September 4th, 2012
05:30 PM ET

The winners and losers of football's transfer window

Both Hulk (left) and Witsel (right) are now Zenit teammates.
Both Hulk (left) and Witsel (right) are now Zenit teammates.

I don’t know about you, but I was stunned by Zenit St. Petersburg’s double deal to bring in Hulk and Axel Witsel for a cool $100 million. I had been expecting the Russian club to bring in at least one high-profile player, and had tweeted about it last month, but to be honest I was not expecting them to dish out so much cash.

As the European transfer window is finally closing for everyone, I take a look at the winners and losers of the market. And Zenit are among the teams who were hot.


Paris Saint-Germain – Not only did PSG spend the most money out of anyone in the world this summer, they spent wisely. A grand total of $184 million was invested to bring in the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi and company. PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti can have no excuses for not winning Ligue 1 and making a long run in the European Champions League.

The Paris giants have all the weapons necessary to succeed in every competition this season. Are there any weaknesses left? I am not so sure. PSG seem to have at least two quality players in every position.

Zenit St. Petersburg – This team has a lot of talent. Witsel and Hulk join a squad that already boasts the likes of Bruno Alves, Domenico Criscito, Danny and Alexander Kerzhakov. Manager Luciano Spalletti has been able to build a very strong side and the two new additions will make Zenit contenders in Europe.

I would not fancy playing them in the Champions League, they will be very tough to beat. Hulk is one of the most explosive strikers in the world at the moment and I expect young Belgium midfielder Witsel to move somewhere like Manchester United or Real Madrid in the next couple of years.

Everton – Talk about getting value for money. Everton made a profit in the transfer market and still brought in players who have made the squad stronger. The sale of young England midfielder Jack Rodwell, who I consider to be overrated, was a good move especially considering they got $24 million for him.

Signing Belgium international striker Kevin Mirallas and bringing back proven creative midfielder Steven Pienaar means David Moyes will have a lot more talent to play with. Getting striker Steven Naismith for free from Rangers was also a coup.


AC Milan – How much more talent could Milan have lost this summer? Their two best players, Silva and Ibrahimovic left town, as did other established first-team members such as Antonio Cassano, Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf, Alberto Aquilani and Alessandro Nesta.

I think the Rossoneri will really struggle to finish in the top three in the Serie A this season and I blame owner Silvio Berlusconi. He has used UEFA's Financial Fair Play as an excuse, but it’s clear to me that he just doesn’t want to invest more money in the club. He is cutting his losses as he plans to make a return to the world of politics.

Chelsea – The reigning European champions spent $100 million and in my opinion, they didn’t get much better overall. They certainly lack balance in the squad in my eyes. Let’s see, they brought in THREE playmakers (Eden Hazard, Oscar and Marko Marin) who along with Juan Mata will have to battle for two positions, while at the same time they have a shortage of depth in central midfield.

Who on the Chelsea squad can actually tackle? John Obi Mikel? No. Frank Lampard? No. Oriol Romeu? Not really. We saw against Atletico Madrid that they are a bit soft in the center of the park and I think they will struggle to match the most robust sides in the Premier League. They are slower and tamer than most of the teams in England’s top flight after letting Michael Essien and Raul Meireles leave.

Also, who will fill in for striker Fernando Torres when he is injured or suspended? It was a mistake to let Romelu Lukaku go.

Liverpool – I honestly have no idea what the Reds are doing. I grew up supporting Liverpool and I am sad for all the fans at Anfield right now. So much money has been spent on average players and not one of their new recruits will make a real difference.

Last year, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson were both brought in for upwards of $35 million. Both of them fell short of expectations. This year, another average midfielder was brought in for too much money. Yes, I know a lot of people are raving about Joe Allen, but is he someone who will make a difference now, next year, or the season after that? He is good, but that’s it. Not a game changer.

Oh and don’t even get me started on the investments in Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll… What makes it worse is I don’t think there is a strategy at Anfield. Fabio Borini is OK but why get another player with the same profile as Luis Suarez when there was a need for a pure center forward?

Other quick notes –

* Javi Martinez – $50 million? Really? I think Bayern Munich overpaid for a player who should have a good future but has no set position. Is he a central defender? Is he a defensive midfielder? I hope Bayern have figured out what they will do with the 24-year-old.

* Benfica – The Eagles of Lisbon lost their two best players in three days. After letting Javi Garcia leave for Manchester City, they sold Witsel to Zenit. It seems there is no long-term plan there except making money.

* Falcao – Expect Atletico Madrid's Colombia international to be at the center of a major bidding war next European summer. He is the best finisher on the planet and the big guns will be ready to spend some major cash on his skills, regardless of Financial Fair Play.

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soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. jumpingpolarbear

    Zenit really did some damage in the dying seconds of the transfer window. They will be hard to stop this season!

