Podolski: Playing with RVP or no?
Forget the European Championships and the upcoming Olympics.
The biggest sporting event this summer for English Premier League fans is the 2012 summer transfer window.
At the time of writing, we are three weeks into July 2012, which means that this summer’s transfer window has only a month and a week left to go.
How have the teams done so far?
Let’s take a quick look at how all 20 Premier League have done in terms of transfers since July 1—and why not rank them while we’re at it?
Disclaimer: Only confirmed transfers of players close to the first team are considered in this article.
Chris Kirkland: Wigan no longer
Four players out and only two in—and that’s including Mauro Boselli, who was voted Wigan’s worst-ever foreign player in his debut season for the Latics.
Without question, Wigan have not had a smooth summer so far. Two of their most important first-team members—Hugo Rodellega and Mohamed Diame—have left to sign for rivals aspiring to finish in a mid-table position, something that Roberto Martinez will find very hard to accomplish if he doesn’t move fast.
Gyan: Gone for good
In: Carlos Cuellar (Aston Villa, free)
Out: Craig Gordon (free), George McCartney (West Ham, free), Asamoah Gyan (Al-Ain, £6.6m), Wayne Bridge (Manchester City, loan return), Sotirios Kyrgiakos (VfL Wolfsburg, loan return)
Five squad players out (although Asamoah Gyan did spend last season out on loan) and just the one defensive addition.
While none of the players Sunderland have shipped out was considered a key player in Martin O’Neill’s first team last season, their departures will have weakened the squad considerably.
The only saving grace is the addition of ex-Villa defender Carlos Cuellar, but that hardly represents a huge step up in Sunderland’s existing defensive options.
Woodgate: Back where he started
In: Jamie Ness (Rangers, free)
Out: Ricardo Fuller (free), Mamady Sidibe (free), Salif Diao (free), Michael Tonge (free), Jonathan Woodgate (Middlesbrough, free)
Five out and one in, although given the injury records of the outgoing players, this will come across as a balanced window.
But just because the numbers in the first team might seem balanced doesn’t mean that Tony Pulis doesn’t still have a lot of work to do.
Fuller was capable of some surprising moments, and when fit, Woodgate was a classy defender. The reality is that a solitary addition on the wing will not be enough to match last season’s final position.
Foster: Now a Hawthorns fixture
In: Ben Foster (Birmingham, £4.4m), Yassine El Ghanassy (AA Gent, loan)
Out: Paul Scharner (free), Nicky Shorey (Reading, free), Joe Mattock (Sheffield Wednesday, free), Somen Tchoyi (free), Keith Andrews (Bolton, free), Marton Fulop (Asteras Tripoli, free)
West Brom make Foster’s loan switch permanent, but his arrival is offset by the departure of six players, including three regular first-teamers.
Scharner, Shorey and Tchoyi contributed massively to a physical West Brom team last season under Roy Hodgson.
Replacing them with squad players of a similar level will be tough. Aspiring to better Hodgson’s finish with a lesser squad will be even tougher.
Pienaar: Back for good?
In: Steven Naismith (Rangers, free), Joseph Yobo (Fenerbahce, loan return)
Four first-teamers out, tempered by Naismith’s arrival and, hopefully, Pienaar’s permanent return.
Our consideration is admittedly of confirmed transfers, but the implication of Pienaar’s return is huge. Yobo’s return, on the other hand, given his first-team status at Goodison Park, adds nothing to the defence.
Hargreaves: In and out
Out: Stuart Taylor (free), Owen Hargreaves (free), Wayne Bridge (Brighton, free), David Pizarro (AS Roma, loan return)
Four reserves out, none in—but City probably don’t need any anyway.
After years of lavish spending, Manchester City finally find themselves in the luxury position of being able to afford little transfer activity.
Roberto Mancini may only strengthen if a player of high quality becomes available, and that is a sign of the squad already at his disposal.
Smith: Newcastle hell finally over
In: Romain Amalfitano (Reims, free)
Out: Peter Lovenkrands (Birmingham, free), Danny Guthrie (Reading, free), Alan Smith (MK Dons, free), Leon Best (Blackburn, £3.3m), Fraser Forster (Celtic, £2.2m)
Five backups out, and a wild-card attacking option in.
