The European transfer deadline day provided the usual amount of frantic business akin to those who leave shopping for gifts until Christmas Eve - but in the soccer world, there are no late bargains to be had, and the chance is high of being left disappointed when things don't work out at the last minute.
The actual winners on transfer deadline day are those clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City who were well prepared and managed to get their main incoming business done well ahead of the transfer window closing.
Tottenham were able to add seven players by spending over 100 million pounds and also ensured maximum return for the Gareth Bale transfer to Real Madrid by managing the move superbly.
Manchester City had most of their new faces with the squad by the time preseason began – the perfect way to prepare for a new campaign.
Other clubs waited. Of the teams that were active on Deadline Day, some were more successful than others. In total, 142 million pounds was spent by clubs in England on Deadline Day alone, with the total spending for the whole transfer window in the Premier League totaling a record 630 million pounds.
Arsenal fans spent much of the summer worrying that their club would fail to add any significant signings. After Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis talked publicly of their their increased financial firepower earlier this summer along with their intent to spend, the lack of arrivals at the Emirates ensured there was plenty of pressure on Manager Arsene Wenger.
However, things changed big-time on Deadline Day.
Arsenal's capture of Mezut Ozil was spectacular. The Gunners finally splashed the cash by paying over 42 million pounds to acquire one of the world's top midfielders from Real Madrid. With Ozil just 24 years old, having signed a five year deal, Arsenal ensured they will be able to benefit long-term from having a player who has already achieved big things at both club and international level.
He was named in UEFA's Team of the Tournament at EURO 2012 and has 47 caps for Germany. While midfield was not exactly Arsenal's biggest area of need, you don't pass up on the chance to sign Ozil. There's no doubt he will make Arsenal a much better team, but his arrival is also a signal of the Gunners intent not to get left any further behind the big three in England.
The Gunners bolstered their goalkeeping with the addition of Emiliano Viviano on loan from Palermo, although they weren't able to add a new striker which is an area in which they are still lacking, despite the great early season form of French forward Olivier Giroud. Even though they couldn't add a forward, the signing of Ozil was without doubt the best move of Deadline Day.
A Close Second:
Everton left it late, but they managed to end Deadline Day in a much stronger position than they started it, despite the departure of Marouane Fellani. The Toffees signed Wigan Athletic midfielder James McCarthy for 13 million pounds and also brought in Gareth Barry from Manchester City and Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea on loan for the rest of the season.
Everton beat West Brom to the signing of the 20-year-old Belgian striker Lukaku who has already proven his ability to score goals at Premier League level, scoring 17 times last season on loan with the Baggies from Chelsea. They also add both youth and experience to their midfield with the arrival of Republic of Ireland midfielder McCarthy and England international Barry. Overall, it was an excellent day for Roberto Martinez.
Could Do Better:
David Moyes' first transfer window as Sir Alex Ferguson's successor at Manchester United was far from a glowing success. In truth, as the defending champions, United still has a squad that is strong enough to contend again this year, but there are areas they wanted to strengthen. Deadline day at Old Trafford was more about who United failed to sign rather than the business they actually did.
United's bid to bring in left back Fabio Coentrao fell through after previous attempts to sign Everton's Leighton Baines had also failed. The signing of Athletic Bilbao's Ander Herrera hit a last minute roadblock ensuring that a summer which started with talk of an Old Trafford move for Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas and a whole host of other targets ended with a dash to add Fellaini from Everton for 27.5 million pounds. That's not too far below the original bid United made for both Fellaini and Baines that was described as "derisory" a few weeks earlier.
Fellaini is a decent addition for Moyes' men but they overpaid for the midfielder, and could have saved a few million pounds had they made their move earlier in the summer. The club's inability to strengthen in other areas will have been a big boost to United's title rivals. It also ensures the spotlight will be firmly focused on United's new management regime moving forward after their inability to get more significant deals across the line.
So now the window is closed until January and teams will have to make do with what they have. There seems to be a growing opinion within the game that the window should be shortened to avoid such drawn out transfers as the Bale deal, or even that the window should close before the season begins so that clubs are not left in limbo beginning the new campaign with players who want a move away.
For me, the length of the window isn't the issue - the problem is the clubs who decide to leave everything until the last minute. If that's the way they choose to do their business then they have to suffer the consequences.