THE Premier League is still catching its breath following the hysteria of Monday’s record-breaking £135m deadline day. But as the dust settles on a historic end to the January window, we look at the winners and losers. Who has injected fresh impetus into their flagging squad, and who looks likely to rue the business they did, or failed to do, last month?
Even for a petro-billionaire like Roman Abramovich, £71m is rather a lot to spend in one day, but if late arrivals Fernando Torres and David Luiz live up to their billing the outlay will soon seem cheap.
And if a more potent strikeforce and tighter defence ensure Chelsea qualify for next year’s Champions League, the investment will virtually pay for itself.
There is little risk in Chelsea’s approach. If his injuries are indeed behind him, snaring Torres, a striker who would grace any team in the world – not to mention taking him from one of their rivals, and in the notoriously expensive January market – looks very good business indeed, even at £50m.
Luiz may need to adapt to England but the Brazil international, who is extremely highly rated and boasts Champions League experience, has impeccable credentials.
Kenny Dalglish has traded Torres and Ryan Babel – one player who wanted to leave and another who never really arrived – for two rising stars of immense promise in Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll. The gamble is huge, but so are the potential gains.
And if nothing else Liverpool’s new owners, the Fenway Sports Group, have succeeded in establishing the club’s ability to spend big and challenge for the most in-demand names on the market once again.
James Beattie and Andy Reid, two seasoned scrappers, may indeed prove useful additions to Ian Holloway’s band of upstarts, but the top-flight newcomers’ best move is likely to prove fending off Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United interest in Charlie Adam, the beating heart of the Tangerines’ midfield.
It wasn’t for the want of trying, but Harry Redknapp emerged from January one forward down. Having loaned Robbie Keane to West Ham, Spurs seemed certain to move for a big-money replacement, but deadline-day bids for Spain-based goal-getters Diego Forlan, Sergio Aguero and Giuseppe Rossi all failed, as did an inexplicable move for in-demand midfielder Adam. To make matters worse, injuries and suspensions have left Tottenham’s rearguard looking decidedly threadbare – and all this as Spurs lag behind in the race for a Champions League place. It would be ironic if an uncharacteristic lack of signings put Redknapp’s side on the back foot in the five-way fight for a top four place, albeit one he may not appreciate.
Yes they trousered a staggering £35m for Andy Carroll – a 22-year-old who cost them nothing and scored only 33 goals – but the pile of cash that Mike Ashley squeezed out of Liverpool will be of little consolation if their form collapses and they are relegated for a second time in three seasons. The Magpies are closer to the bottom three than Liverpool are to the top four, so it is in no way inconceivable. The loss of their talisman and failure to replace him leaves them looking toothless, and does little for manager Alan Pardew’s authority, given his insistence Carroll would stay.