Transfer List 2013: Ozil, Neymar, Cavani, Falcao & Bale – Hit or Miss?

VOTE: In the second part of our look back at last year’s biggest deals, we assess the top five and ask you to tell us whether you think their respective moves were a success

By Mark Doyle

Real Madrid perhaps justifiably believe that money breeds success, with the side responsible for introducing the term ‘Galactico’ into the modern footballing lexicon having created a new team of all-stars that were this year crowned champions of Europe.

Their €100 million man, Gareth Bale, played a role in their ‘Decima’ success, but did the Welshman justify his record-breaking price tag?

With the Goal Transfer List for 2014 set to published on Tuesday, we have decided to take a look back at Bale’s move to Madrid, and the other biggest movers of last year, to see if the money was well spent.

Below, in the concluding part of our review of the costliest deals of 2013, we go through the top five and invite you to vote via Twitter on whether the transfer was a success or a failure …

Nobody saw Mesut Ozil’s move from Real Madrid to Arsenal coming – not even the man himself. The weekend before the attacking midfielder’s September 2 switch to the Emirates, Ozil stated that he fully expected to spend another season at the Santiago Bernabeu.

However, the German claimed he was suddenly made to feel unwanted by his bosses, and Arsenal, a side renowned for their financial prudence, surprisingly paid a club-record €50 million for the playmaker, who signed a five-year contract worth €40.5m after tax.

Ozil made an instant impact at the Emirates, earning rave reviews for his vision and precision passing, but he has been beset by injury problems over the past year, as well as constant questions over his work-rate, and assessing his value remains a divisive issue among English football fans.

The fourth biggest transfer of 2013 didn’t just take Neymar from Santos to Barcelona, it also took down a club president, namely Sandro Rosell. The Catalans revealed that they had had paid €57m for the Brazil international but it was subsequently claimed that €40m of that fee went to N&N, an agency affiliated with the player’s father, with the remaining money distributed among Santos and two third-party investors, DIS and Teisa.

Spanish prosecutors ultimately launched an investigation into the deal, which prompted Rosell to resign in order to concentrate on clearing his name. Neymar, for his part, endured a turbulent first season in Spain, with his adjustment to his new surroundings have been further complicated by fitness problems.

However, the fleet-footed forward now appears to have settled at Camp Nou, with the current campaign providing ample evidence of the development of potentially prolific partnership with Lionel Messi.

Edinson Cavani claimed shortly before his reported €64.5m move to Paris Saint-Germain that he was not worth the money required to prise him away from Napoli. It is fair to say that some PSG fans have yet to decide if the 27-year-old has been proven right.

The forward forged a reputation as one of the most lethal marksmen in Europe during his three-year stay at the San Paolo, with the Uruguay international racking up 104 goals in 138 appearances for the Partenopei in all competitions. It was that remarkable form that persuaded PSG to meet Aurelio De Laurentiis’ asking price for his most prized possession and award Cavani a contract until 2018 worth €10m a year after tax.

‘The Matador’ has averaged a goal every two games in France (23 in 46 Ligue 1 games) but rumours remain rife that he is unsettled at the Parc des Princes and unhappy at having to play out wide to accommodate star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Monaco’s acquisition of Radamel Falcao made the rest of Europe sit up and take notice. The Colombia international was a player at the peak of his powers, coming off the back of two sensational seasons at Atletico Madrid, and coveted by Europe’s elite.

Falcao’s decision to snub Champions League football in favour of a newly-promoted Ligue 1 club surprised many but Monaco had put together a remarkable financial package, meeting Atleti’s €60m asking price, as well as offering Falcao a salary of €12m per annum.

However, the striker struggled to justify the investment – even before his season was ended in January 2014 by a knee ligament injury – and it came as no surprise when Monaco decided to allow the 28-year-old to leave on loan for Manchester United this summer as part of drastic cost-cutting measures at the Stade Louis II.

Real Madrid’s director general Jose Angel Sanchez famously described Manchester’s asking price of €35m for David Beckham as “peanuts” yet it still seemed incongruous of club president Florentino Perez to claim that the €100m deal that brought Gareth Bale to the Santiago Bernabeu was “cheap”.

