Saturday, 4th December 2010
By Matt Scrafton.
This summer saw a significantly reduced amount of money spent on transfers by Premier League clubs compared to recent seasons, yet there were still some top purchases. Here is a list of my top five transfers who have had the biggest impact upon the Premier League campaign so far in the 2010/2011 season.
5. Javier Hernandez - Manchester United - £7m
Relatively unknown prior to his transfer to Manchester United from Mexican side Guadalajara, which technically went though in January, the Mexican arrived at Old Trafford in the summer on the back of some fantastic displays at the World Cup. Hernandez was plunged into the spotlight following the disappearance and alleged "injury" to Wayne Rooney, and didn't disappoint - netting on his debut against Chelsea in the Community Shield, and going on to net four goals in his opening 10 games for United. And some of his goals have proved to be extremely important as well; perhaps most notably his brace away at Stoke City which secured a 2-1 win, as well his first European goal as he led United to a 1-0 win at Valencia.
4. Alexander Hleb - Birmingham City - Loan
This was certainly a major coup and a sign of raised ambitions for Birmingham City as they managed to secure the services of Barcelona midfielder Alexander Hleb on a season long loan. Although Hleb has failed to open his league account for the Blues yet (scored in the League Cup against MK Dons), his game has never really been about his goals tally - proven by his record at Arsenal, where he only netted 7 times in 89 starts. The Belorussian prefers to play with style, flair and trickery, whilst assisting the forward men and assisting the fluid offensive moves with his incisive passes and impressive footwork. Although Birmingham have yet to see the best of the 29 year old, mainly due to a lack of fitness, Hleb produced a sterling display during City's home draw against Fulham. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, and the clearly talented ex-Arsenal man continues his good form into 2011.
3. Maroune Chamakh - Arsenal - Free
Arsenal Boss Arsene Wenger had been monitoring the development of Marouane Chamakh for some time at Bordeaux before he finally decided to seal the free transfer of the Moroccan striker this summer. Chamakh is the sort of forward Arsenal have lacked in the past two or three seasons, as not only does he provide a more physical presence in attack, he also chips in with a more than respectable amount of goals. After 15 games, Chamakh has netted on 7 occasions, whilst also scoring a remarkable 8 goals in 9 Champions League fixtures. Chamakh would have been in this list even had Wenger paid £10million for his services, yet the fact he managed to lure him to the Emirates on a free just goes to show what a good deal this was for the Gunners.
2. Cheik Tiote - Newcastle United - £3.5m
Defensive midfielder Cheik Tiote was purchased by Newcastle United Manager Chris Hughton in the summer following an extremely successful two seasons at FC Twente, where he won a Dutch League medal, and a string of impressive performances for Ivory Coast at this summers World Cup. Many have suggested Newcastle's impressive start to the Premier League is mainly due to the goals of talismanic striker Andy Carroll. And whilst there certainly holds some truth to that assertion, I'd argue the destroying performances of Tiote has played a more important role. According to the latest Opta Sports statistics, Tiote has completed 91% of his attempted passes so far this season, a stat that Barcelona's Xavi would be proud of. His debut for the Toon away at Everton was a complete success, as he completed all of his 44 passes, made two interceptions and completed all three of his attempted tackles. And his impressive performances have continued throughout the season, which has led to his reported value to have dramatically increased from the reported £3.5million that Newcastle initially paid for him. I would have chosen Tiote as my number one signing of the summer, if it wasn't for the performances and sheer quality of a certain other individual...
1. Rafael van der Vaart - Tottenham Hotspur - £8m
This transfer was exactly the type of player Tottenham were looking for during the summer, as Harry Redknapp looked to secure the services of a genuinely world class player in anticipation of their Champions League campaign. Not only does Van der Vaart have years of European experience, he clearly has bags of creativity and the skill to get into scoring positions, and most importantly, score crucial goals for his side. And all this for £8million meant that Redknapp had secured the deal of the century, never mind this season. And Van der Vaart certainly hasn't disappointed, scoring on 6 occasions in his first 11 Premier League appearances of his career. The Dutchman started life at his new club in the best possible manner, scoring three goals in his first four league games, whilst crucially chipping in with a goal and an assist in Spurs' first two Champions League encounters. Whilst Welsh winger Gareth Bale has taken all the plaudits at Tottenham in recent weeks, the ex-Real Madrid playmaker has ignored the spotlight and gone from strength to strength.
Other notable absentees who just missed out on my final list of 5:
Ben Foster - Birmingham - £6m
Luke Varney - Blackpool - Season long loan
Marlon Harewoord - Blackpool - Free
Martin Petrov - Bolton - Free
Carlos Salcido - Fulham - £1.6m
Raul Meireles - Liverpool - £11.5m
Marc Wilson - Stoke - £4m + swap
Asamoah Gyan - Sunderland - £13m
Nedum Onouha - Sunderland - Season long loan
William Gallas - Tottenham - Free
Peter Odemwingie - West Brom - £2.5m
Victor Obinna - West Ham - Season long loanTom Cleverley - Wigan - Season long loan