— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 10, 2017
The transfer market really heated up as the calendar flipped to July. The massive move of Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United proved just the tip of a cash-laden iceberg as clubs started to gear up for the new campaign.
So, how has your team fared so far? Alex Rousou analyses and rates the signings and business of the clubs that finished in the top 10 last season.
Of course, we know much more business will be done as we approach the start of the season, so the ratings will change.
But for now…..
In: Antonio Rudiger – AS Roma, £34m, Willy Caballero – Manchester City, free. Out: Juan Cuadrado – Juventus, £17.3m, Christian Atsu – Newcastle, £6.2m, Asmir Begovic – Bournemouth, undisclosed, Dominic Solanke – Liverpool, fee by tribunal, John Terry – released, Alex Davey – released, Fankaty Dabo – Vitesse, loan, Bertrand Traore – Lyon, £8.8m, Nathan Ake – Bournemouth, £20m, Tammy Abraham – Swansea, loan, Kasey Palmer – Huddersfield, loan, Bradley Collins – Forest Green, loan, Charlie Colkett – Vitesse Arnhem, loan.
I’ve given Chelsea a low score of 3/10 because they desperately need a new striker to lead their title defence next season. Diego Costa appears on the cusp of a move back to Atletico Madrid and the Blues have missed out on reported main target Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United. Alvaro Morata seems to head a shrinking list of options left for Antonio Conte but he’s untested in the Premier league and would be a gamble, a huge one if Roman Abramovich is forced to match Real Madrid’s £70 million price tag for the Spaniard.
The signing of ‘Nationalmannschaft’ centre back Antonio Rudiger is a necessary one as Chelsea use 3 centre backs in Conte’s system. The German has been compared to Jerome Boateng by Joachim Low in terms of strength and composure. However, I’m a fan of Nathan Ake who improved massively last season, and replacing him for Rudiger for an additional £14m, I’m not convinced it’s the right move for Chelsea. Willy Caballero is an experienced goalkeeper and a decent back-up to Thibaut Courtois.
The lack of signings isn’t the only reason I’m giving Chelsea a very low score; Chelsea have sold some very promising players. Ake impressed hugely for Bournemouth and Chelsea last season, most notably putting in a solid performance on a rare start in The Blues’ FA Cup semi-final win against Tottenham. The Dutchman could have saved Chelsea millions on a centre back but instead was sold to Bournemouth for a relatively modest fee. The departure of Dominic Solanke is another big blow. Having risen through Chelsea’s youth system, the 19-year old Englishman scored 41 goals for Chelsea’s U-21 team in the 2014-15 season, and more recently received the Golden Ball as the player of the tournament in England’s 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup triumph. He looks to have a great career ahead of him, and not at Chelsea. More importantly, this shows Chelsea are still not willing to give young players in the youth academy a chance to break through into the senior side and fulfil their enormous potential.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 9, 2017
In: Alexandre Lacazette – Lyon, undisclosed, Sead Kolasinac – Schalke, free. Out: Yaya Sanogo – released, Stefan O’Connor – released, Kristopher da Graca – released, Kostas Pileas – released, Takuma Asano – Stuttgart, loan, Chris Willock – Benfica, undisclosed
You would expect a score of around 8 for Arsenal after the capture of Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman averaged 30 goals over the last 3 seasons for French side Lyon and Mesut Ozil has stated he’s looking forward to linking up with the “ice-cold” striker next season. He could be the signing of the summer.
Nevertheless, I’ve dropped points as it’s defensively that Arsenal have looked weakest in the past few seasons; Laurent Koscielny is Arsenal’s only solid, reliable centre back and right back Hector Bellerin, who was once tipped for Barcelona, was in poor form last season. Arsenal will continue to be nothing more than top-four challengers if they don’t fix things at the back and that’s why 6.5 is a generous score. Yes, Arsene Wenger has brought in Sead Kolasinac from Schalke but a new left-back is not the answer to his team’s defensive woes, though it is a start.
If the Gunners manage to get Alexis Sanchez to sign a contract extension however, that score will increase as I think he has the potential to win Arsenal the league single-handedly.
In: Dominic Solanke – Chelsea, fee by tribunal, Mohamed Salah – Roma, £34.3m. Out: Andre Wisdom – Derby, undisclosed, Tom Brewitt – released, Jake Brimmer – released, Jack Dunn – released, Toni Gomes – released, Kane Lewis – released, Alex Manninger – released, Adam Phillips – released.
Liverpool get a below average score of 4 and even that might be generous. As I said above, Solanke has the potential to become a great player and maybe even world-class and Jurgen Klopp has made a great decision to bring him in. Mohamed Salah is a different story. He had a horrid spell at Chelsea, making only 19 appearances in two and a half years at the club but went on to become a talisman for A.S. Roma last season, scoring 19 goals in 41 appearances for the Italian side. He’s got the ability to become a key player for Klopp next season, but will he flop in the Premier League again?
However, the reason I gave them a low score is not for the quality of their recent signings, but more the lack of signings in key positions. Similar to Arsenal, the club still haven’t brought in a solid centre back. Liverpool are not short of goalscorers, amassing 78 goals last season, so the arrivals of Salah and Solanke aren’t vital. Instead Klopp’s side struggles defensively. The trio of Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan saw disastrous home losses to Swansea City, Hull City, Leicester City and Crystal Palace, which ultimately cost Liverpool the title and should be driving Klopp to invest heavily in a new defender or two.
In: Bernardo Silva – Monaco, £43m, Ederson – Benfica, undisclosed. Out: Pablo Zabaleta – West Ham, free, Enes Unal – Villarreal, £12m, Gael Clichy – released, Jesus Navas – released, Willy Cabellero – Chelsea, free, Bacary Sagna – released, Billy O’Brien – released, Ellis Plummer – released, Angus Gunn – Norwich, loan, Aaron Mooy – Huddersfield, £8m, Joe Coveney – Nottingham Forest, free.
Manchester City’s business to date has impressed me. Pep Guardiola was in dire need of a new keeper as Claudio Bravo proved unreliable, conceding almost as many goals (26) as saves he made (33). Compare that to the likes of Manchester United’s David De Gea, who made 74 saves and conceded just 29 goals last season, and it’s obvious where the weak-link of Guardiola’s side was. That’s why bringing in the promising ‘keeper Ederson who is tipped to be Brazil’s next No. 1 is massive for the club. Additionally Bernado Silva looks like a bright talent at the age of 22 and was a big-game player for Monaco last season, scoring against the likes of PSG, Marseille, Tottenham and Manchester City. If he continues to develop at Manchester City, he may just be the signing of the summer.
You’re probably thinking; what about Manchester City’s defensive woes? Although Guardiola’s side struggled defensively last season, I think John Stones will come good this term, especially if he’s got a keeper behind him that he can trust. If Ilkay Gundogan can return to full fitness and his best form, helping provide a defensive screen in midfield, City may just be favourites for the title.
In: - Out: Filip Lesniak – released, Conor Ogilvie – Gillingham, loan
I felt like it would be harsh to give Spurs lower than a 5 as Mauricio Pochettino’s side are arguably the most well-rounded team in the league and I can understand why they haven’t brought any new players in. Looking at their starting XI, there are few players that would improve the side and anyone they would buy would most likely sit on the bench, which has made it difficult to attract potential new signings to the club. Having said that, Pochettino plays the same team week in week out and fatigue within the first team may be preventing Spurs from winning the title, which is why they needs more players of starting XI quality.
The main reason I’ve given Spurs a moderate score of 5 is for fending off interest for their top players like Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Hugo Lloris, who will again be crucial to Tottenham’s title challenge next season. Kyle Walker is the only player that seems close to a departure but after slapping a £45 million price tag on him it’s unlikely he’ll leave, and even if he did, Spurs could quite easily find a replacement with that kind of money.
In: Romelu Lukaku – Everton, £90m, Victor Lindelof – Benfica, £30.7m. Out: Zlatan Ibrahimovic – released, Regan Poole – Northampton, loan, Wayne Rooney – Everton, undisclosed.
Manchester United get the highest score possible from me after their summer signings. Romelu Lukaku is far from a bargain at £90m but he is near-unstoppable in front of goal with 68 goals to his name over the last 4 seasons, a tally that only Harry Kane (78) and Sergio Aguero (87) have beaten. He may not be quick, but Jose Mourinho likes to play with a big target up front and Lukaku fits the profile. The Belgian striker can score with both feet, he’s as strong as an ox and most importantly is only 24 years old with plenty of time to get even better.
