Perhaps the one club that will benefit most from the summer transfer window is the one club that couldn`t sign anybody, Chelsea. Their only new player isn`t really new. They just made the loan deal for Kovacic from Real Madrid permanent. Personally I think the best move Chelsea made was Frank Lampard. I predict a ground-swell change in the Chelsea approach this season with a spine of good, young, hungry English players and a decent attempt to close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool.
Spurs broke their self-imposed moritorium with a club record £54 million signing of midfielder Tanguy Ndombele not to mention a season long loan deal for Giovani LoCelso, from Real Betis that could cost up to £6o million and Arsenal, anyone else sense a smattering of desperation at the Emirates, spent a club record £73 million to buy Lille`s Nicolas Pepe. Desperation that seems to have swept up the M1 to Villa Park where the club`s spending has only been exceeded by four of Europe`s top clubs.
And yet the two best teams in the top flight, Liverpool and Manchester City, have hardly taken the cheque book out of the top drawer.
Arsenal have brought in Pepe with a pretty impressive CV from Ligue 1 where last season he provided 11 assists and scored exactly double that, 22, to earn his move to London. Much will be expected of him and his fellow arrivals; Gabriel Martinelli, an 18 year old Brazilian forward- don`t those two words together evoke so much, Brazilian forward; Dani Caballos and William Salita, another 18 year old as Unai Emry plans for the future. A future which will not include the current coach if he cannot address successfully the lack of heart in the current squad.
Which makes it all the more surprising that when in dire need of a top quality centre half the Gunners bring in David Luiz. The long drawn out saga regarding Keiran Tierney finally ended when Arsenal stumped up the necessary £25 million for his signature. Now, I doubt anyone will be disputing the heart of the 22 year old who was at Celtic for 15 years. The move to London could see him pressurise the current wearer of the left back shirt for Scotland, Andy Robertson, so maybe the Gunners have got a gem.
Aston Villa`s, frankly, desperate throwing of money at maintaining their play-off winning place in the elite, will not be instilling much optimism in the second city. The massive total of £118 million is only exceeded by Barcelona, Juventus and the two Madrid giants. Putting aside the fact that most of Dean Smith`s pre-season will be spent introducing the newcomers, to each other as well as the few that Smith has retained, 12 new players is an awful lot to integrate. Let`s hope it isn`t awful for the Villa faithful. Tom Heaton could prove the best of the bunch, an experienced goalkeeper who is a good player. We know that but, Tyrone Mings apart, what does anyone know about the rest.
Manchester United continued their rebuild from the back policy with a world record £80 million fee for Harry Maguire, good Yorkshire name, strong and reliable like Harry himself. He will join ex-Crystal Palace right back Aaron Wan Bissaka in a new United rear guard for the coming campaign and the main difference between those two and the defensive signings of recent years is that those two can defend, something that could not be levelled at a long list of OT defensive recruits since, well, since Fergie left. But the player in United red I am most looking forward to seeing is the Flying Welshman, Daniel James, who will scare the bejabers out of many a Premier League defender in the months ahead.
Pace and an eye for goal, not dissimilar to another Welshman in recent years not to mention the Irish genius from even further back. Critics are pointing the finger at OGS re Romelu Lukaku and the absence of striking recruits to augment the absence of the Inter bound Belgian but I think the manager, one of the best strikers ever seen in the Premier League, knows a bit more than most of those doing the finger pointing. My feeling is that a young, hungry strike force, from which to choose, will cope better than a player whose consistency didn`t match his ability or potential.
AFC Bournemouth splashed out £13.7 million for Club Brugge winger Arnaut Danjuma which is a declaration of intent that Eddie Howe will not be compromising his attacking principles despite the tilt with relegation last season. Lloyd Kelly`s arrival and the massive potential of the 20 year old defender, already an England Under 21 international, also illustrates that Eddie will be doing something about Bournemouth`s defensive deficiencies. Just before the end of the transfer window Eddie Howe pulled off a real coup in a season long loan signing of Harry Wilson who could well have made a contribution at his parent club Liverpool. Instead he chose to continue his football education after a brilliant spell at Derby last season, in the Championship, with an almost certain greater chance of Premier League football on the south coast.
