Patrick van Aanholt epitome of transfer madness
Patrick van Aanholt has signed for Crystal Palace in a £14 million move, epitomising the transfer madness of recent seasons.
The summer of 2012 was a significant one for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. Having endured turbulent times in which star players left in successive summers; the most notable of which being Cesc Fabregas just a year previous, the squad was quickly depleting with quality pouring out of every financially gaping hole.
It was made worse by the impending departure of Robin van Persie. The Dutchman truly was flying for the previous 18 months, having scored 18 goals in 19 starts and then 30 goals in 37 starts in successive Premier League campaigns. But entering the summer with just a year remaining on his contract and a seemingly unwavering intent to exit the frustrating life at the Emirates, doubt and concern were the prevalent feelings pertaining to his future with the Gunners.
As such, Wenger was forced into the transfer market, a behaviour that he very seldom undertakes. In it, he found three excellent players at three positions of need. All for fees in the region of £10 - £15 million (there is always a little uncertainty with the exact figures depending on what report you believe), Wenger acquired the services of Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud. They were astute additions.
What is particularly impressive is the value of the buys. Podolski was an experienced, established international for a vastly successful German squad. Giroud had just won Ligue 1 with Montpellier, having scored 21 goals and amassed 10 assists spearheading the French side. Cazorla was a highly touted creative midfielder in La Liga, having been apart of a surprisingly adept Malaga team before being called up for the Spanish European Championships' squad that summer.
These, then, were talented, accomplished, well-known players all entering or enjoying their prime.
Fast forward just four and a half years and for a similar fee - perhaps as high as £14 million depending on particular clauses and transfer add-ons - Sam Allardyce, having just taken over the job at Crystal Palace from the unfortunately fired Alan Pardew, has acquired the services of a player who would be lucky to be labelled a dependable, reliable, solid Premier League performer.
Patrick van Aanholt is a decent-at-best left-back. He is dangerous pushing forward, blessed with excellent pace and an engine allowing him to continually make overlapping runs beyond his winger, but lacks a quality end product to ever take advantage of such advanced positions, and is poor defensively, both in one-on-one situations against a wide man and in his positioning and communication with his teammates.
Nonetheless, Big Sam thought it necessary to spend such lavish amounts on the Dutchman in the hope that he could invigorate a side that is yet to win in the league since Pardew's departure. The overpriced signing, though, perhaps says more about the nature of the modern day transfer market as it does Allardyce's nous within it.
Of the top 10 most expensive Championship signings (correct as of August 4th), only Jordan Rhodes and Ross McCormack were signed before 2015, both of whom have moved for higher prices since then. In fact, four of the top five signings occurred in 2016 (stretching back to Jordan Rhodes' January transfer to Middlesbrough) and the other is McCormack's first record move in the summer of 2014. All of the top 10 are above £5 million and none are before 2012 with Rhodes' and McCormack's initial moves the only two of the top 10 before 2015.
The transfer market, then, is becoming a crazy world in which average players are priced like great ones and great ones like historic ones. The £14 million addition of van Aanholt may seem utterly ridiculous, but it is just symptomatic of a transfer market that is spiralling into a state of utter madness.