In the aftermath of an international tournament it is not abnormal for Premier League clubs to adopt a more adventurous approach to recruitment. This becomes apparent for anyone who takes the time to browse daily gossip columns or follow transfer related accounts on Twitter – so far, this window has been pretty crazy.
Indeed with just less than a month remaining before the closing of the annual summer transfer window already a host of high profile names have officially put pen to paper with new clubs, with many more rumoured deals likely to materialise in the coming weeks as the pressure mounts to form the most competitive squads possible.
Below I take a look at the done deals deserving of the utmost excitement.
Alexis Sanchez – FC Barcelona to Arsenal FC – £35 milion.
Do not underestimate the symbolic importance of this deal.
‘Arsenal don’t sign big players’, ‘Wenger doesn’t like spending money’ – nowadays such criticism can be dispelled as myth no longer relevant to the current Arsenal regime. The acquisition of Sanchez not only stands alone as a tremendous piece of business but reinforces the notion that Ozil’s arrival this time last year was far from a flash in the pan. The club have spent big money and now, to the delight of Arsenal fans, has a taste for it.
Let us not underestimate the pitch-level importance of the deal, either. Alexis Sanchez is a freakishly-talented footballer. With the ability to operate anywhere across the front three more than competently, Alexis is comparable to the style of one-time Arsenal target Luis Suarez in his ability to create goals as well as deliver an impressive return himself.
Okay, 39 goals in 88 games for Barcelona isn’t exactly a ground-breaking ratio, but for a player denied a prolonged run of games in Spain due to niggling injuries, Alexis still managed to deliver on big occasions and produce some memorable moments in the process.
His performance in Brazil this summer paid testament to the calibre of player the Arsenal faithful can look forward to seeing in their colours this season. Despite the glamour of his playing style, he appeared to thrive in a side not afraid to get their hands dirty. He possesses the work-rate to match his on-the-ball ability, a trait that will go a long way to establishing him as a star in the Premier League.
Diego Costa – Atletico Madrid to Chelsea FC – £32 million.
Perhaps some people’s prime candidate for flop of the season – Costa arrives in England with a sizable monkey on his back in the shape of his reputation, a reality that certainly didn’t help the likes of Shevchenko and Kezman in times gone by.
Indeed what partially makes this signing so exciting is the potential for a huge flop and subsequently egg on the face of the special one. The big Brazilian/Spaniard hardly set the World Cup alight and possesses a notoriously-short temper that could well be found out in the pressure situations.
With this in mind, there is a fine line between realism and pessimism and for all Costa’s potential problems he also possesses an incredible talent for playing football. His goals fired Atletico to their first domestic title in 18 years and it can’t be disputed that the big forward has the qualities to become a force to be reckoned with in England.
Big, pacey, powerful and domestically (at least) a big-game player, Costa is sure to generate a lot of excitement as he settles in to life in the English game.
Lazar Markovic – S.L. Benfica to Liverpool FC – £20 million.
Out of the plethora of fresh faces at Anfield, perhaps the one arousing the most excitement is Serbian wonder-kid Lazar Markovic. Blessed with frightening pace and dribbling ability, the forward is sure to thrive in Rodger’s attacking style, while his ability to operate in a number of attacking positions makes incredibly versatile – a quality Rodgers openly looks for when recruiting players.
Markovic is far from the finished product and he has a lot of learning to do before he realises his full potential, however under Rodgers he is lucky enough to work with a manager renowned for optimising the talent of budding footballers i.e. Sterling, Henderson & Flanagan.
The more cautious of Liverpool fans may detect elements of past young flops such as Ryan Babel or Mark González in the signing of Markovic, however fans just as realistic will also respect the need for patience when nurturing a young prospect.
If Rodgers can replicate his influence on Sterling when working with Markovic Liverpool could well have a top class player on their hands.
Cesc Fabregas – FC Barcelona to Chelsea FC – £27 million.
The most underreported signing of the summer?
The timing of the transaction really did serve to reduce the volume of this deal. Taking place just days before the World Cup began, the news was somewhat overwhelmed by the giddy hype surrounding the world’s biggest sport tournament and England’s imminent glory, of course.
Make no mistake about it, Chelsea have signed one of the generation’s must gifted and decorated footballers for a very modest price.
There is much to be said for the political side of the deal, too.
Once upon a time Fabregas was Arsenal’s much-beloved baby boy – he could do no wrong and would always go down in club folklore despite his move to the Barcelona in 2011. This long-distance love affair was too good to be true, it seems…
‘I’ll never join another English club’ – Oh Cesc, what are you like?
Drama aside, Fabregas is a proven top-bracket Premier League player meaning there is no real risk involved in his acquisition. Providing Cesc doesn’t succumb to a Torres-esque transformation for the worse, he should be a sublime signing.
Bojan Krkic – FC Barcelona to Stoke FC – £3 million estimated fee.
In 2007 Bojan dethroned Lionel Messi as the youngest player to ever feature for Barcelona in La Liga when sent on by Frank Rijkaard against Osasuna. From that point the young Spaniard was tipped to become a legend of Catalonia, however his career soon experienced a downward spiral of sorts.
Bojan joins Stoke having spent underwhelming seasons at Roma, AC Milan and Ajax; failing to make any real impact at any of the clubs. However having already netted a handful of goals for his new English club in pre-season, perhaps the time has come for the one-time Spanish prodigy to reignite his career?
Indeed Bojan may not have done the business on the pitch recently, but his origins and footballing-upbringing alone make him an absolutely huge coup for Stoke City. The deal is almost surreal in nature; the side once dubbed ‘the rugby team’ have recruited a graduate from arguably the most prestigious footballing academy on the planet.
The nature of the deal completely compliments the effect of Mark Hughes. In his first year in charge Hughes oversaw a revolution of sorts, successfully changing the playing style of the side and leading the team to their highest ever Premier League finish. Frankly, Hughes was unlucky to come up against so many impressive candidates for the manager of the year award; he didn’t do a bad job himself.
Ultimately, there is an element of ‘win win’ when it comes to this transfer. If Bojan manages to turn the clocks back and hit the ground running at Stoke, the deal becomes a complete and utter masterstroke for an embarrassingly-low price. If Bojan’s struggles continue, Stoke have made no notable financial loss in the context of today’s market, and have still made a hugely impressive statement in just acquiring his signature.