So, it’s all over. With the minor – and exotic, if I may add - exceptions of New Zealand and Costa Rica the summer transfer window is now shut all over the world of football. And although we can just sit back and enjoy the action, it’s also a good time for an account of all that hype that went down throughout the summer of 2012.
Despite the heavy investments made by the two most powerful former Soviet republics (the 16 Russian Premier-Liga clubs spent nearly 240 million dollars between them, a total transfer balance second only to the English Premier League) the spending spree was rather poor these past three months. The five major European top-tier national leagues (of England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France) amassed a total of 535.2 million disbursed on new signings – a slight budget cut by some 21 million compared to last year, but an impressive 619 million less than the money spent on transfers in the 2007-’08 season!
However, though the global financial crisis and UEFA’s Financial Fair Play project have taken their toll, quite a few world-class players switched allegiances this summer. And believe me, naming the Best XI among them has been far from easy. So, who did I pick?
After serving as Internazionale’s No 1 for seven straight years, during which time he helped them win the FIFA Club World Cup and the UEFA Champions League among others and established himself as Brazil’s regular goalie, Júlio César was rather awkwardly let go. The 33-year-old will take his chance with QPR, but my choice would have to be a new neighbour of his in London, Hugo Lloris, who sealed a last-minute move from Lyon to Tottenham for 16.2 million.
The decision here wasn’t so hard. Thiago Silva fled Milan to join Paris Saint-Germain’s French revolution for a breathtaking 53.9 million, the most handsome amount of money ever spent on a defender besides Rio Ferdinand’s move from Leeds to Manchester United a decade ago. Former Ajax captain Jan Vertonghen could easily partner the Brazilian in this elusive team, but I’ll rather go for Javi Martínez, Bayern Munich’s most expensive signing of all time (!), brought in from Athletic Bilbao for 51.3 million. Still think the Spaniard can better dictate play from midfield though.
The reason why I have merged the two positions into a single paragraph is quite simple: it was a very easy pick. Recognized as one of the best right backs in the world for the best part of the last decade, Maicon was – much like Júlio César – controversially allowed to leave Inter and joined Manchester City for 7.7 million. Down the left, mighty Barcelona made amends for ignoring his talent as a teenager and spent 18 million to sign fresh European champion Jordi Alba from Valencia.
Defensive midfielder / Deep-lying playmaker
A tough choice, but I finally went for a tough tackler – and coincidently Barcelona’s only other summer buy. Alex Song was the latest Arsenal footballer to be recruited by the current Club World Cup holders for 24.4 million after recently making life difficult for Leo Messi in the Champions League. Santi Cazorla and Nuri Sahin, who both went the opposite direction from Spain to England, were the not too distant runners-up for the spot.
New Brazilian sensations Lucas Moura (he will complete his move from São Paulo to PSG in January) and Oscar of Chelsea have climbed their way up the ladder significantly in the past year or so. Sebastian Giovinco could also feature in my all-star line-up after finally convincing Juventus Turin to give him a chance, especially after the departure of the iconic Alex Del Piero. But I could simply not ignore the skills and elegance of Luka Modrić, who employed every means he could to eventually finalize his dream move from Tottenham to Real Madrid for some 38.5 million.
Right winger / Forward
As you might have guessed by now, my Best XI are deployed in a 4-4-2 formation, mainly because too many classy wingers changed clubs this year. Shinji Kagawa signed for Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund had already struck a deal to replace him by bringing back Marco Reus, but one can simply not go for any other than the mighty Hulk. On September 3, shortly before the end of the Russian transfer period, Zenit splashed the cash and paid Porto a reported 76.7 million dollars for the services of the explosive Brazilian. The most lucrative deal anywhere on the planet this summer.
Left winger / Forward
Of course, some of the aforementioned names could be included in this paragraph as well, but even so this has been a close call too. Almost constantly overlooked by Manchester City, Adam Johnson’s 16.2 million transfer to Sunderland could prove to be one of the buys of the year. The same could also be said for Ezequiel Lavezzi’s move to Paris. Nonetheless, I’ll go for the sensational Eden Hazard, who’s already leaving his mark with Chelsea following that 51.3 million cash injection to Lille.
Clint Dempsey can easily play anywhere up front and could prove a real smart buy for Tottenham, which is also the case for Antonio Cassano and Internazionale. I hope the two of them can forgive me however for not picking them. Robin van Persie has already hit the mark four times in his first three outings with Manchester United, who paid rivals Arsenal 39.4 million dollars for his attacking prowess, while Zlatan Ibrahimović is so far equally as productive following his 27 million transfer from Milan to PSG.
An attractive line-up, wouldn’t you say? Of course this is only my opinion, but I’m open to suggestions. Feel free to tweet me and discuss what you think.
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