In September 2017, the Premier League clubs voted to close the summer transfer window before the start of the season. Manchester City, Manchester United, Crystal Palace, Watford and Swansea were the clubs that voted against closing the window early while the remaining 15 clubs voted in favour.
As things stand, this decision looks like it could prove to be a big problem for many clubs in the Premier League. Since the transfer window has closed in England and is open elsewhere in Europe, the Premier League clubs won’t be able to sign any more players but their players can still be signed by foreign clubs.
This year was a World Cup year and hence, many stars were unavailable for transfer negotiations for a significant period due to their international commitments.
Considering these factors, it would be fair to say that the transfer window hasn’t gone to plan for many clubs. On that note, take a look at how the Premier League’s big 6 has been ranked based on their summer transfer business.
There was never any doubt about which club had the best summer transfer window. In fact, Liverpool may have done the best business this summer among all the Premier League clubs.
A couple of days after Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat, they surprised everyone by announcing the arrival of Fabinho from Monaco. The defensive midfielder is clearly a replacement for Emre Can who joined Juventus on a free transfer.
The midfield was also bolstered by the arrival of Naby Keita from RB Leipzig. Liverpool agreed on the terms with Leipzig for Keita’s transfer last summer to keep other interested parties away and he finally became a Liverpool player this summer.
The Reds were also close to adding another midfielder this summer. It looked like Liverpool almost wrapped up a deal to sign Nabil Fekir from Lyon. In fact, both clubs agreed on a fee but the deal fell through at the last moment and there are rumours that the Reds pulled the plug on the deal after seeing an issue in his medical.
Although the pursuit of Fekir was fruitless, Klopp was able to make a significant upgrade elsewhere. The Reds had a longstanding interest in Roma goalkeeper Alisson Becker and they signed him for a then world record fee. That was broken a few weeks later by Chelsea when they signed Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Liverpool also bolstered their attack by signing Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City for a mere £13.5 million. The Swiss international was close to joining Liverpool four years ago before Bayern decided against selling him. He has finally got his move to Liverpool and has been very impressive in the preseason.
Liverpool also kept Mohamed Salah and has got him to sign a new contract. In addition, Daniel Sturridge remains at the club to provide more attacking depth and quality. The Englishman was easily Liverpool’s best player in preseason and looks fit ahead of the new campaign.
The post-Wenger era at Arsenal is shaping up nicely and the Gunners were quick to make alterations to their squad for new manager Unai Emery.
It was a tough call between Arsenal and Chelsea for the #2 spot in this list, but the Gunners edge their London rivals out narrowly because they knew where they had to strengthen and they did that quite early in the window.
Before discussing their incoming transfers, it is important to note that they dealt with a lot of fringe players in the summer. Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere were released and they joined Villarreal and West Ham respectively; Calum Chambers and Takuma Asano were loaned out and finally, Lucas Perez was sold to West Ham.
Arsenal’s first summer signing was Switzerland captain, Stephan Lichtsteiner, on a free transfer. The veteran brings a wealth of top-flight experience to the squad and provides competition for Hector Bellerin.
They followed up by signing Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen to phase out both Petr Cech and David Ospina. Leno is still only 26 and should prove to be reliable in goal for many years.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos was next and the Greek defender added some much-needed depth and quality to the central defence of Arsenal which struggled with injuries and form last season.
The final two additions were to bolster the midfield which was necessary following the departures of some key players. Arsenal fans were crying out for a defensive midfielder for years and they finally got one in Lucas Torreira. The Uruguayan is very young and still has a lot of room to develop further.
The final summer signing was Matteo Guendouzi from Lorient. At the time of his arrival, it seemed like he was one for the future but the Frenchman has impressed in preseason and should be able to give Emery some welcome selection headache this season.
A month ago it looked like Chelsea were in deep waters as they still had Antonio Conte as first team manager and were yet to finalise a deal for Maurizio Sarri or for a new player. They picked up pace quickly after signing Sarri.
Sarri arrived at Chelsea along with Jorginho from Napoli. Jorginho is a key player for the Italian coach in his system and adding the Brazil-born Italian to the team amidst huge interest from Man City was a huge statement.
The biggest problem for Chelsea was keeping their best players because of their failure to qualify for the UEFA Champions League this season. Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante, Willian and Thibaut Courtois were linked with moves away from the club but the Blues kept all but one of those players.
