With deadline day approaching, ESPN FC’s Premier League correspondents assess their side’s business so far and suggest what else needs to be done.
ARSENAL: A frustrating summer has turned out to be successful in the end as Arsene Wenger is set to bring in all the pieces he felt were needed to make Arsenal title contenders. He entered the transfer window looking to make three major signings, and is about to add centre-back Shkodran Mustafi to midfielder Granit Xhaka and striker Lucas Perez. In addition, he snapped up three promising talents in defender Rob Holding, Japanese forward Takuma Asano and Nigerian midfielder Kelechi Nwakali. Wenger is set to take his summer spending to more than £90 million, by far the most of his career.
Perez was hardly Wenger’s No. 1 target as a striker, but the speedy forward could still prove to be the spark Arsenal’s attack needs. If so, missing out on Jamie Vardy, Alvaro Morata and Alexandre Lacazette could soon be forgotten.
Biggest need on deadline day: Deadline day will be all about sorting out the outgoings. Jack Wilshere could be the biggest name out the door as the midfielder is set to leave on a season-long loan, as is defender Calum Chambers and midfielder Serge Gnabry. There could also be more loan deals in the works as Wenger tries to trim a first-team squad that currently includes 30 names. Barring any surprise opportunities, Wenger’s shopping spree should be over.
Best business: Xhaka is off to a promising start and could be exactly the right blend of tough-tackling enforcer and deep-lying playmaker that Wenger has been craving. When it comes to value for money, though, getting the very promising Holding for just £2m could prove to be a true masterstroke.– Mattias Karen.
CHELSEA: The Blues have prioritised quality over quantity in the summer transfer window, always with an eye towards value. Michy Batshuayi was swiftly acquired from Marseille for £33 million at the start of July when it became clear that Morata and Romelu Lukaku would prove considerably more expensive.
N’Golo Kante was poached from Premier League champions Leicester City for around £30 million a fortnight later, and Portugal international goalkeeper Eduardo has also come in for a modest fee from Dinamo Zagreb to provide back up for Thibaut Courtois and Asmir Begovic. Papy Djilobodji (Sunderland) and Marko Marin (Olympiakos) are the most significant sales, while there has also been the familiar exit of a legion of loanees including Loic Remy to Palace.
Biggest need on deadline day: A centre-back and a left-back. With Kurt Zouma not fit and Matt Miazga not trusted, Antonio Conte has just five fit senior defenders to pick from — a number that includes 19-year-old academy graduate Ola Aina. Chelsea have coped relatively well so far this season and the absence of European football from Stamford Bridge will lighten the load, but Conte would like more quality defensive options to enable him to experiment with different formations, such as the 3-5-2 he deployed to such success with Juventus and Italy. Alessio Romagnoli, Marcos Alonso and Ricardo Rodriguez, left-footed defenders with positional versatility, would all be welcome.
Best business: Batshuayi has impressed with almost every minute Conte has given him, but the arrival of Kante has been every bit as transformational as expected. The Frenchman has improved with each performance in the “Makelele role” at the base of Chelsea’s midfield, picking the right moments to dart out of position to disrupt opposition attacks. Courtois has made just three saves in three Premier League matches this season and Conte’s new midfield shield is the primary reason why. Moreover, he’s lessened the destructive burden on Nemanja Matic and, quite possibly, further extended John Terry’s career at the heart of the Chelsea defence.– Liam Twomey.
LIVERPOOL: In his first summer in charge of Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp has welcomed seven new faces to Anfield. Most of Liverpool’s business this window has seen them improve in positions which required strengthening from the previous campaign.
The signing of goalkeeper Loris Karius, who is currently out injured with a broken hand, provides competition for the unconvincing Simon Mignolet, much-needed pace has been added to the team with the acquisition of Sadio Mane from Southampton and Klopp has given Dejan Lovren some adequate centre-half partners in Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan from the Bundesliga. The Merseyside outfit’s balance sheet is looking healthy, too, after recouping hefty fees from the sales of Christian Benteke, Jordon Ibe, Joe Allen, Martin Skrtel and Brad Smith.
Biggest need on deadline day: It appears that Liverpool will not be bringing in anyone else in, despite a need to add a left-back. Midfielder James Milner has deputised there ahead of the struggling Alberto Moreno, and Klopp recently admitted the reason has hasn’t recruited in that position over the summer is because he has been unable to find someone who fit his bill.