Just like City, Newcastle’s squad is at a level that can afford to shed its backup options and only look at players that can add genuine quality to their ranks.
Amalfitano has an unproven pedigree but might provide an unexpected surprise, and Alan Pardew’s priority for now must be to keep his stars (see Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye, Cheick Tiote) at the Sports Direct Arena.
Heskey: No longer the Villan
Out: Carlos Cuellar (Sunderland, free), Emile Heskey (free)
Three first-team additions and a loan return, and two out-of-favor options (and their wages) out.
It’s been a relatively quiet summer for new Villa boss Paul Lambert in terms of making headlines, but he has quietly added some solid first-team options to his new squad. Meanwhile, Cuellar and Heskey will, in all probability, not be missed.
Whittaker: A new Canary
In: Steven Whittaker (Rangers, free), Jacob Butterfield (Barnsley, free)
Out: Adam Drury (Leeds, free), Zak Whitbread (free)
Two in, two out, but Whittaker’s addition far outweighs any departure.
A very understated summer for Norwich, with all transfers so far not incurring a single penny from the transfer budget.
Drury and Whitbread’s departures won’t be felt too keenly, but the addition of Steven Whittaker from Rangers might prove a real bargain.
Aquilani: Returns to a whole new Liverpool
Out: Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce, £880k), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell’s Old Boys, free)
Two trusty old-timers out and a hot young prospect in. More to come?
Given their goal-scoring knack and big-game experience, Kuyt and Rodriguez, underused by Kenny Dalglish last season, could have played important cameos this season.
Borini will have big shoes to fill. Rodgers will need to strengthen significantly to be able to replicate his favored tiki-taka style at Anfield.
Murphy: Out of the Cottage
In: Hugo Rodallega (Wigan, free), Mladen Petric (Hamburg SV, free)
Out: Andy Johnson (QPR, free), Danny Murphy (Blackburn, free), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading, free), Orlando Sa (free)
Four first-teamers out, tempered by the addition of two players of real quality.
Johnson, Pogrebnyak and Sa might have departed Craven Cottage, but Rodallega and Petric’s arrivals might render that irrelevant, such is their capability to excite.
Danny Murphy’s departure leaves Martin Jol with the responsibility to add a playmaker to his squad, but Fulham fans should be looking forward to a much stronger attack this season.
Kagawa: The new face of United?
In: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund, £13.2m), Nick Powell (Crewe, £6.6m)
Out: Ji-Sung Park (QPR, £2.7m), Michael Owen (free), Tomasz Kuszczak (Brighton, free), Fabio da Silva (QPR, loan), Paul Pogba (Juventus, free)
Five out, but just the one regular first-teamer. One hot prospect and one international star in.
If anything, the shirt sales from Kagawa’s transfer will make up for every penny that might go to waste for Manchester United this summer.
The addition of such an exciting young talent will have gotten hopes up at Old Trafford, while the exits of squad and reserve players will not be significant. Expect United to make further signings.
Sigurdsson: Now at the Lane
Two impressive additions tempered by the departure of five first-team options.
Sigurdsson and Vertonghen will play big roles in Andre Villas-Boas’ new system at Tottenham, and more signings are rumored to be on their way.
Harry Redknapp did fine even while not affording Kranjcar, Nelsen and Corluka much playing time, but their departures have deprived AVB of several valuable squad players.
Park: A key player at Loftus Road
In: Samba Diakite (Nancy, £3.5m), Ryan Nelsen (Tottenham, free), Andy Johnson (Fulham, free), Robert Green (West Ham, free), Fabio da Silva (Manchester United, loan), Ji-Sung Park (Manchester United, £2.7m)
Out: Fitz Hall (Watford, free), Akos Buzsaky (free), Paddy Kenny (Leeds, £440k), Peter Ramage (free), Danny Shittu (free), Danny Gabbidon (free), Taye Taiwo (AC Milan, loan return)
Six first-teamers in, seven squad/reserve options out.
QPR’s nerve-wracking end to last season has probably influenced owner Tony Fernandez and manager Mark Hughes’ transfer mindset this summer.
They have added six players of genuine first-team quality who might be able to bring QPR to a mid-table finish. Even now, Hughes can consider this a prolific and successful transfer window.
