The transfer window (for Premier League teams to acquire international reinforcements) has come to an end with plenty of talented players from different leagues ready to perform on the biggest stage in England.
The transfer window has always been an exciting platform that keeps the English clubs busy, and boy, they have been doing some business despite the pandemic making it a bit tough for deals to go through. There have been some moves that have come out of nowhere, some deals that one did predict to eventually happen, and of course those that were supposed to happen but did not. The biggest of them all (vaporware that is): Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona for Manchester City (potentially).
However, Chelsea have been the busiest club this transfer window while Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and of course, Manchester City are amongst those who have taken out money from their bank accounts. Let’s look at those clubs that one can predict being successful in the transfer market and those who have made panic buys or no purchases at all:
With the transfer ban last summer and not many signings being done in the January window, Chelsea had money saved since selling Eden Hazard to Real Madrid and Alavaro Morata to Atletico Madrid to splash in this window. The plan was to close the gap on the top two clubs of England — Manchester City and Liverpool — so owner Roman Abramovich provided a £200 million spending spree to bring young and necessary talents: Germany’s Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, Ayax’s playmaker Hakim Ziyech, full back Ben Chilwell, PSG’s former captain Thiago Silva, and the recruitment of desperately-needed keeper Edouard Mendy.
What needed to be done in terms of backing Frank Lampard this window has been offered and delivered. The task of melding players from such different leagues, culture and style into a unified squad is a another whole ballgame altogether.
A team that has won the Champions League and the Premier League in two years would want to stick to the players that achieved such glory, but squad depth and talented competition for places within the team matters the most to stay on top of the league. This is exactly what Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp looked for. Despite failing to land Timo Werner (snatched by Chelsea), the Reds eventually went for European champion Bayern Munich’s midfielder Thiago Alcantara for just £20 million, which really is a bargain for a player that instantly improved the squad. They also bought Diogo Jota from Wolves for about £41 million and left-back Kostas Tsimikas arrived from Olympiakos to add squad depth needed for their many competitions.
However, one can argue that the defending champion should have opted to hunt for a central defender (or a better deputy keeper?) after their shocking 7-2 loss to Aston Villa; the Reds have now conceded 11 goals in just four game-weeks already this season.
It was the lack of quality defensive players that cost Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City the title last term. So far, the Spaniard has spent about £430 million on defenders since arriving in 2016, and too many have failed to meet expectations.
After not being able to find any deal for Napoli’s much-touted Kalidou Koulibaly , Man City bought two somewhat-proven central defenders: Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake for £41 million and Benfica’s Ruben Dias for £61 million, most likely to pair with Aymeric Laporte.
With German Leroy Sane finally going home to Bayern Munich, the Citizens also managed to add another back-up winger of Ferran Torres for £20 million from Valencia; having a young, talented player to add depth in a squad is never a bad call to make. Once again, Guardiola has been handed what he requested from the board in this transfer window, so the criticism will fall on his shoulders if the defense still manages to remain a problem for the club.
The most surprising result in recent times, Aston Villa thrashed almighty Liverpool 7-2. The Villans have been decent in the transfer market this summer. They have acquired more quality than quantity, an approach that has worked wonders for them so far, with in-form Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal conceding just two goals in three matches so far. Adding Matty Cash is a similar story as well. New signing from Brentford Ollie Watkins has proven to be a success so far, scoring a hattrick against the defending champions of England. The Villans bought Bertrand Traore too.
However, their biggest signing, not a new one, has to be keeping captain fantastic Jack Grealish this summer despite his being targeted by Manchester United early in the transfer season. What a world-class performance he displayed against Liverpool! From being relegation candidates to looking like a top-six squad (for three matches anyway), if Dean Smith continues his form of run of uniting this team together to his plans, this team can create trouble for plenty in the Premier League.
