Total Recall 2012: Biggest Transfers of the Year (Part 2)
In the second part of the series, we bring to you the 5 most expensive transfers in the year 2012. In case you missed the first part, you can read it here. We would like to reiterate the fact that these transfers are considered the biggest only in terms of transfer money paid. It has no correlation with whether or not the players have been successful at their new club.
We have arranged the transfer list in an ascending order.
In a long drawn out episode in which the Belgian evinced interest from a host of Premier League clubs like Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham; the 21-year old playmaker finally decided to move to European Champions Chelsea for a mammoth sum of 40 million Euros. Additionally, he would be paid a salary of over £200,000-a- week which would make him one of the club’s highest earners. The way in which the transfer was conducted by his agent, it seemed more like an auction, and to any casual observer it would seem that his decision was based more on money offered rather than footballing logic.
Nonetheless, Hazard has adapted to the Premier League like a duck to the water. For a player who had played only in the French Ligue 1, the transition seemed mighty quick. He notched up 4 assists and a goal in the first three matches in the League and has never looked back since then. He has participated in all the six tournaments that Chelsea has played so far, and in the presence of a misfiring Fernando Torres, he has become the lynchpin of the Chelsea attack. So much so that the previous Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo entrusted him with the responsibility of a ‘false nine’ in their crunch away tie against Juventus in the Champions League. With 4 goals and 8 assists in all competitions, Hazard is gradually becoming an indispensable part of the Blues squad.
It was after the summer transfer window had closed in most of Europe (for the uninitiated, the summer transfer window in Russia closes on 6th September, a week after the window closes in the rest of Europe) when Zenit St. Petersburg announced the capture of Benfica midfielder Axel Witsel. Understandably, Benfica was shocked but could not hold onto their prized asset as Zenit met the amount specified in the release clause of 40 million Euros. Benfica could not cushion the blow of his departure as they crashed out of the Champions League in the Group Stages. On the other hand, Zenit fared no better as they suffered a similar fate in their campaign. It was the second time in two seasons that Witsel changed club loyalties; having arrived at Benfica the previous year itself in a €7 million transfer from Standard Liege. Witsel has been unable to replicate the kind of performances he dished out at Benfica. His problem is compounded by the fact that he was suffering from a knee injury which restricted him to only 13 starts for Zenit.
Real Madrid’s relentless pursuit of the Croatian playmaker came to an end this summer when Tottenham finally decide to sell him to the Spanish Champions for a fee of 41 million Euros. Primarily employed as a defensive midfielder by Jose Mourinho, he has found regular starts hard to come by in the presence of Alonso, Kaka, Khedira, Ozil and Essien as contenders for midfield roles. Modric won the Spanish Super Cup on his debut. With a pass success percentage of 88%, he has been a solid but unspectacular player for the Los Blancos in the middle of the park. Mourinho himself admitted that Modric is yet to hit top gear when he quoted:
“Modric is still having some small problems, especially when playing two consecutive matches in three days. Each time we pick him twice in a row his performance has not been the best.”
It was the summer of 2012 when Thiago Silva joined his AC Milan teammate at Parc des Princes in a deal which made him the second most expensive defender in the world (the highest being Rio Ferdinand’s €46m transfer from Leeds to Manchester United). Presently considered by many as the Best Defender in the World, signing the Brazilian from the European giants signalled a big statement of intent by the Les Parisiens. It involved a significant flip-flop by Milan boss Silvio Berlusconi when he earlier announced that Silva would not be allowed to leave the club under any circumstances. Thiago Silva’s impact on the side can be gauged by the fact that he was handed the armband in his very first season for the club and the Les Parisiens marched onto the knockout stages of the Champions League as group winners. PSG are currently top of Ligue 1 as well. You might say – “Money can’t buy trophies”. The outfit from the French capital would love to prove you wrong.
The biggest transfer of the year took place when Givanildo Vieira de Souza (more popularly nicknamed Hulk due to his uncanny resemblance to the Marvel Comics character who goes by that name) moved to the Russian shores from Portuguese champions Porto. Another signing outside the summer transfer window, it led to growing clamour regarding the whole of Europe having a uniform transfer window as it leads to a lot of problems to clubs who are losing players and are unable to replace them until the next window. Fortunately, Porto was able to absorb the blow of losing their star forward as they progressed to the last-sixteen of the Champions League and are in second spot in the Liga Sagres.
The transfers and the astronomical salaries that Hulk and Witsel receive at Zenit have led to widespread discontent among the senior players, led by Zenit veteran Igor Denisov. It is reported that Hulk suffered a breakdown in his relations with coach Luciano Spalletti after a heated exchange following the substitution of the Brazilian in their Champions League against AC Milan. Hulk was quoted saying:
“If the situation with the coach does not resolve itself, I may leave the club in the January transfer window”
Hulk has not been in the best of form this season. After scoring twice in three matches for Porto (before his transfer took place), he has scored the same number of goals in his nine matches for Zenit in the Russian League. It increasingly looks like Hulk has done his reputation more harm than good by engineering his move to the Russian giants.
Note: Lucas Moura could have been a part of this list since he was subject to a €45 million transfer deal from Sao Paulo to PSG. But since the Brazilian teenager is still plying his trade with Sao Paulo (the actual ‘transfer’ will take place in January 2013), we have intentionally decided to keep him out of this list.
Who has been the most successful transfer out of the ten players we have mentioned in the series?Discuss with us in the comments below.