The summer of 2011 proved to be another big summer of spending for premier league clubs, with total spending reaching £485 million by the end of the transfer window. This figure represents an increase of £120 million on last summer’s total; with Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea all spending over £50 million helping to contribute to the largest summer total since 2008 when the money wielding Abu Dhabi group of Man City first took over the club. It can only be said the premier league has re-affirmed its status at the top of global football after some pundits feared that La Liga of Spain, whose players lose less of their wages to comparably lower tax rates, may have been able to attract more top talent. With game week 10 in progress, it seems adequate time has been given for the new players to make an impression, and with many already having done so, the analysis of this years’ Hit and Misses has already begun.
We’ll begin with the obvious hit of the summer: Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero. With 9 goals in 9 starting appearances the Argentinian talent’s early form is proving he is worth his £35 million transfer figure. Having notched up 3 assists and maintaining a pass completion rate of 87% his contribution to a Man City team currently top of the league seems to be more than just goals. Indeed the form of Aguero (and to a slightly lesser extent Edin Dzeko and Balotelli) has seen the demise of his fellow country man Carlos Tevez, whose goals carried City for much of last year, go almost unnoticed. Although over the course of the year his goals to appearances ratio will surely decrease, early signs would suggest Aguero will become a City legend for many years. Perhaps only injury will prevent him from beating the 24 goals of Torres that is currently a record for the greatest amount scored in a debut season by a foreign player. HIT
Lukaku- Chelsea again went in search this summer of a striker who could score the goals that would aid their challenge for the league trophy. With £50 million January transfer Torres continuing to struggle for form, Anelka being used in mainly wider positions, and 33 year old Drogba playing increasingly fewer games Andre Villas Boas’ landed Belgian prospect Romelu Lukaku for £18 million. The striker made his name for Anderlecht last year when he dazzled the Belgian league with 16 goals in 37 league appearances, and a playing style that has seen him labelled ‘the new Drogba’. However since arriving in England the striker has struggled, with just 2 substitute appearances so far. With so little game time it is difficult to make judgement on the player, who at 18 was clearly bought as an investment for the future rather than an instant impact. But in the cut throat business that is the Premier league you would have to say the Belgian boy is yet to prove he can be Chelsea’s miracle man. MISS
Cabaye-The French central midfielder came to the premier league as a fairly quiet name, but slowly and surely he is growing in the premier league. Having played in all their league games so far it seems he is a sure pick for Alan Pardew’s team. Cabaye is very neat on the ball and athletic enough to get around the pitch. Not a player who makes many headlines, but keeps the midfield ticking over and connects defence with attack. Scored the winner against Wigan two weeks ago to maintain the excellent early form of his side, who if win on Monday against Stoke will move to 3rd in the league. HIT
Mertesacker- One of many last day buys this summer from Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. Apparently had been on ‘the professors’ shopping list for a long time before he made the 8m switch, and with over 70 appearances for Germany arrives with some pedigree. However, he seems to have struggled with the pace of the English game and although dominant in the air does not look comfortable playing against forwards who will run him into the channels. Part of an Arsenal team who have won 8 of their last 9 league games but not the long term solution to Arsenals wobbly defence fans were hoping for. MISS