Despite Arsenal mascot and last of The Invisincibles — Gunnersaurus — being released by the club, deadline-day addition Thomas Partey for £45m from Atletico Madrid boosted the squad immensely. No deal for Lyon’s Houssem Aouar this window, but the Gunners did manage to improve what has been a chronic sore spot these past few years — the defensive aspect of their team. Mikel Arteta managed to convince the club to bring Gabriel Magalhaes to the Emirates while managing to keep Pablo Mari, Cedric Soares and Dani Ceballos in the team. Willian joins from Chelsea to provide experience and basically replace Nicolas Pepe that one can still say was a flop signing. Arsenal also succeed in disposing of some extra players, with the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira and Emiliano Martinez moving out.
The biggest success for them has to be getting a much-desired contract signature from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang that has Mikel Arteta and Arsenal in a much better seat going towards the right direction.
Who would have thought Carlos Ancelloti would manage to make Everton look like such a difficult team to compete against. Quality big name James Rodriguez joins the Toffees for almost a free transfer and took no time to prove that ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’. With he likes of Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure in the team, they have made themselves look like the side to beat at the moment, as they maintain a 100% record so far. And let’s not forget the rise of Dominic Calvert-Lewin scoring goals for fun.
This is smart business, bringing Gareth Bale from Real Madrid. Bringing the Welshman back puts him in a better spot with quality players around him. Those who have joined him this summer include Sergio Reguilon, Carlos Vinicius, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Matt Doherty. All these acquisitions are top-class quality fit to surround Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, which puts Jose Mourinho’s Spurs in the success category of this transfer window for sure.
The one and only biggest loser
Ending their previous term rising to third in the table, qualifying for Champions League, and having a young, hungry looking squad, the Red Devils were marching in the correct direction to close the gap on rivals City and Liverpool. All that was left was to achieve a successful transfer window to back manager Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer with more youth and quality to add depth, but the higher ups of Ed Woodward, Matt Judge and the Glazers failed to do so, yet again.
Since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill almost seven years ago, there has been mostly failure in the transfer field, resulting poorly on the field too many times. Arguably the biggest club in England made Borussia Dortmund’s rising young star Jaden Sancho the number one target, but the club failed to reach the asking price the Germans demanded. The player has been ready to join the Red Devils for ages, and Dortmund laid out the fee demand to Manchester, but three months of saga fizzled. A youngster that has proven his talent by his stats could have performed for the next decade, wearing the legendary number seven shirt to become the face of the club and deliver the rewards. He eventually would have been worth the struggle, but Manchester United failed to complete the move.
Targeting Jack Grealish, Dayot Upamecano, Nathan Ake, Tyrone Mings and Kalidou Koulibaly turned out to be fun transfer rumours going to waste. Having no hope of Sancho, the back-up option of Ousmane Dembélé from Barcelona was eventually rejected; the Catalan did not approve only a loan move, preferring a permanent one.
United did manage to sign youngster Donny van de Beek from Ayax for £37m, which will improve the squad in a jam-packed midfield but can’t close the gap on the top two clubs. A decent left-back Alex Tellas from Porto is another boost, along with Amad Diallo from Atalanta and Facundo Pellistri. Signing an experienced and proven goal-scorer in Edison Cavani is not entirely a bad call, but a 33-year-old past his prime is weak beer after targeting a number one priority in Jaden Sancho to become the face of your club for the next decade.
Losing 6-1 to Tottenham and former manager Jose Mourinho shows a glimpse of what can happen to Manchester United this season, and changing the manager was never the solution. Debating if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the right man or not is a separate issue, those who make the final call, the board is responsible for bringing failure to Old Trafford each season for the past seven years despite the fan base begging for a change. Sadly, Manchester United has been losing since Sir Alex Ferguson departed, thanks to this board, Ed Woodward and the Glazer family.
Notes on transfer windows: Premier League teams may still trade with lower tiers until October 16th, and some other leagues (e.g. Portugal) may still take outbound players from the EPL, so continue to keep one eye on transfer news.
Whom do you think are the winners or losers of this transfer window? Any team you think will exceed expectations this summer? Any plans for your FPL strategy during the international break? Anything you would like to add to this piece? Please, let us know your thoughts in the comments below!