Hull City enjoyed a successful transfer deadline day with some shrewd acquisitions. Colm Hayes discusses.
Steve Bruce certainly had to sign a striker to replace Shane Long, and after being rebuffed in his attempts to prise Jordan Rhodes from Blackburn, the manager decided to splash out a club-record fee of £10 million on Uruguayan forward Abel Hernandez.
The powerful striker had an excellent season with Palermo last year, scoring 14 goals in 28 appearances and being rewarded with a place in the Uruguay squad for the World Cup. However, this scoring record comes from the Serie B and the Premier League will represent a huge change of pace for the new signing.
Hernandez definitely represents a gamble by Bruce and Hull City and one wonders if there was touch of panic evident in this purchase. Hernandez will of course represent excellent value if he can manage a goal every two games for a generally low-scoring Hull City side. However, we have seen it can take even the best players time to settle in to the demands of the Premier League and it could be a tough bedding in period for the Tigers’ new frontman.
Another member of Uruguay’s World Cup squad that has made the switch to the KC Stadium is Gaston Ramirez. Even with Southampton’s raft of exits during the summer, they have re-strengthened sufficiently to allow the attacker to make a loan switch to their Premier League rivals.
While Ramirez’s playing time at St. Mary’s was likely to be limited, he will face another tough battle in trying to gain entry to Hull’s starting eleven with the level of competition that now exists at the club.
Should Steve Bruce continue with his favoured 3-5-2 formation, Ramirez would realistically only be fighting for the coveted ‘in-the-hole’ role with two established strikers in Jelavic and Hernandez looking nailed-on for the forward berths.
Competition will be rife in the Hull squad for the ‘number 10’ role and Ramirez may find himself below a certain Hatem Ben Arfa, and possibly others, in the pecking order at his new club.
Mohamed Diame is another player who had fallen out of his manager’s plans after Sam Allardyce bolstered his midfield ranks over the summer. The Senegal international will bring strength and power to the centre of the field for the Tigers and will hope to usurp the position of either Jake Livermore or Tom Huddlestone.
This could prove a tough task for the former Wigan warrior, but there is also the chance that he could be used at right wing-back due to his athleticism and energy. Of course, this is another position that many players are vying for but this can only be a good thing for Hull as competition will drive the players to perform to their highest levels.
In Diame, Bruce has made a solid signing with plenty of Premier League experience. Unfortunately from an Irish perspective, Diame’s arrival could further curtail the already limited playing time of David Meyler this season.
What will probably be Bruce and Hull’s best deal of the summer is the capture of Hatem Ben Arfa on a season-long loan deal from Newcastle. The French flyer arrives at the KC with only one year left on his contract with the Magpies and no recall option included in the loan deal.
Should Bruce extract the best out of the enigmatic talent that is Ben Arfa, he could have a serious bargain on his hands with a free transfer in the offing come next summer. Should he prove his match fitness before Monday week’s clash with West Ham, the former Marseille magician could slot seamlessly into a new-look Hull attack operating behind a front two of Nikica Jelavic and the aforementioned Hernandez.
Of course, Ben Arfa has a history of falling out with managers and his problems with Alan Pardew have been all too well publicised. There is no question about his talent though and the Newcastle fan-favourite can be an excellent addition for Hull with the right direction from Bruce.
Ben Arfa’s signing along with the arrival of Ramirez puts serious question marks over the playing time of more members of Hull’s Irish contingent in Robbie Brady and Stephen Quinn.
Hull City certainly capped off a fine summer of spending with an impressive final day of the transfer window. They have strengthened in almost every position on the pitch and have brought in some quality proven Premier League performers coupled with some new exciting talents.
Having been disappointingly knocked out of the Europa League qualifying stage, Hull will have their sights set on another big cup run along with a better showing in the league. While 16th place wasn’t a wholly bad conclusion for the club’s first season back in the top-flight, Steve Bruce and his team will be hoping for a much better finish this season.
Avoiding the dreaded second-season syndrome is key for the Tigers and they look to have built a squad that can do just that and flourish in the league this time around.
Colm Hayes, Pundit Arena.