x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Deals not made in Premier League transfer window are just as noticeable

The final day of the transfer window, especially in January, is rarely about the challengers for silverware as much as those who fear the drop, says Richard Jolly.

Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie, right, was on his way over to Loftus Road when he had to turn around and drive back to West Bromwich Albion when the deal with Queens Park Rangers fell through.
Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie, right, was on his way over to Loftus Road when he had to turn around and drive back to West Bromwich Albion when the deal with Queens Park Rangers fell through.

Deadline day is always desperation day. But desperation was mixed with frustration and, in one case, humiliation. January 31 was defined by those who did not move - Leandro Damiao to Tottenham, Leroy Fer to Everton, Gary Hooper to Norwich and, most remarkably, Peter Odemwingie to QPR - far more than those who did.

Yet, amid the frantic attempts at trading, the sense of terror is rarely as marked. With a £3 billion (Dh17.4bn), three-year television rights for the Premier League kicking in next season, clubs are afraid to lose their place at the top table when it is soon time to feast.

And the final day of the transfer window, especially in January, is rarely about the challengers for silverware as much as those who fear the drop.

And so, if perhaps January's best deal was one of the earliest and one concluded by an elite club, Chelsea's £7 million move for Demba Ba, there is only one place to start in any analysis of the last month's dealings.

Queens Park Rangers have been the story of the window, indeed the story of the season. Wherever he has been, Harry Redknapp has been the protagonist in the organised chaos January 31 offers.

This time it took a bizarre twist with West Bromwich Albion's Odemwingie taking the unilateral decision to drive to Loftus Road without the clubs agreeing a fee and meaning he had to beat a sorry retreat to the Midlands when no deal was concluded.

Such, it seems, is the allure the Rangers' wealth gives them, because, for a club whose expenditure was already far greater than their turnover, there is something obscene about the amounts spent. Loic Remy and Christopher Samba represent pedigree performers at either end of the pitch, potentially the sharpest striker and most dominant defender in the lower half of the league, respectively, but Rangers' combined commitment, in terms of transfer fees and wages to the pair, stretched to £60m. And that was before Redknapp swooped for Jermaine Jenas and Andros Townsend.

Elsewhere, Newcastle spent £18m on five Frenchmen, hoping to make a long-term profit.

Aston Villa were the exceptions in the dogfight, reinforcing a struggling side only with midfielder from the French second division, Yacouba Sylla, and an on-loan Tottenham player who had never appeared for them, Simon Dawkins.

If none endured a more miserable January, perhaps no one welcomed the month more than Brendan Rodgers. Reduced to one senior striker, the Liverpool manager's principal deal could not wait until the end of the window. Daniel Sturridge, the attacking addition, responded with a flurry of goals. With the arrival of the Inter winger Philippe Coutinho, Rodgers has reshaped his forward line.

Arsenal were alone among the Champions League challengers in doing deadline-day business, signing the Spanish left-back Nacho Monreal partly because Kieran Gibbs was injured 24 hours earlier.

At the division's summit, neither of the Mancunian rivals made a signing to alter the title race. United tied up a deal for Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha and promptly loaned him back to the Championship club. City bade farewell to Mario Balotelli as he joined the club he had always supported, AC Milan.

On a free transfer and with reduced wages, he could prove among the better value-for-money recruits along with Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle), Roger Espinoza (Wigan) and Lewis Holtby (Tottenham).

Among the big spenders, Ba and Sturridge stand out. So, too, could Samba, and not just because of his imposing physique. Stay up, and QPR will have bought safety at a hefty price. Go down and he will look like another in the long list of expensive mistakes.

 

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