There has been a number of great transfers since the Premier League began. Ones fans wanted to see. Ones that no-one expected. And sadly, a lot of ones which were definite failures. Which begs the question, out of the top ten most expensive, which were actually worth the extra expense?
Wayne Rooney, Everton to Manchester United, August 2004 – £25.6 million
Rooney is certainly one of the more successful transfers in the list. When Newcastle United put in a huge £20 million bid on the back of a great Euro 2004 performance, Sir Alex Ferguson was forced into action to sign the 18-year-old Rooney, and after a sublime hat-trick on his debut, neither have looked back.
Rooney has repaid the faith shown in him by Manchester United, scoring 169 goals since he moved to the club, as well as numerous assists. In his time, United have won the Premier league four times and reached three Champions League finals, winning one. As well as this they have won three League Cups and one FA Cup in what has been one of the most successful periods in the clubs’ history. He is now one of the elder statesmen at United, and despite his contract wrangle last season, it now seems Rooney will be at Old Trafford for many years to come.
Edin Dzeko, Wolfsburg to Manchester City, January 2011, £27 million
When Edin Dzeko moved to City in last season’s winter transfer window, it drew a mixed reaction. City were getting a very good player, with the potential to transform them into title winners, but there is no doubt that £27 million was a huge amount of money for someone who had not done enough to warrant such a fee.
After working hard and showing flashes of what he could do for six months, Dzeko started this season in fine form. He scored five goals in the first two games, and despite a drought over the Christmas period, the Bosnian has netted 18 times this season. Whether he has been a success or not, it is too early to say. But Dzeko definitely gives something different to Manchester City’s front-line. He can hold the ball up like no-one else and often picks out clever and unexpected passes.
Juan Sebastian Veron, Lazio to Manchester United, July 2001, £28.1 million
Seba Veron was supposed to transform Manchester United from a top Premier League team, into one which would dominate in Europe for years. He has mastered the Italian league, with his superb technique and wonderful range of passing, with either foot. His vision was also fantastic and he had a goal in him, he was expected to partner Paul Scholes and Roy Keane in the centre of the most feared midfield around.
It didn’t quite work out like that though. Although he had flashes of undoubted brilliance, Veron never really settled in England. Many believe it was Ferguson’s failure to play him in his best position, instead preferring him to sit in a defensive quarter-back-style role. The Argentine moved on to Chelsea three years later, but never truly found his feet. He did enjoy a renaissance in 2010 while playing in Argentina and played at key role at that summer’s World Cup for his country.
Rio Ferdinand, Leeds United to Manchester United, July 2002, £29.1 million
Rio Ferdinand arrived at Old Trafford after a fantastic couple of years at Leeds, for what was, at the time, a British record. He had moved to Leeds from West Ham as a youngster for a lot of money and had matured in Yorkshire. He eradicated mistakes in his game and became England’s top defender. The question was, could he take it to the next level with Manchester United?
He certainly could. Between 2005 and 2009, there was probably no better central defender than Ferdinand. He was good on the ball, had pace. But most of all he read the game so well. You never saw him make a slide tackle because he was always one step ahead of the striker, shielding the ball out of play or turning his opponent, leaving the crowd wondering who was the attacking player.
Ferdinand is certainly not the same player anymore, with injuries taking their toll on the now 33-year-old, but there is no doubt that he was a massive part of United’s fantastic success between 2007-2010.
Dimitar Berbatov, Tottenham to Manchester United, September 2008, £30.75 million
Berbatov, much like Seba Veron before him, was supposed to take an already very good United team, to an unstoppable one. Fans drooled over the possibility of him linking up with Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. Everything at Tottenham revolved around him and he repaid the faith big time, from superb individual goals to unthinkable passes and a knack for a cheeky finish. United fans couldn’t wait.
However, despite scoring and creating more than his fair share of goals at Old Trafford, Berbatov still seems to be labelled as a failure. His languid style and lack of performance in some big games made some fans question him. There have been touches of class and a hat-trick against Liverpool will have him forever revered around Old Trafford, but the fact that he was left out of the 18-man squad for last season Champions League final says a lot about how his United career has panned out.
Andrei Shevchenko, AC Milan to Chelsea, May 2006, £30.8 million.
When an ageing Shevchenko arrived in London in the summer of 2006 a lot of people felt it was a signing by the owner, rather than the manager, Jose Mourinho. Yes, the Ukrainian had been just about the most feared striker in Europe for several years, but Chelsea already had great strikers and Shevchenko’s best days were behind him.
And so it proved, the Milan legend had a torrid time at Stamford Bridge. He scored at an average of 1 in 5, after season upon season of hitting 30 plus in Italy. It is also seen as one of the catalysts which led to Mourinho leaving Stamford Bridge, and the Chelsea fans pining for him to return ever since.
Robinho, Real Madrid to Manchester City, September 2008, £32.5 million
The Brazilian superstar was to herald the start of a new Manchester City. Backed by Sheikh Mansoor’s billions, they wanted to make a clear statement about where the club was headed, and Robinho was it.
Although he didn’t stay at City very long, Robinho did pretty well. He was never going to be prolific, but his samba skills and ludicrous talent allowed City fans to dream. He scored at a rate of almost 1 in 3, as well as a lot of assists, so he can probably be considered a success despite his hefty price tag and swift exit.
Andy Carroll, Newcastle United to Liverpool, January 2011, £35 million
Perhaps the less said about this one the better. Carroll is still young, and has improved his form in recent weeks, but what possessed Liverpool to spend £35 million on a 21-year-old with barely a season of first-team football under his belt (most of that in the Championship), I will never know.
It isn’t Carroll’s fault Liverpool spent so much on him and he has almost certainly struggled to cope with the added pressure that brought. He has had his lifestyle and his ability questioned, but to be fair to him, as I said, he has done better recently and a lack of service hasn’t helped. Nor has the duck-to-water approach taken by Luis Suarez, who joined at the same time and was an instant success despite off-field controversies.
Sergio Aguero, Atletico Madrid to Manchester City, July 2011, £38 million
Aguero can be considered one of the real successes on this list, despite arriving in Manchester for such a huge sum and having not even completed one season yet. The little Argentine is a superb footballer. He can dribble, pass, he sees space and isn’t afraid of hard work. Oh, and he scored lots of goals. 21 so far in his debut season.
The 23-year-old’s ability to link up with every other City forward, particularly David Silva, has been one of the reasons City are favourites for the Premier League this season. He is so consistent and brings the best out of those around him. Two very good traits to have. Aguero is also still very young so if City do end up selling him, they are almost certain to make a healthy profit – staggering when you consider his transfer fee.
Fernando Torres, Liverpool to Chelsea, January 2011, £50 million.
What hasn’t been said about this transfer already? Torres has looked a shadow of his Liverpool-self. Although his decline started before his move to Stamford Bridge, it has certainly increased there.
He is currently in the midst of a horrid goal drought (over 1100 minutes) and every time he looks like he might score, he just doesn’t. A lot of people, including myself have said that he is too good a player not to score soon, and that one day he will return to the man who tormented every defender he played against. The longer it goes on though, the less I believe that. People will probably be telling him to forget the bad press, forget the poor touches and the bad misses, forget the last game. At £50 million that is easier said than done.
So it seems that when you look at the Premier League’s top ten most expensive transfers, you certainly aren’t looking at the top ten most successful.
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