Maybe the Transfer Market Really Isn’t Overheated

When I heard Sir Alex Ferguson complain about an overheated transfer market because he lost Carlos Tevez to Manchester City (who will also apparently add Emmanuel Adebayor), I thought the remark rung hollow. After all, this United fan correctly notes that the Red Devils have completed plenty of big money moves. And while the blogger is skeptical of Michael Owen at this stage of his career, the deal could certainly be a good one because Owen has proven that he can still score when healthy. Also, the signings of Gabriel Obertan and Antonio Valencia, coupled with the returning Owen Hargreaves, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, and perhaps even a few more gems from Man U’s academy, Owen, Wayne Rooney, and Dimitar Berbatov should get plenty of good service into the box.

Michael Owen in a new shade of Red.

Michael Owen in a new shade of Red.

Speaking of Tevez, footbo takes a somewhat comedic look at his departure from Old Trafford. This move was definitely more about money (which Man City has plenty of through their Middle East-based ownership) than playing time, or even which manager he liked more, which is just how things work nowadays. Also, he may end up buying Cristiano Ronaldo’s old home. Crushed Ferrari not included, I suppose. Phil McNulty says that Tevez’s signing will be worth the millions it cost to buy out the agency which owned his rights, along with the millions in actual salary, because this move, as with buying Robinho last year, is for a player proven to get it done at the highest level and who should have many more great years to come. Good point. It’s way different from signing over-the-hill names just to sell tickets or merchandise. Man City and manager Mark Hughes want to win. Adebayor’s loss may not be lamented by some of my fellow Arsenal fans, but he does score goals when his mind’s on the game. I’m also not so sure about McNulty’s argument that Arsenal’s forwards are good enough right now to fire the Gunners to a league title. They have Andrei Arshavin, but Robin van Persie and Eduardo need to stay healthy, while either Carlos Vela or Nicklas Bendtner has to take a big step forward. I suppose they might bring somebody in, but splashing the cash is not usually Arsene Wenger’s way. Who can argue with his results though! In closing, I hope Mark Hughes can figure out how to divvy up playing time amongst his countless new signings at Eastlands, because failure to do so effectively may see him run out of town almost as fast as not winning enough games.

No pressure, Mark. Really.

No pressure, Mark. Really.

The “overheated market claims” sounded even more absurd when Rafa Benitez complained upon signing Glen Johnson for over $25 million. It may just be that Liverpool are building a strong team overtime, with one or two big additions a year instead of a huge spending spree like Man City or Real Madrid. That being said, is Glen Johnson really the best choice for a top-level team’s defense? Rafa thinks so, and he has gotten some of the bigger moves he’s made right, like Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso. But I’ll respectfully disagree. Chelsea wasn’t exactly in a rush to keep him a couple of years ago.

Robert Burns has a good summary of what’s gone on across the EPL to date.

Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema

And I have little argument with Real Madrid’s big moves. Ronaldo, Kaka, and Karim Benzema went for silly money, but it’s hard to say that they aren’t signing some of the world’s very best players. Of course, off-field considerations may help– as long as they continue to be a soccer team, not a global concert tour.

So far, it seems like most other clubs are buying pretty shrewdly too. I think the global economic crisis is forcing teams to make carefully calculated decisions. It’s a few teams that truly have the money to go big right now- Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City, Real Madrid, Barcelona (although they haven’t so far), and a couple of others across Europe.

But we’ll really be judging everyone when the primary European window closes at the end of August, and then again when we see the league standings in January (midseason and the second transfer window) and of course at season’s end in May.

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Busy Week

Pleased with the Yankees apparent turnaround in Atlanta and then against the Mets (or is it MASH Unit, or even David Wright and the seven dwarfs?). Congrats to Mariano Rivera on his 500th save. That’s a great achievement, but also hides what he will be remembered for- his postseason track record.

Also proud of what our national team did, despite Brazil’s second-half comeback. And of our soldiers, as they turned over control of Iraq’s cities to an Iraqi military.

Anyway, on to present matters. NBA and NHL free agents to chat about tomorrow, more so with hockey because basketball players can’t sign until next week. Ronaldo and Kaka to be officially introduced at Real Madrid… more big money signings to come?

I’ll have some thoughts on this stuff later… after dealing with my own business! Damn, the holiday weekend can’t get here soon enough. Should I go out to the beach or hit the city? Your thoughts welcome…

More Ronaldo Stuff

Collected by the BBC. Pretty much consistent with what I wrote earlier today and saw on the blogosphere.

Here’s a compilation of Ronaldo’s skills made last year:

And of fellow Real Madrid acquisition Kaka:

I also mentioned earlier that Real’s defending needs some improvement. Their ugly 6-2 loss to Barcelona which essentially decided the La Liga title is evidence of that!

Cristiano Ronaldo Sold

For $131.6 million (not including the large salary he will eventually sign for). AKA “play money.”

Real Madrid already spent another princely sum on Kaka this week, kicking off a new “Galacticos” era over there as they try to swiftly dethrone Barcelona, who just swept aside all before them in Spain (and Europe). They may still need some more defenders though, as goal scoring wasn’t their biggest achilles heel to begin with!

Ronaldo had long indicated a desire to leave. Now, he has his wish. He will be very difficult to replace at Manchester United, yet, as the linked news report noted, his relationship with players and coaches was fraying. And given that he was bought for a fraction of this transfer fee six years ago, it’s certainly terrific business. Even more so considering how much prize money he’s helped Man U claim, and, on a slightly cynical side, the millions of dollars in loans which the Glazer family (no relation to me) has to pay off on their purchase of the team. Players like Franck Ribery and Antonio Valencia will be linked with a move to Old Trafford, but could prove very overpriced in the wake of this deal. But perhaps there is someone already at United who could step in? We have seen that scenario before, with academy graduates like Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, and David Beckham replacing the likes of Gary Pallister, Mark Hughes, or Eric Cantona. This blogger is not the only United fan who clearly trusts Sir Alex Ferguson’s judgment on which players can be dispensed with.

As an Arsenal fan, no I don’t think it is a godsend for us. United may drop a little, but probably more in Europe than in domestic soccer. We had better focus on our own needs if we want to crash the title party next year for Man U/Liverpool (who themselves may still need upgrades and a cash injection to that end)/Chelsea. Signing Thomas Vermaelen, if it goes through, sounds like a good start to steady the defense (William Gallas is probably gone, but unlike the linked blogger, I’m not sure he did that well for us). After that, we need another forward since Adebayor clearly wants to leave, and perhaps a new goalie since I am not a huge believer in Manuel Almunia, while Lukasz Fabianski seems a somewhat questionable long-term prospect.

A wild summer of soccer transfers has probably only just begun!