2012 Transfer Window: Grading All 20 EPL Teams' Offseason Moves
Unfortunately (for some), we're nearing the end of Silly Season, and as such, it's time to reflect on what has been as crazy a transfer window as there's ever been before.
Until the Premier League season gets underway proper, its impossible to know exactly who snagged the biggest bargains and who horrendously overpaid in their wheelings and dealings.
But using my own secret formula, every team will get a letter grade based on their success this summer.
(Just don't ask me to reveal my "secret formula.")
Olivier Giroud (£12.8m), Lukas Podolski (£10.9m), Santi Cazorla (£16.5m).
Manuel Almunia (Free), Carlos Vela (£3.3m).
It's very difficult to fault Arsenal's business this summer.
In Santi Cazorla they've signed not only a truly fantastic attacking midfielder but someone who will be a positive influence in the dressing room as well. I expect him to prove one of the buys of the transfer window, having an impact in North London similar to the way David Silva rose to the occasion in Manchester.
In terms of Giroud and Podolski, both have the potential to be potent threats in the box, but with Robin van Persie more likely to stay than go, finding room in the team for both may prove difficult for boss Arsene Wenger.
I also find it ironic that the Gunners paid more for Giroud than Podolski, when it's the German who is arguably the better player.
Aston Villa: C+
Brett Holman (Free), Karim El Ahmadi (£2.4m), Matthew Lowton (£3.3m), Ron Vlaar (£3.3m)
Emile Heskey (Free), Carlos Cuellar (Free), James Collins (£2.8m).
Aston Villa have shown an odd lack of ambition in their purchases recently, with central defender Ron Vlaar by far the most notable acquisition.
El Ahmadi is a talented player who is a regular fixture in the Morrocan national team but will struggle to break into a team already stuffed with talented British central midfielders (Fabian Delph, Barry Bannan and Gary Gardner).
In releasing Cuellar and selling James Collins, the Villans have lost a couple of under-appreciated assets in defence as well.
Perhaps their best signing was replacing the inept Alex McLeish with Paul Lambert.
Marko Marin (£7m), Eden Hazard (£32m), Oscar (£25m).
Didier Drogba (Free), Jose Bosingwa (Free), Salomon Kalou (Free).
With Oscar and Eden Hazard on board, it's certainly an exciting time to be a Blues fan.
Although it's a little too soon to tell whether or not Chelsea overpaid for the Belgian (note that the astronomical agent's fees and wages aren't included in Hazard's price), there is no doubting his ability and potential.
Oscar too could very well become world class within the next few years but will surely need a little while to adjust to the rigours of the British game.
Marin is a difficult one to assess. In trying to work out to whom in European football he best compares, one Zoran Tosic came to mind. He's iminutive and tricky but will possibly struggle in the Premier League.
With Drogba gone, Di Matteo still needs to acquire a top striker if he hopes to compete for the trophy, as Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge cannot be relied upon over a 38 game season.
Stephen Naismith (Free), Stephen Pienaar (£4.5m).
James McFadden (Free), Tim Cahill (£1.1m), Joseph Yobo (£2.2m).
It must be frustrating for Everton to have had to pay an extra £1.5m to buy Stephen Pienaar back from Tottenham less than a year after he departed Goodison Park. However the South African is best served playing under David Moyes and should be glad to be back where he belongs.
Naismith could be a real steal from Rangers, whose worth may have been close to £5m if the Scottish club had been able to sell.
Club stalwart Tim Cahill shouldn't be too missed; the Australian's form having dipped considerably over the past couple of seasons, whilst Everton have done well to get over £2m from Fenerbahce for Yobo.
Hugo Rodallega (Free), Sascha Riether (Free), Mladen Petric (Free).
Dickson Etuhu (£1.6m), Danny Murphy (Free), Orlando Sa (Free), Andy Johnson (Free).
In terms of the players they've brought in, Fulham may deserve an A grade. If Hugo Rodallega's preseason form is anything to go by, he should be back to top form next season, whilst Petric is an experienced striker who will also contribute.
