The summer transfer window is in full swing as clubs across the Premier League look to bring in new faces to aid their challenge of winning the league, qualifying for European competition, stabilising or avoiding the relegation trapdoor. Here’s a look at how some of the “bigger clubs” have fared in the transfer market;
Spurs have been unusually quiet for a large part of the transfer window to date, particularly after chairman Daniel Levy went nuts with the Gareth Bale rebate last summer, racking up a transfer bill of over £100million.
So far this summer, under the stewardship of new boss Mauricio Pochettino, the North London outfit have been prudent with their business. Left-back Ben Davies and goalkeeper Michel Vorm have joined from Swansea for a combined fee of nearly £14million, while Icelandic midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson moved in the opposite direction.
Davies has established himself in the Premier League and Welsh national team over the past two seasons and shown to be a very promising, young full-back, while Netherlands stopper Vorm has moved to White Hart Lane to provide stern competition for first-choice keeper Hugo Lloris. Equally, Sigurdsson’s opportunities at Spurs were likely to be minimal so by moving back to the Liberty Stadium, he’s probably making a wise career choice.
Elsewhere, Sporting Lisbon centre-back Eric Dier has moved for £4million. Another gifted youngster to add to Pochettino’s regime, and he could be joined soon by Villarreal defender Mateo Musacchio if we’re to believe the widespread reports that a £17.6million deal is close.
Up to now, only Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera have made the move to Old Trafford to join Louis Van Gaal’s revolution. Southampton’s revolving door policy this summer churned out another exit as young left-back Shaw signed for United for £27m, with Spanish schemer Herrera moving from Athletic Bilbao for £29million.
Van Gaal has stated from the get go that his inherited squad would be “given an honest chance to prove themselves” while on the pre-season tour of USA, so it’s no surprise that only two new arrivals have joined as of yet. However, from a fans’ perspective that is just glossing over the strong need and desire for further reinforcements.
If Van Gaal is to persist with the 3-5-2 formation that bode so well for his Netherlands side at the World Cup then central defence will definitely need honing. Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are the only senior centre-backs in the current squad and, while youngsters Tyler Blackett and Michael Keane impressed on tour, the new manager is keen for more experienced players following the departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Thomas Vermaelen (now at Barcelona) and Mats Hummels were heavily linked with Old Trafford, with Arturo Vidal and Juan Cuadrado also reported targets to improve an already threadbare midfield department.
In my opinion, Jose Mourinho has added some excellent acquisitions to his star-studded squad this summer and Chelsea look favourites for the title.
Frank Lampard’s exit left a hole in the centre of midfield which was immediately filled by £30million Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona and Chelsea parted with £32million for Spanish champions Atletico Madrid’s top goal scorer Diego Costa as Mourinho’s yearning for a world-class striker was completed.
Costa’s former team-mate Filipe Luis joined for £15million to fill the void left by Ashley Cole’s parting to Roma and somehow Chelsea managed to get French champions Paris Saint-Germain to pay £40million for bomb-scare defender David Luiz.
Legendary forward Didier Drogba has also returned to Stamford Bridge after a two-year absence in a move debatably motivated to woo the home crowd.
Mourinho has stated a few times now that his transfer business for this window is complete, and if that does turn out to be the case then the Chelsea boss has conducted some superb purchases.
Football has gone nuts. Britt Assombalonga is worth £5.5million from League One, Championship top scorer Ross McCormack is worth double that apparently. I dread to think what Leo Messi’s market value would be if he decided to leave Barcelona!?
But the craziest thing of all is that Arsene Wenger has brushed the dust off his chequebook and splashed over £100million in the past twelve months. Now that is surreal!
So far, Arsenal’s summer spending has been decent but odd in my opinion. Alexis Sanchez joined for £35million from Barcelona, Mathieu Debuchy moved to the Emirates Stadium from Newcastle to replace the outgoing Bacary Sagna for up to £12million, while Southampton’s exodus continued as Calum Chambers became a £16million teenager. Colombia’s World Cup goalkeeper David Ospina has also made the move for £3million to rival Wojciech Szczesny.
