No one man was under as much pressure on deadline day as Wenger, who was tasked with quelling dissent in the Arsenal ranks and coming up with the signing that chief executive Ivan Gazidis had promised earlier in the summer when boasting of Arsenal’s "escalation in our financial firepower". That quote had become a stick with which to beat the club and Wenger but, quite remarkably, he managed to pull off the second-biggest signing in the history of English football when recruiting Real Madrid star Mesut Ozil for £42.5m. As a riposte to his critics it was decisive –and frankly who cares that Arsenal still lack a striker and possibly another defender?
Everton played some high-stakes stuff on deadline day but it came off magnificently. They took it to the wire to coax £27.5m out of United for Fellaini and then moved quickly to bring in the hugely promising James McCarthy from Wigan and the vastly experienced Gareth Barry from Manchester City, replacing one midfielder with two. That would have been impressive enough – but then came the coup de grace with a loan move for Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, who turned down a return to West Brom in order to move to Goodison Park. He could be one of the signings of the summer and Everton have certainly emerged stronger for their deadline day business.
A huge name eluded Liverpool – failures to sign Willian and Henrik Mkhitaryan earlier in the summer were indicative of the fact the club no longer have that kind of cache – but there were three new arrivals at Anfield as Sporting defender Tiago Ilori, PSG centre-back Mamdou Sakho and Chelsea forward Victor Moses all joined up. Deals for Sakho, who cost £18m, and Moses were particularly impressive as Liverpool go about building a squad capable of reaching the top four – and Rodgers’s success in keeping Luis Suarez, despite talk of late interest from Real Madrid, will be critical to their hopes of doing so. A fine deadline day to bring to a close an impressive summer’s work.
His move to Madrid was completed on the penultimate day of the window but Bale’s unveiling as a world record signing – unless you ask Madrid or the petulant Cristiano Ronaldo – was still the big event on Monday. The Welshman even cracked out a bit of basic Spanish to leave tens of thousands of Madridistas swooning in what was a typically glitzy event at the Bernabeu. Shame he messed up the keepy-uppies, but this was still Bale’s moment.
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"I’m head and shoulders above every other director of football," Kinnear bragged in July, yet while Tottenham’s Franco Baldini deservedly had a day off having spent over £100m this summer, Kinnear curiously failed to bring in a single player on deadline day, meaning Loic Remy, on loan, is Newcastle’s only significant signing of the summer. Fans’ worst fears were realised as Kinnear’s hollow boasts were exposed, his contacts book failing to generate a new arrival as questions were raised over his competence once again. Just what was he doing all day?
Deadline day was nothing short of a disaster for Manchester United’s new chief executive. United failed to buy Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao, didn’t pursue Mesut Ozil, who was allowed to go to Arsenal, paid £4m more than Marouane Fellaini’s release clause, which expired earlier in the summer, and failed to get their fax off in time to sign Fabio Coentrao from Real Madrid. Adding only the Belgian to the signing of Guillermo Varela made for a vastly disappointing summer in the transfer market and the man promoted from United’s commercial operation to replace the wily David Gill has had a brutal lesson in the art of football transfers. Ed Deadwood, more like.
One of the more remarkable stories that emerged on deadline day was the collapse of Manchester United’s bid to sign Herrera from Athletic Bilbao. It was thought United had agreed to pay the midfielder’s £30.5m release clause only for reports in Spain to claim that three men who turned up to the Spanish league’s offices in Madrid to release the midfielder from his contract were in fact hoaxers of some kind. This curious episode added an element of farce to United’s otherwise poor deadline day.
There are plenty of reasons why modern football can leave the soul dispirited – rising ticket prices, astronomical wages, Richard Scudamore – yet the sport reached a new nadir on deadline day when Premier League clubs became caught up in a new phenomenon. The #WelcomeXXXXX hashtag formula was used by some of English football’s great institutions to greet new signings – setting a depressing new trend and only accelerating football’s cultural death.
— Arsenal.com (@Arsenal) September 2, 2013
— Swansea City FC (@SwansOfficial) September 2, 2013