    September 4, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Reply
  2. inthatnumber

    Reblogged this on In That Number!.

    September 4, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Reply
  3. rick md

    Zenit: Certainly. They were my dark horse last season: and underachieved! It's obvious they're desperate to reach the Champs League quarterfinals...
    Falcao: A huge player in huge games. There's no doubt about that. But may not be everything everyone thinks. I mean: if he is really that good, Atletico would have gotten much closer to winning La Liga, no?

    September 4, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Reply
  4. Alex

    PSG has surely made a huge mercato this summer but the French capital's team is still lacking positive results... Even though they have recruited a lot of talent, they haven't been able to organize the team properly: Nene and Ibra have been fighting during practice, Lavezzi has started the season VERY badly (no goals and red card already in just 2 games). They finally managed to grasp a win this week end against Lille, a major opponent who deserved the victory if it wasn't for Ibrahimovic, the only real deal until now... Putting all the experienced players on the side might be a big mistake and will lead to a lack of coordination (Sakho, Nene, Gameiro, Matuidi and even Jallet might be doomed to sit on the bench this season).
    When you see clubs such as Malaga who are experiencing a massive exodus because arabic companies have abandoned them, we can ask ourselves if PSG will suffer the same consequences in the near future if results don't start popping up...

    September 4, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Reply
  5. Dr Olu Bamgbade

    Thanks for the good report. It is a shame about Liverpool club and I hope that they can hold the fort until the January transfer window when they should get some decent additions to the club. As usual, Arsenal club did very well in the transfer market; by replacing van-Persie with Giroud and Podolski. Also, Stoke city have just signed Michael Owen for free, which is a potentially good deal. Dr Olu Bamgbade

    September 4, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Reply
  6. heskey

    i agree that chelsea have some problems in there central midfield and also mikel is gone january for international duty.....but they are definitely not losers....the three playmakers: there is going to be a lot of rotation in the squad because they still have a possible 5 trophies to challenge for..... and hazard is already shining and proving his value....he can carry the team...and if torres gets injured they have sturridge....and if worst comes to worst they can put moses up there.....

    September 4, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Reply
  7. Jaime

    Interesting article. I must say that I agree with you, especially on what you´ve written about Liverpool. I can say, beyond any doubt, that they won´t win the premier league at least for the next 15 years. Too bad for Gerrard, he deserves to win a lot of things: maybe the most amazing midfielder that I´ve seen in the premier league the last 20 years.

    September 5, 2012 at 12:04 am | Reply
  8. bsteh

    Have always respected David Moyes who has the right balance of grit, passion, dignity and astuteness. Typical Scot but what a great football manager and loyal to boot. Can imagine what he can achieve if he had more financial support. As it is, he has done very well to have made Everton a perennial Premier League fixture and a difficult team to beat. Matter of time before he is snatched from Everton for a loftier perch.

    September 5, 2012 at 4:32 am | Reply
  9. Larry_Rollins

    At those prices they are all losers. The winners are the teams that the players from obscerity and sold them for 3x more than they are worth.

    September 5, 2012 at 6:03 am | Reply
  10. marketocracia

    I think it's YOUR opinion that Javi Garcia was one of the 2 best players Benfica had. He's a defender that plays defensive midfielder. He only passes short and to the sides. Don't get me wrong. If you're going to play with 2 wingers that aren't good at defending and only 2 players in the midfield, he's an excellent DM. But don't get too excited...

    Witsel is a fabulous player. Jorge Jesus didn't allow him to show all his offensive skills. Given the opportunity, you're going to see an impressive player that will be one of the top players in the world.

    But let's look at your smart comment about no long term plan. Javi had to ask to be released. He was winning 1M EUR, after taxes. Man City offered him about 4M EUR, after taxes. What was Benfica suppose to do?

    Do you remember what happened to David Luis? Benfica didn't sell him and he played miserably during 6 months. They eventually sold him to Chelsea.

    Wtisel has a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave if he paid 40 M EUR. Guess what? Zenit payed 40 M EUR. Benfica tried to renew his contract offering him a better wage. He preferred Zenit. Do you think Benfica can pay 4 or 5 M per year after taxes (that represents about 6 to 7 M before taxes) to a player?

    Benfica payed 6.5 M one year ago to buy Witsel.

    If you want to make a smart comment, I suggest you use your brain first. And also get your facts right.

    Benfica has a problem in it's midfield. The players were sold and Benfica didn't have time to replace them. But we have Matic, Carlos Martins. Aimar, Bruno César and Gaitan can also play 10. Matic is the only one that can play 6. The others can play 8 or 10. But we also have very talented young players: André Martins, André Almeida, Miguel Rosa, Leandro Pimenta. Remember André Martins and Miguel Rosa. You will hear those names again.