In truth, Los Blancos had paid just under double that figure to take the Welshman away from Tottenham, with the winger having agreed a net salary of €10m a year and a €3m signing-on fee. But Madrid may well view Bale as worth every cent, with the 25-year-old having scored a stunning solo winner in the Copa del Rey triumph over Barcelona before then netting the crucial second goal in the 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid in the final of the Champions League.

Bale has had persistent fitness problems, while his fluctuating form has been the subject of constant debate in the Spanish capital, but there still seems to be much more to come from a player who has already netted 31 times in 64 outings thus far.

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Bale & Neymar are hits, but Ozil & Cavani are misses – Goal readers' verdicts on 2013's biggest transfers

After more than 150,000 votes, the Real Madrid and Barcelona duo are labelled successes while the Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain stars have been deemed failures so far

Gareth Bale and Neymar have both impressed since moving to La Liga while Mesut Ozil and Edinson Cavani are yet to prove their worth, Goal readers say.

Following the publication of the 2013 Goal Transfer List, we asked readers to vote on whether the 10 biggest transfers of last year had proved successful or not, and the response was huge.

After his record-breaking transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid, an impressive 85 per cent of you considered Bale, who scored in both los Blancos’ Copa del Rey and Champions League final triumphs earlier this year, a success at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Another player to head to the Spanish top-flight in 2013 was Neymar. The Brazilian was captured in what proved to be a controversial transfer, but there can be no doubting that he has been a hit at Barcelona having gained a 77% approval rating.

Mesut Ozil, who has struggled after a bright start to his career at Arsenal, had 69% of the overall votes cast on his move to north London to say he has not been a success, while Paris Saint-Germain’s Edinson Cavani only fared marginally better with 62% declaring him a miss too.

However, the transfer that has been most heavily criticised by the Goal audience, is Falcao’s decision to switch Atletico Madrid for Monaco, which 81% declared a poor move.

Although he has now moved on to link up with Bale in Madrid, James Rodriguez’s swap of Porto for the principality club was regarded as a great decision, with 82% backing it.

Gonzalo Higuain’s exchange of los Blancos for Napoli gained a 64% hit rating, while Mario Gotze also scored highly after switching Borussia Dortmund for Bayern Munich, with 80% of readers claiming it prosperous.

Another PSG signing, Marquinhos, was declared a miss by 62% of you, while Marouane Fellaini’s move from Everton to Manchester United was lambasted with 72% of the votes labelling it a poor transfer.

Falcao: I want to stay at Manchester United

The striker insists he wants to make his loan move from Monaco permanent but concedes he is unhappy with his lack of playing time under Louis van Gaal

Radamel Falcao insists he wants to stay at Manchester United but admits he is keen to secure a more prominent role under Louis van Gaal.

The terms on a €56 million deal with Monaco to make the striker’s season-long loan permanent have already been agreed, though United have the option to wait until the end of the season to ensure they are satisfied with the Colombia international’s fitness and form before finalising the move.

Falcao has been limited to just eight Premier League appearances this season due to a calf injury and the striker admits his future is still to be decided.

“From my point of view, yes, I want to stay but obviously I have to analyse the situation,” said Falcao.

“I’ll see if I play more and see what decision the board takes. But from my point of view, I really want to stay.

“I feel ready for the moment that the team needs me. Whenever I have the opportunity to come on I try to do my best for the coach and I try to help the team.

“Every footballer wants to play, no one is happy when they are not playing, when they are on the bench, but whenever I am given the opportunity, whether it be for five, 10, 20 or 90 minutes, I have to give my best.Q

Van Gaal has stressed that Falcao needs to prove his fitness before being able to secure a regular first-team place and the striker believes he is close to his peak condition.

“We talk a lot, the coach and I,” said Falcao.

“He has a philosophy that I respect. I have had an injury, and I have had to wait for the opportunity to play.

“I am very well. I’m almost at 100 per cent now, let’s wait and see what the decision of the coach is, when he wants to use me more.

“We have a group of strikers who are very good and that’s good for everyone. That means there is always a level of competition between us, healthy competition, and obviously I am very happy with how the team is doing.”

Saha urges patience over Falcao injuries

The former Manchester United striker, who also struggled with fitness concerns during his career, has told the loanee to trust his own body and not the advice of others

By Alex Young

Former Manchester United striker Louis Saha has urged Radamel Falcao to be patient as he looks to overcome injury troubles and kick-start his Old Trafford career.

