How will the last-minute transfers fit in with their new clubs?
The September international break came just after the transfer window closed but before many new signings had a chance to spend time with their new clubs. That's why Gareth Bale watched Wales lose twice this week from the bench (making one substitute appearance), while Mesut Ozil and Marouane Fellaini have only just joined up with their new team-mates at Arsenal and Manchester United respectively. With the Premier League back in action this weekend, here are some players who contributed to the £140m spent on deadline day alone - a £30m increase on last year's figure -- and a look at what their new teams can expect.
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal, £42.5m):
Has a signing captured the imagination of a support-base quite as much as this one? Never mind that Ozil fits a totally different profile to the player Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger originally wanted in his squad -- Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez are clearly center-forwards, while Ozil is a number ten -- it is hard not to be seduced by the prospect of the German playmaker with Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla on either side of him.
I have no doubt Ozil will be a great player for Arsenal but there are a few issues that niggle me about this deal: one, what happens if Olivier Giroud gets injured? Arsenal's untested French 20-year-old, Yaya Sanogo, is already injured while behind him is Nicklas Bendtner, a player whose last league goal for the Gunners came in December 2010. It's not good enough, even if Walcott or Lukas Podolski could move to center-forward if required.
Two, where does this leave Wenger and his famed antipathy to spending big, or as he likes to put it, "financial doping"? Sure, Ozil's transfer fee, £42.5m, is not in the Bale category -- if anything, Wenger has actually found value in signing a player who is arguably Bale's equal, for half the fee -- but in one stroke Wenger has nearly tripled his record signing (that was Andrei Arshavin and look how that turned out). The question: is this the start of a new era of spending for Arsenal, and a new outlook for Wenger, or will it be a one-off? If it's the latter, then you have to fear for Arsenal; but if it's the former, then talk of the club being left behind in the modern game is premature. That doesn't disguise the fact that this transfer window has not been a good one for Arsenal -- just that it was not as bad as it could have been.
Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United, £27.5m):
There is no escaping that Fellaini was not a first-choice option for United: if he was, it would have met the £23.5m release clause when it first bid for the Belgian midfielder on August 19. And though I am usually suspicious of coaches signing players from their former clubs -- think of Brendan Rodgers spending £25m on Joe Allen and Fabio Borini and look how that turned out -- Fellaini could be just what United needs.
His move would make more sense though if you take away the narrative that the club may have also tried to buy Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara, Ander Herrera and Sami Khedira. So let's try. For a start, the debate about Fellaini's best position will not even happen at Old Trafford: he only played as a second striker at Everton because the squad did not have anyone good enough to play that role once Tim Cahill had left; at United, Wayne Rooney, Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young could all play behind Robin van Persie, which would allow Fellaini to stick to what he does best.
"I know how to win balls," he told Sport/Foot magazine last season. "I can score goals, I'm good in the air. My recovery, without being the best in the world, is good. I can pass. As an offensive midfielder, I know how to cause trouble for defenders. I'm not going to say that I cause havoc in the box, but I see that the defenders keep a close eye on me. They fear me. And sometimes we do not acknowledge that I know how to play football. I have improved a lot on the technical side and in keeping the ball. But my original position is defensive midfielder." That is where United should play him.
Martin Demichelis (Atletico Madrid, £4m):
What a piece of business this has proved to be -- for Atletico, that is. Demichelis was part of the Malaga firesale and headed to Madrid on a free transfer, where he stayed a matter of weeks. Atletico could sense City's urgency for another center-back - which grew after captain Vincent Kompany was injured early in the season -- and new coach Manuel Pellegrini was set on getting his former player. Atletico held firm on its fee, and City paid up.
A few days later, Demichelis injured his knee ligaments in training, and is expected to be out for six weeks. A strange signing when it happened and now, you just wonder how much value for money City will get out of the Argentine.
Romelu Lukaku (Everton, loan):
Lukaku's on his way to West Brom! No, he's going to Everton! But José likes Steve Clarke and will do him a favor to help his side fight relegation! But Lukaku is just what Everton need! Such was the drama with one hour before the transfer window closed that even Lukaku wasn't sure where he would end up. But he knew one thing: the arrival of Samuel Eto'o, and non-departure of Demba Ba (whose move to Arsenal fell through once Ozil joined the Gunners, as José Mourinho did not want to strengthen it further) meant that his opportunities in the first team were sure to be limited.
There is no shame in it: Lukaku is only 20, he scored 17 Premier League goals last season and his Belgium team-mate Thibaut Courtois is proving that it's better to play somewhere on loan (in his case, Atletico), than stay and not play. As some close to the player suggested, it was Lukaku's decision, one year before the World Cup, to move; and given that he has fallen behind Christian Benteke in the pecking-order to be Belgium center-forward, you can see why it makes sense.
The year before a World Cup is often a strange one transfer-wise, and a handful of players have dropped a level in order to guarantee playing-time at clubs: just look at Ozil (sorry Gunners fans but yes, this is a step down) and Mamadou Sakho (pipe down Liverpool fans, PSG are a Champions League contender this year). Perhaps more than Lukaku, the best example is of his striking rival Benteke, who stayed at Aston Villa, is still scoring goals, and is still Belgium's number nine.