15 Transfers Who Don't Fit Tactically with Their New Clubs
Every summer we see a flurry of transfer activity from clubs across the world, and that flurry intensifies further after a FIFA World Cup campaign.
Managers and scouts become enamoured with players strutting their stuff on the world stage, but many represent transfer landmines for stylistic, tactical and practical reasons.
Here are 15 transfers who don't appear to fit, on paper, with their new clubs. Keep in mind we've included both done deals and heavily linked deals.
Philippe Senderos, Aston Villa
Philippe Senderos is a weird one for Aston Villa in terms of tactical fit and (lack of) quality.
He's widely perceived to be past his best; slow and cumbersome, he failed to impact Fulham's relegated defence and did little at Valencia out on loan.
With Villa looking to move away from a similarly clunky Nathan Baker and with Jores Okore returning to fitness, this one made little sense.
Mathieu Debuchy, Arsenal
Barring the dramatic collapses, Arsenal's defence was well-organised last season. It was often the distance between the defensive and midfield lines—or the under-performing holding pivot itself—that let the flurries of goals in.
Central to their overall efficiency was the defensive protection Bacary Sagna gave Per Mertesacker on the right, restricting his forays forward and allowing Kieran Gibbs to fly forward from the left.
Mathieu Debuchy, Sagna's replacement, is another Gibbs; a marauding runner. Mertesacker stands to become very exposed very quickly when the Frenchman goes forward, but if Debuchy tempers his attitude, he becomes a wasted peripheral.
Bafetimbi Gomis, Swansea City
Bafetimbi Gomis was signed on a free so it's difficult to criticise, but it does feel like acquiring the Frenchman is Garry Monk's next step away from the possession brand Swansea City have built.
Gomis can be brilliant, yet also consistently frustrating. He's not the typical target man you'd find leading the line of a team spending 60 percent of the time on the ball, and he won't be able to play in a two with Wilfried Bony either, should the Ivorian stay.
Toni Kroos, Real Madrid
Toni Kroos' acquisition will surely force a change in tack from Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid.
His 4-3-3 last season had Angel Di Maria as the key surging ingredient in central midfield, but signing two No. 10s for such a cost will almost certainly signal a return to the 4-2-3-1.
Kroos is not at his best deeper in a 4-3-3 and excelled for Germany once he was moved into the No. 10 role. He never really saw his best between the lines for Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola either.
James Rodriguez, Real Madrid
If James Rodriguez signs for Real Madrid—and that seems likely since he's in Madrid right now, per The Independent—the same argument for Toni Kroos applies to him.
James plays best as a No. 10 just like he did at Banfield, and while he's still extremely good from the left side and has played from the right for FC Porto, he's not displacing Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo.
Again, Madrid need to create a No. 10 role for him to shine in.
Tin Jedvaj, Bayer Leverkusen (loan)
Bayer Leverkusen have landed Tin Jedvaj on a two-year loan deal, but why Roma chose to hand him over is a question few know the answer to.
The 18-year-old Croatian is as promising as central defenders come, but if he wasn't going to get any game time at Roma, he won't get any at Leverkusen either.
Emir Spahic, Omer Toprak and Philipp Wollscheid are all ahead of him, whereas the Giallorossi have a tendency to trust younger centre-backs (see: Alessio Romagnoli).
Sebastian Rode, Bayern Munich
Sebastian Rode is a good young player who's fit, hungry and eager to play football.
Being German, he ticks all the boxes for a risk-free free transfer for Bayern Munich, but Pep Guardiola runs a very specific system and he doesn't seem to fit.
Rode is risky with the ball, plays adventurous passes and makes ambitious runs. Guardiola, you feel, will hammer that out of him quickly enough.
Ciro Immobile, Borussia Dortmund
Ciro Immobile scored a lot of goals last season, with his 22 for Torino enough to earn the Capocannoniere award in Serie A.
He's a very good poacher and looks in exceptionally good shape, but he's not the complete forward that Jurgen Klopp usually hangs his hat on.
In fact, his contribution to build-up play needs a lot of work and Borussia Dortmund need to get coaching immediately...unless their plan is to change the tactics and not rely on a big, playmaking striker.
Sidney Sam, Schalke 04
Back in January, Sidney Sam sealed a €2.5 million summer move to Schalke 04 from Bayer Leverkusen.
Considering how important a role Sam played as the piercing right-winger for Sami Hyypia last year, it was surprising to see him throw in the towel at the Bay Arena...for a job competing with Jefferson Farfan.
Farfan has owned the right flank for years at the Veltins Arena; will Sam play on the left or challenge? Either way, it's a step down from his best role.
Wilfried Bony, Liverpool
Liverpool's interest in Wilfried Bony is a questionable one.
He's a very good player, but for the amounts mentioned—the Mirror suggests he has a £20 million release clause—he's not worth the gamble.
Premier League proven, strong and clever he may be, but moving to Bony represents a move away from the fast, counterattacking play the Reds were so strong in last year.
Rickie Lambert is already the No. 9.
Enner Valencia, West Ham
Enner Valencia's move to West Ham either goes superbly or horribly; there is no middle ground here.
He showed promise as a centre-forward playing off a target man for Ecuador at the FIFA World Cup, and it's very translatable when you consider he's moving to a team that boasts Andy Carroll to better Felipe Caicedo's contributions.
But he's just starting to learn his trade as a forward, having been stuck there following the tragic passing of Christian Benitez. He's enthusiastic yet raw, and the Premier League is unforgiving.
At Emelec and Pachuca he always played as a winger—that's his bread and butter—and Sam Allardyce is in no need of another head-down, athletic wide man.
At £12 million, the stakes are high.
Urby Emanuelson, Roma
Urby Emanuelson is a fairly harmless signing by Roma, but the squad they've built is stacked and there's a clear gulf in quality between he and any other in his position.
That says a lot considering he plays about eight positions anyway, but his best slots—left-back, wing and central midfield—are taken up by Ashley Cole, Gervinho, Adem Ljajic, Juan Iturbe, Kevin Strootman and more.
A mystifying deal.
Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea
This is a very interesting transfer; the type you can't help but bite on when it's offered your way.
Cesc Fabregas is a free-roaming player and he excels when given license to do as he pleases—elite playmakers always do.
But what about his fit in Jose Mourinho's rigid, uncompromising system? The Portuguese allowed one player (Eden Hazard) freedom last season, will he stretch to two or force Cesc to learn the system and stay compact?
By no means is this a flop-in-the-making, but it's a curious one to watch unfold.
Ron Vlaar, Southampton
Ronald Koeman has admitted to FOX Sports (Netherlands) that Ron Vlaar is an option for Southampton should Dejan Lovren leave the club (h/t The Metro).
His FIFA World Cup 2014 performances wowed many, but for the Saints he's a fairly dreadful fit on paper. He's never been too confident with the ball at his feet, remains happy to lump it to a target man and hardly exudes finesse.
He's good at what he's good at, but at 29 years of age he's not getting any better at the things he's not.
Dejan Lovren, Liverpool
Dejan Lovren is on the verge of signing for Liverpool for circa £15 million, per The Guardian.
The Croatian is, undoubtedly, a very good player and he enjoyed a phenomenal campaign at Southampton last season, but does Brendan Rodgers really need another central defender?
Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, Sebastian Coates, Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori are all fighting for roles in the first team, and while one (Coates) is expendable and another (Ilori) is loanable, having four prominent CBs on the books is a risk—Champions League or not.
To make matters worse, Lovren is left-sided. Just like Agger and Sakho—the two supposed first choices in the side.