It’s that time of year again, folks. After months of speculation, tabloid fantasy and Twitter hearsay, transfer deadline day is finally upon us.
Whether you’re a fan of the man in the yellow tie, or simply an avid refresher of the BBC Sport website, the day promises to throw the majority of the summer’s rumours into either reality or mythology. Will Neymar move to Manchester United? Will De Bruyne finally stop teasing Manchester City? Or, perhaps a shock?…Ronaldo to United anyone?
The problem with deadline day is that we forget how pants it can be. It’s a bit like Christmas. Every year, without fail, Christmas promises to be the best day ever. Presents! Family! Snow! And yet, by 3pm, you’re too full, it’s raining outside and you’ve settled down to an evening in front of Doctor Who – a show you spend your whole year trying to avoid. Like Christmas, deadline day promises much and often doesn’t really deliver. You go in for Del Piero, you come out with Grzegorz Rasiak.
Maybe though, I’m just a pessimist. After all, at the moment of writing, John Stones has just handed in a transfer request at Everton, Saido Berahino has seen a bid of £22m from Tottenham Hotspur rejected and Arsenal have seemingly been linked with every adequate striker on the planet. Could this therefore be the window to rekindle our love affair with transfer deadline day? Could it be the Christmas we’ve always dreamed of?
Anyway, enough with the analogies, let’s have a look back at some of the biggest August/September deadline day transfers of all time. We’ll provide a small synopsis of the players behind the transfers, the hoo-har surrounding the transfer at the time and finally; ask, where are they now?
Name: Robbie Keane
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Then: As a young Tottenham fan growing up, there was no better player than the great Robbie Keane. In the summer of 2002, his then club, Leeds United, were in complete financial meltdown and needed quick sales. On August 31st, Tottenham decided to test Leeds’ resolve with a £7 million bid for their burgeoning star. Keane’s career had stalled slightly while at the North Yorkshire club. After breaking through the Wolves youth system in 1997, Keane quickly established himself as one of the finest young talents in Europe. Italian giants, Inter Milan, soon swooped on the Irish international, signing him for £13 million in 2000. However, the man who bought Keane, Marcello Lippi, was sacked just months into the season and the attacker was deemed surplus to requirements. Just months after his Italian dream had started, Keane was back in the Premier League with Leeds. Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur were in despair. They had an ageing side, a disgruntled fan base and a manager with a point to prove. Signing the energetic and instinctive Keane would prove to be a masterstroke – injecting a whole new lease of life into the otherwise ordinary Spurs side.
Now: Keane is perhaps one of the most underrated players in the Premier League era. Not only is he a Tottenham Hotspur legend, but – because of his phenomenal goalscoring record for Ireland – he has become the fifth highest scoring European in history. He is currently plying his trade for LA Galaxy in the MLS. He has been named in the MLS “team of the year” three times and was named as the 2014 “MVP”. In terms of his Spurs career, Keane averaged over 15 goals a season for the North London side. Between 2002 and 2008, Keane propelled Spurs back into contention for European places – including an unprecedented – and ever so heartbreaking – fifth-placed finish in the 2005-2006 season. In 2008, Tottenham Hotspur accepted a £20 million bid from Liverpool for their star striker. To the despair of every Tottenham fan, Keane’s lifelong dream of playing for Liverpool meant the decision was an easy one. His relationship with the Liverpool support was difficult. His CV promised goals, goals, goals. However, by December, Keane only had five goals to his name. A deeply troubled Tottenham Hotspur – now managed by Harry Redknapp – made the bold move to bring back their prodigal son. Without Keane’s help, who knows whether Spurs would have been able to fight the drop.
Name: Wayne Rooney
Club: Manchester United
Then: 18-year-old boy wonder Wayne Rooney first shot to stardom during a game against the mighty Arsenal. Just months after celebrating his 16th birthday, Rooney stole the show – swivelling on the edge of the area and curling a delightful effort into David Seaman’s top right-hand corner. Two seasons later and Rooney was the subject of a bidding war between Manchester United and Newcastle United. On the August 31st 2004, Manchester United had a bid of £25.6 million accepted by Everton and, with that, Rooney became the most expensive under-20 player in the history of the game. Almost a month later, Rooney made his debut for Manchester United, scoring a hat-trick in a Champions League tie against Turkish giants, Fenerbahce. The stage was set for Rooney to become one of the greatest English players ever.
Now: Despite receiving numerous accolades, being one goal away from the all-time English goalscoring record and averaging over 15 goals every season, Wayne Rooney has never really managed to win over the British media and public. The Manchester United captain is currently being lambasted in the media for his lack of goals in the 2015-2016 Premier League season. Unfortunately for Rooney, his manager’s insistence on a slow build up game and crazy positional choices have badly affected any chance of him breaking his duct. This has been the story of Rooney’s career. No matter how many times he’s pulled Manchester United out of sticky patches, he has never been fully appreciated. In the 2014-2015 season, for example, Rooney managed to score 14 goals despite playing the majority of the season in a central midfield position. Yet, in the media, this wasn’t enough. Rooney appears to be the sort player who, once he’s gone, will be missed greatly. So, my message is: make the most of him while you still can!
