That time of the year is upon us once again. The annual occasion that sees the breaking news ticker dominate the bottom of TV screens, footage of Range Rovers with blacked out windows cruising around Premier League training complexes and of course, THAT yellow tie. As August reaches its conclusion, it can only mean one thing. Transfer Deadline day.
Some teams act fast, spending big money before jetting off on exotic pre-season tours, whereas other teams struggle to hold onto their prized assets, fending off gargantuan offers in a market that has seen transfer records smashed. The market is however, a crucial time for Premier league sides, both at the pinnacle of British football, and for those fighting to remain along the division’s elite.
With Premier League spending already surpassing the £1bn mark, this summer’s transfer window is on course to be the biggest in Premier League history.
Thirteen clubs have broken their transfer records in the window so far, but with the season being three games in, some teams will feel much happier with their off season business in comparison to others.
Manchester United. TOTAL SPEND: £150m
It would be difficult to suggest any team has been as prolific in the market as the Red Devils. Lukaku was brought into the side early, and had an impressive pre-season to adapt to Mourinho’s side and they’ve re-signed Ibrahimovic, who needs no introduction. They’ve strengthened at the back with the purchase of Lindelöf but the signing of Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic in midfield seems like a masterstroke from the Portuguese boss.
United are three wins from three, scoring ten goals without conceding once and the addition of Matic to the midfield has given record signing Pogba the freedom to dictate games, Martin Keown questioned whether there had “been a better debut from a left-footed midfield player at Old Trafford since Bryan Robson in 1981?” following the Serbian midfielders home debut since moving from the champions Chelsea. Lukaku will of course grab the headlines for his goals this season, but Matic’s move the Old Trafford echoes the Van Persie deal from Arsenal, could another London arrival power Manchester United to their first title in five seasons.
Liverpool. Total Spend: £80m
Going into this window, the main aim at Anfield was to ensure that Philipe Coutinho stayed at the club. Barcelona’s interest in the Brazilian playmaker has been apparent for the past two seasons, and the world record departure of Neymar to PSG seemingly paved the way for Coutinho to leave Merseyside. However, the Liverpool owners insisted their star asset wasn’t for sale and have stayed true to their word. This is a clear sign of intent from Klopp’s side, and with record signing Mo Salah returning to the Premier League with 2 goals and 1 assist to his name already, the reds look a dangerous opposition going forward. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is an exciting deal for Liverpool, the 24 year old has plenty of International, Domestic and European experience, and his versatility will only improve Klopp’s team. Dominic Solanke joined the side from Chelsea on a free after frustration at a lack of game time for the Blues, and with impressive performances for England U21s at this summers European Championships, the deal seems to suit Liverpool far more than the blues.
The second placers…
Chelsea. Total Spend: £126m
The champions business in the market has left fans scratching their heads. The blues cruised to the title last season but were blessed a lack of injuries and were without the draining demands of Champions League football. It’s been a window of key departures throughout the spine of Antonio Conte’s side with big names and future potential stars leaving the club. High profile names such as John Terry and Nemanja Matic stand out, alongside the apparent exile of Diego Costa, but the departures of Nathanial Chalobah, Nathan Ake, Dominic Solanke and Rueben Loftus-Cheek, albeit on loan, have grated on blues fans as their successful youth talent continues to slip away from the club’s first team.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the champions, club record signing Alvaro Morata has started well, with two goals and two assists so far, and midfielder Bakayoko had an impressive showing in the victory over Spurs. Antonio Rudiger comes into an already strong defence, and Andreas Christensen has returned from loan after two seasons at Borussia Monchengladbach in which he won club player of the season in both years.
Manchester City. Total Spend: £220m
Many backed Guardiola to take City to the title in his debut season, however, that wasn’t the case, a round 16 exit from the Champions League and being 15 points adrift from champions Chelsea left Pep in need of reinforcements. The blue half of Manchester have been the league’s top spenders, with business throughout the window taking place.
The defence needed addressing, and the blues have spent £125 million on wing backs alongside £36m on goalkeeper Ederson (the second goalkeeper signed in two years for Pep). Gabriel Jesus was injured for the majority of last season, so he acts as a new signing in a sense, whilst the pursuit of Sanchez would undoubtedly strengthen any side. The main concern for the Manchester side remains their central defensive options. Vincent Kompany was up there with the world’s best in Mancini’s era and they look a different side when he is out of the team injured. Nonetheless, an impressive window for City, with class added allover the field, Bernado Silva from Monaco forms a daunting attacking midfield barracks alongside De Bruyne, Silva and Sane.
Spurs. Total Spend: £66m
Spurs arguably had the best starting 11 last season, and have managed to endure the current window without and key departures. Some late activity in the market has seen some strengthening at the back with the arrival of Serge Aurier (£22m) and Sanchez (£36m) adding to an already impressive defensive backline.
Many may feel that Spurs are still short of attacking options, with the potential injury to Kane leaving the North London side without an out and out replacement. They are very dependent on Kane and Ali but selling Walker for £50m and replacing him with Aurier seems great business from Levy.
Arsenal. Total Spend: £52m
Arsenal’s activity in the window has matched their start to the Premier League. A shambles. With only one signing, and with successive defeats to Stoke and a thrashing at Anfield to Liverpool, Arsenal’s transfer window looks to be the worst in recent history. The signing of Lacazette for a club record had fans purring at the thought of a front three of the frenchman, Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, but since then Sanchez clearly has one eye on the exit with Manchester City calling.
It appears that the only positive Arsenal fans can take from this window is if they follow Liverpool’s example and manage to hang on to Alexis Sanchez, if he goes and results don’t improve, it seems as though Wenger’s days are seriously numbered. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain turned down £180,000 p/w in favour of a move to Liverpool, the winger 24, was developing into an important player for the gunners in his ability to play almost everywhere on the pitch.