Summer Transfer Window: Who did the best business?
As transfer deadline day draws near, you can almost hear the sound of Arsene Wenger swatting thick cobwebs away from the Arsenal FC chequebook; his frugal, old hands reluctantly preparing another, ultimately, doomed offer. Meanwhile, Leicester fans look forlornly around the King Power, hoping N’Golo Kante is just playing an elaborate prank on them and hasn’t really left. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but this Premier league season has been in the making since late July.
As of last week, Deloitte reported cumulative spending is currently at around £880 million, breaking last years’ total transfer spending record and proving that, maybe, you can buy class. Sorry conservative football fans, this is the age of big spending. Here’s a run-down of the 10 teams with the most promising signings in the last few months. If your team hasn’t made the list; I wouldn’t worry, you still have just under half a week to sign Messi.
Granit Xhaka (£34m), Rob Holding (£2m), Lucas Perez (£17m) and a deal for Shkrodan Mustafi (approx. £32m) expected to be completed by Wednesday actually reflects a relatively promising window for Arsenal, despite the criticism Wenger has received. All areas requiring improvement appear to be filled. 8/10
Like that kid at school we all hated for always having his homework done on time, Bournemouth got much of their business finished early on. Kudos, Bournemouth. Jordan Ibe (£15m) and Nathan Ake (loan) are highlights here, bringing youthful zeal and creativity to the squad. Should complement Gradel, King and Co. well this season. 7/10
Chelsea have made limited, yet effective additions so far. Batshuayi (£33.2m) has proven himself a solid option upfront within the first two games, combined with entertaining tweets; a lethal combination. Kante (£32m), a standout last year, looked settled in his new club. Decent upgrades and didn’t break the bank. 8/10
Losing Gayle and Bolasie was a big hit to Crystal Palace, and filling the space they occupied was vital. Benteke (£32m) might be a risk but if he finds his place in the team as a focal point, he could be very effective. Goalkeeper Steve Mandanda on a free is also great business; bringing experience at the highest level for the same price as, well, literally nothing. James Tomkins (£10m) also adds some stability at the back, a problem last year. 7/10
Two standout signings for Everton who, theoretically, should provide rejuvenated strength in the areas the Toffees needed it most. Bolasie (£28m) and Ashley Williams (£12m) are bargain deals who will fill the holes left by John Stones and Steven Pienaar. Nothing outrageous but pragmatic work here. 6.5/10
After losing Kante, Leicester replaced him with 24 year-old Mendy (£13m). Lots of questions were asked but he looked comfortable enough against Arsenal. Until he got injured. Other highlight is Musa (undisclosed) from CKSA Moskva. He, along with Vardy and Mahrez, form a triumvirate of pace not seen since the Borussia Dortmund front three on FIFA 14 (Ramos, Reus, Aubamayang…*wistfully sighs*). 6/10 (with some clear potential).
One of the higher spenders (unsurprisingly), Manchester City’s best signings included Oleksandr Zinchenko (undisclosed), a young Ukrainian with bags of potential. John Stones (£47.5m) could be a massive overspend but is very promising and learning from the best in Vincent Kompany. Nolito (£13.8m) had a solid Euros, unlike the rest of the Spain team. Leroy Sane (£37m) and Jesus (Not that one. Gabriel Jesus, costing £27m) are a pair of young wingers who also show signs of being a serious impact in the later years. Gundogan (£21m) is also a steal. Clear laying of groundwork from Guardiola as he begins his tenure with the club, characteristically high-spending without the obvious bid for headlines. Refreshing. 8/10
The headlines belonged to Manchester United. Or, more accurately, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (free) and Paul Pogba. Pogba (£89m) is already world-class and only 23. Zlatan’s only cost are his, admittedly, considerable wages. Despite age, he is still proving his immense class, even at 34. Bailly (£30m) and Mkhitaryan (£26.3m) finish off a solid showing, and obvious sign of intent from Mourinho. Look like title contenders already. 8.5/10
Newly-promoted Middlesborough have made some particularly smart deals this window, keeping spending down but, hopefully, bringing in enough quality to survive their first Premier league season after a long hiatus. Negredo (Loan) and Valdes (Free) are top-quality signings with experience. Fischer (£3.8m) and De Roon (£12m) are calculated risks. The signings certainly make a statement, Middlesborough is a team with no intentions of leaving the top-flight anytime soon. 7/10
The move into the Olympic Stadium marks a new era for West Ham. Ayew (£20.5m) and permanent signing of Lanzini (£9.4m) are excellent deals and bolster the, already, considerable attacking options at the club. They say nothing is free; not true, it buys you Sofiane Feghouli and Havard Nordveit these days. Both bring composure to the midfield, without spending a penny. 7.5/10
Ramadan Sobhi (£5m) to Stoke. 19-year old Egyptian, tipped to be a star of the future. If he can do it on a rainy night in Stoke, he can do it anywhere.
Roberto Pereyra (£13m) to Watford. Broke into the Juve squad on the regular, featured in the Italian national team. Interesting investment and can provide creative support to Deeney and Ighalo.