Burnley should continue to defy the odds but may struggle even more to hang on to their manager. Sean Dyche pulled one out of the hat when he re-signed Burnley`s own Jay Rodriguez. A quality, intelligent forward his contribution to an already sound strike force will do wonders for the Clarets this season. Erik Pieters may also prove a better defender than he showed at Stoke and as the window was closing Burnley scored a late winner with the season-long loan signing of Danny Drinkwater from Chelsea.
Brighton & Hove Albion paid a club record £20 million to sign centre-back Adam Webster from Bristol City. A proper centre half Adam, still only 24, has played more than 200 first team games and should give much needed stability to a Brighton team that shipped 60 League goals in finishing just two points above relegation in May . Brighton also managed to sneak a late one over the loan with a season-long loan for Huddersfield`s outstanding midfielder Aaron Moy.
The main, and frankly, tedious topic of conversation over the summer has been over the future of Wilfried Zaha which ended up with the forward, very reluctantly staying at Crystal Palace, mainly because other clubs did not meet the club`s valuation. Equally significant may be the signing of Gary Cahill that could prove even more important to Eagles fans. Vast experience despite being sidelined by the previous manager at Chelsea
Gary`s input will prove crucial to extending Palace`s top flight stay.
Not so sure the same can be said of Jordan Ayew who always seems, to me anyway, a player not sure of what he is capable. But James McCarthy is a different matter. The Irish international brings vast top flight experience to Selhurst Park and is the kind of good, solid pro Roy Hodgson swears by.
Everton seem to have been looking to establish some kind of revolving door record at Goodison over the summer. The discarding of 25 players some might deem reckless as it was more a cleaning of the Augean Stables than a clean sweep. Top story out of Goodison was them trying for but failing to land Wilfried Zaha. They then turned their attention towards Alex Iwobi and the paperwork went in as the window was closing leaving all parties sweating on a £34 million deal.
Perhaps overshadowed was the clinching of the signing a player who was on loan from Barcelona, Adrian Gomes who lit up the Premier League last season and who could be a crucial player for the Toffees who have thrown a lot of money at trying to break into the Top Six.
You got to love Manchester City. I always remember being told by a Liverpool legend, you strengthen your team from a position of strength and you don`t get much stronger than City`s trophy haul last season, with of course THE exception.
Pep has spent a bit of loose change in signing Joao Cancelo from Juventus for £60 million but he will have to be some player to dislodge Kyle Walker who, despite a couple of lapses last season, has been the most consistent right back in the Premier League over the past six seasons. Rodri has already played in the Community Shield and shown that he is prepared to put in a shift towards his own line as well as further forward and that will please City fans as well as Pep. The loss of Leroy Sane with an ACL injury is a massive blow for the youngster but he will bounce back and City will take his absence in their stride.
Liverpool haven`t really set the transfer window alight suggesting Jurgen is happy with what he has. Personally I can`t wait to see how, as promised, he uses the exciting youngster Rhian Brewster. A different kind of striker to anything they have at Anfield Rhian added a UCL winners` medal to the Under 17 World Cup Winner`s medal he won in 2017 when he was on the bench against Spurs. I think Jurgen Klopp will look to add a different dimension to Liverpool`s usual front three with Brewster. He will certainly present a different problem to Premier League defences who ever he plays alongside.
At first glance Steve Bruce back in his Geordie homeland might seem a marriage made in heaven but cynics, myself included, may regard it more a marriage of convenience as Mike Ashley digs his heels in about selling Newcastle United. Bruce hasn`t really splashed the cash, what cash I hear in a broad Geordie voice sweeping down from the north east. And they`ve sold two of the players that kept them up last season, Peyrez and Rondon.
It`s going to be a long winter for Newcastle and I predict that neither Bruce nor Ashley will be there come May. But then, plucking an ace out of his sleeve, as the seconds ticked away towards the closure of the window Bruce, and he made what might be a dream signing. A big, Geordie, Number 9, ANDY CARROLL. Not quite fit, yet, but if he can get there and maintain a level of fitness, the sky would be the limit.
