The January Transfer Window 2012: English football’s comings and goings


The 2012 January transfer window has been frenetic and sensationalist since it was wedged open on the 1st of the month, so not dissimilar to any other January transfer window in recent years then. But this window in particular has felt like the under performing, dull and monotonous sequel to the action blockbuster that was the January 2011 window. The transfers of Fernando Torres to Chelsea for £50 million and the £35 million move of Andy Carroll to Liverpool a year ago has dominated the back pages of newspapers across the country, not just this January, but for the whole of 2011.

For drama’s sake, the sales of Torres and Carroll were fantastic, but in terms of business and quality both were dire. At this present time it would be an understatement to say that both look nothing like what their respective clubs paid for them. Perhaps therefore, a scent of caution has permeated through Premier League clubs this January and the Torres/Carroll paradigm will go down in folklore as an irresponsible and reckless way of buying and selling: the more you spend, the more you stand to lose. The biggest reminder of last year’s gluttony in the transfer market was when rumours flew about stating that Liverpool had offered a swap with Man City, Carroll for Carlos Tevez. Both clubs denied this deal had ever been propositioned. But the end of the film would have been written if Carroll had joined Man City a year to the day he controversially left Newcastle.

Nonetheless clubs up and down the country’s top four divisions and have been busy and crafty with their acquisitions and departures. Instead of spewing off every transfer that happened in January (which would take longer than spell checking an English exam undertaken by Harry Redknapp) I’ll skim through the most interesting movements:

The return of the semi-retired three: Henry, Scholes and Keane. The MLS is some sort of purgatorial dimension in which European players past their heyday go to when they lose their pace but not their thirst for ridiculous sums of money. However the reason why Thierry Henry joined Arsenal and Robbie Keane joined Aston Villa from America temporarily are for more healthy reasons. Keane to keep fit ahead of the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign and Henry to help out the club that converted him into the best player of his generation. It seems to be so far that while Keane is one of the first on the team sheet for Alex McLeish’s Villa, Henry will be taking more of a back seat. The Scholes return came about however when Alex Ferguson had problems in the midfield and instead of spending an inflated sum of money (an occurrence that is all too prevalent in the January window) he turned to an old legend to re-fill the gap that he’d left behind the previous May. A smart, cost effective move that keeps the fans happy, not that Ferguson ever concentrated on that too much.

January 31st always brings the most insane expenditure, and unsurprisingly Harry Redknapp was at the heart of it. Krasic from Juventus and Marin from Werder Bremen were just two of the names tossed about White Hart Lane on Tuesday afternoon. However it was Louis Saha from Everton and remarkably Ryan Nelson from Blackburn then turned out to be Redknapp’s transfer coups. Nelson especially as it had been assumed that Chris Samba would be the Rovers centre-half leaving the club. It all came about because Sebastian Bassong joined Wolves on loan, late on Tuesday. Ryan Nelson’s an excellent defender but Bassong is no weak link. It’s an example of how idiosyncratic the whole process can get. It would have been simpler for both players to stay at their respective clubs. Wolves needed Bassong much more than Spurs needed Nelson, if that’s the case then Spurs should have let the Cameroonian defender leave permanently.

Saha’s move to Spurs will be music to the ears of a small section of Everton fans. The Goodison faithful had grown a little tired of Saha’s poor form of late and some good business on Monday night and Tuesday saw the club successfully bring in Nikica Jelavic from Rangers for a reported £5.5 million. His ox-like physique and clinical nature in front of goal makes him a superb prospect. It’s been years since Everton had a striker that they can rely upon year in, year out. Hopefully Jelavic will bring this much needed consistency. The Blues also brought in Steven Pienaar, Darron Gibson and Landon Donovan to boost their midfield.

QPR were the big spenders of the four weeks. Their haulage; Macheda, Diakite, Taiwo (all on loan) Onuoha, Cisse and Zamora. Six additions will be good for longevity, but I question the overall quality. There’s no goal scorer in there. You can build a team around Zamora, but he’s never looked a convincing finisher. Same goes for Djibril Cisse whose spells at Liverpool and Sunderland weren’t as successful as he would have hoped.

Possibly the cleverest buy of the window was Newcastle’s purchase of Papiss Cisse from SC Freiburg. With a fee thought to have been around £9 million, it must be a relief for Newcastle fans to see more of that £35 million received last year spent on a genuine talent. Cisse has scored goals wherever he’s been and 22 goals last year in the Bundesliga is an excellent return. He will also link up with Demba Ba, his Senegalese strike partner so you would think they’d be on the same wavelength from day one.

Man City only had one objective in January; get rid of Carlos Tevez. This did not happen. Inter Milan came and went, PSG came and went, AC Milan came and went. Then AC Milan came back for one last attempt on Tuesday but personal terms were not reached. City will still be nonchalant however, the South American and Russian leagues’ (Anzhi Makhachkala anyone?) windows are still open so Tevez may yet leave before the end of the season. City also brought in the experienced Chilean international David Pizarro on loan from Roma.

Chelsea finally signed Gary Cahill from Bolton and also managed to sign youth prospects Patrick Bamford from Nottingham Forest and Kevin De Bruyne from Belgium side Genk. De Bruyne however will be loaned back to Genk for the rest of the season so it could be a while before he is seen in a Chelsea shirt. Andre Villas-Boas also managed to get rid of Nicolas Anelka who was largely ineffective this season as well as Alex to the wealthy Paris Saint Germain. Some Chelsea fans questioned Alex’s sale since some confidence and steel was needed in the defensive area and Alex would have fitted that role perfectly. Hopefully Cahill will fill these requirements.

Lower down the leagues West Ham signalled their intent to return to the Premier League by signing three strikers on deadline day; Nicky Maynard and Ricardo Vaz Te from Bristol City and Barnsley respectively as well as Ravel Morrison from Manchester United. Morrison has been tipped for big things but his off the field behaviour has been maligned and scrutinized for the past year. The Hammers acquired him for around £600,000 which will look like a bargain if he lives up to the hype. After rejecting a move to Leicester earlier in the month, Billy Sharp left Doncaster for Southampton. Sharp has been in good form and Saints fan must be salivating with the prospect of seeing Sharp link up with top scorer Ricky Lambert.

Matt Tubbs moving for £800,000 from League Two Crawley to League One Bournemouth was a transfer that shook both leagues. The money is justifiable considering Tubbs has scored 58 goals in 78 appearances for Crawley. However the gamble will pay off if the Cherries make the play offs. Staying in League One, it seems unbelievable that no club managed to prise Jordan Rhodes away from Huddersfield. The Scottish international has 29 goals already in the league this year and was a subject to a couple of bids from West Ham. He’ll remain with the West Yorkshire club until the summer at least.

£58,300,000 million was spent on players this month. The weeks after the window closes always are the most anticipatory for football fans. Will Jelavic be a hit at Everton? Will Bassong transform the Wolves’ back four into a clean sheet machine? And finally, will Carlos Tevez ever manage to leave English football? Most football fans across the country hope that’ll be a definitive yes.

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