With just a few weeks of the transfer window remaining and the season having already kicked off in earnest, a number of Premier League managers will undoubtedly be glad to see the window slam shut on August 31st, while others will likely continue sniffing around hoping for some additional late business to boost their squads in anticipation of a long and testing campaign.
At the time of writing Premier League clubs have already parted with a record amount of cash and with some top managers, most notably Mauricio Pochettino having yet to really dip into the market, that new record is sure to grow in the coming weeks. Here we take a look at the movers and shakers in this window, those who’ve spent big and those who’ve remained frugal and try to decipher who has completed the best business to date.
Movers And Shakers
Having failed to break the stranglehold of the top six clubs for a third successive season, Everton and their manager Ronald Koeman set their stall out early by splashing big money to recruit Ajax captain Davy Klaassen, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, England international Michael Keane and Spanish starlet Sandro Ramirez. Gylfi Sigurdsson could soon follow from Swansea for a fee in the region of £50 million. The Goodison Park faithful also waived a fond farewell to top goalscorer Romelu Lukaku who departed Merseyside for Manchester United for a monstrous fee of £75 million plus add-ons, in return welcoming boyhood Evertonian Wayne Rooney home with open arms after 13 years of success at Old Trafford. And England’s record goalscorer completed his homecoming in fairytale style on Saturday afternoon by heading home his club’s winning goal against Stoke in their season opener.
Meanwhile, Ross Barkley’s future has yet to be finalised with up to six Premier League clubs still reportedly tracking the Liverpudlian. Koeman intimated openly that Barkley would be allowed to leave Merseyside this summer. However, no acceptable bids have been forthcoming for the inconsistent midfielder. Across Stanley Park, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool snapped up Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah from Roma for a new club record fee of up to £39 million to add even more pace to his attack. But, after watching his team’s defensive horror show at Watford on Saturday, a top class centre-back, possibly in the shape of £60 million Southampton man Virgil van Dijk, remains an urgent priority for Klopp if the Reds are to mount a serious challenge this season. Furthermore, resisting Barcelona’s strong overtures for star player Philippe Coutinho could well prove key to the Reds’ chances of success this campaign.
We Are Manchester
Down the M62 motorway, Jose Mourinho’s United have strengthened the entire spine of their team with the acquisition of £30 million plus Sweden defender Victor Lindelof from Benfica in addition to Lukaku while Chelsea inconceivably allowed key midfield stalwart Nemanja Matic a move north to the Theatre of Dreams for what looks a bargain £40 million for a player of such experience and stature. Lukaku meanwhile got his United career off to a dream start on Sunday afternoon with a brace of goals to inspire Mourinho’s men to a four-goal victory over West Ham United. United looked imperious against the Hammers and with Mourinho chasing one more attacking midfielder, it could perhaps be an ominous sign of things to come.
Over the city on the light blue side of Manchester, Pep Guardiola, having failed for the first time in his illustrious career to win a trophy last season, set about strengthening his full back options and spending whatever is necessary to wrestle the title from Chelsea’s grasp with further progress in the Champions League also a target. The capture of Monaco playmaker Bernardo Silva was followed by the world record transfers for a goalkeeper and defender in Ederson and Kyle Walker before Guardiola splashed further millions on Real Madrid defender Danilo and Monaco’s impressive left-back Benjamin Mendy. City opened up with a 2-0 victory over Brighton on Sunday and with Pep prepared to splurge further cash, possibly for a centre back to cover injury prone skipper Vincent Kompany, City are justifiably entering this campaign as favourites for a third title in seven years.
Trouble Brewing In The Capital?
Down in the capital, defending champions Chelsea crashed to an unexpected 3-2 home reverse at the hands of Burnley on Saturday. The summer at the Bridge has been littered with murmurs of discontent from manager Antonio Conte over a perceived shortage of backing in the transfer window. With Matic, seemingly against Conte’s wishes and John Terry having moved on and with Diego Costa also set to depart in the next few weeks, the Italian has been left decidedly underwhelmed by the club’s purchase of just Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Antonio Rudiger. And with Champions League football to contend with this campaign once again after a European football free season last time out, Conte’s frustrations may well prove justified in time given the manner of their defeat on Saturday.
Once again in North London, Arsene Wenger has frustrated the Arsenal fans with a lack of big name signings with the exception of French forward Alexandre Lacazette, who netted on his debut in Friday’s 4-3 win over Leicester City. Once again the Gunners’ soft defensive centre was exposed against the Foxes and poses a real challenge to any realistic title hopes they may hold this season, while Pochettino will have to contend not only with the club moving to Wembley for a year while White Hart Lane undertakes reconstruction but also with the difficulty of attracting players to a club where the strength of the first team means any new recruits are likely to play back up at best.
Slaven Bilic has conducted some impressive business at the London Stadium this summer, recruiting Joe Hart on loan, Pablo Zabaleta on a free and Javier Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic to boost the Hammers forward line, while elsewhere in the division top flight newcomers Huddersfield and Brighton have both broken their transfer records on more than one occasion this summer as they seek to ensure survival. However, up on the Toon Rafael Benitez has voiced his concern at Newcastle’s lack of spending power upon the club’s return to the Premier League.
Mourinho v Guardiola – Part II
With more money than ever before having been splashed in an attempt to guarantee success, only time will tell which Premier League manager has spent his budget most wisely during the off season. On paper however at the very least it would be hard to look past Manchester rivals United and City who have both clearly identified areas of concern in their lineups and acted swiftly and accordingly to rectify them. Don’t be surprised if once again the battle for this year’s Premier League title comes down to an arm wrestle between Mourinho v Guardiola. We’ve seen it before in La Liga when the pair locked horns as managers of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Once again the Premier League should make for fascinating viewing whatever the final outcome. Bring it on we say.