The German Riether is also a quick, worthy defender who should rival Stephen Kelly and Chris Baird for the right-back position.
However the club has released the experienced Andy Johnson and Danny Murphy, the latter they may miss more than first imagined.
It is also a shame that they were unable to hold on to Pogrebnyak, who was their best striker between January and May.
It would be impressive if Martin Jol is able to hold on to stars Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele for this season as well.
Fabio Borini (£10.5m), Joe Allen (£15m).
Fabio Aurelio (Free), Dirk Kuyt (£1m), Alberto Aquilani (£7.7m), Maxi Rodriguez (Free).
Make no mistake, Fabio Borini is a good signing. He is an energetic work-horse, a player who will quickly earn the respect of the Anfield faithful like Dirk Kuyt did before him.
The £15m transfer for Joe Allen is one that doesn't make as much sense. It is a high price to pay for only the third best player in Swansea's central midfield last season behind Leon Britton and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Nevertheless, at least under Rodgers he will be given the best possible opportunities.
Perhaps Brendan Rodgers' best move so far has been to re-sign Luis Suarez to a new deal, for he will certainly thrive in the new system.
Kuyt moves on, and its a pity that Aquilani and Rodriguez weren't given opportunities to shine under the new manager.
Manchester City: C
Owen Hargreaves (Free), Wayne Bridge (Free), Vladimir Weiss (£1.3m).
No doubt because of fears they'll run afoul of UEFA's financial regulations, City have been very inactive this summer.
Sure, they've already got one of, if not the best, squad of players in Britain, but there is always room to improve (although in City's case, I'm not too sure where).
Thankfully though, dead weights Owen Hargreaves and Wayne Bridge have been moved on.
Manchester United: B
Shinji Kagawa (£14m), Nick Powell (£4m).
Michael Owen (Free), Ji-Sung Park (£2.7m), Tomasz Kuszczak (Free).
It may be a tad premature, but Shinji Kagawa looks like being just the type of player United need to fill the attacking midfield hole that Paul Scholes once occupied.
His boundless energy and velvet touch will be much appreciated at Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson will be disappointed not to have spent more of the Glazer's money though, having missed out on top targets Eden Hazard and Lucas Moura, but was wise to resist spending silly money in hindsight.
Ji-Sung Park will be missed by many fans, and deservedly so, but nobody can honestly say that his form had been first-team worthy last season.
Even if Sir Alex manages to buy Robin van Persie in the next couple of weeks, the B grade would stay the same due to doubts over the costs involved in a potential transfer and the Dutchman's age and past injury problems.
Newcastle United: C
Romain Amalfitano (Free), Gael Bigirimana (£1.1m).
Leon Best (£3.3m), Fraser Forster (£2.2m), Alan Smith (Free), Danny Guthrie (Free), Peter Lovenkrands (Free).
Newcastle United have had made some absolutely killer purchases over the past couple of years, but this summer have resisted dipping into the market.
The £1.1m spent on Gael Bigirimana won't see a return on the pitch for a good few years, whilst Amalfitano is another buy for the future.
Forwards Leon Best and Peter Lovenkrands will not be missed, with Demba Ba more than likely staying at the club.
Norwich City: B+
Stephen Whittaker (Free), Robert Snodgrass (£2.8m), Michael Turner (Free).
Adam Drury (Free), Zak Whitbread (Free), Aaron Wilbraham (Free).
Norwich have been nice and tidy this summer, spending very little on a number of players who should prove useful over the course of the season.
Stephen Whittaker has been a very solid right-back for Rangers, just as Michael Turner has been in central defence for Sunderland.
Robert Snodgrass is a winger who has spent the majority of his career in the League Championship, but who is certainly capable of stepping up to England's top flight.
Nevertheless, Chris Hughton will have a tough job on his hands keeping the Canaries away from the jaws of relegation.
