Despite the effects of the financial crisis of the last two years, it seems that some of the big football clubs in Europe still have the economical power to strengthen their squad, i.e. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Man City. So we at Sportige decided to have a look at the biggest in European football this season and to see if their high price tag was truly justified.
Arjen Robben – Bayern Munich, 24 Million Euros
This high flying Dutchman was always one of the best wingers in European football since his rise to prominence with Chelsea. However like every season, the only barrier which separates this fresh Bavarian acquisition to be as phenomenal as Messi and Ronaldo is his tendency for injuries a thing that seems to be his only setback from lighting up European football. This season the injury-barren Robben scored 8 goals and made 5 assists in 14 appearances (5 of them as a substitute) and despite being an absentee up until now, Robben shows why his price tag is so expensive. With a record of winning a Championship with every club he transferred to and the recent change of fortunes in the results Bundesliga and Champions League-wise, (including the 2-1 victory over Fiorentina and 15 games without a loss in all competitions) fans of Bayern Munich can be certain that he is the right man to bring the club back in the scene amongst Europe’s elite clubs.
Emmanuel Adebayor - Manchester City, 25 Million Pounds
With a record of scoring in every odd game for Arsenal including some memorable goals from last season (including the bicycle kick against Villarreal in last year’s Champions League quarter finals) Adebayor was surely on a way to find another happy owner after he disrupted the harmony at the Emirates stadium and burned his bridges at the club. The Kanu lookalike found his new employers in the nouveu-riche Man City. Adebayor started the season in excellent form for Man City as he scored in his first four matches consecutively including the famous 4-2 victory over Arsenal, in which Adebayor kicked deliberately in the face of former teammate Robin Van Persie (for that conduct he was banned for 3 matches) and for running the full length of the pitch to taunt Arsenal fans after he scored. With 9 goals in 17 games for City so far and a possible 4th place finish, Adebayor can look back with a smile on this season despite the horrific tragedy he suffered with the Togolese national team in the African Cup of Nations.
Mario Gomez- Bayern Munich 30-35 Million Euros
Another mega money acquisition for the Bavarian club as they foresaw the inevitable departing of former Bundesliga top scorer, Luca Toni. Mario Gomez arrived to Munich after a successful 6 year period at Stuttgart where he had a record of scoring every odd game and a championship in 2007 under his belt, (a Bundesliga player of the year award was handed to him that season as well) with every intention of fulfilling his massive potential. Gomez started this season, like the rest of Bayern, poorly. Being regularly off target reminded Bayern fans of the disappointing player they saw at Euro 2008 (especially the infamous miss against Austria) as they gloomily thought that the biggest purchase in the history of the Bundesliga, will prove a failure. But the recent turn of events at the club proved to be changing for Gomez as well as he managed to score 14 goals in 33 appearances, in all competitions this season. For now he is not the player Bayern has hoped for and has proved to be an expensive liability but the 24 year old striker hasn’t said the last word.
Dmytro Chygrynskiy- Barcelona, 25 Million Euros
Seems to be a joke right? 25 Million Euros for a 22 year old defender from Ukraine? Well if you don’t look superficially at it, you will find that Chygrynskiy is the captain of the Ukrainian national team and had been instrumental for Shakthar as they won last season’s Uefa Cup (the first time for a Ukrainian club to win the trophy since the disbandment of the USSR). With an aerial dominating presence in both ends of the pitch and proved defensive skills, Dmytro has played in 8 occasions thus far and is not a key figure as he is for Ukraine. But with two Ukrainian championships and a hairdo similar to Puyol’s (or Jesus, if it’s more fitting) Barca fans can expect this guy to be a hard rock in the back of their defense.
Kaka- Real Madrid, 65 Million Euros
Until Ronaldo came to Madrid, Kaka broke the world transfer record as the club offered the reluctant AC Milan to sell their most beloved player. Since his arrival at the club, the former FIFA World Player Of The Year, Kaka scored 4 goals and made 5 assists in 18 appearances, a record which is not formidable as his whole career was, but it’s pretty tough to be the star of a team that maintains the services of Benzema, Ronaldo, Raul and Xabi Alonso. Kaka has achieved everything possible at club level but anything less than a championship and a Champions League trophy would be considered a failure for the 27 year old attacking midfielder.
