The Premier League season has kicked off, and a lot of money has been spent in the hopes of securing silverware or Premier League survival, depending on each teams’ respective ambitions. A lot of the new boys on the block have doled out huge sums to make sure that they don’t come up, only to drop straight back down; but which team had the best performance in the transfer window? Let’s break down who got the best bang for their buck.
IN: Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen, undisclosed), Matteo Guendouzi (Lorient, £8m), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund, undisclosed), Stephan Lichsteiner (Juventus, free transfer).
Due to the managerial issues regarding Arsene Wenger’s tenure at the Emirates, Arsenal’s ability to threaten the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, and Manchester United has been underplayed for a number of seasons. What is likely to change with the appointment of Unai Emery is that Arsenal will play with a lot more urgency and determination – two things that they severely lacked under Wenger. They’ve added a potentially fantastic goalkeeper in Bernd Leno, some experienced defensive options with Sokratis and Lichsteiner, further reinforcing their only real deficient area. Because of Arsenal’s abundance of attacking talent in Aubameyang, Lacazette, and Ozil, the more solidified defence they now have, the Gunners should have a lot more balance in their squad and could be a surprise challenger for the title if everything pans out well for them.
IN: Fabri (Besiktas, undisclosed), Maxime le Marchand (Nice, undisclosed), Alfie Mawson (Swansea, £15m), Andre Schurrle (Borussia Dortmund, loan), Andre-Frank Anguissa (Marseille, £22.3m), Jean Michael Seri (Nice, undisclosed), Sergio Rico (Sevilla, loan), Joe Bryan (Bristol City, £6m), Luciano Vietto (Atletico Madrid, loan), Timothy Fosu-Mensah (Manchester United, loan), Calum Chambers (Arsenal, loan).
One of the biggest risks a newly promoted club faces is the danger that their Championship squad won’t make the cut against Premier League opposition. Fulham have tried to mitigate that risk by bringing in several players with Premier League experience (Mawson, Schurrle, Fosu-Mensah, and Chambers) as well as getting good talents from other European leagues. The standout name is Jean-Michael Seri – a central midfielder that was allegedly being monitored by the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea before making a move to Fulham. They’ve also managed to be smart about getting several of their reinforcements on loan, so they’ll have solid players at their disposal but haven’t paid excessive amounts in transfer fees and won’t have a bloated wage bill. Of all the promoted sides, Fulham seems most likely to stay up judging by their transfer activity.
Lucais Digne (Barcelone, £28m), Yerry Mina (Barcelona, £30m), Andre Gomes (Barcelona, loan), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk, free transfer), Richarlison (Watford, £50m).
Everton has been investing heavily in their squad for the last two seasons, but any potential progress has been delayed by their rapid managerial turnover. Marcos Silva has come in from Watford, where he showed a lot of promise in getting a modest squad to punch above its weight. He now has a squad of significantly higher quality, so there will be pressure for him to perform. The most impressive additions to the squad are the trio from Barcelona; left back Digne, central defender Mina and central midfielder Andre Gomes. All of them are a step up in quality from what Everton currently has in their squad and will improve the technical output in the respectivew positions. Richarlison is a mercurial forward that showed amazing glimpses of talent during his season at Watford, but his consistency is a major question mark. For £50m, one would expect reliable performances, and he hasn’t shown the capability to deliver that yet – but if he does, Everton are by far and a way the most likely team to threaten the established top 6.
2. West Ham
Carlos Sanchez (Fiorentina, undisclosed), Fabian Balbuena (Corinthians, undisclosed), Felipe Anderson (Lazio, £35m), Issa Diop (Toulouse, £22m), Lucas Perez (Arsenal, £4m), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal, free), Ryan Fredricks (Fulham, free), Andriy Yarmolenko (Borussia Dortmund, £18m), Xande Silva (Vitoria, undisclosed), Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea, £7m).
Just like Everton, the Hammers have been investing heavily in their squad for the past couple of seasons, but they haven’t managed to get the full benefits because of their volatile managerial appointments. By getting a former Premier League winner in Manuel Pelligrini in the hot seat, they should have someone that can endure the pressure of managing a team in this competition. Pelligrini’s fortunes will also have been improved drastically with the transfers they’ve made. Felipe Anderson is a speedy winger or wide forward, Lucas Perez showed immense promise in La Liga before his move to Arsenal, and Yarmolenko from Dortmund is also a skilled winger that should help the Hammers create and convert chances. Fabianski is also an incredibly shrewd signing; he was one of the best keepers in the league last season and will help the Hammers keep valuable clean sheets as they hope to move into the European spots this season.
Alisson (Roma, £70m), Fabinho (Monaco, £37m), Keita, (RB Leipzig, £48m), Shaqiri (Stoke, £13).
It’s no secret that – besides Manchester City, of course – it was Liverpool that played the best football in the league last season. Their versatile attack comprising of Mo Salah, Firmino, and Mane threatened each and every defence both domestically and in Europe. Their weaknesses lay in their slightly under-equipped midfield and the scatterbrained goalkeepers – but both problems were addressed in quick fashion during this window. Alisson Becker is one of the best up and coming goalies around, having had an exemplary display for Roma last season. Their midfield additions of Naby Keita and Fabinho add much better balance both in attack and defence. Keita can take the ball and link midfield and attack while Fabinho is practiced at guarding the defensive line and distributing possession to forwards ahead of him. For good measure they also snapped up Xerdan Shaqiri at a bargain price, who will be able to cover for Mo Salah on the right when the Egyptian winger needs a rest. Overall, they’ve closed the gap from hopefuls to genuine contenders better than the rest of the top 6, and will likely be the only side that can genuinely prevent Manchester City from defending their title.
These sides have reinforced the most – but will that equate to success when it comes to titles and improvement come the end of the season? Time will tell. Who do you think had the best window! Let us know below or on Facebook or Twitter!