AT transfer meter
***** “We’re going to win the league!”
**** Wheeling and dealing
*** Team’s in the tumble dryer
** Stench of complacency
* Clueless twat
The dismal failures of 2015/16 will no doubt cast a dark shadow over most of the Chelsea players’ minds. Reinforcements are needed, but new manager Antonio Conte has only bought Marseille striker Michy Bastshuayi and Leicester City’s former midfield destroyer N’Golo Kante. It seems as though Conte is willing to be patient and fully assess his squad before deciding where to strengthen prior to the transfer window closing.
AT transfer meter: ***
Apart from £21m Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan and £13.8m Celta Vigo winger/striker Nolito, new City boss Pep Guardiola has been looking to the future with his signings. These include Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Marlos Mareno; all under 20 years old. Despite having spent over £100m already, I’m surprised the Spaniard has not yet moved to strengthen City’s defence, especially as Vincent Kompany will be missing in action for the first month.
Arch antagonist Jose Mourinho is truly the master of spending big money, and has already infused Utd with strength and power by signing Villarreal centre back Eric Bailly, Dortmund’s prolific goalscoring midfielder Henrik Mkhitaryan and aged goal machine Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Of course, there is also the impending addition of £96m midfield powerhouse Paul Pogba. I would imagine this leaves the bank pretty empty, therefore Mourinho will be relying on Wayne Rooney to roll back the years while further developing hot attacking talents, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.
With Jamie Vardy snubbing Arsenal, and Riyad Mahrez likely to do the same, Claudio Ranieri will be delighted that his Championship-winning squad has not been dismantled. Yes, they’ve lost N’Golo Kante, but he’s already been replaced by defensive midfielder hopeful Nampalys Mendy. Other signings so far include centre-back Luis Hernandez, goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler and CSKA Moscow striker Ahmed Musa who, rather promisingly, scored twice against Barcelona in pre-season. £7.5m winger Bartosz Kapustka has also joined from Polish club, Cracovia.
Although Jurgen Klopp has blown £57m on Newcastle goalscoring winger Georginio Wijnaldum and Southampton striker Sadio Mane, neither player will need time to get up to speed in the Premier League. Klopp has been quick to address the defensive issues that plagued Liverpool last season, returning to his homeland to prize towering centre-backs Joel Matip from FC Schalke and FC Ausburg’s Ragnar Klavan. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet remains untrustworthy, hence Klopp has moved for one of Germany’s top goalkeeping prospects, 23-year-old Loris Karius from Mainz 05. Ex-Arsenal veteran Alex Manninger – now 39 – also joins. Klopp is trying to offload Christian Benteke and Mario Balotelli, which would doubtless free-up wages for one or two more signings.
As demonstrated when Delli Ali and Moussa Dembele were suspended for the last two games of the season, Spurs lacked strength in depth. Pochettino made his moves early this summer making two key signings; Southampton midfield powerhouse Vincent Wanyama and the perfect understudy to Harry Kane, Dutch striker Vincent Janssen, who holds the ball up well and is a natural finisher in the box. However, if Spurs really want to build on the success of last season, fans might well be looking for a couple more additions.
The early signing of defensive midfielder Granit Xhaka was seen as a promising start, but since then it’s been the usual bungled operation with failed bids for Vardy, Mahrez and Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette. A further £10m has been splashed on the combined ‘talents’ of Japanese forward Takuma Asano, 20-year-old Bolton centre-back Rob Holding and Nigerian youth international Kelechi Nwalaki – but none of those are going to transform Arsenal into title contenders. Arteta, Rosicky and Flamini have all left the club, freeing up £12m pa in wages and there's at least £200m cash in the bank, but Wenger is already paying the price for his pre-season dithering, with Mertesacker joined (today) by Gabriel on the long-term treatment table.
No doubt many more deals will be completed over the next 3-4 weeks. However, Jose Mourinho is most definitely leading the transfer pack, while Wenger will be scavenging bins again looking for big club cast-offs come August 31.
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