Leicester City‘s Brendan Rogers it was who pinched Ayoze Perez from SJP and he is certain to be more appreciative of the striker than his previous boss. A canny operator Rogers sold Harry Maguire for a record £80 million and replaced him with the untapped potential of 21 year old James Justin, an England Under 20 international, at, an undisclosed fee that probably left an awful lot of change out of £80 million.
Norwich City manager Daniel Farke has brought a lot of new players in to Carrow Road and while there are no real, what you might call name players I get the feeling that I got when I looked at Wolves` recruits, last year and this. A group of sound, potentially good, players the manager knows will do him a job. Ten new players will take some integration but I have a feeling they might do well.
Like London buses Tottenham Hotspur have swept into the transfer market, better late than ever and as well as club record arrival Ndombele Poch has swooped for perhaps the hottest young prospect since Deli Alli. Ryan Sessegnon has made the geographically small, but massive in terms of quality, from Fulham. And, on the same day he became Tottenham`s first signing of the window, and the first for three windows, 18 year old Jack Clarke moved on to a season-long loan at Leeds United. Another one for the future is 18 year old Kion Etete who was signed from Notts County after just 6 games. Giovanni Le Celso was just the cherry on the WHL cake.
Watford have been canny in picking up Danny Welbeck from Arsenal. A young but top-flight experienced goal-getter will do wonders for a team that has been steadily growing into its top-flight status. Could be an exciting pairing of him and Troy Deeny up front. At the other end of the team the signing of Craig Dawson could prove a masterstroke. Not only does he bring vast experience he also offers a real threat in the opposing penalty area, especially at corners and free-kicks. I think Watford may cause a few surprises this season especially if club record arrival, winger Ismaila Sarr provides a decent supply route for Welbeck and Deeney.
Southampton signed Danny Ings by converting his loan deal from Liverpool into a permanent contract. They also plucked one of THE players of the year last season, Che Adams, who became the first Birmingham player to score more than 20 goals in a season for 25 years, 22 in all and kept the Blues in the Championship virtually single-handed after a long battle against relegation. Saints battled manfully to avoid relegation last year and showed that an improvement in personnel may result in a better showing in the Premier League.
West Ham United haven`t gone as mad in the market as in previous windows but still managed quality where in the past it was mainly quantity.
Pick of the bunch, after Pablo Fornals and his £24 million move from Villarreal, has to be Sebastian Haller who has played for France at every level and who is on the verge of the senior side. Still only 25 he has scored nearly 100 career goals and last season, for Eintracht Franfurt, he scored 20 goals and weighed in with 10 assists. Only one Robert Lewandowski had better figures so Seb could well be one to watch at West Ham this season.
Wolverhampton Wanderers continue to go from strength to strength and they have a gem in charge, Nuno Espirito Santo. After surprising the entire Premier League last season with a collection of quality but little known players he`s gone and recruited in the same fashion after clearing the decks with 16 departures. Jesus Vallejo arrived from Real Madrid, Raul Jimenez, a Mexican international striker, with 22 goals in 77 internationals, continued his stay at Molineux after being on loan from Benfica. Leon Dendoncker converted his loan spell from Anderlecht into a permanent deal. Tsun Dai, a 20 year old signed from Oxford is one is one for the future which, for Wolves, looks all gold.
Sheffield United won many friends as they swept back into the top flight last season and in Billy Sharp they have the top Football League scorer and he is a striker who will score at any level. Manager Chris Wilder has recruited former Blade Phil Jagielka who returns to Bramall Lane after 12 years away at Everton, Twelve years of Premier League experience which will prove invaluable to United`s stay in the Premier League. Chris Wilder has also given Ravel Morrison a place at what for the former Manchester and West Ham player is most definitely the last chance saloon to finally realise the potential he showed back in 2010 when he helped Manchester United to victory in the FA Youth Cup, over, you guessed it, Sheffield United.
By Brian Beard