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Premier League Transfer report card: Is your club playing moneyball, hardball or mothballs?

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Roar Guru
31st August, 2021
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The Premier League transfer window has shut until January. Who has done the best deals and which club’s fans are left underwhelmed?

ARSENAL
Transfer Window 2021 has been about adding depth to the squad rather than hunting for a new superstar for Arsenal – but have they added depth in the right places?

Some of the new signings for the Gunners might have confused fans – why spend over $130m AUD on defenders Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu when you’ve already got one of the tightest defences in the league, and release a young talent in William Saliba out on loan, but struggle to score goals? You have to assume that Mikel Arteta sees White as a key part of his “build from the back” mentality.

Unfortunately, the new signings haven’t helped the North London side start the season well with the team conceding nine goals in three games and yet to score one themselves.

In terms of sales, surprisingly they gave Granit Xhaka a new deal instead of shipping him out, but have said goodbye to Joe Willock and Brazilian Willian who has taken the very honourable step of tearing up his $450k per week contract so that he can head back to Corinthians.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles wanted out but is staying, along with several others they couldn’t shift on deadline day.

Major Ins:
Albert Sambi Lokonga – Anderlecht, $28.30m
Ben White – Brighton, $94.34m
Martin Odegaard – Real Madrid, undisclosed
Aaron Ramsdale – Bournemouth, $56m including add-ons
Takehiro Tomiyasu – Bologna, $37.24m

Major Outs:
Joe Willock – Newcastle,$46.9m

Grade
D

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ASTON VILLA
Villa have been involved in one of the most talked-about deals of the period with club and country hero Jack Grealish moving to Man City for a Premier League record deal of $188m.

Villa fans might be wiping away a tear at their skipper’s departure but the club has looked to put the Grealish money into action straight away with some exciting inbound talent including Emiliano Buendia.

The midfielder won Player of the season in the Championship last season and is both a scorer and creator of goals. With Buendia and Danny Ings joining the club, head coach Dean Smith has added some quality fire power to his team.

Major Ins
Leon Bailey – Bayer Leverkusen, undisclosed
Emi Buendia – Norwich, $71.7m
Danny Ings – Southampton, undisclosed

Major Outs
Ahmed Elmohamady – contract expired
Tom Heaton – Manchester United, free
Neil Taylor – contract expired
Jack Grealish – Manchester City, $188m

Grade
B+

(Photo by Getty Images)

BRENTFORD
Not a lot of business for the newcomers to the Premier League but their major signing of central defender Kristoffer Ajer from Celtic was a good move. Some major European clubs including AC Milan and Bayer Leverkusen had been interested in the big Norwegian but Brentford got their man in the end.

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It’s so often a challenge for newly promoted clubs to avoid ending up in a relegation battle early in their first season in the Premier League and having a strong defence will be crucial for Brentford if they are to stay up in the top level. Will they have the goals though to compete?

Major Ins
Kristoffer Ajer – Celtic, $25m

Major Outs
None

Grade
B

BRIGHTON
This window for Brighton has been more about improving the club’s financials rather than bringing in many new, exciting signings. The sale of Ben White to Arsenal for $94m will have helped the bank balance for sure but they will miss the defender’s versatility. However they have welcomed Marc Cucurella who can play up and down the left and should over some good flexibility.

Major Ins
Enock Mwepu – Red Bull Salzburg, undisclosed
Marc Cucurella – Getafe, $28.9m

Major Outs
Ben White – Arsenal, $94m

Grade
C

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BURNLEY
Some shuffling around for the north England club has seen them end up in a pretty good position in terms of depth but arguably they are still missing quality in defence, midfield and up front. The successful signing of Cornet from Lyon was a success with many from within the club involved to get the deal over the line. Time will tell if it’s enough.

Major Ins
Maxwel Cornet – Lyon, undisclosed

Major Outs
None

Grade
C+

CHELSEA
The big news from West London is the return of striker, Romelu Lukaku to Stamford Bridge after 10 years. The hefty price tag comes as a result of Lukaku being the second top scorer in Serie A last season and there’s plenty of expectation on the Belgian. The Blues have also picked up Saul Niguez on loan from Atletico Madrid with the experienced midfielder adding some depth to the squad for the season ahead.

Two major sales saw the club do some good financial business without really denting their squad quality as they sold Tomori and Abraham for over $111m in total to Italian sides and out of favour Zouma to West Ham for $56m. That’s Lukaku’s club record fee pretty much covered then!

