The Eleventh Hour

As the old block of cheese – which has been holding the transfer window open – gets chewed by some vermin, I’ve decided to have a look at some of the recent deals and evaluate what they might mean for the clubs involved.

Confirmed

Andriy Shevchenko (Chelsea – AC Milan, loan)

Well, that didn’t work.  Roman Abramovich paid £30m in 2006 for his close friend Shevchenko.  The Ukranian managed just 9 goals in 47 league games.  He returns to AC Milan (where he previously bagged 127 goals in 208 appearances) on an initial one-year loan.  But the question has to be asked as to whether or not he has lost the pace and finishing ability that made him one of the top strikers in Europe for several years.

Verdict: Chelsea cutting their losses, Milan have little to lose.  For Shevchenko, it might be the chance of another new beginning.

Anton Ferdinand (West Ham to Sunderland, £8m)

People can criticise this deal but it makes sense from Roy Keane and Sunderland’s point of view.  Ferdinand is by no means a top class defender but he’s capable and has the type of qualities that are lacking in Nyron Nosworthy, Danny Collins and Paul McShane.  Initially Keane wanted to pay about £6m for Tottenham’s Younes Kaboul.  But for an extra £2m he has a player who is far closer to the finished article – and that’s what a team battling to stay clear of relegation need.

Verdict: Both teams have done well here because the bid is generous.  The player has done well because he’s getting the 50k a week that West Ham wouldn’t pay him.  The only loser is the (soon-to-be-former) West Ham manager Alan Curbishley who had Ferdinand sold without his consent.

Keith Andrews (MK Dons to Blackburn, initial £750k)

This is almost as curious a deal as the pending Robbie Fowler one and despite Paul Ince making a good start as Blackburn boss, I would have to question whether the likes of Andrews (who is 28 next month) have the ability to make the step up the Premier League.  He has pedigree at the lower levels as club captain of the MK Dons, winner of the League Two Player of the Year Award and capturing a place in the PFA Team of the Year.  Ince managed him at the Dons and played with him at Wolves.

Verdict: It’s a slightly baffling deal as he doesn’t have youth on his side nor does his history suggest he’ll be anything other than a hard-working journeyman struggling to stand out. Great experience for him though and good luck to him.

Shaun Wright-Phillips (Chelsea to Man City, £8.5m)

A return to Manchester City for Shaun Wright-Phillips three years after his £21m departure the other way, has to be filed as the second monumental failure for Chelsea’s transfer policy this week.  Chief executive Peter Kenyon has occasionally re-iterated the club’s target of being self-sufficient by 2010.  The loss of Shevchenko and Wright-Phillips for a combined £8.5m fee this week (Shevchenko’s eventual permanent transfer is unlikely to generate much money) is a lot less than the £51m outlay on them in 2005/6.

For Wright-Phillips it’s a chance to press reset after a disappointing Chelsea career.  While, at 26, he is unlikley to reach the highs that were once expected of him in his early days, he is a decent, energetic player who will give the City team some extra impetus.  Will this signal the end of Vedran Corluka’s Man City career for the same fee to Tottenham?

Verdict: Chelsea got rid of a player who contributed little except a hole in the balance sheet.  City get a good value for money first-team player.

James Milner (Newcastle to Aston Villa, £12m)

He’s 22 years of age, has commanded £15.6m in transfer fees, played 175 league games and made a record number of England U21 appearances.  He made his Leeds debut in 2002 aged 16.  Two years later he moved to Newcastle where he enjoyed an increasing appreciation from pundits and fans.  He signs this week for the club he joined on loan in 2005 although eyebrows might be raised at the fee.  Newcastle lose one of their most effective players and Villa spend big once again on a young British talent.  Where does he rank in that food chain at Villa?  Well, somewhere between Ashley Young and Nigel Reo-Coker is the answer to that question.

Verdict: Milner probably has more chance of UEFA cup football at Villa but Newcastle have done quite well out of it – if they can buy a couple of decent players for the money.

