So, How’s That Working Out For You?


While watching El Clasico at the weekend between Barca and Real, it struck me that in their biggest game of the season, Barcelona’s Alex Hleb wasn’t starting. Though he came on in the second half, he’s not in their first choice eleven whereas were he still at Arsenal he would be playing every week. Now of course he’s only a few months into a multi year contract but I thought I’d take this opportunity to look at how him and some of the other big transfers in the summer are getting on.

Alex Hleb/Barcelona/£12million from Arsenal.

Last Season: Part of Arsenal’s scintillating midfield which took on all-comers and looked set for the title. Until February that is, when it all started to go wrong. Added (some) goals to his game and his ball retention and dribbling was a big factor behind Arsenal’s title challenge. Finally became valued by the fans.

This Season: Has only started three times in the league and has played just 277 minutes overall. Has the brilliantly Hleb-esque  stat of just one shot on goal in the league, needless to say he did not score. Still tyring to establish himself as a first choice midfielder alongside Xavi and Toure. Competing with Gudjohnsen, Iniesta, Busquets and Keita for that role.

Verdict: Miss.





Mathieu Flamini/Milan/Free from Arsenal.

Last Season: Part of Arsenal’s scintillating midfield which took on all-comers and looked set for the title. Until February that is, when it all started to go wrong. Took his chance when Gilberto was away with Brazil and never looked back, his hustling play allowing Fabregas to score double figures in goals by Christmas. Refused new contract offer as it had only come once he established himself.

This season: Plays regularly for a Milan side in the top four in Serie A and through in the UEFA Cup. Often taken off however Gattuso’s season ending injury will mean more reliance on him. Or will it

Verdict: Uncertain, he has played often enough but it took him a while to fully establish himself at Arsenal too. It will be interesting to see who starts when Beckham comes to town.





Jose Mourinho/Inter/Free from the job centre.

Last Season: Fell out with Abramovich over transfers and style of play. Left by mutual consent sacked by Chelsea in September. Took the rest of the season off and bitched about how Avram Grant wasn’t as good as him. Avram Grant took Chelsea to a Champions League final, Jose did not. 

This Season: Took the Inter job (there is too much bad blood for him to go to Barca) and has led them to the top of Serie A and into the knockout stages in Europe. Has done so in a rather workmanlike, unimpressive way though with three league defeats already (as many as the whole of last season). He has managed to get Ibrahimovic playing consistently well though it seems. 

Verdict: Hit, but it could change. Ultimately it will depend on how close he takes Inter to the Big Cup.





Dimi Berbatov/Man Utd/£31million from Spurs.

Last Season: Scored 23 goals in a thrilling partnership with Robbie Keane at Spurs. Won the Carling Cup, but wanted Champions League football.

This Season: His record of six goals in fifteen games isn’t bad considering he was never prolific. However he seems on a different wavelength to Rooney and Ronaldo at the moment and hasn’t starred in too many games. There is also the question of playing him up top to hold the ball up or behind another forward to create chances. Fergie has until the resumption of the Champions League in February to work out the best way to use him.

Verdict: Uncertain, but United’s chances of defending last season’s double may depend on him.





Robbie Keane/Liverpool/£20million from Spurs.

Last Season: Scored 23 goals in a thrilling partnership with Dimitar Berbatov at Spurs. Won the Carling Cup, but wanted to play for his boyhood club.

This Season: Started most games in the autumn but more recently has been dropped to the bench even though Torres is injured. Despite Liverpool being top of the league and through in Europe, Keane has only scored four goals.

Verdict: Flop, literally and figuratively. It wouldn’t shock me to see him move in January.





Ronaldinho/Milan/£15 million from Barcelona.

Last Season: Unfit, overweight and out of form. Part of a Barcelona side that has lost all desire and hunger following the La Liga/Champions League double of 2006. Played just 25 times of which only 17 were in the league. Limped into third place.

This Season: Back on form and playing with that famous grin on his face again. Milan’s top scorer with seven league goals from 13 games. They started well but following recent games have dropped to fourth in the table, nine points behind leaders Inter. Safely through in the UEFA Cup but he has only played 65 minutes in three games. 

Verdict: Hit, but Milan will want to be playing Champions League football next year.





Daniel Alves/Barcelona/£21million from Sevilla.

Last Season: Rejected Chelsea’s overtures to put in another solid season with Sevilla. After Ramos’ departure for Spurs, they failed to qualify for the Champions League finishing fifth.

This Season: Part of a Barcelona side who have swept all before them. Only nine league goals conceded and a frankly ridiculous +37 goal difference after 15 league games. Through in Europe and looking to win the double again. In Spain they give assists for build up as well as ones for the final pass – he’s been involved in 25 goals so far.

Verdict: Hit.






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2 Responses to “So, How’s That Working Out For You?”

  1. Football Guy Says:

    I think the flamster has been a hit. Milan got him for nothing so they should be happy so far and as for him, he’s been playing regularly and been playing well from what I’ve seen

  2. thesportboys Says:

    Yeah true, the fact he was free makes it hard to say he’s a flop. But he has already moaned about playing time this season and Milan definitely have a hierarchy when it comes to team selection.

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