Sanchez is an unbelievable talent, arguably a world-class forward and it’s hard not to see why after he notched 19 goals and 10 assists in La Liga last term for the Catalan giants. At £35million he looks like true value but he’s also an odd signing I think, in the sense that Arsenal’s attacking midfield department is already over-sized and boasts top-drawer names like Podolski, Ozil, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Campbell and Rosicky.
Many Gunners’ will argue that he’s been signed to play as a central striker – much like he does for his native Chile – but that strikes me as anomalous considering he’s played on the wide right regularly for several seasons now. Wenger may be looking to reinvent Sanchez through the middle though, similarly to the way he did with Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. Either way, if Sanchez can get firing then the North Londoners’ will be lethal this season.
Debuchy is a clever signing, too. Bacary Sagna ran down his contract and left for champions Manchester City but I think he was past his sell-by date anyway. At 29, French right-back Debuchy hardly has youth on his side but the signing of Chambers, a boy with bags of talent and versatility that Wenger eluded too straight away, will also comb over the transition in a few years, with 19 year-old Hector Bellerin progressing well in the youth sides too. Elsewhere, Ospina is a quality goalkeeper with international experience so he’ll certainly push Szczesny all the way for his first-team spot.
If I was a Liverpool fan, I’d be disappointed with the transfer business conducted this summer.
Luis Suarez is a considerable loss to any side, let alone one that almost completely relied on him but I can’t help but feel that the Merseyside outfit have gone about replacing the £75million Uruguayan striker in the very same manner that Spurs did for Gareth Bale last year.
Adam Lallana is a talented player but realistically he’s had one breakthrough season in the top flight since Southampton’s return, and looks heavily overpriced at £25million. Likewise for his team-mate Dejan Lovren, who signed for the Saints from Lyon last summer for £8.5million. A good season for the Croat but £20million looks steep for the centre-back.
Rickie Lambert’s rise from my local Bristol Rovers, at the time in the English basement division League Two, to his boyhood club Liverpool and the England national team is a fairy-tale that anyone can get behind. Nonetheless, although I’m a strong advocate of Lambert’s ability with the ball at feet, his vision and intelligence, the £4million signing strikes me as another Andy Carroll move. I personally can’t see the frontman having an influential role to play in the Reds fast, fluent attacking football and he’s looked out-of-place during their tour of America pre-season.
Divock Origi hardly stood out for Belgium at the World Cup so loaning him back to Lille after signing him seems a clever move to aid his development. Javi Manquillo has joined on a two-year loan from Atletico Madrid but has barely contributed much since moving to the Vicente Calderon in 2011.
Emre Can doesn’t look to me like a name that will stand out much, with his £10million transfer from German side Bayer Leverkusen completed to make the midfield department more competitive – his versatility may be useful though.
Lazar Markovic looks a hell of a prospect though after excelling in his sole year in Portugal with Benfica and for £20million he looks like the only true value for money purchase in my opinion.
For a team so defensively unstable last year, I’m surprised there haven’t been more defensive recruitments.
Not exactly one of the “big teams”, but I thought they deserved a mention.
Paul Lambert, I salute you! I don’t know how he’s managed it but the Villa boss has successfully mastered the art of time travel as he’s clearly woken up in 2007 by signing Joe Cole, Philippe Senderos and Kieran Richardson!
Aston Villa really frustrate me. I watched my first ever football match at Villa Park in 2003 as a beady-eyed 9 year-old, where they ran out 1-0 winners against Sunderland. I remember the tingles in my neck as I walked up the steps and out into the stand to see nigh on 40,000 people elated, filled with writhing emotion. They have the potential to be such a big club and it’s no wonder that the “sleeping giant” notion embodies them in the eyes of many. They never seem to progress, unambitious signings like these are one of many reasons.
Joe Cole should have moved to America or Australia and taken one final pay check. He wasn’t good enough last year for West Ham so why Villa have considered him someone that they believe can contribute to their side, I’ll never know. Senderos never looked good enough for Fulham, let alone Valencia, while Kieran Richardson seems the only half decent signing of the lot but if I was a Villa fan, I’d be largely disappointed with the managements’ attempt to inject the youthful squad with experience. Washed-up, inadequate Premier League past-its.
I hope they prove me wrong.
By Neil Vincent – Manchester United/Bristol Rovers fan – @