Major Ins
Romelu Lukaku – Inter Milan, $184m
Saul Niguez – Atletico Madrid, loan

Major Outs
Fikayo Tomori – AC Milan, $47m
Tammy Abraham – Roma, $64.2m
Kurt Zouma – West Ham, $56.2m

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Grade
B+

Romelu Lukaku of Chelsea during his unveiling as a Chelsea player

(Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

CRYSTAL PALACE
New boss Patrick Viera has a pretty good idea on what it takes to win the Premier League as a player and he’s started building a strong Palace defence system with the signings of Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen. Viera knows it’s crucial that the club doesn’t repeat last season’s defensive record of conceding 66 goals – the third-worst record in the League. The Frenchman has also looked to add some attacking height as well with the Deadline Day purchase of Odsonne Édouard from Celtic.

Major Ins
Odsonne Edouard – Celtic, $26.3m
Marc Guehi – Chelsea, undisclosed
Joachim Andersen – Lyon, undisclosed

Major Outs
None

Grade
B

EVERTON
With Theo Walcott leaving the club for Southampton permanently after a season-long loan, Benitez was very clear at the beginning of the transfer window that he was on the lookout for wingers and he has delivered.

With Townsend and Gray he’s picked up two wide men but arguably Everton need more strength at the back as well as attacking threat. The club doesn’t have much spare change lying around so Benitez has tried to make his budget work hard picking up cheap or off-contract players with decent Premier League experience.

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Major Ins
Andros Townsend – Crystal Palace, free
Demarai Gray – Bayer Leverkusen, $3m

Major Outs
Theo Walcott – Southampton, free

Grade
C

LEEDS
After a strong finish to the 2020/21 season, newbies Leeds ended up finishing in an impressive 9th position and fans will be hungry for more this season. There hasn’t been a whole lot of business done though at Elland Road – a couple of loan deals have been made permanent and most of the activity from Leeds has been clearing out a lot of players (15 in total).

One interesting deal sees Junior Firpo move from Barcelona to Leeds with the full-back brought in to replace Ezgjan Alioski who left when his contract expired. The last-minute purchase of Dan James from Man Utd is a good piece of business for Leeds as well – the young winger was going to have to drop down the pecking order with Ronaldo joining the Reds and Leeds moved quickly on a player they’ve been interested in for a couple of years.

Major Ins
Dan James – Man Utd, $47m
Junior Firpo – Barcelona, $24.5m

Major Outs
None

Grade
B

LEICESTER
Brendan Rodgers and Leicester have got the cheque book out this year and spent well over $100m. In return they’ve brought in talent all across the pitch. Patson Daka was on fire last season for RB Salzburg scoring 34 goals in 42 matches while midfielder Boubakary Soumare helped Lille win the French title. You could argue that Rodgers still needs some more depth in the squad but the first team looks stronger this year compared to last.

Major Ins
Patson Daka – RB Salzburg, $43.3m
Boubakary Soumare – Lille, $32m
Jannik Vestergaard – Southampton, $28.3m

Major Outs
None

Grade
A

LIVERPOOL
Whilst the successful signing of Konate is something to smile about for Liverpool, there are still a lot of questions about whether this Transfer Window has really been a success for Jurgen Klopp. Konate will provide good strength in defence – an area where the team struggled last season due to injuries. But there are many arguing that Liverpool need something fresh upfront to deliver a new and more potent attacking threat.

Major Ins
Ibrahima Konate – RB Leipzig, $67.6m

Major Outs
Georginio Wijnaldum – Paris Saint-Germain, free

Grade
C

Ibrahima Konate of RB Leipzig

Ibrahima Konate is signing with Liverpool. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)

MANCHESTER CITY
It’s a strange one with Man City this Transfer Window. On the one hand the signing of Grealish and the setting of a new Premier League transfer record grabs the headline and will have fans drooling at the attacking power the team will have.

On the other hand, does Pep Guardiola really need more goals? The team outscored every other team last season and had 10 more goals than second place Man Utd. Pep also has eight other talented attackers already in the squad fighting for game time. Seeing how the Master manages yet another superstar will be interesting to watch.

Is Grealish a good player? Absolutely. Was it a good move for Man City to spend $188m on another attacker? Not so sure.

Major Ins
Jack Grealish – Aston Villa, $188m

Major Outs
Sergio Aguero – Barcelona, free
Eric Garcia – Barcelona, free

Grade
B

MANCHESTER UNITED
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has had a very good transfer window. The club has picked up some of the biggest names in European football with Ronaldo, Sancho and Varane all playing at Old Trafford this coming season. That’s a lot of talent across the pitch and a lot of money that’s been spent.

The pressure is on now more than ever. Can Ole chase down cross town rivals Man City with this squad? If not, then this might be his last season in charge.

Major Ins
Cristiano Ronaldo – Juventus,$24.3m
Jadon Sancho – Borussia Dortmund, $137m
Raphael Varane – Real Madrid, $77.3m

Major Outs
Dan James – Leeds, $47m

Grade
A

Raphael Varane of France plays the ball.

