EPL Transfer News: Each Premier League Team's Best Signing
Transfer Deadline Day has come and gone, and as Jim White on Sky Sports News would put it, "It slammed shut at 23:00!"
As ever, there were shocks and last-minute deals being forced through and last-minute transfer requests being handed in for players up and down the country.
Arsenal, finally, pulled out the cheque book and signed some much-needed experience while Liverpool and Man City probably pulled off the deals of the day by signing Craig Bellamy and Owen Hargreaves on free transfers, respectively.
Harry Redknapp looked forlorn as Spurs missed out on Gary Cahill,—and with it their chances of finishing in the top four—while Stoke City was, without doubt, the biggest winner on the day as they signed Wilson Palacios and Peter Crouch from Redknapp's team.
Almost every team was busy trying to bring players in (with the possible exception of an almost bankrupt Everton).
Some deals caught the imagination, whilst others did not.
Here we take a look at the best deals for each of the clubs...
Arsenal: Mikel Arteta
The most surprising bit of business on transfer day was Everton's MIkel Arteta signing with Arsenal for just £10 million.
The creative midfielder was central to all that was good at Goodison, and it is very hard to see where David Moyes can go from here.
But Everton's loss is Arsenal's gain, and Arsene Wenger has signed one of the most creative players in the Premier League for less than he paid for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Arteta will go straight into the slot left vacant by Cesc Fabreags and, at 29, he will be expected to become the leader the Gunners' midfield has been missing for years.
The Spanish star is not exactly the most vocal of players on the pitch, but he does not shirk his duties and is a leader by what he does rather than what he says.
Aston Villa: Shay Given
The Republic of Ireland international has been one of the best shot-stoppers in England since he made his breakthrough in 1996, and over the past 15 years, he has developed a phenomenal reputation.
With Given in goal, Alex McLeish has a 'keeper who would not look out of place in goal for a title-chasing team, and if the Scot can make some sound signings, Aston Villa could definitely push for a place in Europe.
Blackburn Rovers: Scott Dann
Steve Kean's job is on the line at Blackburn after taking just five wins in the last 18 games, so he needs to shore up his defence, as well as add some firepower up front.
Scott Dann, at £6 million from Birmingham City, is an excellent purchase. He will fill in beside the experienced Ryan Nelson and the giant Christopher Samba at the back, and with one good signing, Blackburn will be a much tougher proposition to break down.
Bolton Wanderers: Chris Eagles
While Owen Coyle may have snatched up David N'Gog from Liverpool on deadline day, it is the earlier signing of Chris Eagles that captures the imagination as Bolton's best signing of the summer.
The ex-Burnley midfielder moved to the Reebok for just £1.5 million earlier in the summer, and given his ability to play across a number of positions in midfield and his set piece delivery, Eagles could turn out to be one of the Premier League's best deals of the window.
Chelsea: Romelu Lukaku
Chelsea pulled off a number of outstanding deals during the transfer window and narrowly missed out on the £40 million signing of Luka Modric from Spurs.
But even amongst the stars already there and the stars just who have just arrived, Romelu Lukaku looks like he could be one of the club's greatest signings of all time.
Looking at the player, it is hard to believe he is only 18; such is his imposing physique, and you can easily see why he is compared to another Chelsea great, Didier Drogba.
Having made his debut with Anderlecht at just 16, Lukaku went on to score 41 goals in 98 games before Chelsea and Andre Villa Boas came calling.
In short, an outstanding prospect.
Everton: Roysten Drenthe
The powerful left back/left-sided midfielder could go right into Everton's first-team in front of Leighton Baines, as Moyes looks to make the most use of the two players' incredible engines.
In theory, they should dovetail beautifully, but how they cope without Arteta providing the passes will be anyone's guess.
Fulham: Bryan Ruiz
26-year-old Costa Rican international Bryan Ruiz has developed something of a reputation as a goalscorer over the last couple of years, and he is a player whom Martin Jol would have been more than aware of given his Dutch contacts.
Since 2009, Ruiz has scored 36 goals in just 61 games for FC Twente, so he knows his way around the box, but he has questions against his physicality, which will surely be tested in the Premier League.
If Jol can toughen up the striker, he could form a lethal partnership or triumvirate with Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson.
