Thank God it’s over. The month of January is a dramatic one for football around the world. Some players leave the only league they’ve ever known for an entirely new one; a new style of football than what they’re used to. Some players go back to the league in which they started that gave them their career. Some players enter a professional league for the first time. In just four weeks, the entire world of football can be turned upside down.
Thanks to my college gifting me six weeks of winter break and my friends at Inside Spanish Football, I’ve been able to keep an eye on the who has been coming in and who has been going out in La Liga. However, since classes started, it’s been a little more than difficult to sit down and write. Here’s a list of some transfers that caught my eye this past month. I’m not saying that these are the best or the worst, but they’re the ones that caught my attention so here we go!
Demba Ba: I’ll admit it, I had never heard of Demba Ba until news came out that he signed for Chelsea but what an impression he’s made since putting on the blue shirt for the first time against Southhampton on January 5. Two goals for a dream start at a top-tier club. While Chelsea did not disclose Ba’s transfer fee, we can be assured that he was well worth the money. Before arriving at Stamford Bridge, he scored 13 goals in 20 appearances for Newcastle United. He’s third top goal scorer in the league, just under Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez. Excuse my French but damn. Of course, this doesn’t make life any easier for Fernando Torres. I read somewhere that Demba Ba was brought in to relieve Fernando Torres of some of the pressure on him to score. I don’t see it that way. Chelsea are sitting 16 points below Manchester United in the race for the Premier League title, making Demba Ba something of a beacon of hope for more goals for the rest of the season.
Giuseppe Rossi: A native to a small town in New Jersey, Giuseppe Rossi is an American to me whether or not he plays for Italy. After spending five and a half years at Villareal,from qualifying for the Champions League to being relegated, Rossi parted ways with the Spanish club when he signed for ACF Fiorentina on January 4. The forward hasn’t played for the Italian national team in five years but I’m not positive if it’s because of his skill or because of Juventus. There’s a saying in Italy along the lines of “A good Juventus makes for a good Italy”. Whatever the case, at age 26, it’s good for him to get out the Segunda and back to top-flight football. Who knows, maybe he’ll even make a comeback to the Azzurri.
Fernando Gago: It took me awhile to understand the enigma that is Fernando Gago. After falling out of favor at Real Madrid and being what seemed to be perpetually injured, the Whites had to let him go. With the likes of Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira as his competition for his position, he didn’t stand much of a chance while Mourinho was in charge. Following a loan stint at AS Roma, his move to Valencia also proved to be unsuccessful as they just loaned him out to Velez Scarfield in Argentina. I think his experience in two of the biggest leagues in the world will allow him to really regain his form while he’s in Buenos Aires. But I do think his career in Europe is mostly over.
Brek Shea: There is a chance I don’t invest enough confidence in Americans. But I do worry about Brek Shea. He’s only netted 19 goals in 98 appearances for FC Dallas in the MLS from 2008 up until last month. While he did suffer from injuries, I just don’t know how successful and effective he’ll be at Stoke. The Premier League definitely plays a faster, more physical game compared to the MLS, that’s no secret. He’s only 22 though, so I think he’ll be able to adjust if he isn’t bogged down by any more injuries. The 2.5 mil price tag seems fitting. On the international front, the USMNT needs as many of its players playing abroad as possible if they want to consider themselves true competition for other nations ahead of the World Cup.
Lucas Piazón: Usually, when a player is sent out on loan, it’s because there isn’t a place for him at the club. This isn’t all that different however, I do believe that a spot for Lucas Piazón will open up. And I think it will be at Málaga. I don’t agree with Rafa Benitez sending Lucas Piazón to Spain, but only because I believe that the Andalusians will want to buy him, depending on how he does. Off the top of my head, Chelsea is stacked. Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Oscar, Demba Ba…it would definitely be near impossible for Piazón to break into an attacking half like that. I feel like Di Matteo would have kept him but we can’t live in the past so I’ll move on. A move to Málaga could not have come at a better time for the young Brazilian. Besides living in Southern Spain at 19, Málaga is a great club and will give him opportunities, like playing the Champions League, that Chelsea couldn’t.
Diego López: I think it goes without saying that if Iker Casillas didn’t hurt his hand, this deal would have never happened. Nevertheless, Real Madrid got extremely lucky with this one. To me this is a prime example of club loyalty, Lopez knows full well that when Casillas returns to form, his time on the pitch will be severely cut, assuming Casillas and Mourinho keep their supposed cat fights to a minimum. And yet, he came back. It’s rare that youth players have that chance to come back after being away for so long. Given his incredible run at Villareal, playing every minute for two seasons, López has both the experience and love for the crest that Real Madrid desperately need right now. Forget the league, if Real Madrid still want to qualify for the Champions League next season, they have to trust him.
Heath Chesters at Inside Spanish Football once told me that as a journalist, the transfer window is a minefield. But we shouldn’t sell the footballers short. It’s a rough month for everyone and anyone with any type of investment in the game.
Thank God it’s over.