World Football: Ranking the 10 Biggest Transfers of 2010
It’s almost the end of the year 2010, football-wise we were treated to some of the most thrilling domestic seasons across Europe’s leagues. In England for instance, the race for the Premier League crown wasn’t decided before the last match-day, with Chelsea clinching the title (and domestic double) ahead of rivals Manchester United.
While Chelsea and Manchester United fought it out until the very last day, La Liga behemoths FC Barcelona and Real Madrid both accumulated the biggest points-haul in Primera Division history. But to quote my favorite line from Highlander “there can only be one”, in this case, FC Barcelona.
As a casualty of war, or better yet, Real Madrid’s supremo Florentino Perez’s temper, Manuel Pellegrini received the sack. El Ingeniero was replaced by none other than Jose Mourinho who masterminded Inter Milan’s treble. Usually football fans are treated to one treble within the span of two decades; it’s unheard of to witness back-to-back treble seasons with two different clubs.
Only six sides have ever accomplished the treble and one player was part of two of them, Samuel Eto’o.
In the summer of 2009, the indomitable lion – deemed surplus to requirements by Josep Guardiola – was involved in one of the biggest transfer operations of all-time. In a trade which saw him leave the shores of Catalunya for the Italian peninsula brought the volatile temper of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the city of Barcelona.
Which brings us to the ten biggest transfers of 2010 since the latter has been, once again, involved in a high-profile transfer.
10. Aleksandar Kolarov (22,700,000 Euro) Lazio Rome to Manchester City
He hasn’t even played 10 games for his new employer, what else is there to say?
9. Javier Mascherano (20,000,000 Euro) Liverpool FC to FC Barcelona
After much drama and speculation, El Jefecito was finally granted his wish to join the ranks of long-time suitors FC Barcelona. The Argentine captain even accepted a pay-cut in order to leave Liverpool FC, so there goes the greed-theory. But while Mascherano is undoubtedly world-class he hasn’t quite become an automatic starter for Pep Guardiola’s side.
The reason why he spends an awful lot of time on the Barca bench, Sergio Busquets. Even though the much-marginalized son of former Blaugrana goal-keeper Carles Busquets has been subject to (sometimes) unwarranted criticism, he has come to his own in this season with consistent world-class performances.
Because of Busquets imperious form and the inability of Mascherano to enforce himself in the starting eleven he is ranked at no. 9.
8. Mario Balotelli (30,000,000 Euro) Inter Milan to Manchester City
His talent is beyond reproach, he is arguably the best striker in his age group (along with AC Milan’s Pato and FC Barcelona’s Bojan) but his temper prevents him from becoming truly exceptional. Balotelli is daring, arrogant and most importantly fearless when it comes to opponents. Still, his unbalanced personality makes it hard for him to work on the weaker aspects of his game, heck it even makes it hard for his own teammates to like him.
The transfer value splashed out for him by Manchester City is by no means a cheap one but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a brighter prospect than him. In hindsight it could be one of the shrewdest investments ever made by Sheik Mansour.
7. Ramires (22,000,000 Euro) S.L. Benfica to Chelsea FC
I am beginning to wonder if footballers are this centuries “slaves”. The money isn’t staying in the game, instead it goes to shrewd businessmen who claim ownership over a player. It happened to Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, now the very same people who “represented” the Argentinean pair sold Ramires to Chelsea FC.
Although the Brazilian has racked up some 18-appearances for the Blues he has yet to justify he relatively high price-tag, especially in the light of Roman Abramovitch reluctance to provide sufficient transfer funds. Long forgotten are the days when the Billionaire bought every player that was shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or (or had one spectacular season).
For now, Ramires is a disappointed but then again there are worse signings on this list than the Brazilian.
6. James Milner (30,000,000 Euro) Aston Villa to Manchester City
Another of the Citeh-boys (there are a couple of them on this list) was never worth 30,000,000 Euro to begin with. There was no one else in the market for Milner and he is hardly Ballon d’Or material. In a league stacked with exceptional wingers and midfielders, he hardly stands out.
