Following on from the post yesterday detailing the 5 worst transfers of this quarter old season, now it is time to look at those who have excelled at their new club. However, I must also explain how I’ve come to my decisions so that a few obvious omissions may be a bit more palatable for fans.
For me evaluating transfers comes down to the expectation placed on the player on arrival and the amount of resources used in bringing them to the club, for instance Ramires has made an admirable start to his Chelsea career but for 16 million he will not feature in the below list. Also in my previous article I alluded to the fact that the potential candidates for this list are quite numerous and whittling them down to 5 has been difficult. To give you a sneak preview the list does not include Cheik Tiote who has been, by all accounts, excellent. Nor do Laurent Koscielny (or Vermaelwho? as I call him) or Ahmed Al-Mohammadi (who would be number 6), there is not even room for Paul Konchesky!
Joking aside, here are the top 5 transfers of this Premier League Season:
5.Luke Varney: Varney has excelled at Blackpool and unusually reverses the trend of Premier League teams sending players to the championship. He was considered somewhat of a numbers transfer on the 27th of August, that is he was there to fill up a barren squad, nonetheless the Derby Reserve has been a key member of Blackpool’s success so far this season directly contributing to 7 goals. Fitting into Ian Holloway’s system Varney has benefited from the attacking nature from the seasiders as he continually has options and his willingness to make a run has been picked up on by his teammates.
4. Simon Mignolet: Another transfer that was lost in the haze of Manchester spending, on July the 17th Sunderland parted with £2m for the young Belgian keeper. Considered a prospect signing at best Mignolet was thrust into the starting XI due to an unfortunate injury to previous number 1 Craig Gordon. Mignolet was an unknown quantity entering the season but has shone throughout. Despite recent thrashings, Mignolet has been central to Sunderland’s success. Having kept 4 clean sheets including those against Manchester’s United and City and been on a team with less than 11 men no fewer than 3 times, often early in the game. Mignolet seems to be a real find for the Black Cats and Gordon may have longer on the sidelines than he anticipated.
3. Javier Hernandez: ‘Chicarito’ was one of the most exciting parts of the pre-season at Manchester United, a consistent stream of goals seemed to vindicate his transfer. A fortuitous goal against Chelsea in the Charity Shield announced his arrival on the English scene but he didn’t feature early in Utd’s season, as he was eclipsed by the circus that surrounded Rooney. As the England striker struggled Chicarito stepped into the void and has provided important goals on at least 3 occasions already this season. Having cropped up at the Mestalla with a decisive finish, he repeated the act in the Carling Cup eliminating Wolves. His story in the Premier League was slow to start, there were 4 consecutive games were he wasn’t given a minute of playing time. It is not until recently when he was given a starting berth that he shone. His virtuoso turn at the Brittannia stole the show particularly the manner of his goals. With a knack of scoring in the air, on the ground, with either foot and his face Hernandez has become one of the stories of the Premier League this year, at 22 and 8 million pounds he looks a great find by Ferguson and his scouts.
2. Rafael Van Der Vaart: You knew he would be on the list but where, many will be disappointed by his position here and truth be told he’s as close to first as it is possible to be. When it comes to Van Der Vaart it’s hard to find what hasn’t been said all I can do is add my personal take and I start with a confession. I thought he’d be terrible; ‘great at set-pieces’ I said ‘but he’ll do nothing in play’ how wrong I was. Van Der Vaart has flourished in the Premier League picking up the thread Wesley Sneijder left as he moved from Real Madrid. Van Der Vaart has been and continues to be exceptional. His creativity, range of passing and scoring have all been key in Tottenham’s success. It takes some player to eclipse Gareth Bale in this Tottenham team but in Van Der Vaart spurs have two left footed wonders. Incisive, creative with a fierce strike when given time Van Der Vaart is the game changer Tottenham need to prevent the much vaunted but not evident ‘European Hangover’ Van Der Vaart is the best money spent this transfer window, which obviously leaves:
1. Maroune Chamakh: Chamakh had been a transfer target the year previous but he announced that he would see out his contract with Bordeaux. Eventually in May he announced that he had signed with Arsenal. Chamakh moved to Arsenal with some expectations, a Champions League expert (5 goals in the group stage) he was seen as a contender for the starting striker in Arsenal’s formation. Robin Van Persie has been crocked for most of the season but his abscence has not been as keenly felt as before. In the previous season Arsenal would’ve been lost without Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen. This season a prudent transfer policy has prevented a catastrophe. Much like Rooney and Gordon, Van Persie must now be fretting over his first choice status. Chamakh has ‘only’ contributed directly to 6 goals for Arsenal but it is not just his scoring record in the Premier League he should be judged on, having chipped in with 3 goals and an assist in Europe, Chamakh has kept Arsenal in contention in both competitions.
It is not just the cold stats that show his Value to Arsenal, anyone who has seen them play can attest to his value in the air and with 5 penalties won this season in all competitions his quick feet have defenders kicking thin air. Speaking of which it is not only penalties that the Moroccan draws having had 3 opponents sent off due to his presence Arsenal have a complete forward plowing ahead of Walcott and Arshavin allowing the wingers to perform better than they have so far. Chamakh and Van Der Vaart are making good teams better but Chamakh is making the players around him better too.
So there you have it, the (no doubt) controversial top 5 transfers of the Premier League, any additions? Deletions? Do you really doubt that Luke Varney has been that valuable?