Name: Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano
Club: West Ham
Then: Obviously, there were interesting transfers before 2006. However, the Tevez and Mascherano saga stands as one of the most bizarre and fascinating moves in the history of the Premier League. In the summer of 2006, both players were regarded as potential world beaters. They were both internationals, both under-21 and both subjected to interest from a whole host of European giants. So, when struggling Premier League side West Ham United announced the joint signing of the two global stars in July 2006, the footballing world stood in disbelief. How was such a move possible? Well, it was illegal of course. Just nine months later, Tevez scored the winning goal against Manchester United in a relegation decider – sending Sheffield United down – and cemented his place among West Ham’s greats. However, behind the scenes, the Premier League had been investigated the nature of the Tevez and Mascherano transfers. They deemed the ‘third party’ ownership of the two players to be illegal and swiftly fined West Ham a record £5.5 million. However, the controversy didn’t stop there. Relegated Sheffield United believed that in signing Mascherano, and in particular, Tevez, West Ham had been given a distinct advantage over their rivals. They insisted that West Ham should be relegated and Sheffield United should be reinstated into the top division. After a long and tumultuous battle, both clubs agreed that West Ham should pay £20 million as compensation to Sheffield United.
Now: Despite having a career dogged by controversy, Tevez is still regarded as one of the finest footballers in the world game. Now 31-years-old and back with his boyhood side, Boca Juniors, Tevez is finally content and happy. In terms of his West Ham career, Tevez left shortly after saving the Hammers from impending relegation. Manchester United proposed a two-year loan deal for the controversial ‘third party’ owned star and, after the trouble his transfer had caused, West Ham reluctantly accepted a £2 million pay-off. While at Manchester United, Tevez lifted the Champions League and the Premier League. However, it would be at his next club, Manchester City, where Tevez would really make his mark. In the 2009-2010 season, Tevez scored an impressive 23 times in the Premier League and was named top scorer in the process. However, just years later, in 2011, Tevez’s refusal to come on as a substitute against Bayern Munich meant the player was suspended and sent on gardening leave. His relationship with the board never quite recovered and Tevez moved onto pastures new at Juventus in 2013. He proved to be an inspired signing and, in both the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 season, was named as the club’s ‘player of the season’. With regard to Javier Mascherano, the Argentina international has gone on to become the player many expected. After an impressive spell with Liverpool, Mascherano was signed by Barcelona – quickly slotting into the vacant centre-half berth. In his time with the club, he has lifted four La Liga titles, two Champions League titles and one FIFA Club World Cup.
Name: Ashley Cole
Then: Let’s move onto potentially one of the most controversial transfer debacles in the history of the Premier League. Writing in his 2006 autobiography “My Defence”, Arsenal’s Ashley Cole commented that he nearly “swerved off the road” when he heard the club were only willing to offer him £55,000-a-week. The 25-year-old England international had been in a contractual dispute with his boyhood club for some time. Big bucks Chelsea knew that and with patience and, of course, a whole heap of money, they could snare the unsettled left-back for a reduced fee. On deadline day 2006, they announced that they had signed Cole for a fee of £5 million – including William Gallas going in the other direction. He would receive £90,000-a-week for his services. The nickname was set; he would be forever known as Ca$hley Cole.
Now: Despite the unwanted reputation as a money grabber, it can’t be denied that Cole is one of the finest left-backs to have ever played for England. He has won copious trophies and, until recently, has been an ever-present in whatever side he’s played for. Unfortunately, Cole’s late career move to Roma in the Italian Serie A has seen his stock diminish significantly. He has been unable to break into the side and has been famed more for his awkward poses than playing ability. The Cole saga will also be remembered as one of the first high profile examples of where an English player’s head has been been turned by a powerful agent. Since his controversial move from Arsenal to Chelsea, there have been several high profile sagas involving English players and contractual dispute…Theo Walcott, Raheem Sterling, Saido Berahino.
Club: Manchester City
Then: September 1st 2008 will be remembered by Manchester City fans forever. Oil tycoon Sheikh Mansoor – the head of an Abu Dhabi United Group – decided to gamble on the mid-table floaters in a takeover bid of close to £200 million. And, just minutes before the end of the transfer window, he set out his intentions as he sanctioned a British record transfer move for the diminutive Brazilian, Robinho. Despite not really knowing what club he was joining, Robinho astonishingly accepted the £32 million move from European giants, Real Madrid. In his first interview with British media, he mistook Manchester City with Chelsea and, months later, revealed that he thought he was going to be playing for Manchester United. However, Manchester City fans didn’t care. For the first time in their history, they had one of the world’s best players in their ranks – the man who the great Pele had named as his successor. Despite struggling at times with the English climate, Robinho finished his first season at the club with an impressive Premier League tally of 14 goals. However, the fairytale would soon turn into a nightmare. Robinho’s lack of discipline and difficulty with injury meant that he soon fell down the pecking order at a rapidly advancing Manchester City. The man, who had famously started the City revolution, was soon unceremoniously dumped back into the transfer market.
Now: Robinho never really managed to replicate the form that made him one of the most feared strikers in the world during his time in Madrid. Instead, after being told he was surplus to requirements at City, Robinho moved to fallen giants, AC Milan, where, in a four-year period, he struggled to regularly find the net. After a brief, but reasonably successful, spell back at Santos during the 2014-2015 season, Robinho decided to try his luck in the Chinese Super League with champions, Guangzhou Evergrande. In the four games he has played for his new side, Robinho has managed to rediscover his goalscoring touch. And, if he is lucky enough to be selected for his national side again, he will receive his 100th cap! Was Robinho’s career ruined by the pressure of carrying an inexperienced and lacklustre Manchester City side? The evidence suggests so.