The transfer window for Summer 2018 slammed shut at 5PM yesterday, a day before the first game of the season; tonight’s clash between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford. The deadline was brought forward under the new Premier League guidelines voted in by clubs at the end of last season, deciding that the period in which clubs can sign new players is ended before the start of the season.
Today, I’ll be discussing how the ‘Big 6’ of the Premier League (the Manchester clubs, Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool) fared this transfer window, starting with the defending Premier League champions. I’ll also be picking my transfer window winner out of all 20 Premier League clubs.
In: Riyad Mahrez – £60m from Leicester, Daniel Arzani – Undisclosed fee from Melbourne City, Phillipe Sandler – Undisclosed from PEC Zwolle, Claudio Gomes – Undisclosed from PSG
Out (of note): Angus Gunn – Southampton for £13.5m, Joe Hart – Burnley for £3.5m, Pablo Maffeo – Stuttgart for an undisclosed fee.
Manchester City haven’t done a huge amount of business this summer, however they didn’t really need to strengthen the squad in many areas. They spent £60m on Leicester’s Algerian playmaker Riyad Mahrez, and made no other headline signings. They brought in Daniel Azrani from sister club Melbourne City, and a few lesser known players from the European leagues, but were otherwise happy to rest on their laurels.
Even the purchase of Riyad Mahrez could be argued as unnecessary; City already have a plethora of attacking talent, and now Pep Guardiola is faced with the unenviable task of finding how to keep all players happy about playing time, whilst being able to play a maximum of four players in his attacking roster at one time. These players include Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden, alongside any youth players he may want to bring into the squad. These are all world class talents, who would be crucial starters in most other teams on the planet, but many of them will be limited in their playing time this season.
Overall, City have spent conservatively, and have added a former PFA Player Of The Year to what was already a very impressive squad.
In: Fred – £47m from Shakhtar Donetsk, Diogo Dalot – £19m from Porto, Lee Grant – undisclosed fee from Stoke
Out: Daley Blind – Ajax for £14m, Sam Johnstone – West Brom for £6.5m, Axel Tuanzebe – Aston Villa on loan, Timothy Fosu-Mensah – Fulham on loan, Joel Pereira – Vitoria Setubal on loan, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson – Scunthorpe on loan, Joe Riley – Bradford for an Undisclosed fee
United’s recruitment team came under large scrutiny this summer, with plenty of pressure from the media and fans for new signings, along with manager Jose Mourinho’s open complaints in press conferences, and, although United didn’t manage to sign the centre-back that the fans were all calling for, United have still strengthened the squad.
New signing Fred will fill a gap in midfield, and provide a variety of skills. He has a good work rate, as seen in United’s game with Leicester last night, in which he made 5 recoveries, 3 interceptions, 2 clearance and 7 accurate long passes. He has many similar attributes to teammate Paul Pogba, with his long passing and creativity, however is far smaller and less physically able. He looks like he could become an excellent signing, and really improve United’s midfield.
Diogo Dalot, a 19-year-old full back from Porto, was signed as a long term replacement for veteran fan-favourite Antonio Valencia, and from the short clips I’ve seen of him playing, his crossing and attacking play looks excellent, and his positional play looks very strong too. Lee Grant, a surprise 35-year-old signing from Stoke, looks more like a tactical addition requested by Jose Mourinho, providing emergency backup to likely support Sergio Romero’s on-going knee problems, and allowing youngster Joel Pereira to go out on loan to Vitoria Setubal and gain valuable playing time. Grant will likely never make more than three or four competitive appearances for Man United, but is a clever acquisition nonetheless.
However, many United fans say they needed more if they are to challenge for the title this season. Their central defence looks shaky, and could certainly do with some new recruits to support Eric Bailly, with Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones all looking insecure last season. Attempts to sign Leicester’s Harry Maguire were consistently quashed as United were priced out by the 2015/16 champion’s valuation of the England defender, and a late push for Athletico Madrid’s Diego Godin turned out to be just an incentive for Athleti to improve his new contract.
