In the days where the sun is still ablaze in the sky at 9pm, there is nothing more gripping than staying glued to rumours about new transfers for your club on Sky Sports News and the Internet. Be it a youthful Spanish prodigy or an established International, it is the perfect way to wet the appetite for the new season. Last Summer, Manchester City spent in excess of £100m, more than the entire top four put together. With the 09/10 campaign well under way, Manchester City’s mouthwatering attacking options of course dominate this list.
The less fashionable clubs have also added to the squads though, with much need resiliance and reliability in all positions. With the January window recently thrown open, which positions does your club need to enhance? Who would you love to send to their next club? What do you think of the list below? Do the top four need more recognition? Is there any glaring omissions? Let the debate begin.
10 Diniyar Bilayaletdinov (Lokomotiv Moscow to Everton) Apps 12 Goals 3
The man with more syllables in his name than the rest of his teammates put together has been a revelation for Everton. Hailing from the old Soviet Union, Bilyaletdinov introduced himself to his fans in spectacular fashion in the Europa League against AEK Athens. On this his debut, the midfielder provided two assists in the 4-0 cruise. In the reverse leg away in Greece, he also bagged a crucial goal to seal the Toffee’s qualification for the next stage. The Russian has shown his attacking prowess in the league as well, scoring 3 times in 12 games from midfield.
9 Kevin Doyle (Reading to Wolverhampton Wanderers) Apps 16 Goals 5
Sylvain Ebanks-Blake was the man tipped to score the goals for Wolves this season, after he helped himself to 25 of them last season when Wolves were promoted from the Championship. Kevin Doyle finished just below Ebanks-Blake in the scoring charts scoring 18 whilst at Reading. Now as a Wolves player, Doyle is his side’s top scorer with five league goals. Doyle not only offers goals, but he is also adroit in holding the ball up and drawing cheap fouls. The £6.5m the Berkshire club received from Wolves is around £6.4m profit on what Reading paid for him so this is more than ample consolation!
8 Joe Hart (Manchester City to Birmingham City on a season long loan) Apps 20 Goals 0
Birmingham City have been one of the success stories of this season. They sit comfortably in mid-table and have conceded just 19 goals all season in 21 matches. That is in no small part down to the form of goalkeeper Joe Hart. The 22 year old has also kept a staggering 9 clean sheers this term, with heroic performances in gutsy draws against Manchester United and Chelsea. The England goalkeeper first started a match in the Blue Square Premier for Shrewsbury Town against Gravesend & Northfleet and is a true portrait of a non league player making it on the big stage. Manchester City’s loss is Birmingham’s gain. Roll on South Africa…
7 Ivan Klasnic (Nantes to Bolton Wanderers on a season long loan) Apps 13 Goals 6
Ivan Klasnic endured over a year away from football with deadly kidney problems in 2007 at Werder Bremen. In a fairytale story, Klasnic will now be elated to be scoring regularly in one of Europe’s top leagues as a fans’ favourite at Bolton Wanderers. The booing of Klasnic being replaced against Hull City told its own story. This was further amplified by Bolton losing their 2 goal lead later. The loan capture of the Croat was one of the few moves former Bolton manager Gary Megson made that got Bolton fans excited. Since November, Klasnic has been in a productive mood, scoring 5 goals in his last 8 games, including a glistening brace at home to Manchester City.
6 Lorik Cana (Olympique Marseille to Sunderland) Apps 13 Goals 0
Albania’s vice-captain has nestled into Sunderland’s side this season as if he had always been there. The 26 year old has been handed the captain’s armband by Steve Bruce and is fast gaining a reputation as one of the best defensive midfielders outside of the Premier League’s big four. In Sunderland’s victory over Arsenal in November, Cana pulled the strings and controlled the game seamlessly in midfield, always looking determined in the tackle and refusing to let Arsenal stroke the ball about on the turf at their own leisure. The former Olympique Marseille man was also instrumental in his club’s 2-1 scalp at home to Blackburn Rovers in the opening weeks of the season.
5 Antonio Valencia (Wigan Athletic to Manchester United) Apps 19 Goals 5
When Cristiano Ronaldo jetted off to Real Madrid in search of yet more silverware, many United fans expected a marquee signing, as opposed to a replacement from a modest mid-table club like Wigan Athletic. From day one, Antonio Valencia always had huge boots to fill, but he has gelled with his teammates easily and chipped in with goalscoring duties, significantly against his old club Wigan in a 5-0 rout. The Ecuadorian seems unfazed by the big stage, and has performed well in the Champions’ League as his side have progressed easily into the group stages. Ask United fans who they would rather have in their side out of Nani and Valencia, and the answer will always be the same.
4 Gareth Barry (Aston Villa to Manchester City) Apps 16 Goals 1
Though Aston Villa fans might disagree, Gareth Barry acted with dignity and respect when stating his desire to leave Villa Park. When moving up North, Barry wrote a letter to the Birmingham Mail, personally thanking Villa supporters for their support over the years. At his new side, Barry and Dutchman Nigel De Jong complement each other very well in controlling the midfield, with both players steaming forward in Manchester City’s frequent counter attacks. Barry has contributed four assists this season and looks a sure bet to be in Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad.
3 Darren Bent (Tottenham Hotspur to Sunderland) Apps 20 Goals 13
Darren Bent is a man who has being scoring for fun and he has timed his form to perfection in a World Cup season. Bent scored 5 minutes into his Sunderland league debut against Bolton Wanderers on the opening day of the season, and went on to score 7 in his first 10 games for the Black Cats. The former Spurs and Charlton man has shown he has scored a range of headers, penalties and poachers goals. Kenwyne Jones and Bent’s interplay will be crucial to Sunderland’s outside chances of Europa League action come next season.
2 Carlos Tevez (MSI Group to Manchester City) Apps 18 Goals 9
Although no stranger to a scuffle in his younger days in South America, Carlos Tevez is the type of player you cannot help but love. The man plays with a smile on his face and always works hard for the team, leaving no blade of grass untouched. It is great to see Tevez finally starting regularly at Manchester City. When he is in form, he is a joy to watch. The Argentine was electric against Arsenal as City dominated their London rivals in the Carling Cup, winning 3-0. Tevez has searing pace and has emphasized this when running from deep on the counter. It is not only the opposition half where the 25 year old is effective, he is resilient in tracking back and tackling but is in devastating scoring form with 8 goals in his last 8 matches.
1 Thomas Vermaelen (Ajax to Arsenal) Apps 20 Goals 4
This summer, Arsene Wenger demonstrated his shrewd eye for obscure talent yet again. A 24 year old Belgian defender by the name of Thomas Vermaelen was recently handpicked by Wenger from the faltering Dutch league. Vermaelen has steadied a defence which looked shaky last season. William Gallas looked on the brink of breakdown at the height of his eccentricity, but alongside Vermaelen, Wenger can sleep easy now. The pair have formed a formidable relationship at the back and like so many other Wenger signings and Gallas himself, Vermaelen has shown that he can be handy at both ends of the pitch. Vermaelen has netted four times at the time of writing, including a scintillating double against Wigan.