Raphael Varane with France has joined Manchester United. Photo: Robert Michael/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa (Photo by Robert Michael/picture alliance via Getty Images)

NEWCASTLE
Not a busy Transfer Window for Newcastle but arguably a successful one as they were able to lock down Joe Willock and get the player to move permanently from Arsenal. He had a strong loan spell with Newcastle in the second half of last season, scoring eight goals in 14 appearances and became the youngest player to score in seven consecutive games.

Major Ins
Joe Willock – Arsenal, $47m

Major Outs
None

Grade
B

NORWICH
Busy, busy, busy. 12 players brought in and 16 players moved on at Norwich since June as the newly promoted side try to set themselves up for a successful campaign. One move that catches the eye is the season long loan deal of Billy Gilmour. Whilst the midfielder only played 11 times for Chelsea last season, he made a name for himself against England at the Euros when he picked up the man of the match award.

Sadly for the club they have said goodbye to Emi Buendia – the midfielder had a great 2020/21 season and will be sorely missed.

Major Ins
Angus Gunn – Southampton, undisclosed
Milot Rashica – Werder Bremen, $17.7m
Billy Gilmour – Chelsea, loan
Josh Sargent – Werder Bremen, $15m

Major Outs
Emi Buendia – Aston Villa, $71m

Grade
B

SOUTHAMPTON
Another team that have been busy this Transfer Window with eight new signings and eight fond farewells.

Five of the incoming players are from other Premier League clubs (and three of those from Chelsea!) and Ralph Hasenhuttl has looked to Europe for the rest of his new flock with defender Lyanco moving over from Torino to shore up the Southampton defence with Jannik Vestergaard moving on. Have they really gained much after all this movement? A loss and two draws from the opening three games suggest not!

Major Ins
Lyanco – Torino, undisclosed
Theo Walcott – Everton, free

Major Outs
Jannik Vestergaard – Leicester, $28.3m
Angus Gunn – Norwich, undisclosed

Grade
C

TOTTENHAM
So much of the Spurs’ Transfer discussion has been focused on whether Harry Kane would be leaving, that their new signings have gone under the radar a bit. Nuno Espírito Santo has focused energy on strengthening his defence with Romero and Gollini both joining from Atalanta and likely to challenge for starting spots in defence and goal respectively.

One sad note for the club is that Danny Rose is moving on after 14 years. Having been an important part of the club both on and off the pitch, he’s not leaving on great terms but will be missed by the players.

Has Nuno Espírito Santo got the squad he needs to put Spurs in a better place to win that elusive title? Well three wins from three games and #1 spot on the ladder is hard to argue with.

Major Ins
Cristian Romero – Atalanta, $88.7m
Pierluigi Gollini – Atalanta, loan
Emerson Royal – Barcelona, undisclosed

Major Outs
Danny Rose, Watford, free
Moussa Sissoko – Tottenham to Watford, £3m

Grade
B

WATFORD
With Watford back in the top flight, there has been a lot of transfer activity with 11 new players joining the squad. Manager Xisco Muñoz has brought in quite a lot of experience which is the nice way of saying that there are quite a few players in the squad who might be seeing this as their final contract before retiring. The verdict is out though on whether all this activity is going to lead to any sort of success.

Major Ins
Danny Rose – Tottenham, free transfer
Juraj Kucka – Parma, undisclosed

Major Outs
None

Grade
C

WEST HAM UNITED
The Hammers have been pretty quiet on the transfer front this year but the deals they have done seem to make good financial sense. They’ve been able to move on Felipe Anderson back to Lazio and have picked up PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola on loan. The former PSG man has a good Premier League resume having played for Fulham last season where he was voted as the club’s player of the year.

West Ham had a good season last year and ended up 6th and qualified for Europe. A last-minute deal of signing striker Nikola Vlasic has added some more attacking strength to the team for sure but have they got the depth to cope with the extra matches.

Major Ins
Alphonse Areola – PSG to West Ham, loan
Nikola Vlasic – CSKA Moscow, $63m

Major Outs
Felipe Anderson – Lazio, undisclosed

Grade
C

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS
Wolves haven’t made any big moves in the off-season but instead have added a collection of players to add depth to their squad. Whilst not exciting, this should help the team over the long campaign.

Financially they’ve done well from the figures released including selling keeper Rui Patricio to Roma for a rumoured $19m and then picking up Olympiakos keeper Jose Sa for $12.8m.

Major Ins
Jose Sa – Olympiacos, undisclosed

Major Outs
Rui Patricio – Roma, undisclosed

Grade
C

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