While Sky Sports News has been focusing all its energy on a quite ridiculous and pointless series of games in the southern hemisphere, it’s important to know that the silly season that is the Summer transfer window has been going along nicely. Even though it’s quite early in the Summer, it is good to check in with clubs to see how the early moves have gone so far. While I am positive there will be a few late arrivals and departures in August, most clubs are already in pre-season mode, so it’s important to get players in early to get their fitness right for the coming season.
It’s been an interesting Summer at Old Trafford, so far. Romelu Lukaku has joined his basketball buddy, Paul Pogba, at Manchester United, but it hasn’t been a straight forward journey to sign the Belgian. It appears, on the surface at least, that it’s a bit all over the place at United. There appears to be a real lack of a plan at the club, which was so famous under Alex Ferguson for having their transfer business complete before the previous season’s end. It was almost a foregone conclusion under the mighty Scot that hardly any transfer business was done in July or August, but in the last few seasons it hasn’t gone that smoothly.
At the start of the summer it was Antoine Griezmann who was the bright and shiny object that Mourinho coveted. It wasn’t unrealistic either to assume that this world class player might seek a new challenge at United after having a couple of frustrating seasons at Atletico Madrid. With only one Super Cup (the Spanish equivalent of the Community Shield) to his name, it seemed likely that he would team up with Mourinho. Alas it wasn’t to be. Atletico’s transfer ban prevents them from playing any new signings until January, so he would have to stay until then, at least. He’s also put pen to paper on a contract extension, but that’s hardy any indication that his loyalty is with the Madrid club. On the other side of Madrid, Alvaro Morata was the next player to flirt with a move to Old Trafford. After a brief negotiation with the two clubs, it appeared that Madrid had a higher valuation than United were prepared to pay. So, the next logical step after these two Madrid based players was to look closer to home in the now former Everton striker. While lots have questioned his desire and work ethic (me), and whether Lukaku can do it in big matches (hi, that’s me again), there is no questioning his ability. This may be the season he shows he’s worthy of the world class tag that so many think he deserves.
The club he left, Everton, has gone about their business with such a professional approach that it would be no stretch to assume they had won the league last year. Jordan Pickford signed from relegated Sunderland, Michael Keane signed from Burnley, Sandro Ramirez from Malaga, and Davy Klaassen from Ajax. The big addition for Everton over the Summer, however, has been Wayne Rooney. While many feel Rooney is passed his best, I think he might offer something to Everton — even if it’s just his experience and influence on the pitch. While Rooney, Pickford and Keane will be the most recognised names by most fans, Sandro and Klaassen will come to the club with big reputations, too. Sandro was a product of the Barcelona youth set up, joining the club at 14. He spent the last year with Malaga, and at 22, seems like a player for the future that Everton have signed for a relatively tame £5.2 million. Klaassen has come from Ajax, and at 24, is maybe used to first team football more than Sandro. Having won the Dutch footballer of the year in 2016 and with three Eredivisie titles under his belt, he will no doubt have an impact on Merseyside. Everton fans will also undoubtedly be struck by how much he looks and plays like former player Steven Naismith. Seriously. Its uncanny.
At Manchester City, it is the departures that have been the talking points rather than the signings. Zabaleta, Clichy, Navas, Caballero, and Sagna have all left, with only Bernardo Silva from Monaco and goalkeeper Ederson signing from Benfica. The future for Joe Hart looks up in the air with the signing of Ederson, and it will be interesting to see if he departs by the end of the Summer, too. It is a very similar story at champions Chelsea, where the arrival of Willy Caballero on a free is the only addition to the squad. The departures of Cuadrado, Begovic, Ake, Atsu and Bernard Traore will hardly have Chelsea fans panicking, but it’s always important to keep players on their toes at a club. John Terry’s departure to Aston Villa is probably the biggest name to leave the club, and 26th minute applause aside, it was an uneventful season for Terry last year. He barely featured for the champions, and when he did, he looked slow and didn’t have the presence he had in previous years, so it was hardly a surprise that he left to play in a less taxing division.
Tottenham Hostspur have also been quiet in their transfer business, with the departure of young Connor Ogilvie on loan to Gillingham the only player in or out of the club. While many unbiased and fair media outlets — that also run a betting company — might have you believe that players like Erikssen are off to Barcelona, and Kane is off to Real Madrid and Dele Alli is off to the Golden State Warriors, it looks as if most of the big boys will stay put. The Kyle Walker transfer rumour has quietened and he may go nowhere now, but it does seem unusual for no player to arrive at the club, especially with the added pressure of playing home games at Wembley for the forthcoming season. The big news out of Arsenal seems to be the fact that neither Sanchez or Ozil have left the club yet, and while Alexandre Lacazette has arrived after a 30 plus goal tally last season, it does seem that Sanchez holds the key to the success or failure of the club. If he does go to Bayern Munich or Manchester City, it would be a difficult task to replace the Chilean, and it may also start a conga line of players looking to escape from the Emirates.
Liverpool have also had a bit of a shambles of a Summer. They were unable to complete the signing of Virgil Van Dyke from their feeder club Southampton even after what seemed like a very open and up-front pursuit. Perhaps it was the openness of it all that caused the problems in the end with Southampton throwing allegations of tapping up around, and eventually spooking Liverpool to retract any interest and apologise for their actions. No smoke without fire as they say. Former Liverpool player Mauricio Pellegrino took over as boss at the Saints so maybe the tide has turned in that regard. He hasn’t had too much of an impact at the club with signings, but has had a positive career as a coach last year at Alaves after having a couple of seasons as a number 2 to Rafael Benitez and a failed attempt to manage Valencia. Frank de Boer has taken over at Crystal Palace following Big Sam’s departure after his successful escape from the depths of relegation. While Allardyce has gone off to play Golf and drink cocktails in a warmer climate, de Boer arrives after a tough time with Inter Milan last season, lasting only three months. He did win the Eredivisie with Ajax for four seasons in a row, and arrives with a big reputation. It’s easy to forget that de Boer was a terrific footballer, so it should be a positive season for the London club.
So, silly season continues as usual, and while it’s hard to come up with a meaningful conclusion to all of it, it does appear that money has no value in the Premier League anymore. While transfer rumours are constantly in flow in tabloids and on Sky — they could link Neymar to Newcastle by simply suggesting they could pay his wages — it doesn’t mean that they are accurate, and without a certain level of ‘making it up as you go along’. The interest in Summer transfers may have lost its appeal somewhat over the last few seasons but its still an exciting time of the year for fans. The expectation for new signings to improve their team and maybe see them make the difference for a positive season, whatever the level the club finds themselves at. I can still remember the excitement when Liverpool signed Harry Kewell and Fernando Torres, and thinking that this could be our year.