On Sunday the two men that made last January’s transfer deadline in the English Premier League as compelling as it was mind-boggling, see their respective clubs meet up at Stamford Bridge. Yet, neither man is guaranteed to even start the match.
I remember arriving at work last Monday, January 31st and began hearing rumours of some serious activity regarding Newcastle’s Andy Carroll and Liverpool’s Fernando Torres. As the speculation began to grow, what at first seemed like tabloid nonsense began to feel as if it actually might make sense.
After all, Torres was clearly unhappy at Liverpool, was mired in a scoring funk, and had even handed in a transfer request. Carroll meanwhile was the current golden boy of English football, was already being crowned the next Shearer, and played for a club that by all reports needed money badly. However the numbers being bandied around from media hack to media hack were preposterous.
Fifty million quid for nine goal man Torres? Insane, although everyone agreed that at his best there were few better goal scorers, and don’t forget that Real Madrid had paid thirty million more for Cristiano Ronaldo two summers before. Still, that number can’t be right.
What’s that? Thirty five million for Carroll? I am certain that mouthfuls of coffee were spit across many a newsroom when that little doozy began to get leaked.
Suffice to say, by the end of the day, both men had moved to their new clubs, for the exact fees that had been rumoured earlier.
I suspect there is not an honest person living who was not surprised by these deals. I just wonder what the responses would have been that same evening, if we were told that by the time the two met each other on the field the following season, they had combined for seven Premier League goals.
Eighty five million pounds!
Is it too soon to argue that these two transfers were the worst pieces of business the Premier League has ever witnessed? Bear in mind this is a league that remembers Andrei Shevchenko’s outing as an over the hill, in it for the money has-been, not to mention Juan Veron’s dramatic fall from world class maestro to fat conductor.
I will say it is too early. Both men have time on their side, Carroll is still only twenty two, and Torres is barely into his prime at twenty seven. I have hope both men still have plenty to show, but as it stands they are being defined by their price tags, not their quality of play.
Of course, dig deeper and these figures don’t really tell the true story. Even Liverpool would likely admit that Andy Carroll is not a thirty five million pound man, how could he be, after all Carroll cost more than the likes of David Villa, Didier Drogba, and of course Luis Suarez, however when you get a cool fifty for El Nino, and the deadline is approaching, well, you can understand why Newcastle’s Mike Ashley is a shrewd business man can’t you.
It will be fascinating to see whether owners and managers tread a little more carefully this January. As it stands today, Carroll and Torres have been enormous disappointments for their clubs, not to mention their fans. This weekend at Stamford Bridge the travelling support could be forgiven if they seem a little half-hearted in their abuse of Nando, as Carroll launches another effort seventeen feet wide.