Studs or Duds – 2011 Edition – Did Your Team Spend Big Cash Well?

Last season, when we did our ‘Heroes or Zeroes‘ post, the numbers were much higher. Ronaldo, Kaka, Ibrahimovic. Those three alone cost over 200 million Euro. Bayern were deeply invested after spending big on Gomez and Robben and so on. This year? There have been transfers, but not with that much money. Thank god for Manchester City and their Middle Eastern money, splashing over 100 million pounds last summer. Real bought quite a few players, none with the caliber of last year’s mega summer. Here are six players who cost quite a few quid this summer (Three Manchester City, Two Barcelona, One Real Madrid) and our impression of their first few months with the new clubs.

Yaya Toure (Barcelona to Manchester City) – 24 Million Pounds

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Stat Line – Toure has played 19 matches for City, starting them all. He has scored 3 goals and adds 4 assists.

When I first read about this deal getting finalized, I never understood why Barca would give up on Toure. Sure they have Sergi, but Toure was probably the best defensive midfielder in the world these last two seasons. Looking at Barcelona today, they knew what they were doing. But that’s another matter. Toure has been very good for City. The defense is solid most of the time (16 goals conceded) which has a lot to do with his presence in the middle of the park and not only the return of Joe Hart. He doesn’t have Iniesta and Xavi ahead of him which actually makes him play a tad more offensively and be more of a threat on goal than he previously was.

David Silva (Valencia to Manchester city) – 24 Million Pounds

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Stat Line – 19 league matches, 16 as a starter with only one goal and 5 assists.

A bit of a conundrum David Silva is. No argument about his talents and his ability to play wide or in the middle behind the striker(s). Still, it seems he hasn’t fully recovered from his pretty bad World Cup. Spain won, but Silva was far from impressive or influential unlike in the 2008 Euro. Still, he has him moments, but his lack of goals, scoring only one (rather nice one) against Blackpool might be one of the missing stepping stones for City to be a spot higher in the table. A bit disappointing so far, to summarize. Still, I do feel we will see much better and constant performances from the lad in the very near future.

Mario Balotelli (Inter to Manchester City) – 24 Million Pounds

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Stat Line – Nine matches, two coming on as a sub, and 5 goals. No assists, big surprise.

Scored a hat trick just last week in the 4-0 crushing of Aston Villa, two of them from the penalty spot. Talent? He has loads of it. But maybe the passion isn’t there. Balotelli started playing only in October after an August injury in a Europa League match. Since then? Not much. Five goals in 9 games is nice, but he has scored in only two matches. Hair raising misses and his big mouth, again about wanting to play for AC Milan make Balotelli a very troubling presence and maybe, if he doesn’t get sorted out, a very bad deal.

David Villa (Valencia to Barcelona) – 40 Million Euro

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Stat Line – 15 league matches and 11 goals. Has two more goals in the Champions League.

THE signing of the summer had a slow start with the Spanish champions, but he caught up pretty quickly with everything. Has scored 5 goals in his last four league matches including two braces against Real Madrid and Espanyol. Villa just might be the best striker in the world today, and it always helps to have the best player in the world and the best passer playing alongside you.

Angel Di Maria (Benfica to Real Madrid) – 25 Million Euro

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Stat Line – 16 matches, one as a sub, 5 goals and 4 assists. He has one more goal in the Champions League.

A great buy and Real’s most expensive of the summer, always a sign of huge expectations. Di Maria didn’t have a great World Cup, but has shown why Mourinho likes him so much on several occasions with a knack for scoring crucial goals like the winner against Sevilla. In Portugal used to roam and dominate the wings. In Real, playing a slightly different role, Di Maria often cuts inside and is very dangerous, no matter which side he is playing on.

Javier Mascherano (Liverpool to Barcelona) – 22 Million Euro

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Stat Line – 12 matches in the league and four more in the Champions League.

Like with Toure, but on a bizarro kind of note, I never understood what do Barcelona want with Mascherano. Yes, he’s an excellent ball winner and a true fighter in the middle but he doesn’t have the qualities required for playing in the Barcelona midfield. His passing is limited at best and he’s a non-threat when shooting. Maybe Guardiola was thinking about tough clashed with Chelsea, Manchester United or Inter when he came up with the idea of buying Mascherano. So far the Argentinian has added nothing to the club but is probably enjoying his life much more than he did at Anfield.

Ramires (Benfica to Chelsea) – 22 Million Euro

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Stat Line – 15 league matches, 3 Champions League

Another player who seems like a huge bust. Ramires played one season with Benfica, winning the Portuguese title and earning a place with the Brazilian national team. He impressed many with his work ethic and defensive ability during his season in the Estadio Da Luz, impressing enough to spend the big cash on him, with the price fee rising due to Ramires being owned by a third side party. So far? Nada. Ramires, maybe special and outstanding for Portuguese soccer just seems like a fish out of water in the Premier League. Not Physical enough and not Technical enough, Ramires looks like one of the worst signings in the Abramovich tenure.

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