This summer’s transfer window once again offered the familiar helping of high profile names and inflated prices, breaking the usual records along the way.
But as the dust settles on the Premier League’s most hectic window yet, optimism is replaced by cynicism, excitement by debate. Come May, many of these colossal deals will be confined to the history books with that so undesirable label of a ‘Premier League flop’.
Once you are dubbed it, you never escape it, as there is no issue a football fan loves recycling than that of failures acquired at an unreasonable price. Just ask Juan Sebastian Veron and Andy Carroll.
So who are this year’s unlucky candidates to join the daunting list? Here are the favourites.
Arouna Kone- Everton
It’s safe to say that Roberto Martinez certainly liked the Wigan side that he saw relegated to the Championship last year. He seemed to spend the majority of the summer hounding its best players, hoping that footballers who were not even good enough to keep Wigan afloat, would improve a side that have consistently challenged for European football.
The irony with Arouna Kone is you could not even class him amongst James McCarthy or Antolin Alcaraz. He was at best decent for Wigan last year, spurning countless chances and failing to produce when he was most needed. On top of this, misfiring Nikica Jelavic seems to remain the preference at Everton, and the incoming Romelu Lukaku is twice the player, essentially relegating Kone to 3rd in the pecking order. Don’t be surprised if Martinez, realising his mistake, offloads Kone next summer, or even on loan in January.
Samuel Eto’o- Chelsea
Superb in his day, Samuel Eto’o in many ways remains one of the highest profile names in the sport. However, the past few years have seen not only a slump in his ability, caused mostly by age and the subsequent loss of pace, but also attitude. Roberto Carlos recently came out criticising the striker, claiming that the influence he has is ‘damaging’, citing his difficult spell at Anzhi Makhachkala.
At Chelsea, Eto’o enters an unwelcoming environment, both in and outside the squad. Demba Ba and Fernando Torres will hardly welcome more competition for the title of Chelsea’s leading man, meanwhile their presence may even restrict Eto’o’s game time to a frustrating level. Many fans have also vented their anger at his signing, believing his acquisition and the consequent loan departure of Romelu Lukaku to be poor business, and rightly so. His arrival is in short, a recipe for disaster.
Wilfred Zaha- Manchester United
An inclusion that will anger many, as Wilfred Zaha possesses the raw talent of a future Premier League star. However at his age, his major focus should be developing such ability, and in his signing to Manchester United, he is inadvertently halting this. Player development is all about progression, which can only be achieved through consistent game time while advancing through the lower levels.
Zaha has jumped to the very top, believing his game to be advanced enough for one of the biggest teams in Europe, and let’s not forget that 4 months ago he was plying his trade in the Championship. He is not ready, and from his opening performances it is clear that he still possesses the immature tendencies that are not acceptable at United, reminiscent to the teething problems Cristiano Ronaldo once had at the club.
He will frustrate as much as he encourages this year, and in this transitional period whether or not David Moyes and the United faithful are patient with such a player, is yet to be discovered.
Marko Arnautovic- Stoke City
A name that many football fans must admit they were not familiar with before this season, but will probably wonder why by the end. A brief examination of the player’s past exploits presents the new Stoke City man as a simple Mario Balotelli wannabe. He’s given it a good go as well. Petulant brawl with a teammate? Check. Spending the night at a nightclub on the eve of a league match? Check. Damaging his knee ligaments while playing with his dog? Well that one’s new, but equally Ballotelli-esque in its own right.
The difference between the two is that Balotelli’s class often transcended his behaviour, but even then he trod a fine line. At Stoke City, a team who could easily fight relegation this year, such behaviour will not be considered acceptable. If he costs Stoke as dearly as he potentially could, then don’t be surprised if he’s shipped out as another Premier League failure next summer.
Ricky Van Wolfswinkel- Norwich City
It must be admitted that this is a controversial choice, as much has been made already this season of how the towering forward is ready to light up the Premier League. His header on the opening day was admittedly excellent. However there are plenty of reservations to have around the striker, particularly his work ethic.
While some say his seven completed passes and one goal on that very day presents a classic striker, I feel they are statistics of a player who spend the game as a passenger, not getting stuck into challenges or closing down as he should. The league already has one Dimitar Berbatov, it certainly doesn’t need one that’s half as good. Continue in this vein, and Van Wolfswinkel will need a remarkable goal return to hide this laziness. Without this, the Norwich faithful will turn against their record signing, who could possibly find himself sold next year at a sizable loss.
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