The striker joined from Monaco on a season-long loan deal on transfer deadline day, with United paying a large fee and the majority of the Colombian’s €380,000-a-week wages, but has scored just once after being restricted to seven Premier League appearances due to niggling fitness concerns.

Falcao missed the World Cup after damaging his knee in January, with some fearing the player is yet to fully recover after a string of setbacks since his return.

But Saha, who also struggled with injuries while at Old Trafford, has urged caution during his continuing rehabilitation.

“Sometimes the mistake players make is to push themselves too hard when trying to return from injury,” Saha told Goal. “Having experienced the same time and pushing myself, I would experience setbacks four or five weeks down the line with the same injury.

“He must take his time and make sure everything is fine and he will have much sharper fitness on the pitch to sustain the pressure and intensity on the pitch. Mental strength only gets you so far, you can always play two or three games but after that you will struggle again. It’s a really hard part of football.”

Saha, who also played for Everton, Tottenham, Newcastle and Sunderland among others, believes Falcao should trust his own body and not the opinion of others with different agendas.

He added: “I wish I listened to my gut feeling more than those telling me what to do and what not to do. I knew I was trying too hard at times as it was my body and my injury but I couldn’t do anything about it.

“You want to play so you listen to advice, but sometimes that advice is not beneficial to you and only there to cover themselves. Sometimes people are trying to use you in a way.

“It’s normal. They put pressure on players who may be injured but they don’t listen because it’s a job and you have to do your thing. You just have to listen to your body more and decide if it’s right for you.

“That was my situation at different clubs. I listened to pressure but sometimes I couldn’t do anything anyway as I was injured. It happens to everyone, not just me. That’s part of the job.”

Saha has no doubt regarding Falcao’s ability to perform at the top level, but admits the 28-year-old may struggle to play second fiddle to Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie after years of being first-choice at Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco.

“He’s at a bigger club now so there will be competition for his place,” the Frenchman continued. “There will be massive players ahead of him. Because of his injury he has a disadvantage and must work his way back – but he is definitely mentally strong enough to do it.”

Louis Saha is an 888sport #LastWord ambassador. Join the debate on Twitter @888sport, share your opinion on and read the best analysis on the betting brand’s dedicated blog. Sign-up now and claim £88 of free bets at

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Van Gaal: Falcao must settle for substitute role

The Manchester United boss has backed his philosophy that all players must prove their fitness in reserve fixtures before they will be considered for a starting position

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has reiterated that Radamel Falcao will not be offered a place within the Red Devils’ starting line-up before he can prove his fitness.

The striker picked up an injury in October which ruled him out for one month, and has since made just two appearances from the bench against Hull City and Stoke City.

And the Dutchman has refused to steer from his philosophy of his players regaining match fitness in the reserve squad before being considered for a Premier League starting spot.

When asked whether Falcao’s omissions have been fitness-related, he told reporters: “Yes, match fitness. He has trained now maybe two days after the match [with Hull]. So we had the match against Stoke on Tuesday when he played for 15 minutes.

“Then we had the training sessions after Tuesday. And before Tuesday I didn’t train – I trained the box exercise. You know the box exercise? Yeah? It is not a training session.

“We had to play again within two days after the Hull City game, then I have to recover the players. Then I cannot train him. After Tuesday I can train him. And we have trained very well on Wednesday.

“Then Thursday they are off. I can say to him to train but, no, we have trained before that. Then on Friday we had a training session. So he has trained in two training sessions. But a bigger contribution is to play in the second team for 45 or 60 minutes or even 90 minutes – what Jonny Evans has done already.

“But I cannot do that because I need him because [Wayne] Rooney was injured [for Stoke]. James Wilson was injured also [for Hull]. I have to adapt to the needs of the selection. Then I selected him in spite of the fact he can only play 20 minutes at that level because the rhythm of the game in the Premier League is the highest.”

Since joining on loan from Monaco, the striker has bagged just one goal for the Old Trafford outfit and when asked whether he could start against Southampton on Monday, Van Gaal dismissed his chances.

I’m not interested. He has to follow my philosophy. Do you understand that? Yeah, I’m here because of that”, he said.