The figures are staggering, the players world-class, the new jerseys much sought after by fans.
Transfer deadline day is an annual rite of passage during which managers make last ditch efforts to strengthen their sides, players attempt to jet incognito to take medicals and put pen to paper on deals, supporters line the gates and await news while biting their nails and soccer journalists order pizza, work the phones and try desperately to report back to the office amid all the hullabaloo.
Monday’s final hours of the summer-long transfer window gave us all the usual sights and sounds and even more than usual to jump up and down about in joy or disgust, depending on allegiances. In case you missed it, these three huge moves highlighted the dizzying day:
- Mesut Ozil, Real Madrid to Arsenal, £42.4 million
After a summer spent promising Gooners that Arsenal finally had the money to spend to attract and pay top-class players, Arsene Wenger, who typically targets unknown starlets, at last made good on his promise by bringing in the German international attacking midfielder. The deal smashed the club’s 2009 record signing of Andrei Arshavin at £15 million.
Still in the prime of his career at just 24 years old, Ozil is an inventive, technically gifted player with excellent vision, and he should combine with Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshire, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott to form one of the world’s most dangerous and skilled midfields. It’s no wonder why no one had more assists in La Liga in the past two years. Ozil gives Arsenal a player they have lacked since Cesc Fabregas returned to Barcelona. Ozil became expendable after Gareth Bale completed his world-record move to Real Madrid on Sunday.
- Kaka, Real Madrid to AC Milan, free
Kaka provides a cautionary tale to Real Madrid fans excited about Gareth Bale’s signing. Once one fo the game’s elites, the Brazlian playmaker moved to the Bernabeu in 2009 after leading AC Milan to UEFA Champions League 2006-07 glory and helping his country to FIFA World Cup 2002 victory.
The classy, composed midfielder, able to win a game on his own (just ask Sir Alex Ferguson) transferred to be part of the Galacticos at the top of his game for a stunning £52 million. Sadly, his time in La Liga was blighted by injury, and he never really settled.
Even the arrival of his former AC Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti this summer wasn’t enough to bring Kaka truly back into the fold with Los Blancos. Perhaps he will regain his form in Serie A, where he’ll wear his old No. 22 and likely slot into the starting XI. He could have a lot of soccer still ahead of him playing before fans who welcomed him home with open arms.
- Marouane Fellaini, Everton to Manchester United, £27.5 million
This was a strange one, it has to be said. Long-rumored to be a target for David Moyes after moving from Merseyside to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson, the big Belgian with the iconic afro had to hand in a transfer request and wait until the dying embers of deadline day, just an hour to spare, to seal his move to Old Trafford. Manchester United appear to have bungled this one as Fellaini could have been purchased for £4 million less if the Red Devils had activated his release clause before it expired July 31. Their failed attempts to land a host of other midfielders, Cesc Fabregas key among them, made this a vital deal.
Still, if he performs on the field for Moyes in red the same way he did while in blue for five seasons, Fellaini will be an excellent addition and people will forget his strange journey to join the club. He is ideally suited to play in the middle of the field in the holding role, but his size allows him to maraud forward and cause danger from his head or hold off defenders with his brute force.