The Premier League transfer window is now closed for any further incoming signings ahead of the start of the 2018/19 season. So what did we learn?
A combination of business slowing down for several weeks due to the World Cup, along with the decision of Premier League clubs to bring their transfer deadline forward, has led to a frenetic final few weeks of the window for some.
The rush to get deals done before the new season kicks off has led to some hefty price tags being paid—such as Chelsea’s £71 million deal to sign goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao.
This broke the previous world record for a goalkeeper set by Liverpool’s £65 million move for Alisson Becker only last month.
Others have scrambled around desperately looking last-minute deals to no avail, such as Man United’s unsuccessful approaches for Harry Maguire, Toby Alderweireld, Jerome Boateng and Diego Godin.
Clubs may still sell players to clubs from foreign leagues up until the end of August.
But as managers hurry to ensure their squads are prepared for the upcoming campaign, here’s a look at what we’ve learned the summer transfer window so far.
Those who did their business early were well planned…
While some clubs have been engaged in a last-minute frenzy to push deals over the line, others moved quickly to wrap up their transfer business earlier in the window in order to give their new signings time to settle.
Regulars minutes on the pitch has allowed those new arrivals to adapt to Liverpool’s style of play and develop an understanding with their team-mates.
Arsenal, too, were quick to make several signings under new manager Unai Emery, with Stephan Lichtsteiner, Bernd Leno and Sokratis all arriving by early July, and Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira joining shortly after his country’s exit from the World Cup.
It remains to be seen how Arsenal fare in the post-Arsene Wenger era, and whether these signings turn out to be successful.
But the fact they completed their business early on suggests a well-prepared approach to the transfer window, with Emery having a clear idea of which areas he needed to address.
While fans of both clubs might still feel they ought to have bought one or two extra players, the advantage of conducting their transfer business early on is that they avoided the need to panic-buy.
They had a stable squad to work with throughout pre-season—the benefits of which could be seen over the coming weeks and months.
Those who didn’t could struggle…
Pre-season is supposed to be a time for optimism and excitement ahead of the new season, giving players a chance to stake a claim, while managers have the opportunity to experiment with various tactical ideas and give youngsters a platform to impress.
As we’ve seen at Liverpool, the emergence of Rafa Camacho and Curtis Jones has been one of the highlights of pre-season, as two academy players have demonstrated their ability to step up and perform at senior level.
At United, however, the mood hasn’t quite been so full of joy.
Jose Mourinho appears to be the most miserable man in football, going so far as to claim even he would not pay to come and watch his side play during their tour in the US.
Rather than voicing words of encouragement for his younger squad members, he proceeded to say he felt sorry for Alexis Sanchez having to play alongside such inexperienced players while his more established senior pros had yet to return from their post-World Cup breaks.
Coming out with laughably hypocritical and nonsensical comments about Liverpool’s spending this summer, Mourinho has also complained non-stop about how the board haven’t acquired the players he wanted.
He also chastised Anthony Martial for leaving pre-season in order to be there for his wife while she gave birth to their child.
Whether this turns out to be a full-on Mourinho third-season meltdown isn’t yet clear, but his demeanour could not be in starker contrast to the likes of Klopp and Pep Guardiola.
And despite his team’s second-placed finish last season, he has used the summer to spread a sense of impending misery and doom.
Promoted clubs have shown serious ambition…
Two of the most impressive clubs in the summer transfer window have undoubtedly been Wolves and Fulham, who haven’t just recruited with the aim of merely surviving in the Premier League, but with genuine ambition to finish as high up as possible.
Given the players both clubs have signed, mid-table seems a highly realistic prospect.
Wolves romped their way to the Championship title last season with a nine-point lead, and have added two highly experienced, established Portuguese internationals in goalkeeper Rui Patricio from Sporting Lisbon and Joao Moutinho from Monaco.
With Moutinho alongside the gifted Ruben Neves—bolstered by deadline-day signing Leander Dendoncker from Anderlecht—Wolves boast arguably one of the finest midfield setups outside the top-six clubs.
