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The Libero - Harry the wheeler-dealer saves deadline day

Published: 01 Sep 2010 - 07:48:25

Transfer deadline day has become something of a damp squib recently, despite what a certain 24-hour sports news channel likes to tell us.

Not since Robinho sealed his dramatic £32.5 million move to Manchester City two years ago has the final day of transfer activity really captured the imagination.

In January this year, the pick of the bunch were Adam Johnson (who admittedly turned out to be a good signing) and Robbie Keane, who left the Premier League for Scotland. And a year ago, the headlines were made by John Heitinga's arrival at Everton and Niko Kranjcar's move from Portsmouth to Tottenham. Hardly a dream scenario for the army of Sky Sports reporters.

The latest edition seemed set for a similarly ignominious fate, with even one of the usually combustible news presenters on said channel informing expectant morning viewers with a startling honesty that "the news is...there is no news".

Whether that particular anchor will be presenting January's edition remains to be seen - Sky have made an art form out of hyperbole - but he was right: there was no denying that deadline day this time around looked decidedly unremarkable.

Potential big movers Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres had already committed their futures to Liverpool earlier on in the summer, likewise the reluctant Cesc Fabregas at Arsenal. Manchester United have been unwilling to spend anything like big money while Chelsea have been equally conspicuous by their failure to dip deep into Roman Abramovich's pockets.

Only really Manchester City have been getting the pulse racing with their cavalier attitude towards recruitment, but their business was concluded a week before deadline day, depriving us of any more last gasp Robinho-like sensations.

All that was left on the final day of business was Mark Schwarzer's proposed move to Arsenal which may or may not have triggered a goalkeeping merry-go-round involving Shay Given, and several B-list players like Ryan Babel, Emmanuel Adebayor, Carlton Cole and Robbie Keane.

Needless to say, none of the above actually moved. At least not in terms of transfers; Babel moved quite a lot on Tuesday, in a helicopter, but that's another story.

But, against all the odds, others did manage to seal deals, with the best of the bunch including Robinho (again), World Cup star Asamoah Gyan, former Arsenal midfielder Alex Hleb, the nomadic Eidur Gudjohnson and, er, Jermaine Pennant.

All of which helped make for a surprisingly lively conclusion to the day as the 6pm deadline arrived and the transfer window slammed shut. (Is it never pushed to quietly?)

But what still amazes is that the closing of the window remains nothing more than a notional gesture, a gimmick if you like. After all, how is it that several hours after the deadline had passed, the most sensational deal of the day was still being discussed?

We've seen it before with Andrey Arshavin's move to Arsenal and Benjani's to City, to name but two, and here was the same situation once again; Rafael van der Vaart's proposed move to Tottenham was still up in the air as the clock approached midnight.

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, who had insisted in forceful and foul-mouthed terms at the weekend that he is in no way a wheeler dealer, proved otherwise with his dramatic last ditch swoop for the Netherlands World Cup star.

That he didn't sign terms before the deadline seems to make no odds these days - Benjani's transfer took several days after the window closed to complete and Van der Vaart's deal could, and probably will still go through.

It does rather make a mockery out of the whole thing, but when it means we get to enjoy the likes of the Dutchman in the Premier League, really, who cares?

Certainly not Redknapp. Nor Spurs fans. Nor indeed a certain 24-hour news channel, for whom a damp squib rapidly dried out and regained its explosiveness.

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:the libero
Libero (noun): 1. Versatile, ball-playing defender given licence to roam. Expected to break up opposition attacks while instigating counters. Role patented by German legend Franz Beckenbauer. 2. Versatile weekly football columnist, aka journalist Mike Hytner, given licence to write what he likes. Expected to file every Wednesday. Not nearly as talented as his boyhood hero Der Kaiser.

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