Football

Top clubs spend small as FFP looms

No 'big money' buys this January. (©GettyImages)
No 'big money' buys this January. (©GettyImages).

The days of a big spending, 'gung-ho' philosophy that we have come to know and expect during the transfer window now looks to be a thing of the past, as UEFA's impending Financial Fair Play regulations attempts to change the landscape of European football.

The new ruling, set to be implemented at the start of the 2012-13 campaign, has already forced top clubs to turn their backs on the January sales.

Spending was down in almost all of Europe's major leagues in the first month of 2012, with most clubs tightening their purse strings during a winter transfer window that was devoid of any major movers and shakers.

Never has that been more evident in the Premier League, as England's richest clubs curbed their spending, instead taking a more cautious approach to their revised transfer policies.

With clubs now facing exclusion from European competition if they are unable to balance their books over any given three-year period, the majority of last month's investment was made on young players who will either serve their clubs with distinction for years to come, or at least retain significant resale value.

January 2011 saw Premier League expenditure reach an all-time high, with more than £220million spent - nearly £30million more than the combined expenditures of the top five leagues across Europe in January 2012.

The £58.3million total spent this January was down a whopping 70 per cent on the record breaking sum that was reached just 12 months before, with the most expensive deal coming from an unlikely source - Papiss Demba Cisse's £10million move to Newcastle United.

At one point it looked as though the total spending last month wouldn't even surpass the £50million spent on a single player last January, when Chelsea splashed the cash to bring Fernando Torres to Stamford Bridge.

The Blues were still one of the top-three spenders this January though, alongside Newcastle and QPR, who contributed to more than half of the window's total - proof that on the whole club owners are becoming increasingly less inclined to invest heavily.

Even clubs in positions where they would traditionally spend money - such as those battling against relegation or pushing for Champions League qualification - kept their cash in their pockets.

Whilst the flurry of transfer activity that is always anticipated on deadline day seemingly stayed true to form on Tuesday, the £30million that exchanged hands was merely a drop in the ocean compared to the £135million spent on January 31 last year.


ARSENAL: Thomas Eisfeld (Borussia Dortmund) £600,000

Arsene Wenger is already renowned for his unwillingness to spend in any given transfer window, even before the Financial Fair Play regulations were on the horizon.

The frugal Frenchman has faith in the squad already at his disposal and other than a two-month loan deal for Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, he moved to bring in promising Borussia Dortmund starlet Thomas Eisfeld for a modest fee of £600,000.

The 19-year-old German has spent the past seven years in the Bundesliga giants' academy, and has scored six goals and made six assists in 12 youth team appearances this season.

Eisfeld suffered a cruciate ligament injury in 2009, which was thought to be career threatening, so the Gunners put him through a battery of medical examinations to certify his fitness before signing him.

 


CHELSEA: Patrick Bamford (Nottingham Forest) £1.5million

Andre Villas-Boas kept his spending to a minimum despite already having agreed deals for Gary Cahill and Kevin De Bruyne, with his transfer policy based primarily around signing stars for the future.

On deadline day, Chelsea signed 18-year-old striker Jason Bamford from Nottingham Forest, a Championship club of which he was on the fringes of the first-team.

After a sensational return of nine goals in his previous two academy games, all eyes were on the talented England U19 international. Forest were eager to keep hold of the youngster, but with his contract set to expire at the end of the season, the club settled on a £1.5million deal.


LIVERPOOL: Danny Ward (Wrexham) £100,000

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish had a comparatively quiet transfer window when you consider the intensive recruitment drive carried out at Anfield in the summer.

The club continued its revised policy of signing talented youngsters with the addition of Wales U19 international goalkeeper Danny Ward from Wrexham.

The youngster had yet to make an appearance in the Blue Square Premier side's first team but will now link up with Liverpool's reserve squad after penning a permanent deal for a fee in the region of £100,000.

 


MANCHESTER UNITED: Frederic Veseli (Manchester City) free

Sir Alex Ferguson has been particularly astute during the winter window, resolving his midfield shortage with the return of United legend Paul Scholes - ushering him out of retirement until the end of the season.

The only other transfer dealing saw the arrival of 19-year-old defender Frederic Veseli, who arrived from local rivals Manchester City on a free transfer.

The Swiss U20 international was a complete unknown to most at the start of January, but by deadline day his profile had been raised immeasurably when he put pen to paper on a move to Old Trafford.


SUMMARY

This summer's European Championships will provide another shop window for clubs to peruse dozens of established stars and young prospects, and the temptation to spend once again may prove too much for those sides that have operated well within their means for the first time in years.

Perhaps only then will we see a true measure of how committed the top sides are to keeping their cheque-book in their respective pockets.

Topics:
Arsenal
Football
Chelsea
Premier League
Manchester United
Liverpool

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