American Exports: How will the transfer window's frantic close affect Americans playing overseas?
AMSTERDAM – Relative to other summer transfer window closings, this year's edition ended up fairly quiet for Americans playing in Europe. However, several of their clubs made late roster moves that will affect how our boys over there fare this season.
No team was busier than Tim Howard's Toffees, who made two sales, a purchase and two loan captures on market closing day – and that's with longtime Manchester United target Leighton Baines sticking around Goodison Park.
New Red Devils manager David Moyes did put a large deadline day dent in his old side by plucking Marouane Fellaini, who was both the bad cop and clutch attack provider for Howard & Co. Everton did decently to patch the '70s afro-sized hole left by the Belgian, grabbing Man. City's veteran traffic director Gareth Barry on loan and younger model James McCarthy.
Everton also let go of striker Victor Anichebe, but this loss was more than covered by the loan arrival of hulking Chelsea youngster Romelu Lukaku. After hitting 17 league goals for a rather pedestrian West Bromwich Albion outfit last term, there's no telling what he could do now that he's turned 20 and enlisted to a better passing attack.
With the blow of Fellaini's departure adequately softened and Lukaku on board to terrorize defenses, Howard and his teammates may feel confident they can snap a three-year hiatus from European soccer.
Unlike Everton, Jozy Altidore's Black Cats have been a team in transition all summer. The US star is among 13 new arrivals, three of which were snagged near the transfer deadline.
Altidore certainly won't miss the wisely jettisoned Stéphane Sessègnon, what with Swansea City being kind enough to send playmaker Ki Sung-Yueng over on loan. It's not crazy to suggest that the American's forthcoming total of scoring chances doubled with the acquisition. In addition to his considerable set-up skills, the South Korea ace produces plenty of rebounds with his accurate long shots.
Also on deadline day, Sunderland borrowed Liverpool forward Fabio Borini and bought veteran Napoli left-sider Andrea Dossena. The former may seem like added competition for Altidore, but he prefers to work from the wing and has failed to produce as a pro apart from one torrid streak with AS Roma two years ago. The latter should provide extra push up the left flank and some tasty crosses for the strikers to feast upon.
While some clubs made moves that enhanced the outlook for their Americans, it remains to be seen how Stoke's late transfer action will play out for Geoff Cameron, Maurice Edu, Brek Shea and, come January, Juan Agudelo.
Shea may be the US international most challenged by the last minute pick-ups. Sure, attackers Cameron Jerome and Michael Kightly have gone, but exciting wingers Marko Arnautovic and Oussama Aissadi (a Liverpool loan item) have joined up as replacements. Arnautovic is easily the best player of the three right now, but he prefers to man the right flank. This leaves the slippery Morocco ace to battle Shea in the race to shove aside old left wing hand Matthew Etherington.
The Potters also beat the transfer buzzer by picking up central midfielder Stephen Ireland. Does this make it harder for Edu to crack the rotation or ensure Cameron stays in defense full-time? Being that the seemingly fading Irishman failed to hold a place in Aston Villa's line-up last season, it's possible he will do neither.
Perhaps one of the biggest moves to discuss here is one that did not happen. Despite constant attention from Tottenham and a reputed deadline day bid from Arsenal, Christian Benteke is still at Villa Park.
Not only did the Villans manage to keep the man who has provided 21 goals in Brad Guzan's 39 EPL starts as the No. 1, they added Lazio's big striker Libor Kozák on Monday. These two factors mean the US international and his team should have a greater margin for error than last season, if not clear sailing away from the Bermuda Triangle that is the drop zone.
Jermaine Jones has an impressive new midfield stable mate in Ghana star Kevin-Prince Boateng. Of course, US fans will remember the deadline day capture from AC Milan for his top showing with a goal in the Americans' round of 16 ouster at the 2010 World Cup.
The question interested Stateside observers will ask now is: Will Boateng combine with Jones to form a dynamic duo ... or will he snatch away some of the American's pitch time?
As Jones is out of contract at season's end and often found talking about taking his career to MLS, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the fresh catch stands to be his eventual replacement as the supremely annoying two-way threat in Schalke's central midfield.
For now, though, it seems more likely that Jones will at the very least team with Boateng often on a platoon basis. The most experienced member of the Miners midfield crew does need to fight off 23-year-old Marco Höger (who can also feature out wide) and teenaged deadline day pick-up Leon Goretzka, so it is easy to envision him still getting most of the nods for the Champions League and headline Bundesliga tilts.