Ludacris and Lucrative Lending and Spending: How to Pick a Winner in the Transfer Market

   Despite the sun and fun of the summertime, it is one of the most stressful for Premier league fans.  With no games to be played, there is nothing left to focus on but the endless transfer rumors.  With the social media revolution, this time of year has become a special kind of hell.  Now, instead of a reading a straightforward account of negotiations between a club and a player, the tale takes too many twists and turns to count as onlookers can read tweets and status updates by players, coaches, agents and analysts; each one saying something slightly different, giving each reader a unique perspective on the events.  So, with no love for this season, but recognition of the importance it can play, this author will try to answer the question, "What makes a good transfer?"

            It's easy to make this seem like a stupid question.  In sports, most often, statistics reign supreme.  The top transfer targets will be the ones who produced the most goals for their team over the past year.  That's why you see the media flooded with high profile bids of Brazilian starlets Neymar and Lucas Moura and the ridiculous €100 million price tag on Napoli's Edinson Cavani.  The best transfers, however, are not always the stat leaders.  Take, for example, now Queen's Park Rangers midfielder Park Ji-Sung.  During his 7 year stint at Manchester United, he developed a large fan-base due to his work ethic rather than his playmaking or goalscoring.  While United acquired him from PSV Eindhoven for just over 6 million, the Red Devils let him go for just under 3 million.  That is highway robbery.  Yes Park is a bit older, but lowly QPR is getting a consummate professional and likely next year's team captain for pennies on the dollar.  That doesn't even take into account his 2 Champion's League Final appearances or his role in leading South Korea to the knockout stages of the 2002 World Cup.  QPR manager Mark Hughes had to get some sort of former player discount on this transfer.  Most wouldn't have let Park go for less than 8 million, especially with the inflated prices of today's market.

            Just as a good transfer can stay off the stat sheets, a bad one can dominate them.  Take Lucas Moura, for example.  The kid is 19 years old and Sao Paulo rejected a 35 million bid for him.  Now, his agent says Moura is happy with his position within Sao Paulo and will not be moving for less than the clubs asking price, but keep in mind this is a boy who is untested on the European stage.  Yes his footwork is amazing but you could find an orphan on the streets of Rio with better footwork than the entirety of the English national team.  35 million is too much for the risk.  Another striker garnering attention is Arsenal front man Robin van Persie.  Now here is a bad investment if there ever was one.  Van Persie didn't even have a good year for Arsenal.  He had a good second half of the year.  After that, he tanked for the Dutch team in their legendary self-destruction at Euro 2012.  It should be quite clear that RvP works best in a team like Arsenal (duh) or Barcelona; teams that pass for the sake of passing.  Teams that utilize the wings more than their center midfielders would find themselves wondering why their expensive and much hyped new striker can't get on the end of any crosses or through balls.

            Bottom line, in judging a transfer, think of the three P's: position, potential and personality.  Position:  where does he play currently and where would he play in his new squad?  Are there already world class players vying for the spot and those around him?  If he's playing his preferred position and there are good players around him, the competition could make him better and even drive is asking price down.  If he is out of position and those around him are lackluster, don't expect much.  Potential:  Where is the player in his career?  Does he have the fundamental on which to build?  If it's an older player who has technical flaws that a certain team playing style hides, your money is better spent elsewhere.  Personality:  Looking at you Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli.  If the player is known for outbursts and acting like a petulant child, these aren't the player's you're looking for; move along.