With that in mind, surely Liverpool’s biggest desire before the end of Wednesday is to get Mario Balotelli off the books. With just one year remaining on his contract, even a season-long loan for the misfiring Italian forward would signal the end of his woeful Liverpool career. Nice and FC Sion have a confirmed interest and Balotelli’s departure would leave Klopp with one less problem to deal with for the rest of the season.
Best business: Eyebrows were raised when Liverpool decided to spend £30m on Mane, but the signing of the rapid and versatile forward looks fine business. Mane was the star of the show on his Liverpool debut against Arsenal on the opening weekend of the Premier League and was sorely missed in the 2-0 defeat to Burnley the following week. He impressed again in the 1-1 draw against Tottenham on the weekend, with opposing defender Danny Rose admitting he was “frightening.” With the eye-watering fees being paid this transfer window in mind, an impact player like Mane for £30m represents brilliant value for money.– Glenn Price.
MANCHESTER UNITED: Manchester United have already broken the world-record transfer fee by spending £89.3 million on Paul Pogba from Juventus. He makes up a core of four key signings that manager Jose Mourinho had targeted, having already brought in defender Eric Bailly from Villarreal, playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was a free agent. Young players on the fringes of the first-team, such as Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Adnan Januzaj, have been loaned out.
Biggest need on deadline day: An experienced head in central defence would be useful, considering Bailly is still adjusting to the Premier League despite a highly encouraging start. With so many games to play this season, including the Europa League campaign, an extra option there would ease the burden on the likes of Chris Smalling and Daley Blind, who had huge workloads last season.
Best business: Ibrahimovic arrived with question marks over whether he could make an impact in the Premier League, especially at 34, and he has answered them emphatically so far. A scissor kick on his debut in a friendly against Galatasaray was a taster of what was to come, as he soon headed in the winner in the Community Shield. In the league, he has started with three goals in three games — and has been rewarded with extra holiday time in this international break.– Arindam Rej.
MANCHESTER CITY: Pep Guardiola has taken a long-term view with some of their transfer targets this summer. John Stones, Leroy Sane, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Gabriel Jesus and Marlos Moreno are all 22 or under as City try to identify young talent earlier in their development. The more experienced Nolito, Claudio Bravo and Ilkay Gundogan have been brought in to make an instant impact and represent smarter and cheaper deals, with all three joining for a combined £48 million.
Biggest need on deadline day: City’s squad is too bulky at the moment. Guardiola likes to work with smaller numbers and also needs to free up space to allow young academy players the chance to break through. They may have to subsidise some exit deals but Eliaquim Mangala, Wilfried Bony and possibly Samir Nasri need to be shifted out before the transfer window closes.
Best business: John Stones has settled in very quickly following his £47.5 million move from Everton and looks likely to become a central figure in Guardiola’s new-look City. His ball-playing skills and ability to read the game are just what the Spaniard wants from his senior centre-half. Gundogan and Bravo are yet to make their debuts but are also likely to take on important roles.— Jonathan Smith.
TOTTENHAM: Spurs moved with uncharacteristic efficiency to plug the two biggest holes in their squad with the signings of Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen in July, and any suggestions that the duo are merely cover for Eric Dier and Harry Kane have been dispelled in the opening three matches.
Wanyama, an £11 million signing from Southampton, is no Mousa Dembele but he scored in the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace and impressed in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool. Janssen, who joined from AZ Alkmaar, has similarly made an impact, although he is yet to score. Spurs have also begun clearing the decks, with Nabil Bentaleb and Federico Fazio joining Schalke and Roma respectively on loan and DeAndre Yedlin and Alex Pritchard moving to the Championship.
Biggest need on deadline day: Numbers. Spurs lacked strength in depth last season and they still look short of quality cover in a number of positions, an issue not helped by the impending departures of Nacer Chadli and Ryan Mason, and Mauricio Pochettino’s willingness to listen to offers for Kevin Wimmer, Son Heung-Min and Tom Carroll. Ideally, the manager needs a central midfielder, a centre back and a forward before Wednesday’s deadline.
Pochettino also highlighted the need for speed in Spurs’ attacking three last week, but Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, who is expected to sign from Marseille for £11 million, will add pace.
Best business: Janssen may be a little rough around the edges but last season’s Eredivisie top scorer looks more of a Ruud van Nistelrooy than a Mateja Kezman. In today’s market, £17 million for a 22-year-old goal scorer is good business and the Dutch international gives Pochettino more firepower and the opportunity to play direct, or change his system.
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