As the world’s footballers become more and more familiar and accustomed with the new surroundings at each club, each player’s journey has a snippet or a whimsical foray that delights the world’s media.
Luis Figo, trying to take a corner at the Camp Nou, with a pig’s head flying past his ear. Or Eric Cantona being jettisoned for £1.2million from Leeds to Manchester United; as Lee Chapman was apparently the man required for the Elland Road outfit at that time.
All transfers tell their own story but the ‘hits’ seem to have struck a cord and rang a bell that will always be replayed again and again as it brings joy or misery to many a footballing fan. As new facts are learnt or others regressed back to a past era where in hindsight clubs now look to correct or learn new lessons for the better of the club.
Dortmund’s new signing Ciro Immobile seems to settling in just fine with his new German side. A direct replacement for Robert Lewandowski, he was not singed on a whim by German master tactician Jürgen Klopp but was studied with almost stalker-esque precision it is almost surreal that he went reading the facts or hearing an assessment from the player himself.
“He watched me over seventy times to study my attributes. Even my father hasn’t seen me play that much,” Ciro said.
Crazy to see but in today’s footballing world when millions of euros change clubs within or across borders the utmost requirement of assessing players attributes are abundantly needed before a club parts ways with their hard earned cash. This goes without saying, but a requirement to do one’s homework before signing a player is a no brainer.
There have been some monumental errors with pure lack of judgment that have almost bankrupt clubs over the years. When you read or remember one, almost straight away another example of poor judgment hits the press. Some are a sure thing, others a gamble, but some just defy logic.
In a world where this particular role falls to the likes of a Frank Arnesen or Damien Comolli, before the manager had the last word on who came in. The sporting director role is now a more common attribute with what’s best for the club, despite some managers pulling their hair out in dismay. As long as vast sums are not on the line a manager can almost be forgiven for acquiring a poor player.
In 1996 a certain Ali Dia, who was signed for Southampton by then-manager Graeme Souness, was a classic example. The gusto of Ali must be appalled as he convinced Souness to give him a month’s contract as he was apparently the cousin of George Weah, which was ripped up after fourteen days. In retrospect, he (Souness) can be forgiven, as no multi-million pound transaction transpired but still embarrassing all the same. But the signings of Gaizka Mendieta by Lazio or Fernando Torres and Andriy Shevchenko by Chelsea for huge sums showed the risks involved. Players signed in their prime faltering before the ink had dried on their contracts.
Every football fan can think of their own signing(s) to write a book of angst and sorrow. With each one more comical than the other as humanity knows no bounds with the weird, wonderful, and wacky players to grace the footballing grounds around the globe. As they struggle to pronounce the name of the new Lithuanian chap, or instead scramble to Google Translate to break it up into each syllable only to fail miserably and to find out much later that their own version of the name is completely off the mark, corrected by BBC’s Match of The Day. Azpilicueta or Dave, according to the Chelsea fans was a simpler but a comical version to digest. Whether known or unknown time will only tell if all the courting and subsequent signing paid to fruition.
Alex Ferguson wasn’t one for ‘umms’ or ‘ahhhs’ as he would dissect each respective candidate with a fine tooth comb – with the exception of Portuguese forward Bebe of course. But even the games maestros are susceptible to signing the odd turkey every now and again. After all we are only human. The buck surely stopped at Ferguson with this acquisition but the overall premise quickly ironed out that small transfer blemish. £4million and off to Benfica this summer. Not bad considering his total lack of input at Old Trafford.
The modern day tinker-man adjusting accordingly with the perils and adulations that today’s game bring are looking for new inventive ways to get the upper hand over their rivals. Ciro’s assessment is really only a drop in the ocean. Arsene Wenger once famously went to see Juan Antonio Reyes in Seville in disguise to avoid detection before completing a £20 million deal for the player. A sign of what lengths certain managers will go through to try and be as covert as possible so that the opposition are unbeknownst to what transfer dealings are in the pipeline for rival teams.
Wenger is the biggest procrastinator of them all in terms or loosening the purse strings as he profiles the world’s best. He seems to ponder too much but the club’s finances and Arsenal are the better because of it. The past twelve months have given the fans something to enjoy with the big bucks signings of Alexis Sànchez and Mesut Özil but he has been very astute with his signings, albeit resulting in one trophy in nine years.
When the news flash comes rolling in and the fans get overly excited, all that joy can be taken away in an instant. In 1988 Paul Gascoigne was on the verge of signing for Manchester United but at the 11th hour Tottenham Hotspur offered to buy his parents a house in Newcastle, which sealed the deal and the rest is history.
After agreeing to sign for Manchester United, Alex Ferguson felt he had it all sewn up until Spurs had the last word and swooped in and left Ferguson obviously furious. “Go and enjoy yourself Mr Ferguson, I’ll be signing for Manchester United,” Gazza said as Alex departed for his summer holidays.
For the fans, especially in this day an age, until a player is seen in the official kit, nothing is cast-iron or set in stone. Until they see the visualisation of that certain acquisition being put in front of the flashed photography of the world’s media fans will live in fear until they are finally put at ease. Willian’s transfer to Chelsea last summer another prime example as the chess-like swoop by Roman Abramovich broke the hearts of all Spurs fans.
With less than a month to go the transfer window will throw up a few shocks and a couple that would even leave a four-year-old screaming in horror at the sheer sight of it all.
Liam Cairns, Pundit Arena.