We’re sure we can all agree, yesterday’s transfer deadline day was unsurprisingly underwhelming. Due to the effect, the pandemic has had on clubs finances, yesterday was never going to be a blockbuster.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re big fans of astute business as much as the next man. Whether it’s a saga surrounding Fulham, Everton, and a nominal fee, or a pursuit of a Turkish centre-half from the Bundesliga’s leakiest defence, we can appreciate smart acquisitions.
But yesterday’s deadline dud left us all longing for epic days of years gone by. Days of Jim White bingo, Harry Redknapp’s Range Rover window, and fans packed into club car parks, occasionally wafting the odd sex toy. The glory days.
In fact, no Transfer Deadline Day has been more glorious than January 31, 2011. With £100m already being spent by Premier League clubs throughout January, the stage was set for this month-long fairy tale to reach its climax. With Liverpool’s talismanic Spanish striker Fernando Torres – hoping of a big-money move to Chelsea – handing in a transfer request the night before, and Ajax’s 24-year old Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez’s move to Anfield all but done, drama was guaranteed.
Football fans woke up that morning in anticipation. They loaded up their chosen “as it happens” live blogs and travelled to work, school or university with a spring in their step. They weren’t to be disappointed.
The day started with rumours of a traditional Harry Redknapp/Tottenham Hotspur bargain-buy, with numerous strikers being linked with a move to White Hart Lane. Such a plotline had been a mainstay over recent deadline days. Be it Rafael Van Der Vaart’s £8 million move from Real Madrid six months prior, or Niko Kranjcar swapping the south coast for North London 12 months before that, a Spurs deadline day rumour always made for welcome reading.
This day’s rumours surrounded some big names. Atletico Madrid pair Diego Forlan – winner of the Golden Ball at the previous years’ World Cup – and young Argentine sensation Sergio Aguero were both being touted with potential moves to the Lane, the latter for a reported eye-watering £38.5million. Newcastle’s inform target man Andy Carroll was also being mentioned as a potential target.
After those rumours were digested, we got our first Done Deal of the day. Our eyes lit up, was Suarez to Liverpool going to be confirmed? Was it Torres? Well, not quite. In a deal that wouldn’t have looked out of place yesterday, Paulo da Silva (who?) left Sunderland for Real Zaragoza for an undisclosed fee. A couple of hours later, another done deal trickled through. Paul Konchesky’s disastrous time at Liverpool was over, joining Nottingham Forest until the end of the season. Spine-tingling.
Following Konchesky’s exit from Anfield, things started to liven up. BBC’s Dan Walker reported that he had been told by a “good source” that towering geordie Andy Carroll would not be leaving St James’ Park for Anfield. Barely half-an-hour later, Liverpool submitted a £30million bid for him.
The offer was an unthinkable amount for a striker who only had a handful of Premier League appearances to his name and left onlookers stunned. The offer was more than Barcelona paid that summer when they signed World Cup winner and goalscoring sensation David Villa. Then, even more unbelievably, Newcastle rejected the bid. The footballing world had officially gone mad.
There were also rumours that Blackpool captain Charlie Adam would be joining The Reds. It was shaping up to be a busy day for the fax machines at Anfield.
More strikers were on the move late in the morning. Chelsea seemingly cleared the path for Torres’ arrival, loaning youngster Daniel Sturridge to Bolton Wanderers until the end of the season and Birmingham City had a loan deal for Obafemi Martins all but confirmed.
The tension was rife and a deadline day Cold War had begun, waiting for someone to pull the trigger. The Mirror reported on Twitter that Torres had left Liverpool’s Melwood training ground in a helicopter. The plot thickened in the north-east also, with Newcastle manager Alan Pardew cancelling his scheduled press conference previewing his side’s trip to Fulham. Which domino would be the first to fall and would it trigger a chain reaction of craziness? Only time would tell.
One player that would not be on the move, however, was Sergio Aguero. The talented Argentina international would be staying at the Vicente Calderon after it was confirmed he had signed a new contract with Atletico Madrid.
Would it be the same for his striker partner Forlan? Reports emerged confirming that Spurs had tabled an official bid for him, would it be enough to prize away the Uruguayan star? More importantly, would we finally see Redknapp hanging out of his car window telling us how Diego was a ‘t’rific little player?’
Things turned rather quiet at around lunchtime. There were plenty of irons in the fire and the rumour mill was well and truly in overdrive, but there wasn’t much else. No done deals, no new rumours, and no more time left on our lunch breaks. How much longer would we have to wait? The answer was not very long.
Liverpool sensationally upped their bid for Andy Carroll, submitting a £35 million offer, a record offer for a British player and the 8th highest transfer fee of all time. All this for a man that had 14 Premier League goals to his name.
Years before their American owner John W. Henry would famously ask Arsenal what they were smoking at the Emirates, it appeared that Mr Henry might have had a little smoke of something himself. Either that or he was a touch confused with the conversion rate of Dollars to Pounds because such an offer was mind-boggling.
While Toon owner Mike Ashley mulled the offer over – and really, what was there to mull? – more news rolled in. Charlie Adam’s potential move to Merseyside was a non-starter, as was Forlan’s switch to Spurs. It appeared that we wouldn’t be seeing ‘Arry after all. And what of the Suarez deal? The transfer was supposedly all but confirmed, was there a late hitch?
It took a couple of hours for Mike Ashley to get his uncontrollable laughter under control, but once he did, he duly accepted Liverpool’s barmy offer for Carroll. Even Rio Ferdinand couldn’t believe it, tweeting: “David Villa cost £34m… an integral member of the successful Spain team and played regular Champions League… UK market is crazy right now!”
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere was more supportive. He tweeted: “Andy Carroll will be a great player for Liverpool and England. Fact.” That aged well Jack.
With Ashley salivating over the new stock he would be able to add to his Sports Direct franchise, Carroll made his way to Melwood for a medical and to discuss personal terms. And with that, the merry go round could begin.
Chelsea finally had their offer for Fernando Torres accepted. The reported £50 million would be the largest fee ever paid by a British club and the 4th biggest transfer fee in history. El Nino had been a revelation at Anfield, scoring 81 goals in 142 appearances, but had been noticeably off the boil in the last 18 months.
The Blues also agreed a reported £25 million deal with Benfica for Brazilian centre-half and Sideshow Bob impersonator, David Luiz. And finally, Liverpool were able to confirm the arrival of Luis Suarez for a fee of £23 million. What a coup that turned out to be.
As the deadline approached, the deals for Torres, Luiz and Carroll all went through without a hitch. The deals were worth a combined £100+ million which, at the time, was an unfathomable amount to be spent in one day, and made this January transfer deadline day the most expensive in history.
What we would have done for a small dose of this excitement yesterday.