Thursday Bullets: Summing Up Transfer Season

A little light this week. Lots going on at the TSG Hall of Justice. That’s a good thing.

• Arsenal: Poor fantasy trading?

The man who would be Cesc....

The skinny: Well, how did you think they made out. Let’s put it this way. If I told you at the beginning of, say, June that Arsenal would add Per Mertesacker, Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun, you would would probably say the London club was prepping for a run for the top of the table–adding in bit parts to around a core of Wilshere, Nasri, and Cesc.

You see where I’m going.

Many will point to Arsenal “not having a plan” this offseason. More questions, first, I think should be asked about their executives rather than Arsene Wenger, for the most part. Just how much do they have to spend? Has Stan Kroenke tightened the reins a bit? Or are they just prepping for a run next year when Wilshere, Frimpong and the rest of the youngsters will have a little bit of experience under their belt.

Beyond that though, hard to argue this transfer season wasn’t at least poorly played. Arsenal looked to secure players from the worst possible leverage point, flush with cash from the sale of Nasri and Cesc and when they certainly were in need of at least some quality depth. Benayoun was a blessing from Chelsea who didn’t need him and Everton battling a credit crunch was the only way Arteta was getting over there by the end of day yesterday.

A massive bid for arguably the most talented youngster on the planet in Mario Goetze didn’t come to fruition.

• Chicken dinner to Fulham

The skinny: In short, Bryan Ruiz–arguably a player in better form than Mikel Arteta–for $12M Euros was a heist. (Note: Greg Seltzer with the correction on the price paid for Ruiz. Thanks Greg.)

Many though that a Ruiz purchase might be a conduction bump to Clint Dempsey moving out of town, but in reality the small sum paid for the talent of Ruiz (as 26 still available to be sold one more time before his peak) is just bit insurance to Fulham avoiding relegation and–should an injury befell any of their attackers–to not being taken to the cleaners in the January window.

Great value.

Oh, and, as we noted on Twitter, have to believe Clint Dempsey to Arsenal was nothing more than a fabrication at all times. Only one dodgy publication had it and here’s the thing: Dempsey is a worth a premium to his value to Fulham.

Given his age, US passport and Fulham’s aforementioned attacker shortage, a team would have to come in with a massive transfer fee for Dempsey. And, as you saw yesterday, those fees were barely being brandished at players five years junior to the American. C’mon.

• A set of golf clubs lands at Anfield

The skinny: Perhaps the most important signing yesterday was Liverpool dropping what could a cherry in Craig Bellamy on the colossal sundae they just scooped together over the past year.

Liverpool signaled intent–which is all it had to do–with their bank-breaking acquisition of Andy Carroll earlier in the year.

They added Luis Suarez who looks to be this decades Didier Drogba of the Premiership and heft in the midfield with Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson.

All they needed was some pace opposite Stewart Downing or Dirk Kuyt. Bellamy tiptoes the touchline on daring runs like no other, if his head is straight. Massive move , if his head is straight.

• Americans like weeds at Roma!

The skinny: Am told that no bid was put in for Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey or any other American as Roma. Either the front office there is testing the acceptance waters or something fishy is affront in the media world.

• Dos Diegos

The skinny: Forlan our and Ribas da Cunha in–or just “Diego”–at Atletico Madrid on loan. Forlan has moved permanently at Inter. (Note: will be interesting to see how Forlan and Wesley Sneijder coexist as both like to dominate the ball a little in the center of the pitch.)

What happened to Diego? Once a promising player at Bremen, the Brazilian who is the ideal false nine has stumbled. Is Atletico his last chance to put himself back on the superstar map?

27 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Greg Seltzer on 2011/09/01 at 10:56 AM

    Just to clarify something, Fulham paid 12M Euros for Ruiz.

    I think sometimes the currency used in reports gets changed and mistaken so much that the number goes goofy down the line.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/01 at 11:05 AM

      Thanks Greg. I appreciate the note and correction.


    • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/01 at 11:55 AM

      12m euros, thats 17m dollars. you gotta think this will be nice motivation for michael bradley next time he plays costa rica, if junior ever gets another call up.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/01 at 12:03 PM

        I think I’ve with you there Dikranovich (we usually disagree.)

        After two years at Chievo, would be great for Bradley to make the jump to at least a midtable EPL side.


        • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/02 at 4:37 AM

          matthew, do you really think junior is worried about playing at a “mid level” or better team. that has not been his MO thus far during his career. take a player like joe cole, he wants to play for top teams and thats fine. that is his career choice. yet joey barton, he wants to help teams that are not so high up the table, and that is at least as admirable, if not more so, than trying to seek trophies. id take barton everyday of the week over joe cole, wouldnt you too? minus his move on your boy gervinho, of course. (4)


  2. Posted by John on 2011/09/01 at 11:13 AM

    Word of warning to all the kiddos out there.

    With the Hype Train picking up on Mario Goetze you might feel inclined to google him. I mean.. after all… not everyone knows what he looks like or who he plays for.