The addition of Adama Traore from Middlesbrough for £18 million is also a hugely exciting one, and if the Spaniard can add consistent end product to his exceptional pace and dribbling ability, he could be an enormous asset this season.
Fulham, meanwhile, secured Ivorian midfielder Jean Michael Seri from Nice—who had been strongly linked to both Liverpool and Barcelona in past windows—as well as Andre Schurrle from Borussia Dortmund, a player with significant European pedigree despite a disappointing season last time out.
The permanent signing of Aleksandar Mitrovic, who excelled on loan last season, along with the loan signing of Atletico Madrid forward Luciano Vietto, provides firepower up front.
Meanwhile the arrivals of Alfie Mawson and Calum Chambers (loan) from Swansea and Arsenal respectively could form a highly promising centre-back partnership in front of Sergio Rico in goal.
It may take a while for some of these new signings to get going, but both sides have made a serious statement of intent in the transfer market.
They should now have more than enough quality at their disposal to consolidate their Premier League status this season.
Tottenham could regret going empty-handed…
Despite Mauricio Pochettino’s words earlier in the summer about the need for investment in order for Tottenham to kick on to the next level, they became the first club since the transfer window was established in 2003 not to make a single signing all summer.
While Spurs have kept all of their key players, and have a squad which has now finished in the top three for three consecutive seasons, all of their rivals have strengthened.
There is a danger of stagnation in choosing to stand still and not to build on the significant progress already made in recent years.
There is also the added factor of many of Spurs’ most important players returning late to pre-season following extended breaks after the World Cup.
The likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Hugo Lloris will have had virtually no preparation time ahead of the new campaign, and may take some time to get fully up to speed.
Heung-min Son is also due to leave in order to participate for South Korea in the Asian Cup, depriving Pochettino of another key player for the opening weeks of the season.
Whether the stability from keeping a tight-knit core of players together will ultimately pay dividends will become clearer as the season unfolds.
But the decision not to invest a single penny in the squad throughout the entire transfer window is a significant and potentially costly one.
Rafa Benitez was let down again…
After Benitez managed to lead Newcastle to a hugely impressive 10th-placed finish following their promotion back to the Premier League despite severely limited resources, owner Mike Ashley has not provided the funds for further investment to strengthen the squad and build upon the foundation put in place in 2017/18.
The re-signing of Brazilian winger Kenedy on loan from Chelsea is a wise move after his bright spell on loan last season, while Ki Sung-yueng bolsters Benitez’ midfield options to a degree.
A loan deal for Solomon Rondon from West Brom—with Dwight Gayle moving in the opposite direction—could well prove decisive as Newcastle’s most likely source of regular goals.
But the failure to address glaring weakness across the squad will have been an enormous source of frustration for Rafa and Newcastle fans, with a late move for Ragnar Klavan among those to have fallen short.
The Magpies are likely to face another almighty battle to retain their Premier League status this season.
And Everton’s late surge could make them dark horses…
Everton have adopted a somewhat scattergun approach to transfers over the past few windows, and after the multiple failures of last summer’s business, appear to have salvaged a strong finish to the window with four new arrivals on deadline day.
Barcelona duo Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes—the latter on loan—were joined by Kurt Zouma, also on a season-long loan deal from Chelsea, and Brazilian winger Bernard on a free transfer from Shakhtar Donetsk in a late flurry of activity.
The arrivals of Mina and Zouma—along with Lucas Digne, who also joined from Barcelona—should certainly improve a dysfunctional and ageing back line from last season.
And while the £40 million outlay on Richarlison from Watford is a significant gamble, it is one which could revitalise a slow and stale attack should he have the desired impact.
Read our club-by-club opposition previews, getting the views of away fans on their club and their thoughts on LFC:
Arsenal | Bournemouth | Brighton | Burnley | Cardiff | Chelsea | Crystal Palace | Everton | Fulham | Huddersfield | Leicester | Man City | Man United | Newcastle | Southampton | Tottenham | Watford | West Ham | Wolves