The story that generated the most headlines outside of the Kaka to Manchester City, was the saga of Robbie Keane’s departure from Liverpool back to Tottenham. Keane made his “dream move” to Liverpool this past summer when the club splashed out an initial £19m to buy his services from Tottenham Hotspur. After failing to win a regular starting place under Rafa Benitez, Keane has signed a four-year contract at Spurs with the fee starting at £12m and rising with add-ons. Keane managed to score just five goals in 19 appearances for Liverpool. The transfer would appear to be a good move for Tottenham, as another recent returnee, striker Jermain Defoe, will be out of action until April because of a foot injury he picked up in training.
The club also did some work to address the areas I felt need strengthening — defence and central midfield. They acquired some help at the back in yet another former player, Pascal Chimbonda, who left Sunderland and apparently took a pay cut to return to Spurs. The central midfielder they purchased, Wilson Palacios, is another creative type and I’m still not sure if he’s what they need. Palacios is a nice player, very creative but I’m not convinced he’ll add the graft they need in central midfield.
Spurs also picked up Carlo Cudicini to give manager Harry Redknapp another experienced choice for tge goalkeeper position. Chelsea allowed him to move on a free transfer, and thanked the Italian “for his years of service and wish him well”. The 35-year-old was Chelsea’s second-longest serving player behind John Terry, having joined the club from ASD Castel di Sangro Calcio in 1999 when the London side were still coached by fellow Italian Gianluca Vialli. Cudicini was Chelsea’s 2002 Player of the Year and was first choice for several years prior to Petr Cech’s arrival at Stamford Bridge in 2004.
Tottenham are still near the foot of the Premier League in 14th place, but are just one point clear of the bottom three with 14 Premier League fixtures remaining. They are still involved in UEFA Cup play (with a Round of 32 tie against Shakhtar Donetsk slated for Feb 19th and 26th) and have a Carling Cup final date against Manchester United at Wembley on March 1st. The returning Keane will not be eligible for that match because he is cup-tied.
Tottenham’s spending spree helped push Premier League clubs total outlay to a record £178m in this January transfer window, compared with £146m in 2008, £63m in 2007 and only £35m when the system was introduced in 2003. Credit crunch? What credit crunch?
Coming in a close second in generating the most stories was the prolonged transfer of Andrey Arshavin from Zenit St. Petersburg to Arsenal. The on-again, off-again move was finally completed 24 hours after the actual closing of the transfer window. The move to Arsenal is important for several reasons. First, they are in the midst of a battle for a top-four spot and a berth into the Champions League. Secondly, the club has been lacking some creativity in the midfield and Arshavin has shown himself to be a world-class player through his displays in the UEFA Cup and at Euro 2008. Lastly, the reported £16 or 17m fee dispels the myth that Arsene Wenger is unwilling to spend money in the transfer market. He has long maintained that he would only spend big money on an actual star-caliber player. The 27-year-old playmaker has claimed the vacant No 23 shirt.
A strange move, at least strange to me, was Julien Faubert’s leaving West Ham United FC on a loan to Real Madrid CF until the end of the season. The versatile 25-year-old Frenchman had filled in at right-back as well as on the right side of midfield for West Ham and will give Real Madrid coach Juande Ramos options on the right side. Madrid have the option of buying him outright in June though no fee was disclosed. The move is strange for me, not that Faubert is not good enough to be a Real Madrid player, though some might question that, but rather that West Ham would be willing to part ways with him. He seemed to be a useful player to have around but the BBC reports that Real will pay a £1.5m fee for the loan, which may be all the explanation needed. West Ham are reportedly tight for funds and the fee + future transfer funds was obviously too tempting. Faubert has been given the No. 18 jersey, a number that he inherits from Ruben de la Red, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season because of his heart problems.
In another bit of related news, Real Madrid had to choose between new signings for their Champions League squad as UEFA rules that state only one player can be registered who has already played in a UEFA competition with another club this season. Real Madrid decided to select midfielder Lassana Diarra to play in the Champions League knockout stages and not striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar. Real, who face Liverpool in the Champions League last 16, had argued that the rule was discriminatory, pointing to players who can play in two European competitions when their clubs drop from the Champions League into the UEFA Cup. Huntelaar and Diarra have already played in the UEFA Cup this season for Ajax and Portsmouth respectively.
Chelsea have secured the loan signing of Ricardo Quaresma from Internazionale after the Portugal international winger was left out of the club’s squad for the knock-out phase of the Champions League by manager Jose Mourinho. Quaresma has worked with Luiz Felipe Scolari with the Portuguese national team and will look to get some confidence back after being labelled as a ‘flop’ by Inter fans. He was heckled during recent matches after failing to make the desired impact at the San Siro since joining from Porto for around £15m last summer. Worringly, the Portuguese’s spell in Italy mirrored the one he endured at Barcelona in his one season at the Catalan club and there will now be questions about his ability to “step up to the big time”.