One more big European transfer has been completed this week, and it's one which a lot of Premier League sides might end up ruing not taking a more positive stance on while they had their chance.
French midfielder Yann M'Vila completed his move (via the Independent) to Russian Premier League side Rubin Kazan on Wednesday, leaving the likes of Queens Park Rangers, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal to wonder if they might have made their interest a little more concrete and their offers a little more attractive.
The now-former Rennes central midfielder has been on the shortlist, if not an actual target, of the Gunners for at least two years. Recorded interest in him dates back some time, and even only 18 months ago Arsene Wenger was credited as being "close" to signing him for £22 million (via Daily Mail).
M'Vila has joined Rubin Kazan for just £10 million.
Capped more than 20 times by France at aged just 22, there is little doubt that M'Vila is an extraordinary talent, but his off-field behaviour has led to a suspension (from Yahoo.com) from his international team and apprehension from other managers in whether to take a chance on him.
Even so, given that his transfer market value has dropped by around 60 percent in little more than a year, it is incredible to think that there were not more teams who took a gamble on him.
At his best, M'Vila is a powerful yet refined midfield character, capable of anchoring the centre of the park from deep or playing in a more adventurous box-to-box role, utilising his physical capabilities.
He is not short of technique either, loving to play long, searching passes and change the tempo of the game.
As recently as Wednesday, the day before the transfer was announced, there was continuing interest from England (as per Sky Sports). Teams are clearly aware of his capabilities—and his short-comings—and it is widely known that he favoured a move to England over Russia.
Indeed, Zenit St. Petersburg were credited with an early interest in signing him, which was quickly rebuffed (via ITV.com). Perhaps no surprise when one considers what M'Vila might have faced from his own set of overly-selective supporters.
How many Premier League sides are blessed with such a high-quality midfield then, that they could afford to ignore a player who could feasibly be one of the biggest talents in Europe?
Arsenal have yet to rediscover any kind of their steel of old in midfield. Spurs have lost Sandro to a season-ending injury. Liverpool have, more than once, found out the cost of losing Lucas Leiva to a similarly long spell on the sidelines.
Are we to believe that even Manchester City, with Yaya Toure absent and Jack Rodwell perma-crocked, believe a cut-price M'Vila to be more risky than trying to retain their title with Gareth Barry and Javi Garcia as their only midfield options?
This is a £10 million, Champions League-standard central midfielder we're talking about. Yes, he has had problems, largely of his own making. And yes, he is paying for them one way or another.
But it remains staggering that after seeing his value plummet, not one club was brave enough to step up and offer him another chance—it's not as if he's kicked a ball boy, for goodness sake. Or an owl. Or another player. Or an official.
Had a Premier League team signed M'Vila and things had not worked out after a couple of seasons, if he failed to adapt or rediscover his best form, or even if the personal problems continued, the buying club would still have made their money back.
M'Vila would be only 25 at the end of the 2014-15 season, and with plenty of time left on any normal contract he could be sold for anything from £6 million upward—the quoted price that Premier League teams were willing to pay for him (per CityAM.com).
If he was to impress, they could treble their initial outlay in an instant within the same time frame. Or, of course, simply retain a top quality player.
Moving to Russia means M'Vila will continue to play in a competitive and growing domestic league, but Rubin Kazan are not one of the superpowers of the division. Sure, they came from nowhere to win the title in 2008 and 2009, but they finished outside of the European spots last season and are a relatively anonymous seventh this campaign.
A good run could see them take a Europa League spot again—they're only one point off at present—but they will not challenge the likes of Zenit, CSKA Moscow or Anzhi Makhachkala for a Champions League place.
Their top players include defender Cristian Ansaldi, midfielder Gokdeniz Karadeniz and the talented but unpredictable forward Salomon Rondon. M'Vila will add to their quality, quite significantly, but there are not enough top players in the squad to reach the top three again, as they last did in 2010.
What Rubin will get though is a solid player with a point to prove, time away from the focus of the French media and room to improve his own performances. The safe bet is on him performing well, showing that he has matured and attracting interest from overseas once more.
Don't be surprised then when English teams are linked with him once more in 18 months or two years—and when the price has once again inflated to double what Rubin have just splashed out on him.
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