In recent years, the transfer window of the English Premier League has been just as exciting as the on-field action, with fans of all clubs frantically hoping that their team splashes the cash in the offseason.
Heading into the 2012-13 season, the atmosphere was slightly more subdued, with many teams struggling to cope with UEFA’s stricter financial control. Nevertheless, English football’s elite managed to make additions to their squads, intent on repeating past glory.
Here is a breakdown of the successes (or failures) of the Premier League’s £10-plus million men from the so-called Big Four.
An overriding criticism of Manchester United in 2011-12 was their lack of creativity, with the side being too predictable in midfield and too reliant on Wayne Rooney for goals. Enter Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie.
Kagawa was signed from German champions Borussia Dortmund and tasked with reigniting Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. Meanwhile, van Persie was brought in from Arsenal in the hope that he could replicate his superb season and take pressure off Rooney in the goals department.
The early signs point toward a successful recruiting strategy; United are top of the league while van Persie has netted eight times in 10 games. Kagawa’s effect has been hampered by an injury picked up in the Champions League, although he has pitched in with two goals in six games.
Kagawa also provides the Red Devils with an all-important unpredictability that is not present with Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick running the show. All is tracking well for Ferguson, and the mix of experience and new injections of quality will see the club challenging for honours come May.
Compared to the high-profile nature of previous transfer windows, Manchester City were relatively quiet this offseason, although the club still had an outlay of approximately £50 million. The club strayed from spending big money on established internationals and instead invested heavily in Javi Garcia, Jack Rodwell and Matija Nastasic.
Together, these three have a grand total of nine international caps, reflecting City’s desire to develop their own players. Roberto Mancini has rotated his squad constantly this season, and Rodwell has only managed five appearances while Nastasic has taken the field three times. Garcia has been limited to one start, although that is due to an injury picked up in Europe.
The jury is definitely still out on Garcia, Rodwell and Nastasic, although City made the signings with a firm eye on the future. Time will tell if the club has turned a corner or if this new transfer policy is merely a smoke screen for some huge expenditure in the near future.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich put his money where his mouth is this offseason, bringing in playmakers Eden Hazard and Oscar at a combined cost of around £63 million. Ten games into the season, the astonishing outlay by the Russian tycoon seems like a bargain.
Hazard and Oscar are two parts of the most potent attacking trio in the Premier League, teasing and torturing opponents alongside Spaniard Juan Mata. After the tension-filled start to last season under Andre Villas-Boas, Chelsea’s new signings have lifted spirits at Stamford Bridge.
Recent years have been all about the Manchester clubs in the Premier League; Chelsea is striving to crash the party. If Abramovich can again dip into his pockets and replace the hapless Fernando Torres in January, the Blues will be hard to stop.
When Robin van Persie jumped ship to Manchester United in August, Gunners fans shook their heads in resignation. The Dutch talisman had almost single-handedly guided the club to third place in 2011-12, scoring an incredible 30 goals in 38 league games.
Forced to face life without RVP, Arsene Wenger turned to Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud. The attacking trio cost the club roughly £37 million, only marginally more than Eden Hazard cost Chelsea.
Unfortunately for Wenger, Arsenal already find themselves nine points off the top of the table, with the new signings offering plenty of promise but little in the way of results. Cazorla has earned plenty of plaudits and should be given a pass mark, although Podolski and Giroud have only scored three goals between them.
Arsenal has only four wins in 10 league games, and Wenger must surely be dreaming of the days when he had van Persie leading the line at the Emirates.