UK Premier League Last Gasp Transfer Window Deals: Strikers Spell Trouble, but Defenders Pay Off

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UK Premier League soccer managers who scramble to complete last-minute signings in the final 72 hours of the transfer window only stand a 1 in 3 chance of getting what they're hoping for. As the remaining hours of this year's August window tick away, the statistics show there will probably be at least 13 last-gasp deals. That'll be unlucky for some, and particularly those clubs anxious to bring in extra firepower.

New research analysing every last-minute Premiership/Premier League signing since transfer windows began in 2002 shows that half the last gasp strikers failed to provide their new clubs with more than two or three goals in their first season - and 9 out of 30 couldn't find the net at all.

Last ditch deals involving defenders show a much higher success rate, with 1 in 3 proving clearly worth while.

Managers who know enough to resist the something-for-nothing allure of free transfers can make the odds even better, as defenders arriving on a free are almost always a disaster. [The only exceptions are Emerson Thome and Steve Howey, both shrewd free signings secured by Sam Allardyce in his Bolton days.]

The new research study, from football analyst Nick Shircore, also reveals the surprising fact that relegation-threatened clubs do not indulge in bouts of panic buying.

By contrast, various managers at Tottenham Hotspur, the most frequent last-gasp buyers, have made 13 such signings since 2002. And the top four clubs have made just 13 between them - though signings such as Wayne Rooney's transfer to Manchester United and Claude Makelele's arrival at Chelsea can hardly be seen as panic buys.

"Perhaps the strangest finding is that teams battling for survival in the top flight don't generally get panicked into rash, last-minute deals, even in the winter transfer window," says Shircore.

"People assume late buys are driven by desperation, but our research shows it's not true. Detailed analysis of over 120 deals over five years proves that most of these signings involve mid-table clubs - usually hoping to buy in goals or plug obvious defensive gaps.

"Some 11th-hour deals turn out to be great value. Rob Earnshaw went to West Brom on the same day as Wayne Rooney's move to Manchester United, and scored 11 goals in the first season, just like Rooney. But Earnshaw cost £3m, not £23m.

"Jon Stead was a last-minute buy for £1.25m, and he scored six goals in his first 12 games for Blackburn Rovers. On the other hand, Grzegorz Rasiak and Julius Aghahowa have 66 international caps and cost £10m between them … and they could not muster a single first-season goal."

For more information, to interview Nick Shircore or to get a copy of the full Panic? What Panic? report, contact Ian Shircore on 0784 177 6296.

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Ian Shircore
Transfer Analysis
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Nick Shircore