The Spoiler’s best summer 2009 signings XI
A team of fresh faces who represent excellent value for money
Although the transfer window isn’t locked shut until the end of the month, the brand new Premier League season is but a few hours away. With this in mind, Spoiler correspondent Ben Baker has considered the best buys of the summer so far, compiling a team of his favourites…
(Manchester City to Birmingham, Season Long Loan)
A transfer that suits both parties. Joe wants to win more senior England caps, and since he has been edged out of the number one spot at Manchester City by a certain Mr. Given, first team opportunities have been lacking. His search for regular football has led him to the Midlands and Birmingham are surely delighted that this promising young English goalkeeper will be between the sticks for the season. Also, you just have to love him for his mental attitude and abrasive shouting when facing a penalty – he’s like a loopier version of Bruce Grobbelaar.
(Portsmouth to Liverpool, £17.5m)
Beating off Chelsea and Manchester City and getting one over his rivals would have made this deal extra sweet for the ever-irritated Rafa. Johnson had a superb season last year, both with club and country, epitomised by his man of the match performance against an (albeit woeful) Andorra side that saw him notch up four assists from full back, and will add a whole new dimension to Liverpool’s right side. A high price to pay, but as Rafa said, “Sometimes you have to spend a little bit more.”A sentiment that is particularly true for English players.
(CSKA Moscow to Chelsea, £18m)
A Russian at Chelsea? How did that happen? This versatile left sided player came to prominence during Euro 2008, putting in some impressive performances at left back and left wing, highlighting his skills in defence and attack. He will add width to the Chelsea team and will provide cover for Malouda, if he decides to be dreadful again like he was during the first half of last season. At £18m he is certainly a more exciting transfer prospect than Ross Turnbull.
(Arsenal to Manchester City, £14m)
“We will take Terry. Not available? How about Lescott? Him neither! OK, we will take Toure”. Kolo might not have been Mark Hughes’ first choice, but his ability speaks for itself. Manchester City have been crying out for some defensive strength and Toure definitely adds this, as well as speed and a desire to get forward. Always playing with a smile on his face, we’re sure that his smile will be bigger now he doesn’t have mopey Gallas next to him.
(Ajax to Arsenal, £10m)
Filling Toure’s rather large boots will be Thomas Vermaelen, seen by Wenger as the answer to his most pressing problem, his lacklustre and easy-to-play-against defence. Any player to rise through the ranks at Ajax is undoubtedly going to have a certain amount of technical ability but the Arsenal fans will be hoping that he enjoys getting stuck in, as they need some metal added to their back four. Despite fears that he is too little to be a success, he will add a great deal to their defence. Also, he picked a fight with Van Persie in the 2007 Amsterdam Tournament – his no nonsense attitude will be a refreshing change from the cry babies currently occupying the team sheet.
(Wigan to Manchester United, £16m)
Eyebrows might have been raised when Sir Fergie of Manchester’s master plan to replace the world’s best playe was to bring in a player from Wigan, but Antonio has gone some way already to prove his doubters wrong. A superb performance against Valencia – the Spanish side not his evil twin or something – showed United fans just a snippet of what he can offer them in the season to come. It would be crazy to compare him to the £80m World Player of the Year, but he does have a superb dribbling ability and a great shot on him, not unlike a certain Portuguese winker.
(Middlesborough to Aston Villa, £12m)
Perhaps you’re thinking that ‘boring’ Downing doesn’t really fit into the exciting, fast paced Aston Villa attack. And his place in this XI is threatened by the fact that he is injured for the start of the season. However, Villa’s slip during the last third of the season showed Martin O’Neill that a bigger squad was necessary, and Downing’s left foot will surely add another dimension to his side. A great English addition, Downing will provide crosses for the big two of Carew and Heskey to head home.
(Aston Villa to Manchester City, £12m)
The tedious year-long saga that was Gareth Barry leaving Aston Villa is finally over. Whatever his decision to go to Eastlands was based on – whether it be his belief in the side’s future or his new reported six figure weekly salary – Gareth Barry will add protection to the back four while also offering marauding runs into opposition boxes. Barry will shine at City, providing some steel in their midfield, which is important for a team who look like they will start with six players up front.
(Glasgow Rangers to Birmingham, £1m)
Barry Ferguson’s acrimonious departure from Scotland is definitely Birmingham’s gain, as they picked up the battling midfield general for an absolute bargain. For a club to survive their first season in the Premiership, a player of Ferguson’s tackling ability is needed in the middle, and the former captain of his country and of the Scottish champions fits the bill perfectly. He might not come with a glowing reference from his former employers, but McLeish has managed him before and will be hoping that his second crack at English football is far more productive than his first with Blackburn.
(Newcastle to Manchester United, Free)
A few years ago it would have been unthinkable for Michael owen to go on a free transfer, however, a few weeks ago it looked as if most Conference sides would turn their nose up at the relegated striker. But while Real Madrid splash out hundreds of millions of pounds on new players, Ferguson has bagged a proven goal scorer for next to nothing,a dn he’s already started banging them in during the pre-season. And it said in his brochure that he isn’t actually that injury prone, so it must be true…right?
(Tottenham Hotspur to Sunderland, £10m)
It is a sign of the times when a transfer deal is initiated through Twitter. Darren Bent ‘tweeted’ a plea to go to Sunderland, and also threw a few insults in Daniel Levy’s direction for good measure. In the north east, he will be champing at the bit to get his career back on track and to push his way into World Cup reckoning. He’s got pace, power, and an eye for goal, and will be rejuvenated by the challenge at Sunderland. Lets hope he doesn’t use Twitter to introduce himself to his new team mates though…