IN a record-breaking season, the Premier League clubs have, combining the summer and the winter transfer windows, spent over £1 billion on recruiting new players in this increasingly financially dependent league.
The January transfer window, which was very much a story of the bottom-half clubs doing business, saw £175 million spent; some impressive signings, some a last desperate attempt to beat the drop. Just to put figures into some sort of European context, Stoke City’s impressive signing of Giannelli Imbula at £18 million, is a higher amount than that spent by La Liga as a whole, where Augusto Fernandez’s move from Champions League chasing Celta to second placed Atletico Madrid, at €6.5 million, was the highest fee paid by Spanish clubs. In short, Premier League clubs are now vastly ahead of their European counterparts in terms of finances.
Newcastle United were the big spenders, signing Swansea City’s Jonjo Shelvey for £12 million, Andros Townsend for the same figure and Seydou Doumbia on loan. Fans will be hoping that Steve McClaren can get the best out of these players as, at the point of writing, Newcastle are still in the bottom three, despite all their financial investments.
The deal of the window, surely, has to be Southampton’s £4 million capture of Charlie Austin, who will be aiming to get on the plane for Euro 2016, although he faces stiff competition from Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, and, if fit, Daniel Sturridge.
It is not, however, just staying in the Premier League which has motivated clubs to spend big but those wishing to promote to the top flight, with Middlesbrough as an obvious example. After many twists and turns, Aitor Karanka’s side finally completed the £9 million signing of Jordan Rhodes from Blackburn Rovers. It is additionally true that many sides kept to loan deals in England’s second tier, with players like Nick Powell going to Hull City and Aiden McGeady moving to Sheffield Wednesday
An honourable mention must go to China, where perhaps we have seen the surprise story of this window. Granted, players such as Paulinho and Demba Ba were already there, but household names such as Ramires, Jackson Martinez and Gervinho have left some of the top leagues in Europe to play in this ever-growing Asian market.
Now that the transfer window has gone, clubs can now concentrate on the remainder of the season and work with what they have got. With the league title, European places and avoiding the relegation zone still very much up for grabs, and with the huge TV deal coming in in the summer for Premier League clubs, all twenty sides will be doing all they can to achieve their goals. If the opening 24 matches of the season have been anything to go by, we are in for an exciting, entertaining and perhaps surprising finish to what has been one of the most competitive seasons in recent memory.
It has also been an interesting transfer window for the FA Women’s Super League, yet to close. As the league becomes more competitive, the transfer of high-quality players to rival teams has become more common.
Fara Williams’s transfer to Arsenal has been one of the moves of the window. Williams is currently one of the best midfielders in the world, as seen in the 2015 Women’s World Cup, and she will only strengthen an already excellent Arsenal side. Liverpool have acted well to fill the space left behind by Williams however, signing a range of players, including England internationals Alex Greenwood and Siobhan Chamberlain.
Another key signing is Karen Carney to Chelsea. The Blues won the title last year and this addition will help in their campaign to win it again.
An interesting aspect of this transfer window is the increase of international players coming into the FAWSL. This is a sign of the increasing competitiveness of the league and it is becoming an attractive place to play for footballers around the world.
The window shuts on Friday 18th March, and it will be intriguing to see if any more big signings are made.
James Felton and Nancy Gillen
Featured image: The Independent