2011 was an incredible year for soccer and it all started with spending crazy amounts of money. Big clubs like Manchester City spent gross sums of money and despite posting record breaking net losses and debt, they are going into the new year tied for first place for the first time in decades. For small clubs, like Blackburn, they struck gold and found diamonds in the rough. The biggest surprise I found while doing my research, was the lack of large transfers of players into La Liga. In the past, we have seen clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona spend large sums of money. While those two spent their fair share, there was a mass exodus of players to England’s Premier League. It is indicitive of the economic turmoil in their country, but fortunately the level of play remains extremely high.
The system of buying and selling players is much different than other sports in the US. Clubs pay a transfer fee to other clubs as compensation for the rights to negotiate a new contract with the given player, rather than trading one for another. I have compiled my list of the top 10 transfers of 2011. While it would have been easy to just pick names with the biggest price tags like Andy Carroll (41m) and Fernando Torres (60m), I chose to look at all aspects; Price (in Euros), Age, Statistics with their new club, and potential. I have compiled my statistics using the website, whoscored.com. They have a wealth of hard to find statistics. Next to the names are the ages of the players, and below are the clubs and the price of the transfer. Again, this is my personal opinion, and they are in no particular order.
You may also be interested in my Best Soccer Moments of 2011 as well, enjoy:
Best Transfers of 2011
Cesc Fabregas (24)
Arsenal – Barcelona (34m)
The prodigal son returned to the club of his youth in August. The most amazing part? He looked like he had been there the whole time and in his first 3 matches he scored two goals and one assist. Though hampered by injury for a few games, he has scored 8 goals, 5 assists in 12 matches. Including tournaments, he has scored 10 goals and 5 assists. In La Liga he is 6th in goals, and tied for 5th in assists. He has completed 87.6% of his 65.1 passes per game on average. All of these amazing statistics, and he came at an incredible discount in relation to other players of his caliber.
Sergio Aguero (23)
Atletico Madrid – Manchester City (41m)
In a season of spending, no one did it better than Manchester City. They spent ridiculous amounts of money and completely revamped their roster. However, their centerpiece came in the form of Sergio Aguero. In his 17 match tenure and Manchester City he has amassed an impressive 13 goals and four assists. He is tied for 3rd in goals and 20th in assists in the Premier League. He has incredible talent and it doesn’t hurt that his father-in-law is Diego Maradona.
Juan Mata (23)
Valencia – Chelsea (26m)
Juan Mata has to be one of the best transfers of the entire year. So far, he has scored 4 goals, and 7 assists in 16 matches. He is tied for 2nd in assists, which is impressive considering their erratic goal scoring. Mata has completed an amazing 88.5% of passes. He is tied for first in the league with an average of 3 key passes per match. According to whoscored he is ranked 9th in the league.
Samir Nasri (24)
Arsenal – Manchester City (27m)
Arsenal lost many great players in the off-season, but after losing Fabregas, the loss of Nasri was just stunning. Nasri has proven his worth thus far this season scoring 2 goals and 7 assists in 14 matches. He is tied with Juan Mara for 2nd in assists. However, unlike Mata, he has completed 92% of his passes, and an average of 2.7 key passes per game 2.7 which is 4th in league. Nasri has great accuracy and vision with his short passes. He is ranked 11th in the league in overall statistics.
Phil Jones (19)
Blackburn – Manchester United (19m)
Phil Jones is on of the next great talents in English soccer. Although the majority of players on this list are measure by offense, Jones is the lone defender on this list. While it is hard to measure defensive attributes, it is hard to deny his incredible talents. Just 19 years old, and bought for a minimal price of 19 million he has been the anchor of one of the best defenses in the league. He has completed 85% of his passes, and has used his size to win 21 out of 38 challenges in the air. He is currently ranked 19th in the league but that will surely rise has he continues to grow.
Everton – Blackburn (1.7m)
Although not talented statistically, there was one major statistic that stands out to me; 10 goals in 13 games. He plays for the worst team in the league but his goals have him tied for 5th in the league. What is more amazing, is that he accounts for 45% of his clubs goals. Just imagine if he had gone to a club with talent to support him. Blackburn got one of the best deals of the year with Yakubu.
Michel Vorm (28)
FC Utrecht – Swansea City (1.7m)
Vorm has been the savior for Swansea City this season, with an incredibly low price tag. The investment has paid major dividends as he has 69 saves and 22 goals allowed in 18 matches. Even more impressive is that he has only 3 goals allowed at home. He is currently ranked 8th in the Premier league,in fewest goals allowed. The factor that weighed most in my selection was that he is ranked 18th of all Premier League players, and is the highest ranked keeper in the league according to whoscored.com. Incredible buy, and an incredible future ahead of him.
Emmanual Adebayor (27)
Manchester City – Tottenham Hotspur (Loan)
Although technically not a transfer, I would be remised if I didn’t include the Tottenham striker on this list. With an incredible abundance of talent at the forward position, Manchester City unwisely loaned Adebayor out to league rival Tottenham. Perhaps they didn’t have faith in Tottenham nor Adebayor, but they have been proven dead wrong. Adebayor has 9 goals and 6 assists in15 matches. He is tied for 7th in goals, and 5th for assists. He is shooting an average of 4.1 shots per game, and accounts for 26% of his clubs goals. He is a vital part of the Hotspur attack, and looks like he has finally found a home.
Demba Ba (26)
West Ham – Newcastle United (free transfer)
Newcastle made the greatest transfer ever, when they signed Demba Ba. Acquired from West Ham United on a free transfer, Ba has scored 14 goals and 1 assist in 17 games. Due to a clause in his contract with West Ham, he was released upon their relegation into the second division. Despite health concerns, Newcastle swooped in and landed, what is now, the 2nd leading goal scorer in the league. Ba accounts for 58% of clubs total goals and is ranked 24th in the league. He is one of my favorite players, and one of my favorite stories of 2011.
Arturo Vidal (24)
Bayern Leverkusen – Juventus (10.5m)
We finally end with a break from the Premier League, and focus on Italy’s Serie A. What a better way to end this list than mentioning one of the best defensive midfielders from this summer’s transfers. Arturo Vidal’s incredible vision and defensive prowess have been vital to Juventus’ defensive success. Although he has 3 goals and 3 assists in 14 matches, his greatest contribution is on the defensive side. During his time at Juventus their defense has 4th fewest shots allowed in all top 5 leagues. He is a bright future, and was incredibly inexpensive considering his talent.
The worst part of the top 10 lists, is just that, you can only have 10. However, since I am rule breaker I decided to mention two players who deserved to be in, but just didn’t have enough to knock the others out of the top 10. They are still incredibly talented and deserve to be recognized.
Mikel Arteta (29)
Everton – Arsenal (12m)
Since coming from Everton, Arteta has 3 goals and 1 assist in 17 matches. He has completed an average of 2.5 key passes per game, and leads the Premier league in average passes per game with 78.6. He ranks 10th in completed passed with 90.1%. He is ranked 6th best player in the Premier League, this season.
Manuel Neuer (25)
Schalke 04 – Bayern Munich (18m)
Neuer was on the cusp of the top 10, but I just couldn’t bring myself to put him in. While his 28 saves, 10 goals allowed, and 10 clean sheets in 17 matches are impressive, he plays behind one of the best defenses in the world. It is difficult to to tell if those stats would still be that incredible without such a great defense. Regardless, he is an incredible talent with a small price tag, 25 years old, and has many years ahead of him.
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