    Maybe you are sitting at home, sipping a Smithwicks and listening to a new vinyl pressing of Bob Seger’s greatest hits… Or picking up the “25 years of Cyprus Hill” compendium….

    Then you log onto the internet.. pull up the google and search for Goetze… maybe you even misspell his name.

    Well friend, you have just committed stage 1 noob-ism failure on the intertubez. Let’s just say that you should type in his FULL NAME or make sure that your image search is set to “moderate”. Unless you want to spend the rest of the evening behind the couch barricaded in by pizza boxes with walls of Sutter Home’s two liter “Arbor Mist” “WINE”.

    Safe Searching begins at home.


  3. Posted by Jared on 2011/09/01 at 11:24 AM

    My favorite part of the Arteta story is that Arsenal forced him to take a pay cut. That is exactly why they will continue to struggle to compete in the Premier League and in Europe. They won’t even pay the same wages as Everton who have no money and about 12 guys under contract.


    • Posted by Alex Song on 2011/09/01 at 3:39 PM

      Everton has no money precisely because they overpay on salaries.

      Look, Arteta is a nice player, but he isn’t Fabregas. There’s no reason why Arsenal should’ve thrown 80k per week his way. Hence why they didn’t.


      • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/01 at 3:51 PM

        They have no money because they have a poor stadium and a poor owner. Paying your best player 75k a week isn’t much in the premier league.

        The reason they should have thrown that his way is because they wanted to sign him. Luckily for them he wanted to go there enough to take a 20k per week pay cut. That’s not always going to work out for them.


  4. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/09/01 at 11:24 AM

    I think you made a good point about the Arsenal executives. They should have done these deals on out-going players much earlier so Wenger could get in new players for pre-season. I said before, Ivan Gazidis is no David Dein. A coincidence that since Dein has left, things have not gone to well for The Arsenal?

    Do you think it was strategic that City and Barca completed the deals towards the end of the window therefore not giving Arsenal time to get players in, as they knew that unlike them, Arsenal need the money coming in before they can spend it?


    • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/01 at 11:33 AM

      Didn’t Barca and City both offer pretty much the same amounts approximately 2 to 3 weeks ago if not longer? It seemed that Arsenal/Wenger were the ones holding up those transfers from a lot of the rumors/comments that appeared. Wenger himself was even stating that they wouldn’t be sold it seemed like 2 days before they were.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/09/01 at 12:33 PM

        I know that was his stance at the beginning of the window, for sure. But not sure how transfer fee or payment structure changed over the course of the window.

        I guess my point is that for all of Wenger’s stubborness, perhaps he was not to blame totally. But Arsenal cannot continue to conduct business like that.


  5. Posted by Alex Song on 2011/09/01 at 3:48 PM

    I’m not going to defend Arsenal’s performance in the transfer window because they didn’t do as well as I had hoped, but there are some points often left out.

    – They brought in Gervinho early in the summer. He is playing in Nasri’s 2010-2011 position on the left wing. They are different in terms of style, but the net impact is similar. No big loss there, IMO.

    – Arsenal also bought Alex Chamberlain and Joel Campbell earlier in the summer, to go along with Ryo Miyaichi, whom they plucked from Japanese high school soccer last year. Miyaichi and Chamberlain are currently in the first team squad and Campbell will spend the year on loan at Lorient in Ligue One. I think the team rates these guys pretty highly.

    Fabregas is a huge loss and Arteta/Benayoun won’t be enough to replace him, but…Arsenal finished 4th last season even with a largely unmotivated/unhealthy Cesc. They beat Man U 1-0 at the Emirates without Cesc in the lineup.

    The team might actually be better than they were next season once everyone is fit and available. Trouble is, some of their rivals have improved just as much, if not more so. City is finally clicking on all cylinders and Pool has spent a lot of money.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/01 at 4:38 PM

      Alex — great points. I agree that Gervinho and AOC were great buys. Huge Gervinho fan in that he’s so dynamic and can play so many different roles.

      Here’s the question — why buy Arteta, Benayoun etc instead of giving youngsters with perhaps more upside the shot?

      It’s seem very un-Arsenal-like.


      • Posted by Sam on 2011/09/01 at 4:46 PM

        Maybe Arsene caved under the pressure to buy? Maybe he thinks the new youngsters aren’t ready yet? Maybe a little bit of both?

        I do think Arsenal needed the reinforcements though. Arteta and Benayoun aren’t Fabregas and Nasri, but they’re still very good players that are much more proven at the PL level than AOC and Miyaichi.


      • Posted by Kevin on 2011/09/01 at 7:31 PM

        But how much do young players progress without good veterans in front of them to set the example? Not very far. There is a mental learning curve involved with transitioning from one level to a corresponding higher level and it’s much more difficult to make that transition with people around you who at your level. Benayoun, and Arteta are positives for the present and the future.


      • Posted by Alex Song on 2011/09/01 at 7:37 PM

        Well, I don’t think Mertesacker and Santos require much explanation. Everyone has been saying all offseason that we needed a big center half to help prevent some of the soft set piece goals that we’d been allowing. Mertesacker seems like a pretty good solution. People talk about his lack of footspeed, but we have Vermaelen and Koscielny as shorter, more mobile options when necessary. The big loser here is Djourou, who has looked lost this season after showing promise last year.

