The fascination with transfer deadline day is as much about the deals that fail as the big-money transfers that go through.
Prior wisdom tells us that there are few bargains to be had in the January transfer-window, the mid-season period when clubs in trouble try to reinforce their ranks and those with a surplus of players try to offload them.
Certainly some of the most spectacular flops in British transfer history have been last-minute panic buys on deadline day – think of Liverpool selling Fernando Torres to Chelsea for £50m and buying Andy Carroll from Newcastle for £35m the same day five years ago, deals that backfired spectacularly for both clubs.
So who knows what is in store for some of the other high-profile African signings?
On the other hand, Spurs picked up the sale of the century this time last year when they signed Dele Alli from MK Dons for a mere £5m. The teenage wonderkid is comfortably worth five times that amount now after emerging as a real talent for both Tottenham and England.
At the same time, the most expensive signing last January was Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony, who moved from Swansea to Manchester City for £28m, but has hardly taken the Etihad crowd by storm.
So who knows what is in store for some of the other high-profile African signings? Some are unknown quantities in the Premier League, such as Emmanuel Emenike, who joined West Ham on loan from Turkish club Fenerbahçe.
The Nigerian striker has scored goals wherever he has played but the demands in England are different to those in South Africa, Turkey and Russia, where he has played before.
Another African who is moving to England after playing in Russia is Oumar Niasse, the Senegal striker who joined Everton for £13.5m from Locomotiv Moscow. Niasse will probably have to wait for his chance with Romelu Lukaku in pole position at Goodison Park, but Everton’s manager Roberto Martinez believes the 25-year-old has the hunger to succeed in the Premier League. ‘We’re delighted as Oumar is a player we’ve been following for a long time’, said Martinez.
The most high-profile newcomer will be Seydou Doumbia, another who thrived in Russian football, with 61 goals in 95 games for CSKA Moscow. The Ivory Coast striker made his name at BSC Young Boys in Switzerland before moving to Moscow, and is best remembered here for scoring twice as Manchester City were defeated in the Champions League.
After a failed move to Roma, he rejoined CSKA and has now moved on loan to Newcastle, where he will be asked to score the goals to save the Magpies from relegation.
One player who will need no reintroduction to English football and certainly will not have to wait for his chance is Emmanuel Adebayor, returning for a third spell in England. The former Togo captain has been a free agent since Tottenham released him last summer, after falling out with manager Mauricio Pochettino, and he jumped at the chance to join Crystal Palace, whose exciting attacking play has lacked a real spearhead this season.
He was not joking when he admitted he knew little about Palace.
Adebayor can hit the ground running, of course, having scored 96 Premier League goals in 230 appearances for Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham, as well as starring for Monaco and Real Madrid in his much-travelled career. But it seems he was not joking when he admitted he knew little about Palace. ‘I don’t know much about the club but it’s better to learn so I’ll be going on Google and finding out more about them,’ he admitted.
But what about the ones who got away, the deals that didn’t happen?
Southampton’s Sadio Mané was heavily linked with Manchester United but Ronald Koeman did not want to sell the Senegalese striker – yet.
There is huge interest in England in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the Gabon striker who is taking the Bundesliga by storm. Borussia Dortmund were reluctant to sell in January, but have hinted the situation may change in the summer.
Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger is a big admirer, and Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp signed him at Dortmund, but Aubameyang will have his pick of Europe’s elite if Dortmund decide to sell, and any transfer fee would certainly push the current world record of £85m that Real Madrid spent on Gareth Bale.
If African players are among the big movers and shakers, don’t be surprised.
Aubameyang was voted CAF’s African Player of the year recently, a decision that infamously piqued Yaya Touré when he was overlooked for the award.
The Manchester City midfielder is another who may move in the summer, especially with the arrival of Pep Guardiola to replace Manuel Pellegrini. The Catalan manager’s arrival will surely spark a major overhaul of players at the Etihad and with the new £5-billion domestic TV deal set to kick in, expect another raft of record fees.
If African players are among the big movers and shakers, don’t be surprised. They are now firmly established as players of the highest calibre in the world’s richest league.