In a summer dominated by transfer speculation (just for a change) transfer deadline day finally saw the completion of one of the most talked about moves of the year: Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. The fee paid to Tottenham is reported to be over £85m, making it a new world record, usurping the previous £80m paid for his new teammate, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Real Madrid were at the centre of the other big headline of the day as Arsene Wenger finally opened his chequebook wider than ever before and splashed out £42.4m on German international midfielder Mesut Ozil. The signing of such a top-class player will certainly be welcomed by Arsenal fans who were starting to believe Wenger and the board were wholly incapable of negotiating effective deals for their transfer targets. They also approached Chelsea with a view to taking Demba Ba on loan, but it didn’t come off.
David Moyes left it very late in the day to finally land his man when he brought Marouane Fellaini from his former club to Manchester United for a fee of £27.5m, interestingly some £4m more than the release clause (which expired at the end of July) in the player’s contract. The early bird catches the worm; the late one, it seems, has to pay a massive premium! After failing in another late bid for Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera, the Man United engine room looks short on creativity, with earlier attempts to sign Cesc Fabregas and Thiago Alcantara also having failed.
After agreeing the sale of Fellaini, Everton did some frantic last minute deals of their own, signing midfielder James McCarthy from Roberto Martinez’s previous haunt Wigan (if in doubt, raid your last club!) for £13m. They also agreed season-long loans deals for Gareth Barry from Manchester City and Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku and sold youth product Victor Anichebe for around £6m to conclude a fruitful window for the Toffees.
Fellow Merseysiders Liverpool were also busy, despite already having spent big in the summer, with Brendan Rodgers shoring up his backline with the acquisition of defenders Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori for a combined £25m while robust forward Victor Moses has joined the Reds from Chelsea on loan to give them more attacking options.
Other notable deals included the signing by Aston Villa of 6ft 4in Czech Republic striker Libor Kozak from Lazio for around £7m, while Stephane Sessegnon made very a late move to West Brom from Sunderland with Peter Odemwingie leaving for Cardiff for £2.25m on a two-year deal. Paolo Di Canio’s Sunderland – after being very active in the market in recent months – also grabbed Liverpool’s Italian striker Fabio Borini on loan.
Including the many deals sorted earlier in the summer (where’s the fun in that?) the total amount spent by Premier League clubs from the 1st July until the window eased shut was an astounding £630m (according to Deloitte’s Sports Business Group). Thanks in no small part to the new TV rights deal from Sky Sports and BT Sport, top flight clubs clearly felt compelled to spend, and spend big. Now the managers who splashed the cash will be hoping and praying their new acquisitions don’t get injured on international during the next seven days!