The summer transfer window officially came to a close tonight for English clubs, marking the end of a period where big clubs such as Manchester United and Tottenham remained unusually quiet, while many smaller clubs such as Fulham and Wolverhampton spent more money than ever spent in their history. Two of our English Premier League experts answered four questions about the window before the EPL season kicks off tomorrow with United vs. Leicester City.
1. The two best players arriving to the English Premier League this summer are:
Keita was one of the driving forces in Leipzig’s remarkable run from 2. Bundesliga to Champions League in just two years. The box-to-box midfielder has relentless energy and pace and has the ability to start a handful of counter-attacks per match. With Firmino, Mane and Salah up front, that’s a deadly weapon to add as Keita (and Fabinho) will be an upgrade from Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner in Liverpool’s central/holding midfield.
Jorginho has a similar ability of Keita as a composed, all-around midfielder who has a more defensive and counter-attack mindset. The Italian international has logged 133 appearances for Napoli in the past five seasons and led all of Europe’s Top 5 leagues with 96.9 passes per game, with a stellar 89.5 pass success percentage. Against Lazio, he set a European record with 150 completed passes.
He won’t pile up assists or score many, if any, goals; but Jorginho has the ability to dictate matches, just as Chelsea teammate N’Golo Kante does. From a tactical standpoint, that duo will be spectacular to watch.
(Muhammad) – Naby Keita (RB Leipzig → Liverpool) and Jorginho (Napoli → Chelsea)
When Liverpool secured the £62 million move for RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita in August of 2017, they not only addressed a position of weakness in their team but fortified it with a bonafide superstar in the middle of the park. Keita will wreak havoc on Premier League teams with his box to box approach in the midfield, but will also show both his passing and goal scoring attributes under manager Jurgen Klopp’s attacking style of football.
In 71 career games for RB Leipzig, the midfielder managed 17 goals and 14 assists. These numbers should enhance drastically over the course of his Liverpool career, as he will be surrounded by other superstar talent in Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. He also has European football experience under his belt due to his time in Germany, and should be able to contribute in the Champions League right away.
After appointing Maurizio Sarri as their new manager, Chelsea wasted no time in pairing the former Napoli boss with his former midfield maestro in Jorginho. The midfielder comes in to this year’s Premier League campaign not only with a proven resume in European football, but with an exact idea of how Sarri wants to play. He should waste no time sharing duties as Chelsea’s best midfielder, alongside N’Golo Kante.
He is known for his passing excellence and creativity from a deep lying position in the midfield (something Chelsea desperately need), as well as his composure on the ball in the middle of the field. Sarri will zone in on those attributes and rely on the Italian to be the key joint between his backline and his front three. It would not be a shock come season’s end when Jorginho leads not only Chelsea, but the Premier League in touches and completed passes.
2. The best bang for your buck signing was:
(Mikey) – Yoshinori Muto, £10.7M (Mainz → Newcastle)
The Japanese forward made a nice step up in his career this summer moving from Bundesliga bottom-feeder Mainz to a Newcastle side that looks destined for a mid-table finish this season. In a league where goals come at a premium – unless you play for Bayern Munich – Muto bagged 20 in 66 appearances since 2015 for Mainz, adding 10 assists. He led Mainz with eight goals last season and has proven he can score against the best in the Bundesliga.
Muto has been heavily backed by Newcastle gaffer Rafa Benitez, who has praised Muto for his great attitude and spirit since joining the club. Muto has said his target for this season is 10 goals, and if he stays healthy that is very doable under Benitez, the former Liverpool, Napoli and Real Madrid manager who should get the best out of everyone.
Honorable mention: Joao Moutinho, £5.6 million (AS Monaco to Wolves)
(Muhammad) – Max Meyer, Free (Schalke → Crystal Palace)
After issues with the heirarchy at his former club FC Schalke 04, Meyer was allowed to leave the club on a free transfer this summer and elected to sign with Crystal Palace. At just 22 years old, the Eagles are getting a player who some pundits had dubbed the next big thing in German football after he made his debut for Schalke in both the Bundesliga and Champions League at just 17 years old.
