Off The Cuff – Best & Worse Transfers of the Season

by Ed Diggins

In this week’s Off The Cuff, Ed compiles a top five list of the best and indeed the worse Premier League signings of the season. Keeping up appearances are one half of the Manchester City backline, a heroic defender making his mark in the Midlands, and a certain £20million Italian midfielder who so far hasn’t justified his price tag.

Top 5 best Transfers of the Season so far.

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1st Place – Roger Johnson

Position – Center Half.
Fee –
£5 Million.
Clubs –
Cardiff to Birmingham.

The top signing of the season so far is Roger Johnson and he is the first of three centre halves on the list. An absolute gem for Alex McLeish and a major reason why (along with Joe Hart.) Birmingham went on a club record breaking run throughout the season.  He has been a virtual ever present this season for the Blues with twenty six league and four Cup appearances. Johnson has been superb and put in some wonderful individual performances, being part of a water-tight defensive unit at St. Andrews. Making the transition from Wycombe to the Premiership, via a three year spell in Cardiff has been seamless for him and rightly so, he has been earning rave reviews this season.

2nd Place – Thomas Vermealen

Position – Center Half.
Fee –
Undisclosed
Clubs –
Ajax to Arsenal.

Make no doubt about it, Arsene Wenger got a great deal here with this lad. A virtual ever presence in the Arsenal defence, with twenty seven league and nine cup appearances. While his defensive work, strength and reliability are his key characteristic, it is also his wonderful threat in attack that makes him a major plus with a fantastic seven goals so far this year. When you factor in his transfer fee and consider that the man he replaced left for a reputed seven million pounds more, this indeed was a great piece of business for the Gunners. There were fears that he had recently broke his leg which would have spelled massive disaster for Arsenal, however these proved to be false and indeed, he lined out and scored, against Manchester United the following Sunday.

3rd Place – Richard Dunne

Position – Center Half.
Fee –
£5 Million.
Clubs –
Manchester City to Aston Villa.

The “Honey Monster” has been superb for Villa and considering that his two replacements are in the other list on this column, speaks volumes of how big a mistake it was for City to sell him. What is their loss however, is Villa’s gain. A Carling Cup final place next Sunday awaits the Tallaght born Irish international and after a convincing win over  Burnley at the weekend, they are back in the race for a top four spot. Dunne has been solid for villa, also knocking in three goals, in twenty eight league and cup appearances. He maybe in the running for the Club player of the year, an award he picked up many times in recent years and along with the two lads who are ahead of him in this list, he could end up being on the shortlist for the Premier League team of the year.

4th Place – Niko Kranjcar

Position – Winger.
Fee –
2.5 Million.
Clubs –
Portsmouth to Spurs.

A snip, probably down to the financial troubles at Pompey and having racked up twenty three appearances so far this season, Spurs have got a great deal. He has also chipped in with six goals and four assists in all competitions and given the normal uncertainty that comes with playing for any team under Harry Redknapp, those stats are pretty decent going. An FA Cup winner with Pompey two seasons ago looks good on the CV of a man who during Euro 2008, was slammed back home in Croatia as not being good enough for the international team. His stats are also more impressive given the fact that he played five times for his old club before a late transfer deadline move to join up with his former manager.

5th Place – Darren Bent

Position – Striker.
Fee –
£10 Million.
Clubs –
Spurs to Sunderland.

Chances are, very few people would have expected Mr Bent to appear on a list like this. It has to be said that Sunderland have gotten a great return, so far, on their investment in Bent. Sixteen goals in twenty eight appearances, including goals against Liverpool, Everton, Chelsea, Arsenal and United is a fantastic contribution. The Black Cats may be going through an awful time at the moment results wise, but Bent has been a shining light for them this season and makes the top five signings of the season so far. If he maintains that form through to the end, he could perhaps be rewarded with a plane ticket to South Africa in late May.

Best of the Rest:

Carlos Tevez (Manchester Utd/Free Agent  to Manchester City)
Antonio Valencia
(Wigan to Manchester United).
Landon Donovan
(LA Galaxy to Everton, short term loan).
Joe Hart
(Manchester City to Birmingham, season long loan).

***

Top 5 Worst Transfers of the Season so far.

