With a memorable and messy Premier League transfer window now behind us, Ciarán Bruder takes a look at the winners and losers, as well as the best and worst signings.
Utter chaos is the best way to sum up this season’s Premier League transfer window. This window broke records for most spent in a summer and the highest sum paid by a British club. It marked some big name arrivals and wheelings and dealings across the board; it truly kept everyone on the edge of their seats right up until the final minute.
Chelsea and Manchester City bought early and well, putting them in the hot seat for the title. Liverpool needed restructuring after its star player of last season, Luis Suarez, departed for Barcelona. The team’s new arrivals will need to gel quickly in order to maintain a consistent title charge. The sideshow of Manchester United’s poor start to this new season led them to a massive last-minute outlay on several key players, albeit leaving the squad with a sense of imbalance; perhaps they can ask for games of backs versus forwards?
Elsewhere Arsenal once again failed to meet their most important target of buying a defensive midfielder. In the rest of the table, all of the teams spent increasing amounts on reinforcing their line-ups with quality players from around the globe like Aston Villa buying Phillipe Senderos. A transfer window of pure madness, it proved to be the perfect curtain raiser for what should be another fantastic season.
Hull City FC
With their very respectable 16th place finish in last year’s Premier League, alongside a memorable FA Cup final effort against Arsenal, this is a club on the up. Fresh from their first ever foray into European football, Steve Bruce stormed full steam into Transfer Deadline Day, and managed to secure fantastic deals for Palermo goal poacher Abel Hernandez, Newcastle wing wizard Hatem Ben Arfa, Uruguay international Gaston Ramirez and human battering ram Mohamed Diame. With this kind of investment, Hull manager Steve Bruce appears determined to finally shed the club’s underdog image and try to mic it up with the “big boys” of the Premier League, as well as bringing tika-taka football to Humberside.
Young English Players:
For years people have been saying the boatloads of foreign names that arrive in the Premier League each year have weakened the status of young British players. Young home-grown talent have been increasingly frozen out of starting eleven’s in favour of big name foreign signings. Summer 2014 was the year saw this stereotype broken. Four young and immensely talented British players are on the move to some of the biggest clubs in England for a combined total of £80 million. Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Callum Chambers and Ben Davies could pave the way for the re-emergence of young British talent as the lynch point of the Premier League.
By the end of last season, South London was awash in optimism. Tony Pulis had not only swept into the club and saved a very average side from Premier League relegation, thanks to some canny January signings and his own brand of track-suited trickery, but he had defied all expectations and led them to a mid-table finish. Fast forward four months, and things look very different. Pulis has departed after a dispute over transfer targets with chairman Steve Parish. A very poorly guided transfer window followed, and under caretaker boss Keith Millen, Palace have only picked up one point from their first three Premier League games. Something needs to be done quickly to stop the rot.
Premier League Defences:
Trembling in fear with pee running down their leg, this could be the fate of the Premier League’s unfortunate defenders, both old and new, as they gear up to face the cohort of lethal new strikers that have arrived. Flights from Spain were full as the top teams cashed in on the abundance of striking talent. La Liga is bringing in the likes of Diego Costa (scorer of 36 goals in 52 games last season), Alexis Sanchez (who had a prolific World Cup for Chile) and Angel di Maria to tear defences to pieces. Add in the return of Didier Drogba, and this season will see psychologists’ offices full of shell-shocked and bewildered goalkeepers.
With three Premier League games played this season and four assists-this man is an absolute machine. The pick of Chelsea’s glittering arrivals this summer, his passing prowess and craft adds a depth an extra dimension to a Chelsea midfield that lacked an edge during last season’s campaign. With Fabregas on form, the title is Chelsea’s to lose.
Controversial perhaps, but it is rare that one single signing totally alters the identity of a club in the way that Falcao’s mega-money loan move has. Manchester United have always been a club that prides itself on developing their young talents into club legends. However, Danny Welbeck’s move to Arsenal to accommodate for Falcao’s massive tax-free wages has shattered this identity, ending United’s moral high ground over their league rivals as a club that looks after its own.
And the best of the rest…
In La Liga, Real Madrid spent more than €100 million on securing the services of James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, both of whom had an excellent World Cup. Atletico Madrid restructured well after the poaching of their best players, and continued with their ‘diamond in the rough’ policy with the signing of young French striker Antoine Griezmann. Barcelona, temporarily freed from their transfer ban, finally signed a couple of defenders and, of course, the ever controversial Luis Suarez, leaving the upcoming title race as one you can really sink your teeth into.
From the rest of Europe, the spending was equally unpredictable and exciting. Bayern Munich annoyed German rivals Dortmund by getting their best striker, Polish star Robert Lewandowski for free. Italian side Juventus’s loss of manager, Antonio Conte, leaves the Italian title race the most open one for years. French side PSG were finally forced to curtail their manic spending, despite the capture of part time defender, part time Sideshow Bob impersonator, David Luiz for £50 million.