While the English Premier League’s summer transfer window will remain open until August 31 for sales to clubs outside England, it closed for purchases on August 9. We’ve covered the transfers done in June and July in other articles, so in this piece we’ll review the deals done in August.
But first, here’s how the summer’s business stacked up for the 10 EPL teams who spent the most money:
- Liverpool: £171M, 6 players
- Chelsea: £122m, 4 players
- Fulham: £110M, 12 players
- Leicester City: £101.5M, 7 players
- West Ham: £93M, 10 players
- Everton: £86M, 6 players
- Arsenal: £71.5M, 5 players
- Manchester United: £64M, 3 players
- Wolverhampton: £62.5M, 13 players
- Manchester City: £60M, 1 player
You’ll note that one of the perennial superpowers is glaringly absent from the top ten list. Inconceivably, Tottenham Hotspur became the first club in league history to fail to make a single summer transfer since the window was introduced in 2003. That’s right: Spurs bought zero players, with £0 spent. Mauricio Pochettino attributed the lack of available funds to the club’s stadium costs (which he pegged at up to £1 billion) and the effect of Brexit on expenses.
Regardless of reason, the lack of summer reinforcements will not help a Spurs team that will be expected to jockey for a top four position in the league while also competing for tournament trophies in England and Europe. Manchester City has the depth at all positions to limit itself to just a single luxury acquisition (Riyad Mahrez), but Tottenham does not.
Which club had the best summer transfer window?
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Lucas Digne (Barcelona to Everton, £18M, 5 years): Leighton Baines is 34 years old, and if we’re honest, his game has been in slow decline for some time now. At some point this season, twenty-five year-old Lucas Digne will demote the Evertonian icon to the bench. And it could be sooner rather than later.
Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham to Palace, £9.5M, 4 years): With Yohan Cabaye leaving on a free and Ruben Loftus Cheek’s loan expired, Roy Hodgson needed to repopulate his midfield. Kouyate will provide physicality, cover, and competition, but the 6’ 4” Senegalese may not be a regular starter. His fantasy returns have steadily declined since he joined West Ham four years ago.
Max Meyer (Schalke to Crystal Palace, free, 3 year): The German wunderkind had a falling out with Schalke’s sporting director last year and found himself frozen out of the squad. He was good enough to attract interest from Liverpool, Arsenal, and Barcelona, but the player’s wage demands short-circuited those moves. Meyer was able to agree to terms with Palace, however, and consequently became Roy Hodgson’s marquee summer signing. Of note, although Meyer played most of his career as a number 10, he blossomed when Schalke’s manager switched him to a number 6 or 8. That defensive shift in his positioning will probably restrict his fantasy value.
Alfie Mawson (Swansea to Fulham, £20M, 4 years): The 24 year-old center back is still recovering from knee surgery and is not expected to be fit until next month.
Yoshinori Muto (Mainz to Newcastle, £9.5M, 4 years): Newcastle’s first Japanese player made only one appearance for his national team in this summer’s World Cup, and he totaled just 8 goals for Mainz last year. But his tireless energy makes him an effective foil to a more physical strike partner, and at Newcastle he may play in a withdrawn role behind a target man. He could have fantasy potential in platforms like Fantrax.
Rachid Ghezzal (AS Monaco to Leicester City, £10M, 4 years): After Riyad Mahrez’s exit for the greener grass of the Etihad, Leicester replaced one left-footed Algerian right-winger with another. Ghezzal is not a prolific goal-scorer, but he is skilled with the ball at his feet and is a good creator. He will be first-choice when fit, and Claude Puel will rely on him for a steady supply of service to Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho. It’s doubtful he can equal Riyad Mahrez’s contributions to Leicester, but he’s still one to put on your fantasy radar.
Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough to Burnley, £15M, 4 years): Middlesbrough’s former captain now wears a Burnley shirt after the Clarets shelled out a club-record fee to bring him in. He’ll compete with Ben Mee and James Tarkowski at center back, but at least for now those positions probably belong to the incumbents.
Salomon Rondon (West Brom to Newcastle, loan): To bring in Rondon from West Brom, Rafael Benitez sent Dwight Gayle to the Baggies, saying “When we were looking for options up front, we knew how important experience would be.” I can’t imagine Rondon agreed to the loan so he could warm the bench. Once he settles in at St. James Park, I expect him to lead the line and score maybe a dozen goals.
Matej Vydra (Derby to Burnley, undisclosed, 3 years): Vydra was the Championship’s top scorer last season with 21 goals in 40 appearances. He can either lead the line or play as a number 10, so it’s likely he’ll find a spot somewhere in the S11 once he achieves match fitness.
Jefferson Lerma (Levante to Bournemouth, £25M, 5 years): Because the 23 year-old Colombian is known for winning tackles and launching counterattacks, he has been compared to N’golo Kante. A club-record signing, Lerma will be an important player for Bournemouth once he achieves match fitness. But his style of play generally doesn’t lend itself to fantasy glory, and he’s a card magnet. Last year he collected 16 yellows — the most of any player in Europe’s top 5 leagues.
