It’s a quiet time of year and no mistake. Transfers that might have gone through quickly in other close seasons are put on hold due to Euro 2008. Managers hold fire because they, or their players, are on holiday or in our case deals are strung out because we seem to be going for the good old fashioned ploy of bartering rather than paying straight cash!
Don’t get me wrong I’m not against this. It is a thoroughly sensible way of getting in new players whilst shipping out old ones but if it delays or scuppers a deal then it is obviously counteractive. These days of the credit crunch there is something noble and pleasing about going back to old traditional ways of doing a deal. However, it looks like this tactic means we have lost out on Arran Ramsey. The Mancs, Everton and Arsenal seem to be ahead of us in the queue. The Echo suggests that it’s because we’ve gone “cool” on the deal and that the priority this summer is to strengthen the first team rather than build up at grass root level. However, we are no longer a contender for Ramsey’s signature as, rather than pay £5m or so, we would rather pay less and introduce “add ons” or link further payments to his performance or development.
On balance I’ve no real complaints about this. Rafa’s record of signing “one’s for the future” is decent enough and given that funds appear to be limited this time, it does seem sensible to channel what little we have into the “top end” of the squad?
To the never ending saga of the Gareth Barry deal. This has always been complicated by the fact that we need to sell Alonso to be able to afford to pay for him. Juventus’ offer and our selling price don’t seem that far away so perhaps we will see some action soon? Meanwhile we’ve upped out offer for Barry, the price now seems to be around £14m. Will Villa bite? John Arne Riise has now been linked with Roma so one assumes he is not wanted at Villa Park? Indeed I don’t know if the renewed offer includes any other players, as part of the deal or indeed any other items that Villa might be interested in such as a coffee peculator, a lawn mower or a patio washer!
I’ve been thinking about Barry replacing Alonso and my gut reaction, together with the romantic in me, sees it as a bad deal. Alonso is by the far the more skilful and indeed “cooler” player – I can’t in a month of Sundays ever see Gareth Barry chipping the keeper from around the half way line or knocking out the balls Xabi does. However, perhaps that is just the football fan in me speaking? How terrible! At the risk of typecasting the two players perhaps Barry’s more English, more pragmatic, less artistic, style of play will bring more balance to the side. It is clear that Gerrard rates him and I guess if his presence means we get more out of Stevie G (is there any more that can be squeezed out?) then he will be a good buy?
Maybe this deal is a sign that Rafa is slowly beginning to see what is needed in the way of players to win the Premiership and sees Barry’s style and experience as part of the answer to this – a case of “horses for courses”?
The other more wayward theory, as I don’t think it will ever happen is that Barry’s stock will increase over Alonso if Step Blatter’s loony idea to limit the number of foreign players in each side becomes law. However, I suspect Barry was in Rafa’s mind long before the FIFA man’s latest unworkable wheeze! Put Blatter and Hicks in the same room and who knows what they’d come up with, I suspect the government would have to intervene on the grounds of national security!
That’s it, enjoy your day, I will as I’m not at work!