At £10.5 million, Ruiz is still something of a gamble for the Craven Cottage side, but given the expansive way they have begun the season, Ruiz could easily slot right in and become a dark-horse for the scoring charts.
Liverpool: Stewart Downing
Kenny Dalglish and Liverpool has been one of the busier teams in the EPL this summer, as the Scot virtually rebuilt his squad over the space of just one summer.
Excellent signings have been made in almost every position with players like Charlie Adam, Sebastian Coates, Jordan Henderson, Craig Bellamy, Jose Enrique and Stewart Downing, who have all come in, and Liverpool's prospects have improved with them.
Given the high caliber of the signings, it is almost impossible to pick the best one, but even then, Stewart Downing stands out.
During his early years, he played as an out-and-out winger at Middlesbrough, but in recent years, he has been converted in to a centre midfielder of vision and excellent passing ability.
Dalglish will be able to utilise him almost anywhere across midfield, and his superb mobility almost guarantees him a place in every starting XI.
Manchester City: Sergio Aguero
Sergio Aguero is the real deal.
It is no exaggeration to say that the little Argentinean could be one of the greatest signings of any team of all time.
At £35 million, he isn't cheap, but Roberto Mancini has signed a proven and guaranteed performer.
Aguero made his debut at just 15 with Independiente in Argentina and amazingly scored 23 goals in 56 games before the 17-year-old moved to Spain for £20 million.
Having grown up compared to Diego Maradona in the fishbowl of Argentine football, pressure meant little to the little forward, and over four seasons, he has gone on to score 102 goals in 234 games for Atletico Madrid.
Now, at just 23, he has scored more than 100 goals and has played more than 200 games.
Aguero is special. He will lead City to the title sooner rather than later.
Manchester United: Ashley Young
When Ashley Young signed for Manchester United, many questioned the wisdom of the move by Sir Alex Ferguson.
Where would he fit in? Would he actually play? Is he good enough?
These were just a few of the questions posed on websites and forums everywhere.
However, it would seem that, as ever, Sir Alex has pulled off a major coup once again.
Over the last couple of seasons, Young has played under growing scrutiny and pressure, and it is most probably this aspect that attracted Fergie to the player.
United seeks players who thrive under pressure, and Young has shown he is a player who deals very well with expectation.
At United, the expectation will be astronomical—and so could Young's performances.
Newcastle United: Demba Ba
The capture of Demba Ba could be one of the most significant signings of Newcastle's summer, as the ex-Hoffenheim striker could very well bag the goals that could keep the club in the Premier League.
The powerfully-built Senegalese international is almost the perfect profile of a Premier League striker and has the ability to cause problems for almost any team.
Last season, Ba scored seven goals in just 12 games for West Ham after joining from Hoffenheim, and Alan Pardew will wish for more of the same.
Norwich City: Kyle Naughton
The loan signing of Tottenham Hotspur youngster Kyle Naughton this summer was a brilliant piece of business by Paul Lambert.
Last season, Naughton was head and shoulders the best fullback in the Championship while at loan with Leicester City and was hailed by many as the best defender in the league.
Naughton will bring energy and a constant out-ball for a defence that will come under intense pressure this season, and he could be in the middle of possibly the best Premier League apprenticeship he could hope for.
QPR: Joey Barton
The ex-Newcastle player moved to Loftus Road amidst a storm of controversy, but Neil Warnock was not put off by the midfielder's past.
What he does get is a player who is as good at winding up his opponents as he is at dictating the ebb and flow of the game from midfield.
At a free transfer, Joey Barton was just too good to turn down, so the only real surprise is, why was QPR the only club to offer him a deal?
Stoke City: Wilson Palacios
Tony Pulis has been one of the busiest managers of this summer transfer window, and almost every one of his signings drips with quality. From the three ex-Tottenham players—Palacios, Woodgate and Crouch—to Matthew Upson to Cameron Jerome, Pulis has signed proven players to cover every eventuality.
Given the strengths of his current squad and their improvement every season since they came into the Premier League, it now looks as if Stoke is ready to move on to the next rung of the ladder and challenge consistently for Europe.
Looking at Everton's financial demise, it definitely looks possible.
Of all the signings, it is Wilson Palacios that immediately jumps out.
