Arsenal the big winners, Man United and Chelsea losers in Premier League summer transfer window
The Premier League's summer transfer window is closed, meaning there will be no more incoming players until Jan. 1. With the new season set to begin Friday when Liverpool host Norwich City, we take a look at the teams that did the business and those that didn't seal the deals they were hoping for.
Who would have thought Arsenal could come out on top in a transfer window? They have strengthened key areas with the club's record signing, Nicolas Pepe; the excellent Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney; Real Madrid's twinkle-toed Dani Ceballos on loan and the hair-raising arrival of David Luiz. The latter was necessary after Laurent Koscielny's unpalatable departure and is certainly not a long-term measure, but Arsenal now have a proven winner and character at the back. They can also call upon one of the world's most sought-after wingers in Pepe, whose arrival from Lille is a major coup.
Arsenal might have to wait a while to see much of Tierney, who is still recovering after double hernia surgery, but he is a fine attacking full-back whose best years are ahead of him. The sale of Alex Iwobi to Everton, essentially a book-balancing measure, takes one option away, but he never quite caught fire at Arsenal, and the overall sense is that they have freshened up intriguingly for a new tilt at Champions League qualification.
Are Everton and Marco Silva about to make a concerted push for the top four? You might not bet against it after the summer they've enjoyed.
Losing Idrissa Gueye, an outstanding midfielder but one who turns 30 next month, to Paris Saint-Germain looked a worry, but their incoming players have more than compensated for that. Moise Kean, the thrilling young striker from Juventus, has arrived for £29 million in one of the summer's standout signings while Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Fabian Delph add depth and quality in Gueye's absence.
Andre Gomes' move from Barcelona has been made permanent while full-back Djibril Sidibe, a star of Monaco's Champions League semifinalists two years ago, looks a shrewd loan addition. Ademola Lookman eventually got his drawn-out move to RB Leipzig, but Everton look covered with sufficient quality and options in all areas of the pitch. Their only weakness might be a lack of depth at centre-back, where Kurt Zouma might be missed after returning to Chelsea.
Over to you, Marco.
What a show of intent it has been from promoted Villa, who are wasting no time in their return to the top flight. They've spent almost £150m on 13 new players, and even though that might sound perilously close to Fulham's misadventures this time last year, the names look impressive.
It might seem steep to pay £26.5m for Tyrone Mings, but the defender was excellent for them on loan from Bournemouth in last season's run-in, while the £22m striker Wesley Moraes seems equipped for the top level. Midfielder Douglas Luiz is an exciting arrival from Manchester City, while Jota, the forward from Birmingham, could be a bargain at £4m. Egypt winger Trezeguet, who had an impressive AFCON but has had a largely mercurial career, could be a masterstroke, too.
Dean Smith has a task on his hands to put it all together, but Villa look well set for a push toward midtable if all goes well.
United have spent £120m in this transfer window, but they more than anyone should know that splashing the cash makes a difference only if it comes with an element of planning.
Their two major signings, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire, certainly strengthen their defensive options, but neither quite comes with "sure thing" status attached. Maguire, who arrived for a gigantic £85m fee from Leicester, is the kind of character United have long lacked on and off the pitch and should give them a presence they needed at centre-back. But there are doubts over whether he is a genuinely top-bracket talent (he certainly lacks pace), while Wan-Bissaka, a very promising right-back from Crystal Palace, remains raw defensively.
They are good additions but United look weaker in midfield and attack now that Ander Herrera and Romelu Lukaku have departed. Paul Pogba looks like sticking around, despite speculation earlier in the window, but United do not look like a squad that can force their way back into the Champions League places. Daniel James, the Swansea winger, is a decent punt at £10m but will not reinvigorate them on his own.
An obvious one, this, because their transfer ban has limited Frank Lampard's hand enormously. In one way that could be a blessing: Chelsea have a vast stock of players, and this will be a chance for Lampard to blood players such as Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori, who both enjoyed excellent seasons on loan for his Derby side last term.
The arrival of Christian Pulisic, sealed while Maurizio Sarri was still in charge and Chelsea were still able to deal, is undoubtedly a boost, too. But despite the young American's undoubted talent, he's still no Eden Hazard, and however anyone spins it, Chelsea are considerably weaker for their talisman's departure to Real Madrid. They also lack a leader and character at the back now David Luiz has made his shock move to Arsenal, even though some of his relationships within the club had apparently soured toward the end.
Lampard, who has at least seen Chelsea make Mateo Kovacic's move permanent, has his work cut out with the cards he has been dealt.
Every year it's sorely tempting to tip Sean Dyche's side for relegation, and every year they confound those expectations. But the danger is that those around them are outstripping them in terms of quality, and the woes they endured in the first half of last season, when they seemed to lose to vim and vigour that served them so well for so long, might be a warning sign.
For now they keep going: The return of Jay Rodriguez could be a shrewd switch, Danny Drinkwater has a six-month loan to get his career back on track in midfield and Erik Pieters adds solidity from Stoke. But there is a nagging sense that they need more and that this time, all the fire and brimstone in the world might not be enough. Or can Dyche perform miracles once again?