        As for Santos, he gives us much-needed depth at LB so that we don’t have to ever play Sagna there and/or rely on the shaky youngster Carl Jenkinson. Gibbs has looked really good this year when healthy, but he cannot be trusted to stay fit. Santos also gives us some versatility that we lacked last season because he’s a goal threat. Clichy only scored one goal in 180+ games for Arsenal. Santos has scored 19 in the past few seasons. He should help us unlock some of the lower quality teams that try to bunker for the draw against us.

        As for Arteta and Benayoun, I agree that they look like panicky buys and stop-gap solutions. Yossi is fine in that regard because we haven’t made a significant financial commitment to him. Just a one year loan and then he’s Chelsea’s problem. I’m less thrilled about spending 10M on a 29 year old Arteta, but…we simply needed a capable body in midfield and he was probably the only option available for a decent price. My take on these two is that they’re only keeping the seat warm for Ramsey, Wilshere, Chamberlain, Frimpong, and possibly Coquelin.

        I agree that it would be nice to let the youngsters have the minutes, but learning on the job isn’t a luxury we can afford when we’re trying to secure a CL spot for next season. Besides, there will be plenty of opportunities for games with deep Carling Cup and FA Cup runs likely on the horizon.

        I’m not thrilled about this window, but I don’t think it’s a certain disaster and the potential of some of our under-the-radar guys like Miyaichi and Campbell is pretty exciting.


        • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/09/02 at 6:49 AM

          And with Arteta’s injury history there will be plenty of mins to go around. Cesc lite and he’s a bit glassy.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/09/01 at 8:37 PM

      All of this sounds not so bad…if you didn’t have to replace one of the world’s best playmakers. Even if Cesc was unmotivated/injured, he still ended up generating boatloads of chances for his teammates. Who’s the penetrating midfielder for Arsenal? Arteta? Meh….


  6. Posted by dth on 2011/09/01 at 8:58 PM

    I don’t want to be especially mean, or bash someone who seems like a nice guy…but at least two of these grades is, uh, funny:


    • Posted by sfshwebb on 2011/09/01 at 10:25 PM

      I actually think these grades in terms of what is best for the player are fairly accurate. I think the only one which seems misplaced is the Jozy one and it should be much higher. Regardless of how inflated his goal tally might be, it’s all about confidence for Altidore and the playing with AZ will do him a world of good. I would give that grade an A-. Which grades did you have a problem with?


      • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/09/02 at 3:14 AM

        Your right about Altidore. Bedoya’s grade is way off as well. Onyewu’s grade would be okay if he were actually playing, but so far he’s not.

        The rest of the grades look at least defensible to me.


      • Posted by Colin on 2011/09/02 at 5:47 AM

        Agreed 100%, thats almost exactly what I was gonna say. Stats are nice, but the more important part is the confidence and the amount of chances he will get. Its an attacking league, which means that as an attacker…he will get more time on the ball, more chances on goal, and more chances to set up goals. If he gets better at any or all of these parts of his game…its a good move for him. It’s certainly better than being a fringe player for Villareal or Buraspor.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/09/02 at 6:09 AM

        Altidore and Bedoya.

        I think it’s goofy to disapprove of someone moving to a country that has such a fine tradition of developing strikers.

        I think it’s goofy to approve–and highly so!–of a lateral move to an overrated league. The majority of SPL teams would lose to the majority of MLS teams, yet somehow I suspect no one would be happy if Bedoya went stateside. The league is terrible and doesn’t develop anyone (who’s the last good player to have been developed by the SPL?). Personally, I give Bedoya a C- from the career development perspective (which I assume is what those grades are based on).


        • Posted by mbw on 2011/09/02 at 8:04 AM

          Agreed. Plus Gooch gets an “Incomplete,” not an A; Bradley and Feilhaber’s grades seem too harsh, since they didn’t have a lot of better options; and Adu’s situation did not in fact “quickly deteriorate” before his move to MLS, but rather stabilized after previously deteriorating (slowly).


  7. Posted by Bk917 on 2011/09/02 at 8:02 AM


    I understand why Fulham’s attacker shortage and Dempsey being at or near his peak means Fulham would require a premium to value to sell Dempsey.

    However, I am not clear regarding why Dempsey’s US passport means that Fulham would require a premium to consider selling Dempsey? While Fulham has a good history of American players, I wouldn’t think they derive much economic value from having a lot of Americans. It isn’t like I see people wearing Fulham jerseys in the US.

    Or are you saying that Dempsey’s US passport reduces his transfer value and thus is a further reason why Fulham would want to retain him rather than selling him?


  8. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/09/03 at 8:12 AM

    btw- what was up with the refing in the Spain-Chile game? Does that team really need that kind of help? Really really bad. Penalty was a dive from anywhere on the field and def not a sure thing in extra time of a well played tie game. That and a dozen other quick whistles Barca I mean Spains way really took away from an excellent Chile effort.


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