Beckham, Balotelli and the winter transfer review
David Beckham showed (again) that he is a saavy businessman choosing new French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain as his next destination. 'Becks' signed for six months with a team that has created a lot of buzz in the pass couple seasons by acquiring some of the top players in the world including Swede star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Brazilian Thiago Silva, and Argentines Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore.
The ‘Spice Boy’ saw a mutual benefit for both club and himself as he knows his arrival to Paris will produce a great marketing and image for PSG, for which the new Qatari owners have planned to put it among the top clubs in the world not only sports wise but also in fan popularity. At the same time, a glamorous city like Paris seems like a perfect fit for Beckham’s clean and stylish image.
Even though Beckham stays in a good physical condition, it is uncertain how much playing he will have not only due to his age (37) but also due to the quality of players in the squad. What is certain is that Beckham’s presence on the field not only will attract spectators in any stadium PSG plays, but also will have an impact on Ligue 1's TV ratings.
Mario Balotelli has finally moved to the club he supports since he was a boy as he confessed a couple of years ago. Although his quality as a player is undeniable, ‘Super Mario’ is very well known for his antics off the pitch, which eventually could affect his performance. Milan’s bet is a risky one, but if Mario keeps his behavior within limits, the ‘Rossoneri’ could form a very young but also very strong and lethal attacking duo along with Stephan El-Shaarawi. Balotelli started well by scoring twice on his debut, but his form will depend on how he coexists with the city of Milan’s nightlife.
However, in terms of money, the most expensive winter signings are two Brazilians: Lucas Moura, whose 42-million-euro deal from Sao Paulo to PSG was done in the summer, but the player arrived to the club on January 1st, and Willian, a great 24-year old winger who moved from Shakhtar Donetsk to Samuel Eto’o’s Anzhi for 35 million euros. Moura and Willian did not enjoy the media buzz created by Beckham or Balotelli’s signings, but the money paid for them indicates these are two players we must follow.
Special mention deserves Turkish side Galatasaray, which brought in 12 new players, including stars Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder, aiming to strengthen its squad for the Champions League's Round of 16 encounter against Schalke.
As it has been happening in the last 4 winters, the reinforcements by Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona was minimal. In the case of the ‘Merengues,' the club made a move on goalkeeper Diego López to replace injured Iker Casillas, becoming the team’s only transfer. Meanwhile Barcelona did not bring any reinforcements. Since the 2005-06 season, the ‘Blaugranas’ have only brought two players in the winter transfer window: substitute keeper Jose Manuel Pinto and Dutch forward Ibrahim Afellay.
It is important to point out how the Spanish clubs don’t tend to bring in new players during the winter. The Spanish league only spent 13.6 million euros* in signings in January; even though it represents an increase compared to the 7 million euros* spent last year, it pales in comparison to the Premier League’s 146 million euros* or the Serie A’s 100 million*. The Spanish league ranks only 11th in the top expenditures list this winter, below weaker leagues such as the Ukranian, Belgian, Turkish or the Chinese.