Biggest Winners on Transfer Deadline Day: Sneijder, Arteta, Fulham, Stoke
The flurry of deadline day. Emotions run high, speculation is rampant and fans get antsy. And sometimes, we get a little drunk on information overload and say things we don't mean. Especially about a certain manager of a certain North London club we may have been a little too hasty in assessing.
So now that the madness has died down, let's take a look at some of the smooth deadline day moves we forgot to properly give their due the first time around. We hope you'll forgive us.
Mikel Arteta's Move to Arsenal Gets Gunners Going
There's plenty of excitement around the Emirates surrounding the Gooners' new hope, and someone's probably already said everything that could possibly be said about Mikel Arteta joining Arsenal somewhere else on this site, but his £10 million transfer to the Emirates is one of the biggest stories of transfer week, if not the biggest.
Arteta will bring experience (particularly Premiership experience to balance out the likes of Mertesacker, Park and Santos), consistency and creativity to a midfield constantly in flux from suspensions, injuries and departures, and he'll help hold down the fort while the midfield's younger members gain experience.
He's enthusiastic about the move (enough to take a pretty significant pay cut), Wenger has faith in him and Arsenal fans are optimistic after a rough start to the season. It's that mutual sense of hope that will help make Arteta an influential addition.
Stoke City Strikes Again
Tony Pulis and The Potters made some smooth moves on deadline day, picking up a pair of strikers to complement an already captivating offense.
While the Potters' £12 million Peter Crouch transfer and bringing in hardworking defensive midfielder Wilson Palacios from the Spurs were certainly the higher-profile moves, a move that hasn't been discussed much is the £4 million signing of Birmingham City's Cameron Jerome, which, appropriately enough, Jerome attributes in part to the signing of Crouch.
Jerome had a few rough patches while at Birmingham, but he was instrumental in their promotion as well. He's eager to be back in the Premiership and his enthusiasm and work ethic make him a figure with a lot of potential.
Crouch is still a very capable striker and will fit in well with Kenwyne Jones and Ricardo Fuller, but what makes him an asset is institutional knowledge. As the Premiership's most valuable nomad, he's now at his fifth EPL club (as well as two clubs which are in the Premiership now but weren't then... you get the idea).
Certainly, over his career, he's experienced a number of different playing styles, coaching styles, formations and personnel shifts, which make him far more flexible than his patented dance moves. He will adapt to Stoke easily and, from the looks of things, do so with the same level of enthusiasm that surrounds the club right now.
Bellamy Returns to Liverpool
The Welsh striker's return to Anfield works for him and for the club: Bellamy wants to get back into Premiership and be challenged after a year at Cardiff City,and Liverpool needs both a wide player to complement Stewart Downing and a backup striker after sending David N'Gog to Bolton. It seemed almost too easy.
Concerns about Bellamy's reputation personality-wise might still leave a few fans skeptical, but Bellamy's spent a lot of time gushing about Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish, an early indication that he'll get on better with the management at his new club than with Roberto Mancini.
But the real winner is Bellamy, who (after a disappointing spell at Man City and a stint in the Championship, had two ambitious managers fighting for him in QPR's Neil Warnock and Kenny Dalglish) is off to a club where fans and teammates seem receptive to his arrival. He will likely get more playing time and make more of an impact than he ever would have as a Blue.
Wesley Sneijder Stays Right Where He Is
After a long rumored courtship with Manchester United and an ambitious attempted grab by Arsenal, the Ballon d'Or nominee opted to stay at Inter after all. And that's just fine.
United doesn't need another big-name midfielder with Ashley Young and Nani playing so well and Arsenal did just fine with Arteta and Benayoun (I'll get to that in a couple of slides). If Inter, especially with the loss of headliner Samuel Eto'o to Anzhi Makhachkala, is willing to keep paying the £250,000 every week to keep him, and he's happy where he is, he'll be more inclined to play well. This will make for a happier crowd at San Siro.
Fulham Keeps Dempsey, Brings on Ruiz and Grygera
Martin Jol was surprisingly busy on deadline day, bringing in a handful of international transfers as Fulham advances in Europa League play. Versatile Czech defenseman Zdenek Grygera, the Cottagers' first big signing of the day who came to Fulham on a free transfer, has been itching to go to the Premiership for a while and has a nice opportunity to start over after hitting a rough patch with Juventus.
Jol struck again late in the day to acquire a pair of sought-after forwards, Porto and Nacional striker Orlando Sá and FC Twente's powerhouse winger Bryan Ruiz. Even after Newcastle put in a £12 million counter bid, Ruiz still went with Fulham and seems excited about the prospect of, like Grygera, going to the Premiership.
Jol also had another task in keeping Clint Dempsey on deadline day as Arsene Wenger tried to make a move to acquire the attacker for the Gunners. Jol initially had Ruiz in mind to replace Dempsey should Arsenal have matched their £10 million asking price. But Dempsey is safe at Craven Cottage and Jol got his striker in the end.
Even with the additions, hanging on to Dempsey was the best move for the Cottagers. He's a fan favorite and one of the club's best assets as its top goalscorer, well, ever. He helped give the side a strong finish to their first round in UEFA competition and will keep on making plays.
Wenger's Arteta-Benayoun 1-2 Punch
Alright, alright. We're sorry. We were rather premature and a little harsh in our writing off of Arsene Wenger as a deadline day loser. And to be fair, it was looking like he would be for a while, but after bagging Mikel Arteta and pulling Yossi Benayoun out from under Liverpool's reach, he may be able to get the Gunners right back on track.
Wenger was a hard man to pin down on deadline day (hence our skepticism and snark), with moves swinging between good-but-uninspiring picks (Park Chu-Young) to wildly ambitious last-minute grabs (Wesley Sneijder). With all eyes on Wenger yesterday, he was in a bit of a catch-22: but if he made a drastic move for a Sneijder type, he'd be accused of being desperate.
But when all was said and done, Wenger did walk the line pretty well, all things considered. Arteta will bring raw talent and excitement and Benayoun the forward-thinking and leadership the Gunners need in the midfield. In addition, Per Mertesacker will bring strength and experience to a defense in need of some big repairs and André Santos (although perhaps still maybe a bit steep) is no stranger to globetrotting as a veteran of the Brazilian national team and could prove especially useful in Arsenal's Champions League campaign (that's still a thing, everyone!).
If you'll forgive the mixing of children's sports movie metaphors, Wenger has turned Arsenal's narrative from Bad News Bears to D2: The Mighty Ducks, where a ragtag group of highly-talented misfits from all over join with some beloved regulars, learn to work together and ultimately win matches and hearts.
Deadline day is a weird, weird thing and it's a gamble for any club in any league. Some days, you're Wigan with Al-Habsi and other days you're Liverpool with Joe Cole. Wenger and the rest of the Premiership's transfer-happy managers still have a ways to go, and we'll have to wait until next weekend to see if the moves paid off. It may be a very, very different league come September 10th.
Now go forth you Gooners, pack the Emirates and start coming up with words that rhyme with "Mertesacker."