Sports from the Basement

Deadline Day Disappoints Again

For all intents and purposes, the January transfer window slammed shut at 11 PM GMT (6 PM ET) today.  Teams in the German Bundesliga have until 5 PM GMT tomorrow to wheel and deal, but no blockbusters are expected in that final day and a half.  The end of the winter transfer window used to be a place for teams to make huge splashes as they pushed for glory across the European football landscape.  Nowadays though, deadline day has just become a festival of loans and bench strengthening that has taken quite a bit of the fun out of the proceedings.  A day of hope for fans all over the world usually ends as a day of unanswered questions and disappointment.  Let us take a trek across the continent and see what, if any, moves transpired that will bring anything resembling an impact to their respective leagues.

The Barclays Premier League comes under the most scrutiny on Deadline Day.  Various news outlets have correspondents stationed anywhere and everywhere that they could get a hot scoop.  That or some place where a drunkard could scream obscenities or prod the reporter.  The larger clubs in England came into January with high hopes of strengthening their squads in what could be the most wide open title chase ever.  Many of those deals fell through early on though, forcing these teams into odd Plan B’s.

Arsenal were unsurprisingly quiet on Deadline Day.  It was quite shocking though that both Manchester City and Tottenham were not able to get any business done in the waning moments of the window.  Upstarts Leicester City tried mightily to land wantaway Chelsea striker Loic Remy, only to have the move blocked by the Blues at the eleventh hour.  Chelsea, now with an influx of strikers following the “interesting” signing of Alexandre Pato earlier in the week, then attempted to find a new home for the corpse of Radamel Falcao.  La Liga sides Valencia and Atletico Madrid made inquiries, but neither were able to get the deal across the line before the clock ran out.  Even if any of these transfers were executed, the moving of rusty old spare parts is hardly earth shattering.

Another striker linked to Chelsea in January was Shakhtar Donetsk’s Alex Teixeira.  As the month wore on however, Liverpool nudged ahead in the race for the Ukrainian Premier League’s leading scorer.  They too would fall short as his club slapped a meaty £38m price tag on the Brazilian, all but killing his chances of a move to Anfield.  A similar price hike nixed a similar Brazilian swoop by another team in red, Manchester United.  The Red Devils seemingly had a £35m deal in place for Lazio midfielder Felipe Anderson early in January.  The two sides went back and forth all month with a stalemate entering the final day.  Alas, Anderson will still roam the Stadio Olimpico and Louis Van Gaal will be left wondering what more he can do to save his skin at Old Trafford.

While the big dogs struck out,  mid tier clubs in the Premiership made the most noise on Deadline Day, and in the January window overall.  Newcastle may not have been able to end the Saido Berahino saga at West Brom, but they were able to snare Roma’s Seydou Doumbia on loan.  Doumbia starred for CSKA Moscow in Russia but had failed to impress in the Italian capital.  With Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend also coming in for a combined £24m, Newcastle is refusing to take a potential relegation lying down.

Stoke City has shed their long time image as a brutish team.  Under Mark Hughes, the Potters have brought beautiful football to the West Midlands.  Nevertheless, Stoke broke their transfer fee record on Deadline Day in acquiring Porto’s Giannelli Imbula for £18.3m.  The defensive midfielder cost 50% more than Stoke’s highest previous transfer of Xherdan Shaqiri, set just this past summer.  Imbula’s arrival softens the blow of Marko Van Ginkel’s recall to Chelsea and subsequent loan to PSV Eindhoven in Holland.

Overall, the biggest thing to come out of England was the revelation of the worst kept secret in world football.  Manuel Pellegrini announced he was out as Manchester City manager at season’s end and it was made official that Pep Guardiola would be his replacement come 2016-17.  Let the coaching carousel spin further.

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There may have been little fire behind the smoke in England, but no league provided less substance behind predicted style than La Liga.  Even with Real and Atletico Madrid’s transfer bans suspended, one of Europe’s super power leagues provided little drama to Deadline Day.  In fact, the newly liberated Madrid clubs couldn’t even do as much as secure a loan to bolster their title hopes as the window closed.They did however loan out a player each within the Spanish ranks.

Both of those gentlemen landed in the lap of Gary Neville at Valencia.  Neville’s short career in charge of Los Che has been a tenuous one.  He has yet to win in the league and the usually European bound Bats sit precariously in twelfth place at the moment in La Liga.  Real’s Denis Cheryshev, the man whose illegal use by Rafa Benitez saw Los Blancos ousted from the Copa Del Rey, should help ignite a stagnant Valencia attack.  Atletico’s Guilherme Siquiera, gives them a stabilizing force at left back that they have lacked all year.

And that’s pretty much the lot of it.  I know, underwhelming.  Here’s the rest of the comings and going of Deadline Day if (like me sadly) you are deep into the transfer scene.

  • Everton paid £13.5m for the services of Lokomotiv Moscow striker and Senegal international Oumar Niasse
  • Steven Fletcher leaves a bad situation in Sunderland for a mildly better one in France with Marseille
  • Watford signed the duo of Adalberto Penaranda and Abdoulaye Doucoure and loaned them both to Spanish, relegation bound side Granada
  • Irish international Aiden McGeady went on loan from Everton to Sheffield Wednesday
  • Arsenal’s Mathieu Debuchy attempts to keep his Euro 2016 prospects alive with a loan move to French club Bordeaux
  • Torino’s Fabio Quagliarella returned to the team that put him on Italy’s National Team radar with a loan to Sampdoria

Be sure to contain your excitement from that bulleted list.  Let us all hope that the summer transfer window is better theater than the off-off-Broadway production that was the winter window.  As always you can follow me on Twitter @TREVORutley and the site @sportsftb.  Be sure to use that GameView up in the corner for every European game you can think of, within reason of course.

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