The combative Honduran international was pivotal in Spurs qualifying for the Champions League, but had fallen out of favour with Harry Redknapp and was available for transfer.
Palacios will bring a tough, no-nonsense style to an already-tough midfield, but he will bring heaps of international experience, as well as the experience of having played at a higher level in the Premier League.
With Palacios in the side, Spurs won 55 percent of their games last season. Without him, they only won 34 percent.
Stoke will only want him to improve them by five percent. If he can do that, they will push the establishment for Europe.
Sunderland: John O'Shea
It is not every day that an experienced defender with around 400 games and countless titles under his belt comes on the transfer market, so Steve Bruce deserves huge credit for bringing the ex-Manchester United player to the Stadium of Light.
As a player, O'Shea is probably the most underestimated defender in the Premier League, and over the years with United, he has proven his ability to play at the highest level.
When Sir Alex Ferguson allowed Sunderland to talk to the defender, he knew that his time at Old Trafford was up, so his choice of Sunderland is key.
O'Shea could have gone to virtually any other Premier League team and become a regular, but he has gone to the Northeast to help a project that has stumbled in recent years.
He will bring a level of professionalism not seen at Sunderland in recent years and will be the key player as they look to make that step up the Premier League ladder.
Swansea City: Michael Vorm
Few, if any, would have heard of Michael Vorm before his £1.5 million move from Utrecht in Holland, but the 27-year-old goalkeeper has already proved to be a very astute piece of business by Brendan Rogers.
Vorm has only played 136 games across five seasons for Utrecht, but that did not stop Rogers from immediately making him the Swans' No. 1.
He made a debut of fire in the 4-0 mauling by Manchester City, but he did manage to make 11 saves during that game, then made a penalty save in his next game. So in just three games, he has become a fan favourite.
Vorm will be vital for Rogers this season if Swansea is to have any chance of survival.
Tottenham Hotspur: Souleymane Coulibaly
It says much about the lack of signings at Spurs this summer that the best signing they have made is a little-known 16-year-old.
Souleymane Coulibaly may not be a household name, but his £2 million capture from Siena is most definitely one of the most important pieces of business Spurs have conducted this year.
Spurs leaped to the top of the queue to sign the prodigious youth after he scored nine goals in four games during the U-17 World Cup this summer. He scored one goal against Australia, one against France in the Last-16 3-2 defeat, four against Denmark and a remarkable hat-trick against Brazil during the group stages.
As a result, he immediately became one of the hottest properties in world football, and Spurs grabbed the player before anyone else could even put in an offer.
West Brom: Shane Long
Roy Hodgson moved quickly to secure the services of the best striker in the Championship when he snapped up Shane Long for £4.5 million.
Long will give the Baggies power and pace up front with an eye for goal. As a player, he is still very raw, but in Hodgson, he has one of the best managers in the game to learn under.
If Long can score the goals his manager craves, he will help fulfill a number of objectives for the ex-Liverpool boss.
Namely, WBA will stay up and possibly move toward safety, and Hodgson may just overtake Harry Redknapp as the favourite to replace Fabio Capello after Euro 2012.
Wigan Athletic: Ali Al Habsi
The £4.5 million transfer of Ali Al Habsi from Bolton to Wigan almost went by unnoticed, it was so low key.
However, the capture of Al Habsi will go down as one of the smartest pieces of business carried out by any manger this window.
The Omani, a former Norwegian Goalkeeper of the Year, was on loan at Wigan last season and put in a string of memorable performances that forced Roberto Martinez to keep the player at the club.
As a keeper, Al Habsi is very athletic, and unlike other players in his position from England, he has adapted very quickly to the rigors of life in the Premier League.
With him on the team, Wigan should avoid relegation. Without him, they have virtually no chance.
Wolves: Roger Johnson
Roger Johnson was the first ex-Birmingham City centre half to return to the Premier League this season after Scott Dann, his partner last term, joined Blackburn on deadline day.
The £5 million capture by Mick McCarthy was a very astute piece of business by the Irishman, and Johnson will make an already-tough team even harder to break down.
The 28-year-old, with more than 400 appearances to his name, is as experienced as they come, and he will slot right into Wolves' team seamlessly and know exactly what is expected of him.
Wolves are currently in the next phase of their development as they look to secure their status as Premier League perennials; in this regard, Johnson will be vital.