1st Place – Alberto Aquilani

http://images.sportinglife.com/09/12/330/Alberto-Aquilani-Liverpool_2395505.jpgPosition – Centre Midfielder
Fee –
£20 Million
Clubs –
AS Roma to Liverpool

The man given the task of replacing Xabi Alonso, has been shocking, yet, was it really a surprise? Depending on what reports you read, the transfer fee ranges between five million and twenty million pounds. This transfer was a strange one, a man who has spent the vast majority of the last five seasons on the treatment table coming to Anfield, already injured. Rafa Benitez’s reluctance to play him until the 9th November is also baffling, maybe a sign that he lacks confidence in his big signing of the summer. Liverpool fans will hope that he grows out of his sick note tag, however, this, so far, just does not look like good business for Liverpool. His return of four league starts plus five coming off the bench, is not good enough. If this does not improve, it could go down as one of the worst transfers in the history of the club.

2nd Place – Roque Santa Cruz

Position – Striker.
Fee –
£17 Million.
Clubs –
Blackburn Rovers to Manchester City.

Crocky Santa Cruz as he is known, should be number one but just misses out. His woeful strike rate is three goals so far or almost 6 million pounds per goal. It is true that he has missed a large share of the season through injury, appearing only thirteen times in total, with only four league start. However, looking at his goal scoring record throughout his career, he has only hit double figures on one occasion in a season. Mark Hughes obviously saw something in him during that season as his manager at Blackburn, but to pay seventeen million for a man that has such a record, is not good business. Poor move for city and their third player on the list.

3rd Place – Joleon Lescott

Position – Center Half.
Fee –
£22 Million.
Clubs –
Everton to Manchester City.

A shocking transfer fee for this man, down to him being English and City having buckets of cash. Lescott did have a decent spell with Everton and had become a regular at international level, but he seems to have forgotten how to play football, well, how to defend anyway.  He may regain that form once new manager Roberto Mancini lays his Italian influence, but with City now having other options in defence, he is not guaranteed to be a first team regular. The man with one of the weirdest haircuts in football, will have to up the ante to get back to form. His seventeen league starts this season looks like falling well short of his final tally of thirty five for Everton last season. I expect him to be on the chop list for the summer.

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4th Place – Koule Toure

Position – Center Half.
Fee –
£16 Million.
Clubs –
Arsenal to Manchester City.

A strange move for Toure and indeed City. Looked a good player at Arsenal, but like his colleague at number 3, he has looked like a fish out of water at times this season. A player giving up Champions League football for City is baffling, considering he was a respected regular at Arsenal. This fact has led to Toure, more than most of the other City players, being labeled as putting money before football. Maybe had this been a footballing move, it would not have seen him struggle somewhat to play at the required level. He has a reasonably respectable twenty one league appearances but his performances have been nowhere near good enough at the back.

5th Place – Jason Scotland

Position – Striker
Fee –
£2 Million
Clubs –
Swansea City to Wigan Athletic

Given the transfer fee involved, maybe a little harsh that he makes the top 5, but for a club like Wigan, it is a decent sized splashing of the cash. Scotland came to the DW with a big reputation after eighty five career league goals throughout a six year spell in Scotland then  Swansea. New Wigan manager Roberto Martinez saw enough during his own time at Swansea to convince himself and thus the Wigan board, that Scotland could make the transition. Sadly for them, this was not the case. In his twenty two league games so far this season, Scotland has hit the net a grand total of zero. And its also not his lack of hitting the net that’s been poor, it is his overall conviction on the pitch. So far, simply not good enough at this level.

Worst of the Rest:

Yuri Zhirkov (CSKA Moscow to Chelsea).
Fraizer Campbell
(Spurs to Sunderland).

Contact Ed [at] backpagefootball.com

4 Responses

  1. Eamonn Power Eamonn Power says:

    maxi rodriguez could soon be knocking on the door of the “wrost” list. i know they made a virtual pittence for him but for a club with ambitions like liverpools, to sign any player that poor was a bad move. had been rubbish in spain for the past few years so I dont know what rafa was hoping for.

  2. Ed Diggins says:

    Comment via Email –

    Ed

    Vermealen? Surprised you’ve included him. I think he is one in a long list of dodgy centre halves that Wenger has signed

  3. Ed Diggins says:

    Comment Via Email –

    Good read Ed – not sure about the no. 1 worst transfer all the same, has he been given enough time or you just putting the manc goggles on?

  4. Si says:

    Lets be fair. Maxi Rodriguez, though having had avery poor start to English football he has hardly had time to acclimatise. Give the lad some time. He got his first assist today. I dont think that you can say ANY player, no matter who, if you get them on a FREE TRANSFER is a bad signing. Its a no lose situation.

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