Ji-Sung Park (£2.7m), Samba Diakite (£3.5m), David Hoilett (Free), Ryan Nelsen (Free), Andy Johnson (Free), Robert Green (Free), Fabio (Loan).
Paddy Kenny (£440k), Akos Buzsaky (Free), Heidar Helguson (Undisclosed).
It seems quite clear what Mark Hughes' plan for QPR is: overload the squad with established veterans and build from there.
Ji-Sung Park, Nelsen, Green and Johnson will all contribute if they can stay fit, whilst the acquisition of Manchester United's Fabio on loan is a real coup that should pay instant dividends.
But the best move the Londoners have made is undoubtedly in being able to convince David Hoilett to join—a player who had been linked with Arsenal and other top clubs.
Hoilett is an exciting winger who will add a spark to a team that may spring a few shocks this season.
Helguson's grit and determination may be missed though.
Pavel Pogrebnyak (Free), Adrian Mariappa (£3.3m), Chris Gunter (£2.6m), Nicky Shorey (Free), Danny Guthrie (Free), Garath McCleary (Free).
Tomasz Cywka, Andy Griffin (Free).
Of all the teams outside of the "big seven," Reading have been one of the most impressive in their moves this summer.
Pogrebnyak is a physical striker who is in the peak of his career, and who has already proven he can bang in goals at a good rate in the Premier League.
Chris Gunter and Adrian Mariappa deservedly make the move up a division, whilst Danny Guthrie is a solid midfielder who could earn a place in the starting team.
Similar to what happened last season, I wouldn't be surprised if all three promoted teams managed to avoid relegation come May.
Jay Rodriguez (£7.6m), Nathaniel Clyne (£2.8m), Steven Davis (£880k).
All three promoted teams have done well in the transfer market, Southampton included.
The Saints may enter the season as favourites to go down, but are a team that shouldn't be taken so lightly.
They have done well to win the race for highly rated right-back Clyne, who had been courted by a number of top clubs, Manchester United included.
But as good as Rodriguez is and could be, Southampton may have overpaid for the striker.
They certainly got a steal in central midfielder Steven Davis though, who will walk into the first team.
Stoke City: C+
Michael Kightly (£3m), Geoff Cameron (£1.9m), Jamie Ness (Free).
Ricardo Fuller (Free), Salif Diao (Free), Jonathan Woodgate (Free), Danny Collins (£560k), Tom Soares (Free).
It seems somewhat baffling to me that Stoke City's biggest splash this summer has been spending £3m on Michael Kightly, one of the most injury prone players in England.
Sure if he stays healthy he's a tricky, determined winger, but there is more potential for risk than reward in the deal.
Tony Pulis may have secured a bargain though in Geoff Cameron, a talented American defensive midfielder who moves from the Houston Dynamo.
Jamie Ness may prove a decent prospect as well.
In terms of exits, Diao, Fuller and Collins will not be missed, but it's a shame that the Jonathan Woodgate experiment didn't work out.
Stoke may hover above danger for much of the season, but Pulis has turned the club into a real barnacle and should stick around for a few more years to come.
Carlos Cuellar (Free).
Asamoah Gyan (£6.6m), Marcos Angeleri (Free), George McCartney (Free), Christian Riveros (£260k), Michael Turner (£1.6m), Craig Gordon (Free).
It seems a new era of austerity has begun at Sunderland.
The lavish spending of Steve Bruce has been replaced with the hard-nosed Martin O'Neill, perhaps for the better for the club.
The unfortunate saga of Asamoah Gyan coming to end has been the only notable move made, the Ghanaian making a permanent move to the UAE having already spent last season on loan at Al Ain.
The expensive goalkeeper Craig Gordon also leaves the club.
Other than that, not many have made the move to Tyne and Wear this summer.
Swansea City: A
Jonathan de Guzman (Loan), Michu (£2.2m), Chico (£2.2m).
Ferrie Bodde (Free), Joe Allen (15m).
I do not hesitate in awarding Swansea an A grade for their moves in the transfer window so far.