    September 5, 2012 at 9:02 am | Reply

    whatever you guys say Benfica of lisbon is going to be number one, because they steel have very good players, PABLO AIMAR, TACUARA CARDOZO.LIMA are in shape. what else

    September 5, 2012 at 9:44 am | Reply
  12. USSRminder

    Pedro is way off regarding Chelsea perhaps he meant Arsenal (Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla for RVP and Alex Song? Seriously?) instead of Chelsea; Ramires ”can actually tackle”; David Luiz can be employed as a holding midfielder and ”can actually tackle”. Chelsea has rebuilt its team while offloaded some aged and highly compensated players. (Michael Essien at 6.4M per season is one knee injury from retirement)! And based upon the players Chelsea has acquired…one might speculate that Chelsea FC next manager is going to be…Pep Guardiola.

    September 5, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Reply
  13. Archie Plinger

    So Jack Rodwell is overrated, Frank Lampard can't tackle, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson fell short of expectations and you don't want to get started on Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll. Mr Pinto's anti-British bias always astounds me. I wish he would move back to Portugal, where obviously he would be a lot happier, and leave us alone. As a correspondant he is overrated, he can't write, his predictions fall short of expectation and I won't get started on his football knowledge.

    September 6, 2012 at 8:22 am | Reply
  14. Horacio

    I would like to ask Archie what England has won in the last 50 years? I would also like to find out the last time they even made it to the semi-finals of a major tournament. 1996? Come on. Pedro is calling like it is. And Portugal has more talent than England no doubt about it.

    September 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Reply
  15. Kevin munene

    I dont think liverpool have lost in anything coz i know they are all gonna make a great impact soon.It's all up to Mr Rodgers to do the blending of the players technically.We all know that he is a great technician and we believe in him,of course we do believe in you sir.

    September 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  16. Archie Plinger

    Horacio, whoever you are, I'm writing about Mr Pinto's biased reporting and not football history. However, if you want to talk history then let me remind you who won the world cup in 1966, which is within your 50 years. Want to go back a bit further? In 1947 England beat Portugal away 10 – 0. Bringing things up to date, according to todays FIFA world rankings England are 3rd while Portugal are 4th. Anyway, none of this is relevant to my argument. Try reading Mr Pinto's articles and you will see what I mean.

    September 6, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Reply
  17. omegafifteen

    Pedro, as regards AC MILAN, it doesn't make sense to blame Berlusconi as he's no more willing to lose a lot of money.

    A deal is a deal and selling 2 players for a huge amount of money was the right thing to do.

    A possible comeback of Berlusconi in politics has nothing to do with his money savings in soccer: this could be rather a clue about the fact that he won't return: if you want to get more popular you have show that you still have the courage to take a risk in investing your money. No matter that this is not a sign of wisdom.

    September 7, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Reply
  18. KevinT

    Falcao may be quite good, but is certainly not the best finisher on the planet. Besides, he can't dribble to save his life. What good is a striker if he cannot dribble around defenders? When he has the odd one-on-one with the goalie, he can be devastating. But generally speaking, I would choose other strikers over him.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Reply
  19. Deola

    @Archie: I quite agree with you. Pedro Pinto has got something against British football and its footballers. He is always finding the negatives about them. I am not a British, but I have noticed this in his always biased amateur articles. Why would you say Lampard can tackle? and to make it worse He thinks PSG has done a good deal in the summer, if that was the case, why are they where they are in table?

    September 10, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Reply
  20. rod

    Sorry Pedro do not undestimate milan .milan will be always there will in july.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  21. Fivenothing

    Marketocracia is typically benfica fan. He speaks with his heart and not facts. Benfica was weak with those players that left and will be weak now too. Benfica is not a strong team and doesn't have a good coach. Their president and coach use every excuse in the book for losing. Their fans agree with them by supporting their excuses. Until the benfica fans see that their president makes stupid moves and their coach can't coach and let them know, they will never be good. Most players in the world know how benfica operates and their biggest rival FC porto who happens to win the portuguese championship almost every year benefits from it. A lot of players were taken to portugal by benfica and when they got there, they chose to play for a winner like porto instead, like falcao did and then Fc porto destroys every team in the league. Benfica is a lousy organization and if their fans want to win, they better let the organization know that they suck. Wake up benfica fans or you will always lose.

    September 28, 2012 at 2:36 am | Reply
  22. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Nowadays top quality footballers are getting good money for their talents. Many of them are doing wonderful work on the social front. Putting up educational institutions for the poor, downtrodden, feeding the hungry, initiatives in health care, serving society by promoting justice and fair play are inspiring initiatives by some of our supremely gifted footballers world wide. May their tribe increase.

    September 30, 2012 at 8:06 am | Reply
  23. Vitor

    Benfica is proving you wrong!

    April 19, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Reply

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