Courtois moved to Real Madrid a day before the deadline and they signed Mateo Kovacic on loan as a part of the deal. This gave Chelsea the option of spending heavily on a goalkeeper and they did so by signing young Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao for a world record transfer fee.
Chelsea paid the player’s release clause which was £71.6 million.
Chelsea were also linked with moves for Gonzalo Higuain, Alisson Becker, Aleksandr Golovin and Daniele Rugani this summer but none of those moves materialised. Nevertheless, they’ve made some quality signings and should be exciting to watch under their new manager.
#4 Manchester City
Like Manchester Utd, Manchester City also made just one major addition to their first team in the summer and it was a player they hoped to sign last January.
Riyad Mahrez finally got his move to Manchester City after Leicester City accepted a fee reported to be in the region of £60 million. This makes Mahrez City’s most expensive player ever and also the most expensive African footballer.
Guardiola clearly wanted to add at least one more player to his side to provide competition and rotation for Fernandinho. He had two candidates – Fred and Jorginho. However, both players ended up joining rival clubs.
City were involved in negotiations with Napoli for Jorginho for an extended period but the clubs were not able to agree on a fee for the player. In the end, Chelsea swooped in for the player after appointing Maurizio Sarri as their new manager.
Although Man City only signed Mahrez as a first team player, they already have a world class squad at their disposal and have kept all the players responsible for their record-breaking title-winning season. They are still favourites to win the Premier League this season.
#5 Manchester United
At the start of the summer transfer window, Manchester United’s summer transfer targets featured the likes of Gareth Bale, Alex Sandro, Willian and Toby Alderweireld. However, the reality was shocking!
The footballing giants made just three signings in the summer of which only one player is expected to add depth and quality to the first team instantly.
United’s first signing was teenage full-back Diogo Dalot from Porto. The player is one for the future but he was already nursing an injury when he joined the club and has hence missed the entire preseason and will be available for selection only in September.
The second summer signing was Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk. The Brazilian midfielder was also wanted by Manchester City in the summer but Man Utd beat their rivals to the 25-year-old’s signature. He is expected to fight for a starting role in midfield and also adds depth in that area of the pitch.
Their final summer signing was veteran goalkeeper Lee Grant from Stoke City. Grant joined the club as a third-choice goalkeeper and also possibly, to add to the homegrown quota. It is highly unlikely that he will ever play for the club in a competitive game.
Jose Mourinho clearly wanted to sign a centre-back and the club was linked with the likes of Toby Alderweireld, Yerry Mina and Harry Maguire but no move materialised for any of those players.
There were also rumours that Mourinho also wanted a reunion with Willian to solve United’s right wing problems but the Brazilian stayed put at Chelsea despite interest from Man Utd and Barcelona.
Man Utd were one of the clubs that voted against closing the summer transfer window early and now you can understand why. However, Mourinho was in favour of the window closing early based on his comments from a year ago.
“I’m not a market man but as a football manager I would like it [transfer window] to close before the first match.”
#6 Tottenham Hotspur
It would be fair to say that Tottenham Hotspur had the worst transfer window in the entire league and not just the big 6.
The North London club is the only side to have failed to sign a single player in the summer and thus made history by becoming the first side in Premier League history to not make a single addition to the squad in the summer transfer window.
At the end of last season, Mauricio Pochettino hinted that Spurs have to be brave in the transfer window amidst speculations over his future at the club. However, he signed a new contract a few weeks later and it was widely expected that Spurs would go all out to back their manager. The reality was different.
Spurs tried to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa but they were unwilling to match the valuation placed on the player.
Pochettino defended the club’s decision to not sign any player by factoring in the costs of constructing their new stadium and Brexit.
“What the club is doing is showing that it is so brave because building a new training ground, finishing the (player) lodge this summer is a massive investment. Building a stadium that costs nearly £1bn – that’s is the truth, don’t believe when they say £400million. Then with Brexit, it’s worse because the cost is 30 percent more. That is a drama, I feel sorry for the English people.
“Then to keep the best players is to be brave. In the mind of everyone maybe they say ‘Tottenham didn’t sign (players)’, but it’s better the keep your best players.”
Although Spurs have kept all their first team players and offered new contracts to some of them, there is still a huge question mark on the future of Toby Alderweireld. The wantaway Belgian was a target for Manchester United but the £55 million Spurs demanded has put off all suitors so far.
They can still sell the player to a foreign side but won’t be able to sign a replacement. If they fail to move him on this summer, then he can move for just £25 million next summer due to a clause in his contract.