Roman Pavlyuchenko (Spartak Moscow to Tottenham, £12m)

It didn’t seem that manager Juande Ramos had Pavlyuchenko at the top of the list but needs determined that he tie up the deal for the Russian marksman who netted an impressive 77 goals in 147 games for Spartak Moscow.  He scored twice to contribue to England’s demise in the Euro 2008 qualifiers and then netted three times in an impressive showing at the tournament proper.  Should be noted that there weren’t really many other suitors though.

Verdict: In the end Spurs did ok to get the guy for £12m as I thought the fee was going to be more towards the £15m mark.  Looks a good player but, as always, success will depend on how the player adapts to the Premier League.  Perhaps he will turn out to be as much of a bargain as Dimitar Berbatov was (see below).

It might happen

Dimitar Berbatov (Tottenham to Man United, £25m)

The transfer that has been rumoured from about 8 months after Berbatov signed for Tottenham.  He’s eager to go, United need him and Tottenham will lose their best player but make a £15m in two years on a 28 year old.  Berbatov is an incredible talent with a questionable attitude.  When all is well, he’s great.  When the chips are down, he sulks.  Would Ferguson stand for it?  No.  But if Berbatov behaves like that and ends up out in the cold, he’s only himself to blame.

Verdict: I’d be very surprised if this didn’t happen although it may hinge on Tottenham signing a second striker to partner Roman Pavluychenko.  The fee is fair for the talent they are getting and I really can’t understand what United’s fussing is all about.  They paid £18m for Carrick for crisskae!

Frazier Campbell (Man United to Hull, £7m)

If Hull were trying to sell the transfer to Campbell they could have done better than get thrashed 5-0 at home by Wigan this weekend.  I saw Campbell against Newcastle and he looked ok.  But his pedigree is impressive; 21 goals in 33 appearances for Royal Antwerp (mind you Dong Fangzhuo scored 34 in two seasons for Antwerp before he arrived) and then 15 last season while on loan to Hull.  He’s 20, long way to go.  But can he do it in the Premiership?

Verdict: Hull know they need a goalscorer.  Most teams that go down often have few goalscorers exceeding 5 in a season.  If Campbell could hit double figures for them then it could be the difference between sinking or swimming.  It’s a gamble and it looks about £3m or so above his realistic value.  United probably won’t use him that much anyway this season so it’s a great deal for them, especially if they put in a sell-on clause.

Albert Riera (Espanyol to Liverpool, £12m)

Liverpool are set to nick right-winger Riera from their neighbours Everton in a hefty £12m deal this weekend.  Riera would be known to Premier League fans from a largely forgettable stint at Manchester City where he made 15 appearances.  His form for Espanyol has been impressive although he is not renowned as a goalscorer.

Verdict: I haven’t seen Riera for Espanyol but he was pretty mince for Manchester City which has to be considered relevant.  Rafa’s transfer record outside of Fernando Torres is erratic but if Riera is more Agger than Gonzales then it will be money well spent.  At 6′ 2″, Riera might have the physical presence to succeed were the slight Gonzales (who has been a success at Real Betis) didn’t.

Robinho (Real Madrid to Chelsea, £32m)

There was much expected of Robinho when he signed for Real Madrid in 2005 for about $30m.  But his form has been indifferent in spite of his 25 goals in 101 appearances for the club.  Chelsea are sniffing around and quite fancy some Ronaldo-type skills on their left-wing.  They are thought to have bid £23m – way short of the £32m that President Ramon Calderon wants.

Verdict: Robinho is itching to get away from Madrid for whatever reason.  He’s not guaranteed his place and probably sees the Chelsea left-wing battle with Florent Malouda as a bit of a forgone conclusion.  He’s a top notch player when he’s on his game so Chelsea should just try and flog Malouda (who is brutal) for about £9m and add it on to the £23m they’ve already offered.  Or just send Malouda in a box to Madrid with the cheque.

Some comedy characters - including Florent Malouda
Some comedy characters - including Florent Malouda

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