It was possible that United also needed a new winger and backup striker, neither of which were acquired. Attempts to sign Gareth Bale were also ended, likely due to Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus meaning that Bale now had a better opportunity to get regular first team football at Los Blancos. However, I think that, should United have signed a new winger, a back up striking option would not be necessary, as players like Marcus Rashford, Alexis Sanchez and Anthony Martial can all play up front too, so would have provided ample backup for Romelu Lukaku.
Overall, United made some good acquisitions, but are still lacking in some areas of the pitch, and should probably have strengthened in those areas if they want to win the Premier League this season.
In: Xherdan Shaqiri – £13.5m from Stoke, Fabinho – £39m from Monaco, Allison – undisclosed fee from Roma (likely around £66m), Naby Keita – £48m from RB Leipzig
Out: Emre Can – Juventus for free, Danny Ings – Southampton on loan (permanent move next season), Ben Woodburn – Sheffield United on loan, Jon Flanagan – Rangers for free, Danny Ward – Leicester £12.5m, Harry Wilson – Derby on loan
Tipped by many to be Man City’s biggest challengers this season, Liverpool have spent around £170m this summer on new signings to strengthen their title bid for this season.
Liverpool’s main weakness was in their goalkeepers. Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius have both come under intense scrutiny recently, especially for Karius’ performance in the Champions League final last season, giving away two goals which were very easily avoidable. Medical scientists have claimed Karius suffered from concussion from a head collision earlier in the match, however this has been ridiculed by many non-Liverpool fans across the globe. Liverpool have added Roma Goalkeeper Allison to their ranks for what was a world record fee for a goalkeeper at the time. Allison is an excellent keeper who will likely do very well at Liverpool this season, notching 22 clean sheets in all competitions for Roma last season.
They have also strengthened their midfield, replacing the out-of-contract midfielder Emre Can with new signings Fabinho and Naby Keita from Monaco and RB Leipzig respectively. Fabinho, a long term target for rivals Man United, will be a more like-for-like replacement for Can, being more defensively minded and more willing to bed in, whereas Naby Keita will be a more box-to-box player, with that vital creative spark that will help feed their lethal front three of Salah, Firmino and Mane.
They also brought in Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri from the now championship side Stoke for a fee of £13.5m, to provide backup for Salah and Mane. The winger scored a bicycle kick on his debut in a preseason game against Man United, so has already affirmed his place as a fan favourite. However, Shaqiri is a risky character in terms of discipline to have on your team. He is often accused of a lack of effort and work rate, as well as consistency in terms of how he plays. Yet, this was the same risk that Liverpool took on Sadio Mane a couple of seasons ago, and that risk payed off excellently.
Liverpool did, however, need some strengthening in defence, which they haven’t done. Centre backs like Ragnor Klavan and Dejan Lovren (even if he is, by his own claim, “one of the world’s best defenders”) are clearly below par. Full backs could also be improved, with Alberto Moreno another player who could be improved upon. A player like Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane would have been perfect, although it is clear than Real would be reluctant to sell.
Overall, Liverpool have really improved their squad in their weak areas, and a new goalkeeper and midfield could certainly be the thing that could propel them into a serious title challenge. However, they could have done with some new defensive talent to secure their back line and improve their bid for silverware.
In: Kepa Arrizabalaga – £71m from Athletico Bilbao, Jorginho – Undisclosed fee from Napoli, Robert Green – free from Huddersfield, Mateo Kovacic – on loan from Real Madrid
Out (of note): Thibaut Courtois – Real Madrid for an undisclosed fee (reported around £40m), Michy Batshuayi – Borussia Dortmund on loan, Kenedy – Newcastle on loan
Chelsea’s Summer transfers came mostly in a late flurry, with first choice ‘keeper Thibaut Courtois joining Real Madrid, with midfielder Mateo Kovacic joining on loan as part of the deal, and Kepa Arrizabalaga coming in to replace Courtois from Athletico Bilbao. They also made a similar deal to Manchetser United’s signing of Lee Grant, with the recruitment of Rob Green on a free from Huddersfield, backing up Kepa Arrizabalaga and Willy Caballero.
