Football's smart deals: Transfer season's biggest bargains
Bikash Mohapatra takes a look the transfer market, wherein some clubs have made quality purchases without actually breaking the bank
The European transfer market is now open and top clubs like Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and the ilk are trying to outdo each other to get the very best for their squad.
While on the one hand we have seen the likes of Neymar, Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez expectedly secure big ticket moves, on the other we have had top clubs shelling out millions on relatively lesser-known players like Andre Schurrle, Fernandinho and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
At the same time, there’s enough speculation about the future of marquee names like Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
With the window open till August 31 a lot of activity is bound to take place.
Amid such a scenario there are clubs that have managed to secure smart deals, making quality purchases without actually breaking the bank.
We take a look at a few such transfers thus far, of players who are effective, yet economically viable propositions for their respective new clubs.
FC Barcelona to Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid is a smart club.
While the Vicente Calderon is known to be a nursery that breeds talent, the manner in which they conduct their deals is what makes them different.
In recent years, Atletico made substantial profits on the sale of Diego Forlan (to Inter) and Sergio Aguero (to Man City). Enough to break the club record and acquire a replacement for the duo.
While there was no hesitation as 27 million euros were given to FC Porto to secure the services of Radamel Falcao, a hefty release clause (60 million euros) was added.
When AS Monaco triggered the clause and bought the Colombian striker this summer, Atletico were laughing all the way to the bank.
However, when it came to find a replacement for Falcao, the Madrid club made an even smarter move. They acquired a proven striker in David Villa, paying – believe it for faint – only 5.1 million euros to Barcelona.
Villa, Spain’s highest goal-scorer had a memorable start to his career at Nou Camp, but injuries meant he was relegated to the bench thereafter. While a move to Atletico guarantees him regular first team football, the club will immensely benefit from a player who has won almost everything the sport has to offer.
Image: David Villa of Spain
Photographs: Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
Manchester City to Juventus FC
Carlos Tevez spent seven years in the English Premier League.
While he had success with both the Manchester clubs (United and City), his time in England will be remembered more for off-the-field controversies.
No wonder he was keen on a move away from the Etihad, after what was a forgettable season. And it was Juventus who seized the opportunity.
While they are consistent in Italy, the fact that the Turin side lacked a quality striker was exposed in Europe last season, when eventual winners Bayern Munich thrashed them in the quarter-finals.
In Tevez, Juve have secured a player with proven pedigree, one who has won both the Champions League and the Copa Libertadores (the South American equivalent). Moreover, the Argentine has come in quite cheap -- at 10 million pounds.
For Tevez, who was handed the No. 10 shirt -- worn by the likes of Michel Platini and Alessandro del Piero -- it is an opportunity to lead the attack, vis-à-vis getting lost in the clutter of City’s star-studded squad.
Image: Carlos Tevez
Photographs: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Athletic Bilbao to Juventus FC
Juve were at it again.
In fact, they brokered this deal back in January.
Llorente, who emerged a star when his goals accounted for Manchester United and Schalke, amongst others, even as Bilbao made it to the Europa League final in 2011, had been looking out for quite some time now.
The fact that he was consigned to the bench last season by coach Marcelo Bielsa was also not unexpected.
With Bilbao unwilling to sell, and the player denying a contract extension, it was clear that the 27-year-old would see out his last year in Sam Mames and then move out.
And it was the Italian champions who seized the opportunity, signing the Spaniard on a free transfer in the winter transfer window. Llorente formally became a Juve player at the start of the month, and his pairing with Tevez up front bodes well for the Old Lady.
In fact, Juve coach Antonio Conte admitted getting both Tevez and Llorente this cheap was quite unexpected.
Image: Fernando Llorente
Photographs: Michal Cizek/EuroFootball/Getty Images
Sevilla to Manchester City
ManchesterCity is yet to confirm a deal with Sevilla as regards Alvaro Negredo.
Atletico Madrid has given up.
Sevilla expectedly want a hefty sum (read 25 million pounds) for their in-demand striker, who scored 25 goals last season, and City will have to break the bank again to secure his services.
Considering that one has to admit City made a steal when they purchased Jesus Navas from the same club.
Navas, a product of the Sevilla academy, spent his entire career at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, being part of the club’s biggest successes in recent times. The 27-year-old is also a regular for Spain.
Considering all the factors above, to secure Navas for less than 15 million pounds, is a smart move. This is one deal where City’s money is well spent.
Image: Jesus Navas Gonzalez (left)
Photographs: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Jose Maria Callejon
Real Madrid to Napoli
Edinson Cavani is on his way out of the San Paolo, possibly to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).
Ezequiel Lavezzi joined the same French club last season. Goran Pandev is ageing. And Brazilian club Internacional have already rejected one offer for Leandro Damiao and are yet to respond to the second proposal.
Napoli desperately needs a striker even as they look to build on their second place finish in the Serie A last season.
In such a scenario, new coach Rafael Benitez’s signing of Real Madrid forward Jose Maria Callejon makes sense.
Callejon made quite an impressive whenever the then coach, Jose Mourinho, gave him an opportunity last season. And a move to Naples will not only give him more playing time but also an opportunity to prove his class.
Besides, he cost Napoli only 8.6m pounds (10 million euros). Considering the Italian club stands to earn 63 milion euros from the sale of Cavani, they will also be left with plenty of money to make other signings.
Image: Jose Maria Callejon
Photographs: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images