Joe Hart (Manchester City to Burnley, £3.5M, 2 year): After Hart spent the last two years away from the Etihad on loan, Pep Guardiola finally sold the 31 year-old keeper after making it clear that after 12 years with the club, Hart no longer had a future with the Sky Blues. Hart will hope he can take advantage of injuries to Nick Pope and Tom Heaton to win the Clarets’ starting job and resurrect his career. Aargh!
Calum Chambers (Arsenal to Fulham, loan): Chambers was deemed to be surplus to requirements at the Emirates, where new manager Unai Emery signed him to a new contract and then brought in summer transfers at his position. The loan to Fulham was meant to provide the 23 year-old with the game time necessary to further his development, but after a busy transfer window Fulham’s squad is now crowded too.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao to Chelsea, £71M, 7 years): The late exit of Thibaut Courtois forced a desperate Chelsea to splash huge money on Kepa — his fee is the highest ever paid by Chelsea for any player, and a world-record for a goalkeeper. He’ll slot directly into the starting lineup, but it remains to be seen how the 23 year-old Spaniard will handle the pressure of wearing the #1 for Chelsea as the planet’s most expensive GK.
Adama Traore (Middlesbrough to Wolves, £18M, 5 years): By certain statistical measures, Traore is the world’s best dribbler, topping legends such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But in reality, he can’t run with the ball seemingly tied to his shoelaces as well as Messi can, and he doesn’t have Ronaldo’s level of trickery and guile. But like the Gareth Bale of old, what Traore can do is push the ball into open space and then out-hare everyone else to it. The 22 year-old will need to add end-product to his game in order to justify his club-record fee (and your fantasy investment), but he’ll certainly be entertaining to watch.
August 9 (Deadline Day)
With 26 players inking deals on a typically frenzied deadline day, I’ll just stick to the highlights.
Kurt Zouma (Chelsea to Everton, loan): Phil Jagielka is aging (and now suspended unless his red card is rescinded), and Michael Keane has been a bit of a let-down after his big-money transfer from Burnley last season. The 23 year-old Zouma could find his way into the Toffee’s permanent starting lineup (but also see Yerry Mina below).
Danny Ings (Liverpool to Southampton, £20M, 4 years): With none of his forwards reaching double digit goal totals last year, Mark Hughes knew he needed to beef up his anemic offense this season. Danny Ings will be the man he’ll look to for that.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah (Manchester United to Fulham, loan): The defender was a decent fantasy enabler when given games at United. He could play a similar role at Fulham.
Andre Gomes (Barcelona to Everton, loan): The midfielder was voted Barcelona’s worst signing of the season after joining Barcelona from Valencia. He looks set to get a fresh start under Marco Silva.
Yerry Mina (Barcelona to Everton, £27M, 5 years): Mina scored 3 goals for Colombia in this summer’s World Cup, and Barcelona parlayed his performance into a big payday. Everton captain Phil Jagielka was shown red yesterday, so Mina should deputize in his place. After that he’ll press for starts over Michael Keane.
Jordan Ayew (Swansea to Crystal Palace, loan): Ayew was Swansea’s leading scorer last year, but refused to train with the club after the Swans were relegated in May. He’ll offer Roy Hodgson options up front once he achieves match fitness.
Joe Bryan (Bristol City to Fulham, £6M, 4 years): The left back was a standout in the Championship last year. He started against Palace yesterday and picked up 6 points in Fantrax before being subbed off in the 71st minute with an ankle issue.
Carlos Sanchez (Fiorentina to West Ham, undisclosed, 2 years): The Colombian international will help shore up Manuel Pellegrino’s midfield, but as a CDM he is not likely to be an important fantasy asset.
Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk, free, 4 years): The Brazilian left winger was out-of-contract with his Ukranian club at the end of the 2017-18 season, and over the summer he elicited interest from West Ham, Chelsea, AC Milan, and Tottenham. But the 25 year-old free agent chose Everton out of a desire to work with Marco Silva. His preferred position is probably locked down by Richarlison, but Bernard can also play on the right or as a number 10.
Lucas Perez (Arsenal to West Ham, £4M, 3 years): The 29 year-old forward was really never given a fair chance at Arsenal (while others were given many — I’m looking at you Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi). Purchased for a song by West Ham, Perez will now be given the opportunity to show why it was a mistake for first Arsene Wenger and then Unai Emery to shun him.
Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid to Chelsea, loan): The 24 year-old is an attacking midfielder who is excellent with the ball at his feet and has good vision and passing ability. But in Maurizio Sarri’s system, it is his defensive abilities that will really distinguish him from Ross Barkley. Alvaro Morata is certainly excited to be reunited with Kovacic: “He gave me a lot of assists in Madrid. We enjoy playing together and I’m very happy to have him here. I think he’s one of the best midfielders in the world.” If Morata is right, perhaps Kovacic will not only be an EPL fantasy force in his own right, but will also reverse the poor form of his former teammate.
Which player is the most important August transfer?
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Are you happy with how your favorite club managed its transfer window? Which players are you most excited about? Which players do you think were the best values? Which were the worst? Come on in and share your thoughts in the comments below.