18th January 2011: The Day The Transfer Window Went Mad
The Transfer Window has become a sideshow of its own, the cause of much hope and equal anxiety for football fans across the world. Today on the blog Kevin Doocey tells us when the madness went to a new level in January of 2011.
The January transfer window has always been something of a luxury - almost a drama that ran parallel to a footballing season.
Growing up as a kid supporting your favourite team, any transfer window brought a sense of excitement. January however, had something a little bit extra. Being a Newcastle United fan, transfer windows of late have become something to fear rather than look forward to. It is a similar story for a lot of other clubs, but for the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and any team that Harry Redknapp manages - January offers the opportunity to secure the services of exciting talent.
Deadline day in the window - made famous by SkySports and their thorough coverage of all the transfers across Britain - has many men and women of all ages gathered around the TV hoping against hope that their team will announce a major coup in the form of a high profile signing. Something has changed in recent times though. While January offers all the usual excitement, everything has gone a little bit mad, particularly when it comes to the financial side of things.
Years ago, signing someone for £10m would have been seen as a big deal. £10m represented a big outlay, and still does, but you are not going to lure a superstar for ten million pounds anymore, indeed you couldn't buy his right leg for that.
There is so much money in football nowadays and that is reflected in club's evaluation of players. Most people will be able to remember a great value buy their club made in the last five years, and that's because only recently has the window turned into such a wild and lavish market.
18th of January 2011 was when it all began...
Sunderland's Darren Bent had completed a move to Aston Villa for an initial fee of £18m, with add-ons taking the deal to upwards of £23m based on appearances, breaking Aston Villa's and Sunderland's respective transfer records.
From that day, the madness well and truly commenced.
Many people will refer to Alan Shearer's deal in 1996 which took him to St.James' Park for a world record fee of £15m. Huge money at the time, but after that transfer, things in the Premier League resumed to normality. The same however, cannot be said for the year 2011.
In the same month Darren Bent left Wearside for the Midlands, David Luiz left Benfica for Chelsea in a deal worth £23m, Edin Džeko departed Germany to link up with Mancini in Manchester for £27m, and Luis Suaréz left Ajax for Anfield for £23m.
The two other most notable deals that window, and indeed the very deals that January 2011 will be associated with for years to come is Andy Carroll's departure to Liverpool for £35m, and Fernando Torres Merseyside exit to London in a staggering £50m deal. Any transfer records left standing were well and truly shattered.
Andy Carroll was only enjoying his first full season in the Premier League with Newcastle United when Liverpool offered an astronomical £35m for his services and Fernando Torres had not shown anywhere near the form to merit a £50m move in his recent outings.
Football had well and truly gone mad.
Without delving too far into the actual transfer themselves, January 2011 saw Premier League clubs spend a ridiculous £225m. While January 2012 did not match the expenditure of the year before, and 2013 unlikely to do so either, unfortunately the market has not settled very much. £35m for Andy Carroll seems the benchmark in setting valuations of English players nowadays, while Torres' £50m fee is also used to measure the price of a world class goal scorer.
Wilfried Zaha's supposed £17m deal to Manchester United proves that very point regards the value of English home-grown players. I cannot recall the last time the Championship offered such a valuable player. In reality, Zaha is not worth £17m, but both Manchester United and Crystal Palace seem to agree that it is a suitable fee, summing up the financial bubble English football finds itself inside.
For smaller clubs, it is impossible to compete with such big money signings, but Swansea City's £2m capture of Michu this season, and NUFC's growing contingent of bargain French players does offer hope to others that you do not always need to spend tens of millions to keep up with the every changing Premier League.
The January transfer window will continue to excite fans across the world and there's sure to be a few panic buys between now and the window slamming shut, but I don't think I'm the only one when I say it's not what it used to be.
Whatever soul the Premier League once had, is now well and truly gone.
Kevin Doocey is a freelance football writer and the founder of the Newcastle United blog Tyne Time and is also a contributor to Football Digest.
Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinDoocey