We rate the summer transfer business of the Premier League clubs from A to M, with Manchester City faring well but Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United not so well.
With the transfer window now closed until January, the 20 Premier League clubs have submitted their squad lists for the first half of the season until January. Who has got what they need, and who is left with holes in their squad? Mark Holmes gives his verdict…
Despite his shaky Premier League debut for the club, Petr Cech is sure to prove an improvement on any goalkeeper Arsenal have had for many years.
However, Arsene Wenger has put huge trust in Francis Coquelin, a player he loaned out to Charlton less than 12 months ago, to be the permanent answer in the holding midfield role. Only time will tell whether he can sustain last season’s performance levels.
Not signing a striker to compete with Olivier Giroud is even harder to justify, particularly after it emerged the club discovered last week Danny Welbeck needed a knee operation. Giroud is a good striker, and Wenger has a point that finding a striker that is available and an improvement on the Frenchman is not easy. However, the Gunners can certainly not complain about a lack of cash these days, and a club with serious ambitions of winning the Premier League and Champions League would surely have paid whatever it took to sign the top-class forward they need. Rating 4/10.
“If we can get through this season unscathed, it’s one hell of a young side and an exciting team for the future.” It is clear from the comments of Tim Sherwood that he recognises Villa have taken a risk with their summer transfer activity, with the club spending good money on several players with no previous Premier League experience.
However, after years of treading water, it was a risk the Midlands club had to take. Sherwood has added youth, energy and excitement, and though it might be something of a rollercoaster season as players find their feet, the likes of Adama Traore provide Villa fans with hope for the future again.
It is also worth pointing out that, aside from the headline purchases from overseas, Sherwood has added Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott and Scott Sinclair to his squad. The latter is already having a great impact after signing a permanent deal, while the former two will surely provide the sort of experience needed at the back to allow Jordan Amavi, Idrissa Gueye and co time to settle. Rating 7/10.
At the moment, it’s slightly hard to assess Bournemouth’s transfer business. Artur Boruc is a solid signing between the sticks, while Sylvain Distin is an experienced head in the dressing room but has not yet made an appearance. Does he still have what it takes in the Premier League? Tyrone Mings, meanwhile, was signed for big money yet finds himself on the bench.
That is credit to the players that got the Cherries promoted, of course, and Eddie Howe, who has given last season’s team the chance to prove themselves at a higher level. But it’s a squad game, and we will have to see how the likes of Distin, Mings and Chelsea loanee Christian Atsu do in the long run.
One summer signing that had certainly hit the ground running is Max Gradel, but he now faces six months out. The early signs are that Lee Tomlin should prove to be a good signing for the final third, as should Glenn Murray, a deadline-day capture from Crystal Palace. Rating 6/10.
Asmir Begovic is a more than satisfactory replacement for Petr Cech as Chelsea’s No.2 goalkeeper, while Jose Mourinho clearly has faith that Radamel Falcao can prove more useful for the Blues than he did for Manchester United last season. The on-loan Monaco striker’s goal against Crystal Palace suggests Mourinho’s faith may be justified.
The Portuguese also signed Baba Rahman to compete for a spot at left-back, but his search for a new starting centre-half and midfielder proved fruitless.
John Stones, of course, was the man Mourinho wanted at the back after watching John Terry struggle as part of a high defensive line, but Everton’s insistence that the young England international would not be sold eventually led to the Blues’ signing of Papy Djilobodji from Nantes. That he was not even named in the club’s Champions League squad, however, would suggest he is not the starting centre-back Mourinho had targeted.
Chelsea’s major signing, of course, was Pedro after they gazumped – or did they – Manchester United to land the Spain winger from Barcelona. He has certainly impressed in his early appearances, but the apparent decline of other players seems to have left the Blues weaker than last season – and certainly some way off the level of Manchester City. Rating 5/10.
Having finished 10th last season, Palace are among a clutch of clubs that realised the latest Premier League TV deal would enable to out-manoeuvre more prestigious clubs from around Europe in the transfer market. Their capture of Yohan Cabaye from Paris Saint-Germain was clear evidence of that.
Bakary Sako was a rather less high-profile signing on a free transfer but fits perfectly into the quick counter-attacking style the Eagles have adopted. With Yannick Bolasie, Jason Puncheon and Wilfried Zaha already at the club, defenders will not relish their trips to Selhurst Park this season.
Alex McCarthy is another decent addition between the sticks, while Connor Wickham and on-loan Patrick Bamford provide the power Alan Pardew wants from his No.9 to allow the trio behind him to wreak havoc. Rating 7/10.
Having allowed Sylvain Distin and Antolin Alcaraz to leave, keeping hold of John Stones was arguably Everton’s biggest and most important achievement of summer. Convincing Tom Cleverley to snub Aston Villa and tempting Gerard Deulofeu back to Goodison Park were other positives, while Aaron Lennon proved in the second half of last season on loan at the club that he still has plenty to offer at the top level.
However, the Toffees failed to land the marquee signing they were seemingly keen to make to play in the No.10 position, while the £9.5million spent on Ramiro Funes Mori, presumably as back-up for Stones and Phil Jagielka, would certainly have to be classed as a risk. Rating 5/10.
Losing Esteban Cambiasso was a huge blow for Leicester, but Gokhan Inler was a clever purchase as a player in a not dissimilar mould. Some might have expected Claudio Ranieri to drastically overhaul the squad after taking over from Nigel Pearson, but the ‘Tinkerman’ has kept changes to a minimum, with the signing Robert Huth on a permanent basis from Stoke an important piece of business for the new manager.
Christian Fuchs and Shinji Okazaki were Ranieri’s other early signings, and both have contributed to the Foxes’ outstanding start in the Premier League. N’Golo Kante and Yohan Benalouane, meanwhile, signed on the same day at the start of August, were the two most expensive signings of the summer, at a reported £5.6million each, but Ranieri is sensibly easing them into the team. Rating 6/10.
Following on from the departure of Luis Suarez 12 months ago, losing Raheem Sterling was a big blow for Brendan Rodgers on the back of a disappointing season.
However, during a summer which has seen six of Rodgers’ previous signings – Iago Aspas, Rickie Lambert, Fabio Borini, Mario Balotelli, Tiago Ilori and Lazar Markovic, the latter two on loan – moved on, there has been a clear change of approach from the much-talked-about transfer committee at Anfield.
Christian Benteke and Danny Ings, effectively as replacements for Balotelli and Lambert, are proven in the Premier League and should offer much more than their predecessors, while James Milner is exactly the sort of sensible signing for midfield that Liverpool have been guilty of not making in the past. Nathaniel Clyne falls into the same category, while young Joe Gomez, although raw, has been somewhat of a surprise success in the opposite full-back position.
Roberto Firmino was the headline arrival, signed in a £29million deal from Hoffenheim, but for once he is the exception rather than the rule regarding Liverpool’s signings. With the likes of Milmer, Benteke and Clyne needing little time to adapt, Rodgers can afford to be patient with Firmino. Rating 8/10.
Like Chelsea, Manchester City’s interest in Paul Pogba failed to come to anything. Unlike Chelsea, however, City did everything else they needed and wanted to over the summer.
Raheem Sterling may well have been overpriced, but City simply paid what it took to sign a player they knew would improve them. As much as some may complain about it following a relaxation of FFP rules, the likes of Arsenal could learn a lot from their rivals’ approach.
Kevin De Bruyne also looks expensive at £55million, but Manuel Pellegrini won’t care a jot if his side win the Premier League with the ease at which they look capable of doing at this early stage. Despite another tough draw, the Citizens also now boast a squad good enough to make the latter stages of the Champions League.
Nicolas Otamendi was another player courted by others but signed with a minimum of fuss by City, who haven’t conceded a goal in four league games even before the Argentine’s introduction to the team. Throw in Fabian Delph and a few players for the future, and only Pogba could have made this a more perfect window. Rating 9/10.
The next biggest spenders behind their rivals, yet still a million miles behind them on the pitch, United were another club, like Arsenal and Chelsea, that failed to make the marquee signing they had targeted.
Matteo Darmian looks to be an excellent signing at right-back, while Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger provide the midfield balance that Louis van Gaal wanted, but Memphis Depay is going to need time before he can start to justify the £31million spent on him. He certainly doesn’t appear to be the finished article at the moment.
Anthony Martial, meanwhile, at £36million, is a quite astonishing signing. United have lost Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and Javier Hernandez from last season’s striker pool so to shell out such a sum on a 19-year-old is pretty hard to fathom. He certainly has potential but has only 11 goals to his name from 52 Ligue 1 appearances. A striker signed for that price would usually be expected to score at least 15 in his first season of Premier League football, but Martial doesn’t seem anywhere near ready to reach such a tally.
Van Gaal has said he wants to win the title in the next two years, but United certainly aren’t going to do it this season on the back of these signings. Their wait for a new superstar continues. Rating 6/10.