Add Victor Lindelof to the equation and United have done excellent business so far. The Swede is far from being the complete package but he’s strong and quick, two useful attributes for a defender in the Premier League. Also, at the age of 22 he’s got years ahead of him to improve and is a necessary buy for Mourinho, who suffered last season when Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones were all injured at the same time. As for other positions, United are more than equipped with the players to mount a serious challenge for the title this season.
In: Wayne Rooney – Manchester United, undisclosed, Jordan Pickford – Sunderland, £30m, Davy Klaassen – Ajax, £23.6m, Henry Onyekuru – Eupen, undisclosed, Sandro Ramirez – Malaga, £5.25m, Michael Keane – Burnley, £30m, Josh Bowler – QPR, £4.25m. Out: Romelu Lukaku – Manchester United, £90m, Tom Cleverley – Watford, undisclosed, Brendan Galloway – Sunderland, loan, Arouna Kone – released, Conor McAleny – released, Jack Bainbridge – released, Delial Brewster – released, Michael Donohue – released, Tyrone Duffus – released, Russell Griffiths – released, Connor Hunt – released, Josef Yarney – released, James Yates – released.
Everton’s business in the summer window to date has been the hardest to rate. I’ve given them a 7.5 out of 10 for bringing in top players like young ‘keeper Jordan Pickford and promising centre back Michael Keane. Not to mention that Wayne Rooney will provide a whole load of experience and class to try and propel Ronald Koeman’s side towards a top 4 finish. Although Everton got a ridiculous fee of £90m for Romelu Lukaku, he was the Toffies’ best player over the last two seasons and is irreplaceable. Also, Sandro Ramirez and Davy Klaassen are unknown quantities all of which adds up to something of a ‘sit-on-the-fence’ score of 7.5.
In: Jan Bednarek – Lech Poznan, undisclosed. Out: Jay Rodriguez – West Brom, £15m, Harrison Reed, Norwich, loan, Cuco Martina – released, Lloyd Isgrove – released, Harley Willard – released, Martin Caceres – released, Jason McCarthy – Barnsley, undisclosed.
A 5 for the Saints is about right after little activity in the transfer market’s early skirmishes. Jay Rodriguez hasn’t been the same player since returning from injury and £15m seems like good business from Southampton’s point of view. As for their new signing Jan Bednarek, the Polish Under-21s star is a promising young player who will gain key knowledge from Mauricio Pellegrino’s vast experience of playing the centre-back position.
However, the majority of the points I’ve given Southampton are just for holding onto Virgil van Dijk for as long as they have. Van Dijk seems to fit the phrase ‘complete defender’ perfectly; he is strong, dominant in the air and technically one of the most gifted defenders in the premier league. Pellegrino’s main task as the Saints’ new manager will be to keep hold of him for at least another season.
In: Asmir Begovic – Chelsea, undisclosed, Jermain Defoe – Sunderland, free, Nathan Ake – Chelsea, £20m. Out: Callum Buckley – released, Jake McCarthy – released, Alexander Neale – released
Bournemouth have done amazing business so far and that’s why they get a 9 out of 10. Eddie Howe has brought in a top centre back in Nathan Ake who, at the age of 22, has got a big future ahead of him. What’s more, he is tried and tested at the club after spending 6 months on loan there last season and with all this in mind, the fee of £20m seems like great value for money. Howe has also managed to bring Jermain Defoe back to the club, a prolific goal scorer who netted 15 goals for Sunderland last season, despite the Black Cats being relegated. On top of those two great signings, the Cherries also brought in the solid ‘keeper Asmir Begovic from Chelsea for a reported fee of £10m, who will provide great competition to the current starting ‘keeper Artur Boruc.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION
In: Jay Rodriguez – Southampton, £15m.
Out: Darren Fletcher – Stoke, free, Daniel Barbir – released, Zachary Elbouzedi – released, Callam Jones- released, Sebastien Pocognoli – released, Jack Rose – released, Andre Wright – released.
West Brom overachieved last season despite ending the campaign 10th. They’re not desperate for any new players and for that reason I’ve given the Baggies a 4 out of 10 for their summer transfer business to date because they’ve still gone and forked out £15m for Jay Rodriguez who will undoubtedly add some firepower toTony Pulis’ side. Bringing in a midfielder to replace Darren Fletcher isn’t essential but it would certainly help Pulis maintain a top half finish next season and you get the impression that the experienced boss might be adding more new faces before the window slams shut.