get Real Madrid to wake up and make a bid for him. Although Arsenal are a Champions League club, Suarez has said that he wants out of England and sees himself playing for an elite side (only 2 or 3 teams fit that description and none of them seemed that interested). Liverpool have made some good signings and Daniel Sturridge seems to be in good form, but they are desperate to keep their club amongst the elite in the BPL – selling your best player to a rival can severely diminish that view in the eyes of the supporters (RVP anyone?).
Rooney was in the same boat for me. Chelsea were the real leaders in the chase and Wenger even mentioned his name once or twice, but how does it look for United to sell the most popular English player to a rival? Not only are you making your side worse, but you’re making your competition that much better. I believed some early rumors about PSG, but without seeing bids coming in, it never felt like he was heading to Paris. It seems like every couple of years Wayne Rooney is unhappy, so it was more business as usual than a surprise. Without a true attacking midfielder coming in, Rooney may take a bit of that role on and could easily thrive with it.
Bale was obviously always going to Real Madrid. It was a matter of time before he left and Daniel Levy always finds it necessary to take as long as possible with moves so that his team dominates the headlines. It was clear he was off since Tottenham were burning through cash at a staggering rate. Over £100m spent made it obvious that an £80m+ departure was due. Bale should be fine in Madrid and Tottenham spent the proceeds very well. You won’t replace Bale, but four players for one is always good business.
AM: Speaking of, Bale was just one of many transfers out of White Hart Lane this summer. Clint Dempsey, Tom Huddlestone, Scott Parker, and Steven Caulker all completed permanent moves away from North London, and Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Jake Livermore, and Tom Carroll were shipped out on loan. How are you feeling about Tottenham’s chances in the Premier League this year?
FBEO: Spurs was by far the busiest club in the transfer window. It’s obvious that they feel this is their time to break into the Champions League. They bought a lot of quality players that will take time to adjust to the league, but long-term they’ve assembled quite a deep squad. Players like Soldado, Paulinho, and Lamela are the break-out players (all £20m+ a piece), but Christian Eriksen, Chadli, and Capoue will certainly come in handy once Europa League and cup matches come around. As far as the Premier League goes for Tottenham, they will be in the hunt for a top four spot again. I don’t think they can overtake a team like City, United, or Chelsea, but they’ll be there to give my Gunners fits more consistently than Liverpool.
It will certainly take some time for these players to not only acclimate to the Premier League, but to each other as well. Players from the leagues in Holland, Spain, France, Brazil (and more) all play at a different pace and level. It’s usually easier to bring in a couple at a time, but all of these new squad members will have to gel quickly in order to keep up with their competition.
To be continued..
Check back in the coming days for more discussion and perspective on the summer transfer window.