After weeks of waiting, Manual Neuer has officially joined FC Bayern today. The deal is believed to be worth a minimum of 18 million Euro, plus possible incentive bonuses payable to Schalke. This deal was basically consummated 2 weeks ago, but Schalke’s management kept trying to say "no final deal has been reached yet!" as part of a last-ditch effort to convince Neuer to stay. I didn’t really have any sort of celebratory reaction, because this was already long expected, but it’s a relief to get it over with.
Over the past few days, I’ve been immersed in the transfer market, and one of the realizations that I keep coming back to is that the level of available firepower is MUCH different for a team looking for offense than it is for a team looking for defense. When it comes to reinforcing the defensive line, it appears FC Bayern might be a buyer in a seller’s market. Let’s compare the two:
For a team that’s in the market for offensive firepower - not just a minor upgrade at one position, but team looking to rebuild the offense entirely and create a lot more chances and goals - the list of available or somewhat-available players looks like this:
- Wesley Sneijder - one of the best 5 players in the world
- Carlos Tevez - one of the best 3 strikers in the Premier League over the past two years, practically BEGGING to leave
- Kaka - former Ballon d’Or and World Player of the Year winner, still only 29 years old
- Sergio Aguero - immensely talented striker, 74 goals in 6 seasons with Atletico Madrid, helped his team win Copa del Rey and Europa League trophies with his clutch scoring, only 22 years old
- Dimitar Berbatov - reigning Premier League goals leader, regularly scores 15 goals per season, could be picked up on the cheap
- Arturo Vidal - two-way talent that can create offense and help get back to defend, only 24 years old
- Nicklas Bendtner - solid striker with good fundamentals, not elite-class, but could be a great addition for a team in need of a striker
- Javier Pastore - 14 goals and 6 assists in all competitions this year with Palermo, great passer, could instantly make any offense better, will turn 22 years old this summer
- Samir Nasri - fast, great vision, proven talent, can play several positions, only 23 years old
- Luka Modric - proven goal scorer, versatile, single-handedly dragged Spurs through much of this season
- Jermain Defoe - decent striker that’s good for double-digit goals every year, likely available at a discount
I mean, look at those names - this is practically a fucking All-Star Team of great offensive talents that have at least some possibility of being sold or traded. Yes, it’s true that not all of those players will end up transferring (e.g., Kaka looked like a good bet to move for a while, but now says he’ll stay). But keep in mind this list also doesn’t include a lot of other players that haven’t been mentioned as likely transfers, but that probably could be had for the right place. For instance, Chelsea will probably be forced to offload either Drogba or Anelka now that Torres is on board. Neither of those guys are included on my list (they haven’t been quoted as saying they might leave), but a solid offer could probably pry one of them loose. Basically, if you’re a team who needs a new striker, midfielder, or wing, you have several great ones and a whole lot of really, really good ones to choose from. And the glut in the market means that the prices won’t spiral out of control; Spurs can’t demand 25 million pounds for Defoe when they know that a team looking for a striker can easily pick up Aguero, Bendtner, Berbatov, etc.
Now … compare that list to the guys available on the defensive end of the pitch:
- van der Wiel - he’s great. Someone will be happy they got him
- Coentrao - he’s great, but apparently the only place he will go is Real Madrid, and even then I’m not sure he’s worth over 20 million Euro. Great going forward and linking up with wings and middies, not elite when it comes to defending
- Jerome Boateng - he’s pretty good. Solid talent, not too many holes in his skill set, but definitely not a game-changer. Coming off a serious knee injury. On sale for 20 million Euro. Ridiculous.
- Alex - kind of old, kind of stiff, got chased out of his starting job at Chelsea. For a team hoping to win trophies, he’s probably not even a starter, much less a big upgrade
- Simon Kjaer - talented but unproven. Has only one year as a regular starter in the Bundelisa. Could pay off, but this would be gamble.
- Domenico Criscito - pretty quick, moves fluidly, can play LB or CB, has looked good playing for the Italian National Team. I like the kid, but the fact that he’s one of the best talents available on the defensive end shows what kind of market this is.
That’s about it. I’m sure I’m forgetting something, so let me know who’s missing in the comments or e-mail me at email@example.com. But this is at least a general list of the kind of guys who are available. Guys like Benedikt Howedes, Giorgio Chiellini, and Mats Hummels are said to be completely unavailable, to say nothing of players such as Vidic, Pique, or Pepe. I understand Vidic and Pique are the best defenders in the world, but so what? Sneijder is maybe the best attacking middie in the world. Tevez would have an argument for best striker in the world. Aguero could be the best striker under 23 in the world. All of those guys could be bought, and some of them wouldn’t even cost all that much. Why isn’t anyone of that level available on the defensive end?
Anyway, I know I’m complaining here, I just thought it was an interesting comparison. van der Wiel might be the best generally available defender, and he’s going to spark a huge bidding war. And he can’t even play CB.
And hell no, we don’t want Boateng for 17 million pounds. I’d rather go into the season with our back line as Lahm - Badstuber - Gustavo - Rafinha, with Contento the first off the bench to replace Lahm or Raf and van Buyten the first CB off the bench. Maybe by January, Schalke or Hummels will be in such trouble that they consider selling Howedes or Hummels. Or maybe Gustavo and Badstuber will surprise everyone and play great.
This kind of long list-making always generates disagreement, so let me know what I got wrong. Thanks for reading.