The transfer window has slammed shut again and at the end of trading, the Premier League cash register displays a record breaking £870 million. With more money in the English game than ever, top flight clubs have been able to enhance their squads with increasingly more talented players from all over the world. Sifting through all the Premier League club incoming transfers, Palatinate writers give their opinion on who they think will prove to be the best deal.
Kieran Moriarty – Palatinate Sport Editor – Petr Čech to Arsenal for an undisclosed fee.
With the exception of Manchester City, who provided a masterclass in recruitment (albeit one which was grossly decadent and undermined FFP), too many of the top Premier League teams were humiliated in their fruitless pursuits of their targets and were left to resort to cheap alternatives (see Chelsea), panic buys (see Manchester United) or just sticking their head in the sand and hoping the problem goes away (see Arsenal). As my colleagues expand upon, it is the mid-table teams that have extracted the best value from an inflated market.
Chelsea’s doomed pursuit of Everton’s John Stones may have provided a refreshing exception to the norm that a mid-table David can stand up to the financial might of a title contender Goliath. However, Chelsea have been left with a creaking defence in which former stalwarts such as Branislav Ivanovic have become big liabilities. For all of their problems at the back, Papy Djilobodji is probably not the answer.
The latest transfer dealings at Manchester United suggested that the lunatics have taken over the asylum. After admirable early purchases in Schneiderlin, Darmain and Depay, the sanctioning of a £58 million transfer for the unproven Anthony Marital looks ludicrous. This is without mentioning the complete dismissal of their lack of depth in options up front and their farcical dealings with Real Madrid over the summer in the Ramos/De Gea saga.
Nevertheless, there has been several intelligent acquisitions by the big teams. At Chelsea, Pedro fits the prototype of the perfect Jose Mourinho player; selfless, hard-working and an invaluable provider and goalscorer in a midfield that has looked incredibly jaded recently. Nathaniel Clyne and Joe Gomez have greatly reinforced a fragile Liverpool defence while Memphis Depay could be a revelation at Manchester United if he replicates his form from last season at PSV.
Despite being mocked for their relative inactivity, I believe the sole signing of Petr Čech for Arsenal was shrewd business. As well as weakening a rival, Čech solves one long-term problem for the Gunners and will surely vindicate John Terry’s claim that he will save them at least 12 points this season.
Matt Roberts – Palatinate Deputy Sport Editor – André Ayew to Swansea City on a free.
In a record-breaking transfer window with £870m spent, Swansea City have proved that you need not break the bank to uncover a gem. In early June the Welsh club signed André Ayew from Marseille on a free transfer. Yes, a free transfer. This is a player who has scored over 40 goals in Ligue 1, has played over 60 times for Ghana, is one of Africa’s footballing powerhouses and has been voted BBC African footballer of the year.
While some clubs spend fortunes, often gambling on unproven young talents, Swansea go about their business in a considered, measured manner. Deadline Day offers the perfect example as to why Swansea are one of the most enviable and admirable clubs around. They tend to sign players early and spend the rest of pre-season working on fitness, tactics and getting everyone settled. In other words, what pre-season should be for. It’s no wonder that in the last two campaigns they’ve hit the ground running, beating Manchester United away last year and drawing at Chelsea this year.
In Ayew, Swansea have signed a player of considerable quality. His main attributes are surely his great pace, strength and dribbling ability. What’s more he offers a serious aerial threat and, having played for a decent Marseille team, he is perfectly suited to Swansea’s system and passing game. He’s already adapted well to the rigours of English football having scored against Chelsea, Newcastle and Manchester United.
Garry Monk is building something quite special at the Liberty Stadium. He’s a vibrant young boss with a very balanced, enterprising team. André Ayew could be the final piece of the puzzle that sees Swansea pushing for a European place.
Nick Friend – Palatinate Sport Editor 2014/2015 – Raheem Sterling to Manchester City for £49 million.
Close to one billion pounds have been spent by Premier League clubs in this summer window – a figure both staggering and alarming in equal measure.
