You have to ask yourself who is the best player who could have possibly been transferred to the Premier League this window. Forget Messi and Cristiano, Iniesta and Ribery. There was Falcao, who swapped the prospect of the Champions League for money, Cavani, who made a move to another ambitious French side, Neymar, whose future was already decided a year or two ago, and Bale – a reality for only one team.
But Deadline Day brought Arsenal’s dream and Tottenham’s nightmare. Within hours of Bale announcing his ‘dream move’ to Real Madrid, news broke that Arsenal were chasing Mesut Ozil, and were in advanced talks to sign him.
After hitting a new low this millennium with domestic cup defeats to Bradford and Blackburn, there was an expectation that Arsenal would spend big this summer. However, little was done before an opening day defeat to Villa. With a squad ravaged by injury and after being riled by fans, there was more pressure on Wenger than ever before to break the bank and deliver a big money signing.
And he delivered, bringing in perhaps the most prolific chance creator in Europe – £42.4m Mesut Ozil.
Ozil joins the likes of Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and Robin van Persie in the Premier League’s elite – a set of players that are a class apart. The German created the most clear cut chances in Europe last year, and accumulated more assists than Xavi and Iniesta combined during the season before. Toure and van Persie, both 30, are getting no younger, whereas Ozil is still just 24, and even at €50 million, could prove a real bargain.
Anyone who can remember his performances as a 21-year-old at the 2010 FIFA World Cup or who have watched him play for Real week-in, week-out, will find it staggering that they have let him go. But, as an Arsenal fan, I’m not complaining. He will almost certainly be a success, and puts the Gunners within two or three signings of being a world class side.
Elsewhere, David Moyes’ first transfer window at United was labelled a disaster, with last-ditch attempts to bring Ander Herrera and Fabio Coentrao to Old Trafford both falling through. He does, however, still have a potentially title-winning squad, and while neighbours City may have paid first rate prices for second rate players, United haven’t necessarily fallen for this trap in one of the most competitive transfer windows for a number of years.
Both halves of Merseyside will be happier going forward. Liverpool haven’t looked hungrier so far this decade and suddenly look good for a top four place, if not better. Daniel Sturridge looks to be one of their best signings for a long time, and young Philippe Coutinho continues to impress. Everton coped exceptionally well with the eleventh-hour loss of Marouane Fellaini to Manchester United, gaining 22-year-old James McCarthy from Wigan for less than half the price (£13m), and also picking up Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku on loan. These are very efficient transfers by Martinez and Everton should be more than capable of landing a top seven place once again come May.
Chelsea now arguably have seven attacking minded midfielders, having taken toys because other the kids were playing with them. They now also have Samuel Eto’o to finally add a viable replacement for Didier Drogba. They already appear to be solid enough defensively, and shouldn’t have too many problems taking maximum points from the bottom half of the table.
Arsene Wenger once said, “At Arsenal, we don’t buy superstars, we make them”. It is certainly true that the English game is not used to these kind of signings from the North Londoners. Ozil is already loved before he has even played a match, and the ‘In Wenger We Trust’ philosophy has seemingly been restored. Ozil alone won’t be enough to win the League, or go far in the Champions League, but it’s conceivable that Arsenal are within another striking option, a deep midfielder and a leader of being a truly world class side. Now Arsene has bought a superstar, and the future suddenly looks so much brighter.