Meyer is a speedy dribbler in midfield and will use his creativity to help create chances for a Crystal Palace side that struggled to do so at times last season. He is an instant upgrade in the midfield and should log heavy minutes for the Eagles this season. Considering he was brought in on a free, there will be little criticism if he does not pan out in English football.
Honorable mention: Jack Wilshere, Free (Arsenal to West Ham)
3. The club with the best window was:
(Mikey) – Manchester City
Pep Guardiola’s side had the best summer in the transfer market because they were the most efficient. City were already the best team in England by some margin, and they remain so after adding Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez while losing little to nothing from last season’s title-winning squad. Mahrez joins a breathtaking Manchester City midfield and attack force of Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Raheem Sterling.
City lost club legend Yaya Toure and former first-choice goalkeeper Joe Hart, but both players would have added very little to the squad besides a strong presence in the dressing room. City were as quiet as they’ve been in over a decade in the transfer market, just as fans likely hoped. There are no holes in this deep, dominant squad.
Honorable mention: Newcastle United
(Muhammad) – Liverpool
After a season that ended in disappointment in the Champions League final amid a blatant miscue from goalkeeper Loris Karius, Liverpool attacked the transfer market in order to find their keeper of the future. They did just, that spending a record £70 million on the transfer of Brazilian Alisson Becker from AS Roma, who made a name for himself this year at the World Cup and in Europe.
Although there is some risk in spending that much on a player who has only made more than 20 appearances twice in a 7-year professional career, Liverpool needed to shore up the position and acquired the best option available.
Along with Alisson, Liverpool addressed another slight weakness in their team being their central midfield after Emre Can left for Juventus. Although players like Wijnaldum and James Milner are not horrible options, the club needed to reach another level at the position in order to push Manchester City for the title. By adding Keita and former Monaco man Fabinho, the Reds did just that. The new midfield trio of Henderson, Keita, and Fabinho easily ranks as one of the best in the Premier League.
By addressing every position that needed to be filled, and doing so with players who will thrive under Klopp’s system, Liverpool won the transfer window.
Honorable mention: West Ham
4. The club with the worst window was:
(Mikey) – Watford
Despite an ability to stay in the Premier League for three seasons, Watford have been quite poor the past two campaigns, combining for a -48 goal differential, the worst number of any current EPL team.
Luckily, Watford have played a fairly attractive brand of football during that time, often playing high-scoring matches. Watford were not ambitious enough this summer, especially considering they solid Richarlison to Everton for a staggering £45 million fee. Watford made Gerard Deulefeu’s loan from Barcelona permanent, but the Spanish forward has been wildly consistent throughout his career. They also added goalkeeper Ben Foster from West Brom, a mainstay in net for The Baggies since 2012.
During a window where other mid-table and smaller clubs like Fulham, Newcastle and Wolves made major moves and vastly improved their squads on paper, Watford didn’t do much. The North-London side had a very shoddy defence last year allowing 64 goals, third-worst in the EPL, yet did not address it in the window, only signing an inexperienced Marc Navarro from Espanyol who has 31 career first team appearances and left-back Adam Masina from Bologna.
Honorable mention: Manchester United
(Muhammad) – Manchester United
Although the addition of Brazilian Fred in central midfield will bolster an already prominent attack that features players like Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba, and Jesse Lingard, Manchester United failed to bring in multiple targets that they were keen on.
After being linked with moves for Willian, Jerome Boateng, Harry Maguire, and most recently Diego Godin, the Red Devils have missed out on several opportunities to improve their squad, specifically in the center of their defense.
Manager Jose Mourinho has not done himself any favors as well during this transfer window, instead damaging his relationship with players such as Anthony Martialwithout securing a move for them away from the club first. Most recently, rumors out of Manchester state that Pogba in unhappy at the club due to Mourinho and might be looking for a move away some time in the near future – with both Barcelona and Juventus interested.
Honorable mention: Huddersfield Town