Their main signing, besides that, was the transfer of Jorginho from Napoli for an undisclosed fee. Small, agile, and with an endless work rate, Jorginho is very similar to N’Golo Kante, and, alongside Chelsea’s already strong midfield, could really help out Chelsea’s bid for a top three finish.
Chelsea’s main achievement during the transfer window was keeping hold of their current players. Eden Hazard and Willian both stayed, despite links of a move away, and, even though they did lose Courtois, they kept their strength in the goalkeeping position.
Overall, Chelsea had a fairly quiet summer, and strengthened their squad, whilst keeping the strength they already had.
Out: Keanan Bennetts – Borussia Monchengladbach for an undisclosed fee, Anton Walkes – Portsmouth for an undisclosed fee
Tottenham had more than a quiet transfer window, they had a silent one. They signed absolutely nobody, and their only departures were two youth team players joining teams in different leagues.
Spurs already had a very strong squad, with pretty much all positions filled with quality players, but they could have done with some squad depth. Spurs have only two out and out strikers in Harry Kane and Fernando Llorente, and, even if Kaneis the best in the league, he is not enough, and if he gets injured then they will be forced to play Llorente up front, who, although a good striker, is only good enough to be a back up at a team the size of Spurs. They could also have added another backup central defender, however they have held onto Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, two quality centre backs, as well as Davinson Sanchez.
Overall, Spurs signed nobody, however there weren’t really any glaring positions which needed improving, so the squad could still be a threat in the coming season.
In: Bernd Leno – £19.3m from Bayer Leverkusen, Stephan Lichtsteiner – free from Juventus, Sokratis – Undisclosed fee from Borussia Dortmund, Matteo Guendouzi – Undisclosed fee from Lorient
Out: Callum Chambers – Fulham on loan, Jack Wilshire – West Ham for free, Chuba Akpom – POAK Salonika for an undisclosed fee, Lucas Perez – West Ham for an Undisclosed fee.
Arsenal have finally brought in a long term goalkeeper to provide the ageing Petr Cech with some respite and a replacement for when he retires. Leno is an excellent ‘keeper and shot stopper, and at just 26 he still has plenty of time left at the top.
The signing of Sokratis Papastathopoulos means that their insecure backline will be solidified, and Stephan Lichsteiner’s arrival from Juventus mean that they will have another good full back in their ranks.
The arrival of Unai Emery will also give new hope to the Gunners, ending Arsene Wenger’s 22 year stay in North London.
Overall, the revamped Arsenal side will be likely to pose more of a chance of acheiving a top four finish this season, and could be a dark horse should their squad gel properly.
My Premier League Transfer Window Winner
Out of all 20 Premier League clubs, here I will be choosing which team I think has done the best this window, in terms of acquiring new players, and holding onto those that they already have.
And the winner is….
In: Adama Traore – £18m from Middlesborough, Joao Moutinho – £5m from Monaco, Benik Afobe – £10m from Bournemouth, Willy Boly – £10m from porto, Leander Dendonker – on loan from Anderlecht, Rui Patricio – free from Sporting Lisbon, Johnny Castro Otto – loan from Athletico Madrid
Out: Ben Marshall – Norwich for an undisclosed fee, Benik Afobe – Stoke (loan until January, when they will pay £12m to permaently buy him), Barry Douglas – Leeds for an undisclosed fee, Carl Ikeme – retired.
The team who took the championship by storm last season are looking to do the same to the Premier League this season, improving massively on their already excellent squad.
Adama Traore from Middlesborough is an excellent dribbler of the ball and is lightening quick, so will be an excellent recruitment, as will the signings of Joao Moutinho and Rui Patricio, providing brilliant experience and class to the squad at a low price. Willy Boly is a rock solid centre back who can really seal up any gaps in the back line, adn Leandro Dendonker is a very highly rated young midfielder, best known for his excellent headed goal against Man United in the Europa League two seasons ago.
Wolves also held onto their quality players like Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota. However, goalkeeper Carl Ikeme has retired from football due to his battle with leukaemia, although he is in full remission, which is excellent news.
Wolves have added plenty of talent to their already excellent squad, and could certainly push for a top 10 finish this season, and that’s why they’re my Transfer Window Winners.
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