Jim White has packed away his yellow tie and Premier League chairman are putting down their pens with quivering hands as the biannual jamboree that is transfer deadline day has come to a close, with a record £835m worth of transfers having been signed off.
The final day was a hectic muddle of desperate clubs attempting to squeeze one last vital transfer over the line. But is a last-minute buy ever worth it? Here are 10 deadline-day deals which had mixed results.
31 August 2005: Michael Owen to Newcastle for £16.8m
In the days before Mike Ashley, Newcastle were known for their profligate spending and the Toon Army were all aflutter when England’s No1 striker came in to play alongside, and ultimately replace, local hero Alan Shearer. Alas, it never quite worked out. A broken foot at the end of December was followed by a cruciate ligament injury at the 2006 World Cup which prompted a high-profile legal case against Fifa and the FA for compensation. Owen did not play again until April 2007 and never looked the same dynamic presence again – 19 league goals in 57 league appearances in his final two seasons at the club was not the return the club expected and in 2008-9 Newcastle were relegated from the Premier League for the first time in their history. He left on a free transfer for Manchester United, a shadow of his former self.
31 August 2006: Tevez and Mascherano to West Ham
There was much confusion when two highly rated Argentinian internationals arrived at Upton Park at the close of the 2006 window. Alan Pardew was cock-a-hoop. “It is a massive coup for us,” said the West Ham manager. “I’ve no doubt this will give us a real chance to compete with the very best teams in the Premiership and in Europe. I didn’t have to sell West Ham to them. They knew all about our success last season and our style of play.”
But it did not work out like that. The transfers were investigated by the Premier League and it soon became clear that issues over third-party ownership were the reason no other club took a punt on the duo. Javier Mascherano quickly fell out of favour and a relegation fight ensued. With the case still hanging over them, Carlos Tevez scored the winning goal against Manchester United that kept the Hammers up. Tevez and Mascherano left, Sheffield United – relegated in their stead – complained bitterly, and ultimately were awarded £20m in compensation. So was it worth it? For those West Ham fans in Old Trafford that day, probably.
31 January 2008: Afonso Alves to Middlesbrough for £12m
Middlesbrough put down a record fee for the Brazilian international striker who has now become a byword for money poorly spent. He had scored 34 goals in 31 league appearances for Heerenveen the season before and six in 11 for Gareth Southgate’s side in 2007-08 was a solid return. However, statistics can lie. Three of those came in the last-day 8-1 victory over Manchester City, with both sides having nothing to play for. The next season he scored four goals in 31 league appearances, just one coming after October. Middlesbrough were relegated and Alves moved to Al-Sadd in Qatar 20 months after his arrival.
1 September 2008: Dimitar Berbatov to Manchester United for £30.75m
Berbatov is a player that will always divide opinion. He was loved by Spurs fans but at Old Trafford the feelings were more mixed. He did win two league titles and a League Cup, finishing top scorer in 2010-11, but his lackadaisical playing style was a lightning rod as Sir Alex Ferguson failed to build upon the Champions League win of the season before the Bulgarian’s arrival. The purchase signalled the end – in the Ferguson’s years at least – of the club spending big money on established stars and while the manager said at the time he expected the signing to “give the team a different dimension”, Berbatov often did little more than provide the finishing touches against sides that United were expected to beat.
1 September 2008: Marouane Fellaini to Everton for £15m
At this point, it seems unlikely that Fellaini will never become an Old Trafford favourite but at Goodison Park he was held in higher esteem. A record signing, the Belgian spent five seasons at the club, scored 25 league goals and endeared himself to the fans with his impressive performances and even more impressive hair.
1 September 2008: Robinho to Manchester City for £32.5m
The Robinho signing was the one that announced the blue half of Manchester as major players on the transfer scene with Mark Hughes, the City manager, saying: “This is a real statement of intent.” It was a British record fee and City had beaten Chelsea to the punch – although the player did not seem to have realised that himself.
He scored in his first game – a 3-1 loss to Chelsea – and got his first hat-trick a month later against Stoke. Despite the widely held negative views, his first season in England was pretty good. He finished as City’s top goal scorer with 14 goals, a total that meant he was the fourth highest in the league. Not bad for a player who was never an out-and-out striker, toiling at a club who could only manage 10th place in the league.
Sadly for all concerned his second season form took a nose dive. He managed just one goal in 12 appearances and that was against Scunthorpe in the FA Cup. City improved, climbing to fifth, but there was no room for Robinho and he was shipped off on loan to Santos at the end of the January window never to be seen on these shores again. His time in England is probably best summed up by then team-mate Craig Bellamy talking about Robinho and his compatriot Elano: “As far as I could see, they didn’t give a shit ... [they] were a disgrace.”
2 February 2009: Andrey Arshavin to Arsenal for £15m
A full 24 hours after the official close of the transfer window, Arsenal finally confirmed their record signing, with Arshavin introducing himself to the Emirates faithful with the immortal words “I am Gooner”. Those first few months were the best of his Arsenal career and his six league goals, four at Liverpool in a crazy 4-4 draw, saw him come second in the club’s player of the season vote. It was not all bad from there, a winner against Barcelona in 2011 was memorable if ultimately meaningless and his website always provided a chuckle. However as his waistline seemed to expand so his performances on the pitch dipped and he returned to Zenit St Petersburg on loan, 40 seconds before the close of the Russian transfer window in February 2012.
31 January 2011: Fernando Torres to Chelsea for £50m
It is the transfer which acts as a warning to all clubs tempted to flash the cash. Chelsea needed a striker, Torres was the star of rivals Liverpool, who were in no hurry to sell. The story goes that Liverpool wanted two strikers to replace the Spaniard, identifying Andy Carroll and Luis Suárez (more on that below) to reinvigorate their attack. They demanded whatever price Newcastle wanted for Carroll, plus £15m to do a deal. Chelsea offered £40m on 27 January but John W Henry’s new Liverpool regime held firm, with Newcastle demanding £35m for Carroll. On the final day of the window Roman Abramovich cracked, putting down £50m and landing the striker he craved. Torres had managed nine league goals in the 2010-11 season for Liverpool. It would take him another 19 months and 48 games to reach that total for Chelsea.
31 January 2011: Carroll and Suárez to Liverpool for £57.8m
Liverpool have been the subject of much mockery for the signing of Andy Carroll but it should not be forgotten that Carroll and Luis Suárez arrived as a package from Newcastle and Ajax respectively – with the two strikers costing just £7.8m more combined than the fee the club recouped from Chelsea for Torres. Of course Carroll flopped, six league goals in 44 appearances is even worse than Torres’s Chelsea record, but Suárez more than made up for that – nearly firing them to the league title last season and bringing in a hefty £52.2m profit when he left for Barcelona.
31 January 2013: Chris Samba to QPR for £12.5m
“It’s amazing. Chris is just what we need. He’s a monster. Great in the air, quick, a leader, strong, fantastic in both boxes, hard as nails. He’s a proper centre-half.” Four months after Harry Redknapp said that QPR were relegated and a month later Samba he was sold back to Anzhi Makhachkala for £500,000 less than they had bought him.