It is February and you know what the means. No, I am not talking about getting a head start on the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, or even March Madness. I am talking about the January transfer window in professional soccer closing for 2012. Just like Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association, things really heat up when the deadline to move players nears. Here are some of the biggest winners and losers of this past month’s transfer market.
Louis Saha and Steven Pienaar – These two Premier League stars swapped clubs on deadline day. Thirty-three year old Saha, who was in an expiring contract with Everton, now travels to the Tottenham Hotspurs to help with their chase to land in the top four of the league. Saha has had a slow, unproductive first half of the season but is known for having a lot of luck against teams like Manchester United and Newcastle–teams the Spurs need to compete with to keep their goals in reach. Pienaar, on the other hand, makes his move back to Everton on loan after a short stint with Tottenham. Pienaar has not been much of an impact with Tottenham because of a lack of fitness, but should flourish at Everton, a less-talented club that he is more familiar with.
Queens Park Rangers – QPR’s new manager, Mark Hughes, rung in 2012 with a bang after bringing five new players to the squad’s locker room before the deadline. With the Rangers fighting to stay out of relegation, Hughes knew he had to make changes–and fast. Manchester United loaned Federico Macheda to QPR in hopes that he can finally prove himself to Sir Alex. Macheda has a lot of talent and potential, but with Hughes’ other signings he may not see much playing time unless QPR’s tactics change. Hughes also tightened up his defense by signing Nedum Onuoha (center back), Taye Taiwo (left back), and Samba Diakite (defensive midfielder). The trio features some of the most underrated defenders in all of soccer. But, Hughes’ biggest signings feature Bobby Zamora from Fulham and Djibril Cisse from Lazio. To the naked eye these may look like questionable moves. The two strikers are each north of thirty years old and their price tags seem a little high. But, Zamora has simply been on fire at Fulham and Cisse has the capability to change any game for the better. Cisse already made an impact yesterday notching a goal in his debut against Aston Villa to help secure a 2-2 tie. That kind of tandem up top could be lethal. After signing these five quality players for under fifteen million pounds, Mark Hughes is either a brilliant shopper or he is the best extreme couponer ever.
Anyone involved with Carlos Tevez staying in Manchester City – Obviously Carlos Tevez and City’s head coach Roberto Mancini do not frequently hang out but they will be associated with each other until most likely at least this summer’s transfer window. When Tevez refused to play in a Champions League match, it was clear that there was some drama in the club. He has not played for the team since the incident and it was clear that he wanted to leave Manchester City. Despite great interest from AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Paris St Germain the Manchester City Blues could not close a deal before the deadline. I am not sure why no deal was reached, but if you are one of those clubs and can feasibly afford the transfer, in my opinion, you have to make the deal happen. Carlos Tevez is one of the most dynamic scorers in all of soccer. This also spells trouble for Manchester City. It is not often that a team can remain successful after its star player shows disinterest in the franchise–unless you’re Kobe and the Lakers. Now it seems that Tevez’s only suitor until the summer is his former club Boca Juniors. The only demand that Boca has is that they receive Tevez for free until the end of the season. Their view is that if Manchester City wants Tevez to stay fit and keep his value up they would be willing to have him on their team, but who wouldn’t if he were free?
Though this transfer window did not feature any blockbuster moves like recent years, it may have changed the future of many players and clubs for the better and worse. Queens Park Rangers will almost certainly avoid relegation now that they have showed a commitment to buy players that can compete at the premier league level. And I am anxious to see where Tevez ends up. I just hope this situation and the appeal of his club’s misconduct fine don’t ruin his future and career.
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