During each transfer window, with the arrival of new faces, comes great hopes and expectations. Not all transfers leave upto those expectations whereas some exceed those. Last season some big signings took place, which directly impacted the fortunes of the respective clubs. While big names as usual came with big price tags, there were some relatively unknown low-profile transfers which later on turned out to be splendid piece of business. With the season coming to an end, we at TheHardTackle have nominated five of the best summer/winter signings during the season – players who have represented the phrase ‘Value for money’.
Who do you think has been the best new signing for season 2011-2012?
Andrea Pirlo (Juventus) – Free Transfer
This is Pirlo’s second nomination in this years THT awards, after being nominated in the ‘Best midfielder’ category.
Milan’s loss was Juventus’ gain. After his last season at San Siro, the midfield maestro was considered to be past his best, but Juventus was quick to react and signed him up for free. Pirlo rolled back the clock with his performances in the midfield for the Old Lady. He was central to everything good that happened for the team. Eventually Juventus knocked AC Milan off their perch and won the Scudetto and even managed to stay unbeaten the whole season. Considering the money involved in the transfer (Zero), the quality of the player Juventus got and eventually the impact that he has had on the team, this could well be one of the deals of the past decade.
Stat – 3 Goals, 13 Assists, Pass success rate – 86.5%, 3.4 Key passes per game
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) – £35 million
When the cash was splashed on this diminutive striker, some were skeptical about how he will adapt to the English game. But Aguero announced himself in spectacular fashion with a brace against Swansea. With Tevez absent for a long period, Aguero was the goto man for Mancini and City and rarely did he disappoint. Among all the 30 goals he has scored this season, the most important goal came in the last match of the season. He scored the winner deep into added time against QPR to hand over Manchester City their first league title in 44 years. That goal in itself was worth his transfer fee.
Stat – 30 Goals, 8 Assists, 2.8 Shots per game, Pass success rate – 86.5%
Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid) – €40 million
The Colombian has been a hot property for a long time now. From his days in Porto, he has been on the radar of many big clubs across Europe. His goal scoring record for the past few seasons has been nothing short of astonishing. So when Atlectico Madrid were the ones who brought Falcao last season, people were surprised to say the least. For Madrid though, he was the perfect replacement for Aguero.
Falcao has more than justified the big money spent on him. He has nearly single handedly brought the Europa league crown to Madrid. His performance in the final against Bilbao was spell bounding. One now has to wait and see whether Falcao still remains an Atletico Madrid player next season, with a number of big clubs already being linked with him.
Stat – 36 Goals, 3 Assists, 3.6 Shots per game
Michel Vorm (Swansea City) - £1.5 million
Swansea, in many ways, have been one of the teams of this season in England. Not many gave them a chance to stay up, but not only did they avoid relegation, they did it in some style, and Michel Vorm has been one of the pillars on which this success story was built upon.
The Dutch International was a relatively unknown quantity until Swansea brought him from Utrecht. Vorm made his debut in a match against Manchester City, incidentally which was also the debut match of one of the other nominee Sergio Aguero. Vorm conceded four goals in that match, but also made 11 saves, most by any keeper this season. Vorm is known also known as a ‘Penalty Killer’, and he lived upto his billing as he saved Ben Watson’s penalty for Wigan and gave Swansea their first ever point in the premier league. His stats this season have been mind blowing and has definitely been one of the best goalkeeper this season.
Vorm is now certainly worth more than the meager £1.5 million he was brought for.
Stat – 136 saves, 14 clean sheets, Saves per goal conceded – 3.22
Papiss Cisse (Newcastle United) – £10 million
Like Swansea, every expert talked down Newcastle’s chances of survival in the top division, following various disputes in the club. But Alan Pardew has changed the fortunes of the club and how! His success has been mainly credited to his brilliant wheeling and dealing the transfer market. He assembled a team out of nearly zero budget and turned them into Champions league qualification contenders.
One of the few times when Pardew did slash the cash, it was to bring on board Papiss Cisse from Freiburg. The Senegalese international was on the book of a lot of clubs, before he signed for the Magpies. Since joining he has been in mind boggling form and in many aspects has stolen the thunder from his strike partner Demba Ba. While Ba lost his form, Cisse made sure Newcastle’s goals didn’t dry up and in fact at the end of the season, it is safe to say, Cisse was the most prolific striker in the league. His goals were crucial as Newcastle pushed for the 4th spot in the league, but fell just short. The icing on the cake of such a wonderful impact Cisse has had on the club was ‘that’ improbable strike against Chelsea, which left Petr Cech grasping in the air. For just £10 million he has looked a bargain deal.
Stat – 13 Goals, 1 Assists, 2.8 Shots per game
Special mentions should also go to new signings like Demba Ba (who incidentally came in for free), Arturo Vidal (Who formed a wonderful partnership with Pirlo), Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla, Jérémy Ménez and Miroslav Klose. These players made huge impacts at their respective clubs and were certainly worth every penny they were bought for.
Winner: Andrea Pirlo
This is the second category in the THT end of season awards that Andrea Pirlo has convincingly won. His arrival in Turin, that too on a free transfer, simply changed all the propositions of power in peninsula and there is a section of fans and pundits who believe Milan gifted Juventus the title by releasing Pirlo. His stats, his general influence to Conte’s side have all been adequately documented already and it’s only reaffirmed by the fans in their verdict.