Davis: A move down South
In: Jay Rodriguez (Burnley, £7.6m), Steven Davis (Rangers, £880k), Nathaniel Clyne (Crystal Palace, free)
Out: Radhi Jaidi (retired), Lee Holmes (Preston, free)
Two squad players out, three quality players in to provide a real step up.
It’s been an impressive summer for the newly promoted teams so far—so much so that Southampton, seventh on this list, is the lowest placed of them all.
In Rodriguez, Davis and Clyne (the latter apparently choosing Southampton over Manchester United, according to the Daily Mail), the Saints have added three players who will have provided massive encouragement for their fans going forward.
Pogrebnyak: Major coup for Reading
In: Garath McCleary (Nottingham Forest, free), Nicky Shorey (West Brom, free), Danny Guthrie (Newcastle, free), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Fulham, free), Chris Gunter (Nottingham Forest, £2.6m), Adrian Mariappa (Watford, £3.3m)
Out: Tomasz Cywka (free)
Six first-teamers in, just the one player out in a massive rank-boosting summer.
And not only is it a rank-boosting summer: This should be considered a morale-boosting transfer window as well.
Shorey, Guthrie and Pogrebnyak will provide solid Premier League experience, and the latter’s capture will stand out as a major coup for newly promoted Reading. Gunter will add youth and excitement, while Mariappa will be a solid option at the back.
Hazard: The new face of Chelsea
In: Marko Marin (Werder Bremen, £8.6m), Eden Hazard (Lille, £35.2m)
Out: Jose Bosingwa (free), Salomon Kalou (Lille, free), Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua, free)
Two of Europe’s most highly rated midfielders in after the gradual release of the older generation.
Three established first-team options in Bosingwa, Kalou and Drogba have finally been moved on for a younger and newer Chelsea dynasty, but they take big-game experience and match-winning options along with their departures.
Hazard will be the new face of Chelsea, and they might still sign more midfielders. Such is life with a oil monarch as your owner.
Diame: Ex-Latic, now Hammer
In: Mohamed Diame (Wigan, free), Stephen Henderson (Portsmouth, £655k), Jussi Jaaskelainen (Bolton, free), George McCartney (Sunderland, free), Modibo Maiga (Sochaux, £5.3m)
Out: Freddie Sears (Colchester, free), Marek Stech (Yeovil, free), Frank Nouble (Wolves, free), Robert Green (QPR, free), Papa Bouba Diop (free), Abdoulaye Faye (Hull, free), John Carew (free), Julien Faubert (Elazigspor, free)
Seven out, but five exciting new players who will more than make up for the losses.
Sam Allardyce is at it again. Having secured long-time charge Jaaskelainen to keep goal for his Hammers, he secured big-name signings by bringing in Maiga and Diame, the latter of whom had been linked to Liverpool before Dalglish’s departure (according to ESPNSoccernet).
Expect further signings who might secure a mid-table finish for Big Sam’s men.
Laudrup: Might be the most astute signing of them all
Out: Gylfi Sigurdsson (TSG Hoffenheim, loan return)
Three quality players in, Sigurdsson out (and he wasn’t on a permanent Swansea player anyway).
Swansea just keep outdoing themselves. Last season it was Brendan Rodgers who worked his magic on a small transfer budget. This season it’s Michael Laudrup, who has already brought in three players on bargain-basement fees.
Given Michu’s prolific season at the heart of Rayo Vallecano’s midfield last season, he might turn out to be one of the signings of this season. Expect the good times to continue at the Liberty Stadium.
Podolski: Gunning for glory
In: Lukas Podolski (Koln, £11.4m), Olivier Giroud (Montpellier, £10.6m)
Out: Manuel Almunia (free), Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad, £3.3m)
No. Robin van Persie hasn’t left yet. Podolski and Giroud provide top-class striking reinforcement.
So, yeah, Robin van Persie hasn’t left yet, and we don’t know if he will. Which makes Arsenal’s summer the most impressive out of all EPL teams so far.
Almunia and Vela’s absence will barely be felt, and Arsene Wenger has already brought in two well-known and highly-rated strikers. Van Persie or not, Arsenal will still be in and around the top four places come next May.