Comparing Nani to Milner is like comparing a Ferrari to a Daihatsu. Nani is everything James Milner is not, fleet-footed, creative and tricky when he takes on defenders. While the Englishman’s marquee attribute is his pace.
Take Milner and compare him to a midfielder like Rafael Van der Vaart and you’ll see a massive difference in the ability to dictate a play. I just can’t shrug off the feeling that Manchester City have been hustled once again. Joleon Lescott anyone?
5. Yoann Goucuff (22,000,000 Euro) Girondais Bordeaux to Olympique Lyon
What is wrong with Europe’s top sides? Gourcuff is one of the best midfielders of his generation yet only Lyon made an effort for his signature. Liverpool for instance are a side that could’ve benefited from signing a creative midfielder in the mould of Gourcuff. Manchester United, most definitely. Chelsea, perhaps. The list goes on.
2 goals and 4 assists in 20 appearances doesn’t exactly scream world-beater, but then again Lyon aren’t the domestic juggernaut they used to be. At any rate, Gourcuff remains one the brightest talents in his position.
4. Yaya Toure (30,000,000 Euro) FC Barcelona to Manchester City
Arguably the City-signing everyone expected to have something of an immediate impact. Judging by his physical as well as technical attributes Toure is by design the perfect player for the fast-paced Premier League. Not only is he very combative, he also is quite comfortable with the ball at his feet.
Though he spent his formative years all over Europe, his stay in Barcelona made him a more well-rounded player.
Granted, it took him a little longer than expected, but he is beginning to show glimpses of his undoubted quality. Expect Yaya Toure to finish closer to the top once the season ends.
3. Angel Di Maria (25,000,000 Euro, Excluding Add-Ons) S.L. Benfica to Real Madr
I’m not a fan of Florentino Perez nor will I ever be. But with the capture of di Maria he addressed one of his fatal errors since regaining control of the white house, the need for wingers.
Replacing Arjen Robben, who on his day is absolutely unplayable, is not an easy undertaking. But so far di Maria has done an impeccable job providing width and creative spark down the wings, something Pellegrini’s team has lacked in the previous season.
2. David Silva (28,750,000 Euro) Valencia CF to Manchester City
The player most pundits expected to fail and become yet another Manchester City flop. Silva has steadily become the major outlet for all positive aspects of the Citzens game. It was too easy to dismiss Silva’s chances at success in the physically demanding EPL; he is too short, too lightweight in short: too harmless to impose himself on the English league.
But while the likes of Adam Johnson and James Milner rotate in and out of the starting eleven, the diminutive Spanish playmaker has solidified his spot in Mancini’s side.
It speaks volumes of his determination and drive that he finishes ahead of all other City-signings when (almost) everybody expected him to become a flop.
1. David Villa (40,000,000 Euro) Valencia CF to FC Barcelona
Amidst a global recession and a financial crisis of their own, Barca decided to splash 40,000,000 big ones on the acquisition of David Villa.
El Guaje is not exactly what you would call very marketable, which nowadays is something of a requirement for big-money transfers, hence the rejection from Florentino Perez. But, for better or worse, David Villa unlike other players comes with a guarantee. Villa guarantees goals, en masse.
While it take Villa long to adapt to the Blaugrana’s slick passing game, he did need a prolonged time to get comfortable in front of the goal.
But now El Guaje is firing on all cylinders. He and his new strike-partners Pedro and Messi have accumulated in excess of 50-goals already at the halfway-mark. With Villa in the side the Blaugrana have ruthlessly exploited the weaknesses of opposing sides. Among the casualties one-time suitor Real Madrid.
If you believe the press reports, Real Madrid are actively monitoring the transfer-market for a center-forward since Karim Benzema has been an utterly disappointment. It’s quite ironic that Perez opted for the Frenchman when he could’ve bought Villa and now looks to replace the former Lyon youth-product. Well, we all know that Perez isn’t exactly an expert when it comes to transfers, am I right Makelele?