They have brought in three top-quality players for a very low amount and should be rightly rewarded.
Jonathan de Guzman is a technical attacking midfielder who was more than capable of mixing it with La Liga's best last season.
Chico is a tough, uncompromising central defender who is another great pick-up, as is the bargain Michu, who will help soften the blow of losing the goal-scoring midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Joe Allen will be missed, though perhaps not as much as one might expect.
I'm intrigued to see if, and how, Michael Laudrup can pull it all together.
Tottenham Hotspur: A
Gylfi Sigurdsson (£8.8m), Jan Vertonghen (£11.m).
Vedran Corluka (£6.1m), Niko Kranjcar (£6.1m), Louis Saha (Free), Ryan Nelsen (Free), Steven Pienaar (£4.5m).
Credit must also be given to Tottenham for their summer moves—their purchases have been calculated and ensure they will be fighting for a top four position this season.
My only doubts lie in the appointment of Andre Villas Boas, who has never inspired me with much confidence to be honest.
They have gotten good prices for the departing Croatians Corluka and Kranjcar, whilst it's looking increasingly likely that Luka Modric will stay.
Whether or not that's a "happy" Luka Modric remains to be seen.
Saha, Nelsen and Pienaar will only be missed for the experience they brought to the squad.
West Brom: B
Yassine El Ghanassy (Loan), Claudio Yacob (Free), Markus Rosenberg (Free), Ben Foster (£4.4m), Romelu Lukaku (Loan).
Paul Scharner (Free), Joe Mattock (Free), Nicky Shorey (Free), Somen Tchoyi (Free), Keith Andrews (Free), Marton Fulop (Free).
With Roy Hodgson long gone, it is difficult to imagine West Brom improving on their 10th position last season.
New boss Steve Clarke doesn't convince me as a No. 1 and may struggle to keep his team above water.
Cladio Yacob is an interesting signing from Argentinian club Racing. He may prove a steal, but then he may struggle to adapt to the English game and go the way of a number of South Americans who have failed to make the grade.
El Ghanassy's biggest asset is his speed, and should trouble opposition defences, whilst Sweden's Marcus Rosenberg still has a few good years left in him.
Acquiring Lukaku on loan from Chelsea is fantastic news for Baggies fans as well.
Austrian rock Paul Scharner leaves the club, as does Keith Andrews and Nicky Shorey.
Clarke may be giving up a little early on Joe Mattock though, who is a decent prospect at left-back.
West Ham: B+
Modibo Maiga (£5.2m), Mohamed Diame (Free), Jussi Jaaskelainen (Free), George McCartney (Free), James Collins (£2.8m).
Papa Diop (Free), Freddie Sears (Free), Frank Nouble (Free), Rob Green (Free), John Carew (Free), Julien Faubert (Free), Abdoulaye Faye (Free).
It may be the fact that I played with a couple of their players in high school, but I quite fancy West Ham ahead of the new season.
Maiga has the potential to be the next Demba Ba/Papiss Cisse, whilst Mohamed Diame is an excellent defensive midfielder who is only getting better.
Sam Allardyce may have overpaid a little for Collins, but the tough Welshman may earn a starting berth alongside James Tomkins in central defence.
The London club have also had a real clear out, dumping a number of quality players including Carew, Sears, Nouble and Green but have done well to get rid of dead weights Faubert, Diop and Faye.
Wigan Athletic: B
Fraser Fyvie (£560k), Ivan Ramis (£5.2m).
Hugo Rodallega (Free), Mohamed Diame (Free), Hendry Thomas (Free), Chris Kirkland (Free), Steve Gohouri (Free).
Roberto Martinez will have a real battle on his hands trying to keep Wigan in the Premier League.
Although Ramis is a top quality defender and will make a difference at the back, Fyvie is mostly potential.
The Spanish boss will be disappointed to have had to let go Diame and may come to regret seeing Rodallega leave as well.
But he has proven he can keep a team with low expectations and a shoestring budget in Britain's top league before.