The Libero - Tepid transfer window reflects Prem malaise
Published: 27 Jan 2010 - 08:56:04
The transfer window has come under fire pretty much since its inception in the 2002-03 season, particularly its short, sharp opening in January, which its critics claim leads to panic buying at heavily inflated prices.
With the window open just twice a year, it is easy to see how some managers are forced into a New Year splurge in a bid to fill any holes that may have appeared in their squads over the course of the first part of the season.
As a result we have been treated to the likes of Savio Nsereko, Fernando Morientes, Jiri Jarosik and Jean-Alain Boumsong plying their trade in the Premier League over the years, although thankfully for limited periods only.
Of course there are notable exceptions - Nemanja Vidic, Andrey Arshavin, Patrice Evra and Shay Given all signed just after the Christmas decorations had been put away and proved hits at their respective clubs - but on the whole the January sales rarely offer up anything of quality.
This year, so far at least, dealings on the transfer market have been no different to years gone by and thoughts of the next Arshavin or Evra being lured to these shores this month can be dismissed as nothing more than fanciful daydreaming.
To date, Patrick Vieira and Sol Campbell, two been-there-done-it, in-need-of-one-final-pay-off veterans, have been the biggest names so far to put pen to paper with Premier League clubs.
Other 'big' names to have made moves include Landon Donovan, Philippe Senderos, Maxi Rodriguez and Amr Zaki. Yet all four players are flawed and come with serious question marks over their ability to cut it at this level.
And then come the likes of Craig Gardner, Gary Caldwell, Mathew Kilgallon and those two lads from Charleroi who have signed for Wolves. Hardly names to set pulses racing. In short, this window has totally failed to capture the imagination.
Why is that? Why did Ruud van Nistelrooy snub Tottenham - fourth in the Premier League and a club seemingly going places - in favour of Hamburg in the Bundesliga? Why did Luca Toni opt to go to Rome instead of London? Why can't a Premier League club seem to be able to entice David Villa or David Silva over here, despite their club Valencia's dire financial straits?
The global economic downturn may be playing its part but equally there may be more to it. When Cristiano Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso decided to quit these shores for La Liga last summer, the Premier League lost more than two of its brightest stars.
Having enjoyed top billing in Europe for a couple of years, the English top flight was jilted and it still seems to be recovering six months on.
Since United eventually caved in to Real's tenacious and relentless pursuit of Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney has reportedly become a target for both Madrid and Barcelona. Naturally, the Manchester United striker has told them where to go but his and United's need to even acknowledge the rumours with the usual "flattered but not interested" retort revealed a very real fear that English clubs now have of predatory foreign behemoths like Madrid and Barca.
Post Ronaldo, things are very much different and the January transfer window, and the lack of excitement it has generated, may now be making us realise just how so.
Of course, there is still time for this window to surprise and the usual glut of last-minute deals may yet happen as the clock ticks towards 5pm next Monday.
Either way, the full extent of any perceived shift in the balance of power may only be truly judged after the summer.
But should the likes of Sergio Aguero, who has been notably absent from any transfer tittle-tattle this time round, opt to stay in Spain once again at the end of the season, the allure of the Premier League will have to be questioned far more intently.
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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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