Cristiano Ronaldo- Real Madrid, 94 Million Euros
Ronaldo, Arguably the best player in the world at the moment along with fellow La Liga superstar, Leo Messi, has broken the world transfer record this summer, after he put in a couple of memorable seasons for Man Utd. With this price tag Ronaldo has the whole world on his shoulders as he is the key man who is suppose to bring back European glory for Real Madrid for the first time since the 2002 Champions League final against Leverkusen. So how has he done so far? Well Real Madrid are still in the La Liga race with Barcelona and will face Lyon in the second leg of the round of 16 after they lost in the Stade de Gerland 1-0. But it seems that for Ronaldo business are usual as he scored 11 goals in 13 matches and made one assist in all competitions. Despite the face that Manuel Pellegrini still tries to adapt to the Santiago Bernabeu and that Real are showing inconsistency in terms of quality of play, Ronaldo still provides his weekly rations which puts him, as always, high on the efficiency table.However, Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the highest paid footballer today and the prime target for the Madrid media, will consider anything less than a major title (European or domestic) a failure in his eyes and Real Madrid’s.
Samuel Eto’o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic Inter and Barcelona (respectively) 69 Million Euros
When Barcelona decided to hand over Eto’o and 49 Million Euros everyone thought Laporta went mental, because if you look at Eto’o's phenomenal record at Barcelona of 130 goals in 200 appearances with 36 goals coming last year (including a goal in the Champions League final) then there is no good enough reason to let him go. But as the season continues we see that the exchange, which was financially wrong for Barcelona, turned out to be a success for Barca as Ibrahimovic scored 12 goals and made 5 assists in 19 matches in all competitions, a prolific record which resembles his days at Inter and Eto’o finding it hard to retain his fine form at Barca as he scored 8 goals and made 2 assists in 20 matches. Maybe a showdown between Barca and Inter in the latter stages of the Champions League can show us who adapted better and who made the better deal out of the two, as Eto’o definitely wants to avenge his rejection by Barca’s bosses and we know Eto’o – when he wants to avenge someone, he does it with ease and pleasure, just ask Real Madrid.
Carlos Tevez- Man City, 25 Million Pounds
This Argentine who crossed from the red side of Manchester to the blue side (including the famous billboard “Welcome To Manchester”) has been in excellent form this season for City as he scored 20 goals and made 5 assists in 33 matches and is currently the leading scorer at the club. Tevez proved to be a successful signing for Man City but that wont satisfy Tevez who is eager to show Ferguson he made a mistake by not signing him on a permanent deal. A 4th spot and a goal against Man Utd in the forthcoming derby will probably be the biggest achievement for him and for City.
Karim Benzema- Real Madrid, 35 Million Euros
After two impressive seasons at Lyon, Benzema transferred to Real Madrid as a key part in Florentino Perez’s Galacticos project. With 8 goals and 4 assists in 25 Matches for the Blancos, Benzema is disappointing as he hasn’t lived up to the expectations and saw the usually less favored Argentine Gonzalo Higuain proving to be more prolific than him. The last third of this season will maybe crucial for the 23 year old as he will have to be instrumental for the attack in order to help Real break Barca’s hegemony and prove himself valuable for the impatient Perez.
Xabi Alonso- Real Madrid, 30 Million Pounds
The man who’s absence was the main reason for Liverpool fall this season, Xabi Alonso is providing his usual performances with Real Madrid but with so many stars in the team his contribution seems to be relatively unnoticed. With 26 games under his belt and 4 assists in all competitions, Alonso is maybe rethinking his move to Madrid from his warm Scouse home but a Championship will be a big compensation for him and will prove his move worthwhile.
Important Transfers that proved to be successful:
Kolo Toure- Man City 16 Million Pounds
Gareth Barry-Man City 12 Million Pounds
Darren Bent- Sunderland 16.5 Million Pounds
Important Transfers that proved to be unsuccessful:
Alberto Aquilani- Liverpool 16.9 Million Pounds
Glen Johnson- Liverpool 17.5 Million Pounds
Klaas Jan Huntelaar- Milan 15 Million Euros
Joleon Lescott- Man City 24 Million Pounds