The summer transfer window never ceases to amaze me with plenty of lucrative captures and some, quite frankly, extraordinary signings! In this post, I will predominantly focus on some of the Premier League’s biggest deals as well as providing some insight into Spain’s top tier, La Liga.
Southampton were incredible last season and had many people turning their heads towards the small, well-run club on the south coast with some dazzling play and some fantastic results. The Saints were the only team to take all three points from Anfield last season following a 1-0 win in September. However, since their final day draw at home to Manchester United, though, things have taken a turn for the worse for the club. The big-money sales of academy graduates Luke Shaw (to Manchester United for £27m), Calum Chambers (to Arsenal for around £11m) and Adam Lallana (to Liverpool for £25m) as well as centre-back Dejan Lovren and striker Rickie Lambert (both to Liverpool) have left the squad looking rather bare and the fans demoralised and far from optimistic. Add this to the fact that their Argentine manager Mauricio Pochettino has left for Tottenham, it is looking rather bleak for everyone at St. Mary’s. New manager Ronald Koeman has brought in a few new faces, but nothing like the quality of those who have departed and he has a big task ahead of him – he needs to spend some more of the £90m the club has gained and he needs to act QUICKLY!
The main beneficiaries from Southampton’s sales have been Liverpool who have recruited three Saints players as mentioned. But as well as the “L” trio, Liverpool have brought in a further five players, including German Under-21 star Emre Can (£8m), Arsenal target Javier Manquillo (2-year loan), World Cup star Divock Origi (£10m) and lightning-quick Serbian winger Lazar Markovic (£20m). The Reds’ summer singings so far have totalled a staggering £87 but in my opinion they need to surpass £100m because I feel they need another top quality striker, such as Falcao or Cavani as rumoured, to attempt to replace superstar Luis Suarez, who joined Barcelona for £75m. After all, I wouldn’t describe Rickie Lambert as world-class! They may also need a new left-back (talk of signing Sevilla’s Moreno continues) but even then I don’t think they will be able to emulate last season’s heroics without their star player, similar to Spurs last season after selling Gareth Bale to Real Madrid.
Talking of Barcelona and Real Madrid, there has been plenty of business over in Spain too. Barcelona have brought in Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suarez as well as goalkeepers Marc-Andre ter Stegan and Claudio Bravo to effectively replace Chelsea-bound Fabregas, now-Gunner Alexis Sanchez and the departing Victor Valdes after his 19 years at the club. Meanwhile, Real Madrid have sold Morata but have brought in Keylor Navas, Toni Kroos and most notably World Cup Golden Boot winner and, in my opinion, player of the tournament James Rodriguez for £71m from AS Monaco. Yes, the player Sir Alex Ferguson turned down for £5 and instead bought Portuguese flop Bebe for over £7m!! El Clasico promises to be something special with Ronaldo, Kroos, Benzema, Rodriguez and Bale up against Messi, Xavi, Suarez, Iniesta and Neymar! I feel that the title race will be between these two clubs and not champions Athletico Madrid simply because they have lost some of their best players – the ever-present Thibaut Courtois will no longer be between the sticks, Filipe Luis no longer running up and down the left side and Diego Costa no longer banging in the goals left, right and centre with all three joining Mourinho’s Chelsea.
The Special One has not only brought in the three Athletico lads (admittedly Courtois has been out on loan from Chelsea) but has also brought in club legend Didier Drogba for a year and, as mentioned, Cesc Fabregas to replace Frank Lampard for £30m. However, despite bringing in Costa and Drogba, Chelsea definitely need another striker, for me, because they only have these two and a past-his-best Fernando Torres after Romelu Lukaku, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba all left the club this summer. The goalkeeper situation at Stamford Bridge is a problem most managers would love to have. In Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea have two of the world’s greatest keepers at their disposal and it should be intriguing as to which starts in goal against Burnley next weekend. Also, another centre-back should be a priority for Mourinho after the £40m sale of David Luiz to PSG and the ageing John Terry – there have been rumours Varane is wanted from Real Madrid but they should act soon to find someone to partner Gary Cahill over the next few years.
Another centre-back who may be leaving the Premier League is Arsenal’s club captain Thomas Vermaelen who could be joining Barcelona (to replace the retired Puyol) and therefore Wenger surely must bring in another central defender as back up to Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. Bacary Sagna left the club on a free to join former Gunners Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri but youngster Calum Chambers has come in as a long-term replacement and the second big-name signing (after Mesut Ozil last summer) of Alexis Sanchez has excited a lot of Arsenal fans who genuinely believe their team has a chance of claiming their fourth Premiership title. I feel that a new striker is a must at the Emirates – Mario Balotelli has been strongly linked with a move from AC Milan and, despite his off-field antics, he is an extremely talented footballer. Also, a deep-lying midfielder is crucial for the Gunners. Both Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini are the other side of 30 and someone new needs to be brought in; World Cup winner Sami Khedira’s proposed move seemed to fall through but now may be back on, whilst attempts to sign Morgan Schneiderlin and Lars Bender both failed. If Arsenal were to bring in a striker, a centre-back and another midfielder, I believe they will mount a very strong challenge for the Premiership crown.
However, for me, Chelsea will be the champions with their strength in depth throughout the team as well as the captures of Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, Felipe Luis and Didier Drogba. They will be a formidable force to reckon with due to their fantastic array of attacking talent including the likes of Hazard, Oscar, Schurrle, William, Costa, Torres, Drogba and Fabregas, a solid defence, two quality goalkeepers and the best manager in the world. One thing promises: it should be a fantastic season and the various summer signings will be very, very important!