Of the twenty sides, I’d say that about sixteen will be delighted with their business. Chelsea, though, have failed to deliver on huge Pogba-shaped promises. Manchester United, meanwhile, have gone a long way to destroying Fergie’s 26 years’ worth of credibility and professionalism. Arsenal, the perennial underwhelmers of the summer window, have stagnated yet again. Lastly, Sunderland, who only narrowly avoided relegation in May, have put together a squad built largely on defensive incompetence and tactical indiscipline – another year of struggle awaits.
Two other deals stand out. West Ham’s deadline day deal to take Michail Antonio from Nottingham Forest is as shrewd as Anthony Martial’s £36m arrival at Old Trafford is absurd. Antonio, with pace to burn, was comfortably the best player in the Championship last season.
For value though, no side can match the coup achieved by Garry Monk. André Ayew is a super footballer and will surely push Swansea towards the top six. With the physique and game for the Premier League, the rest of the Premier League will look on enviously.
However for me, there has been one game-changing signing. Raheem Sterling puts Manchester City out on their own. His pace is frightening, his link up with Aleskandar Kolarov and David Silva already telepathic.
Henry Clare – Palatinate Co-Editor in Chief – Yohan Cabaye to Crystal Palace for £10 million.
Although we have seen some massive imports from the top clubs into the Barclays Premier League this summer, such as Kevin de Bruyne, Memphis Depay and Roberto Firmino, for me the story of this window has been how mid-table teams have attracted top talent.
Swansea and Southampton have both recruited extremely well, but Crystal Palace’s acquisition of Yohan Cabaye must rank as the deal of the summer. For just over £10 million, they’ve been able to bring in a Ligue 1 winner who’s picked up 39 caps for his country.
Although the Frenchman struggled to establish himself in Paris, Cabaye still has the qualities that made Arsene Wenger interested in poaching him from Newcastle 18 months ago. He will add finesse, composure and balance to a midfield that is already packed with pacey, exciting players. What’s more, with years of experience working under Alan Pardew at Newcastle, Cabaye will be able to make an instant impact. With him in their ranks, Palace could be this year’s Southampton.
Rory More O’Ferrall – Student International Football Correspondent – James Milner to Liverpool on a free.
This year, British clubs have spent €217m on Bundesliga players alone, a huge increase on the €15m spent in 2014. German journalists have described developments as ‘wahnsinnig’, which loosely translates as ‘absolutely mental’. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Wolfsburg owners Volkswagen, commented in a recent interview with German football magazine Kicker that “at a certain point, you become powerless to resist”.
This increase in spending power, clearly evidenced by the signings of Anothony Martial for a potential £58m and Kevin de Bruyne for £55m, has also resulted in the ability of mid-table clubs such as Crystal Palace and West Ham to attract big-name players, such as Yohan Cabaye and Dimitri Payet. Particularly noteworthy, however, is Stoke’s acquisition of Xherdan Shaqiri. His signing for Stoke is testament to how empowered English clubs have become. Shaqiri is a gifted player and looks set for a season bright enough to finally bring an end to the joke about gloomy midweek nights at the Britannia.
Nonetheless, some of the best deals completed over the summer have less to do with money and more with shrewd business. André Ayew has made an explosive start after signing for Swansea on a free. His goals have helped Swansea to eight points in their first four matches, though his ability is perhaps best showcased in the assist he laid on for Bafetimbi Gomis on the weekend. Ayew’s perfectly weighted pass behind the United defence with the outside of his left foot demonstrated excellent technical ability that will serve him well in the Premier League.
Another free transfer, James Milner, will prove an excellent piece of business for Liverpool. Often unfairly maligned, Milner possesses an excellent football brain and has a great influence on games when played centrally. His Premier League statistics last year (5 goals and 8 assists) compare favourably to new teammate Philippe Coutinho’s (5 goals and 7 assists), but while the Brazilian was often hailed as a creative genius, Milner was mostly condemned as a boring workhorse. Perhaps this is the season the perception rightly changes.
Petr Čech – Anish Moraji via Wikimedia Commons
André Ayew – Pierre-Yves Beaudouin via Wikimedia Commons
Raheem Sterling – Biser Todorov via Wikimedia Commons
Yohan Cabaye – Stanislav Vedmid, Football.ua via Wikimedia Commons
James Milner – wonker via Wikimedia Commons