In a bid to make the assessment of the transfer deadline day activity more manageable, let’s take a look at how Champions League clubs from the top divisions in Europe - the English Premier League, the Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A - fared. The transfer window, from the point of view of managers and coaches, is all about improving your side’s stock. Some traders proved better than others as the clock ticked down in the final 24 hours (marked out of 10) …
The raising of stock is about perception over on-pitch reality. Many would argue that losing the assist-making talents of Mesut Ozil and creativity of Kaka is a blow to Los Blancos, but Real are past-masters at creating lucrative new legends. The signing of Welsh attacker Gareth Bale* for more money than most small countries are worth bolsters their prestige domestically and maintains their allure globally. He’s a superb talent to boot and combined with midfielder Asier Illarramendi and forward Isco, among others, coach Carlo Ancelotti would be forgiven for feeling rather smug. Cue the raising of a satisfied eyebrow. (*Not strictly a final-day deal but it was too close and too big not to mention).
Stock + 8
Amazing how the signing of one player can change the psychology of a club. Gunners’ fans had craved a statement of ambition from manager Arsene Wenger after seeing top players sold in successive seasons and a persistent drought of silverware. Smashing the club transfer fee on German attacking midfielder Ozil was a great way to placate the dissenters and to buy more time for a side that actually is in very good shape, despite its squad being young and lacking Galactico superstars. Extra points for beating rivals Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United to the signing; Goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano is a shrewd capture too.
Stock + 6
The challenge for the Rossoneri is to maintain their imperious record of success in an era where money is tighter for the Serie A giants. Canny wheeler-dealing has never been more important. The signing of Brazil’s Kaka was a cracking deal, bringing the 31-year-old back to the side where he won the Champions League and Scudetto on a free transfer despite selling the 2007 World Player of the Year to Real for $87 million in 2009. His career needs a jump start and where better to rekindle his mojo than Milanello? Top marks to AC Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani and coach Massimiliano Allegri.
The final day of the transfer window was one of exits for City, with manager Manuel Pellegrini allowing the likes of midfielders Gareth Barry and Abdul Razak as well as striker Harry Bunn to take up season-long loans. Martin Demichelis was the only arrival, the 32-year-old Argentine defender joining from Atletico Madrid. It’s a measure of the strength of the backroom set up at Eastlands now that technical director Txiki Begiristain helped to tie up the transfer deals for forwards Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo, midfielder Fernandinho and defender Jesus Navas well before the deadline. The challenge for Pellegrini will be making the new faces gel quickly.
Stock + 1
Despite losing Demichelis to City, Atletico moved quickly to replace any shortage at the back. Belgium’s robust defender Toby Alderweireld joined from Ajax after the 24-year-old signed a four-year-deal while Frenchman Joshua Guilavogui – a 22-year-old defensive midfielder – left St Etienne for the Spanish capital. Atletico coach Diego Simone showed he would not be caught on the hop as time ran out.
A quiet day for Juventus coach Antonio Conte saw just the loan signing of Mbaye Diagne. The 21-year-old striker from Ivory Coast is hardly a stellar name, but the earlier acquisitions of defender Angelo Ogbonna from city-rivals Torino and striker Carlos Tevez from Manchester City gives Juve a fighting chance of retaining their 2013 league title.
Barcelona / Bayern / Dortmund / Bayer Leverkusen / Real Sociedad / Schalke:
Former Liverpool left back Andrea Dossena was allowed to leave the Italian outfit for Sunderland, after failing to secure a move to Torino last week. Napoli head coach Rafael Benitez was happy to add to Sunderland’s 14-man recruitment drive over the last few months thanks to a successful drive of his own. With striker Gonzalo Higuain, goalkeeper Pepe Reina, defender Raul Albiol and striker Jose Maria Callejon, among others, joining last year’s Serie A second placers, Benitez will be keen to test his mettle for the title this time around.
Stock – 1
Premier League side West Bromwich Albion signed 28-year-old midfielder Morgan Amalfitano in a season-long loan deal from the 2012-13 Ligue 1 runners up. Despite the minor loss, Marseille supporters will feel confident for the season ahead following the acquisitions of midfielder Florian Thauvin and winger Dimitri Payet from Lille as well as midfielders Gianelli Imbula and Mario Lemina. And there couldn’t be a better time to bolster the ranks for the European champions of 1993 given the growing power and ambition of PSG and Monaco.
Defender Mamadou Sakho left Paris for Liverpool in a deal thought to be worth around £18m. The 23-year-old, who has been capped 14 times by Les Bleus, was seen as a marquee signing by the Anfield side and is something of a loss.
Not that coach Laurent Blanc will lose much sleep over it. His ranks have been strengthened by such luminaries as striker Edinson Cavani (from Napoli), as well as defender Marquinhos (Roma) and Lucas Digne (Lille) in a splurge in excess of $100m by the Qatari-owned outfit during the transfer window. Blanc’s fears will be focused on living up to the expectation.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho’s performance on the last day of the transfer window was completely lacking in drama. Despite an audacious bid for United striker Wayne Rooney earlier in the month, the London side were left to manage which players would be allowed to leave to help balance the books. Strikers Romelu Lukaku and Victor Moses, who joined Everton and Liverpool on season-long loans respectively, exited Stamford Bridge reducing the stock of the side on the day. Fans will have no worries though with striker Samuel Eto’o, winger Christian Atsu (who was promptly loaned to Vitesse Arnhem), as well attacking midfielders Willian and Andre Schurrle among others bolstering an already formidable side.
The transfer market was always going to be a stern early test of manager David Moyes’ leadership but few would have predicted quite how poorly the Scot and chief executive Ed Woodward would fare. The last-minute signing of midfielder Marouane Fellaini from his former club Everton was the bare minimum expected for a side in dire need of midfield reinforcements. Without that deal the window would have been a complete catastrophe for a club anxious about maintaining its prestige. The public snub by Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas to United’s wooing was embarrassing; missing out on the cost saving Fellaini’s buy-out clause offered was baffling but to see defender Fabio Coentrao and midfielder Ander Herrara deals fail because of time running out looked amateurish for one of the world’s biggest clubs. Moyes knows he must do better next time around.