The summer transfer window in English soccer is now over. We know the squad of each of the teams in the Premier League, at least until January.
Some did well to prepare for the new season, while others have failed to strengthen enough. In this post, I will share my opinion on each of the teams and the business they conducted in the summer.
Of course, the transfer window in Europe is not over yet, and the English clubs may actually sell some players by the end of the month, so we should have that in mind. However, I doubt that we’ll see any significant moves, as there is no way to replace the players a club could potentially lose.
I decided to order the teams by their position in the English Premier League from last season, so let’s start with the champions.
Manchester City: B-
Major Ins: Riyad Mahrez
Major Outs: Joe Hart, Yaya Toure
Manchester City was not very active in the transfer window, but when you win the league with such a margin, you obviously have a squad that doesn’t require too many reinforcements.
The reigning champions only bought Riyad Mahrez, who will give them even more variety up front, and lost none of their major players. Joe Hart and Yaya Toure were crucial in the past, but they had no place in Pep Guardiola’s plans, so their miss won’t matter at all.
I think the manager’s main desire was to keep all of his players, and that’s exactly what happened. Pep himself has some doubts about the position of the defensive midfielder, but I don’t think there’s a big problem there.
The Spaniard has said multiple times that John Stones can play there if Fernandinho is absent. The likes of Fabian Delph and Ilkay Gundogan could do the job as well, so I don’t think Manchester City has a major problem.
In my opinion, this is by far the best squad in the Premier League, and it has been that way for two seasons already. The only thing that could prevent Manchester City from winning the title again is extremely bad luck or a lack of motivation.
Manchester United: C
Major Ins: Fred, Diogo Dalot
Major Outs: Daley Blind, Michael Carrick
The other club from Manchester did a similar job by adding only two new players and losing squad members that didn’t contribute much last year. However, Manchester United was 19 points behind their local rivals and certainly needed more recruitments.
The club was obviously on the hunt for another central defender, with Toby Alderweireld, Harry Maguire, Diego Godin, and Jerome Boateng all linked at some point of the summer.
At the end of the day, no one wanted to play in Manchester, and I’m not sure Jose Mourinho will be happy about that. The manager failed to recognize his best pairing at the heart of the defense last season, and I expect his woes to continue.
Jose has the numbers, but he may not be happy with the QUALITY of the players at his disposal.
I’m not sure what to make of Fred, who was the biggest name that came at Old Trafford in the summer. I think Mourinho will use him in a pairing with Paul Pogba in another attempt to find the best position of the Frenchman. It’ll be interesting to see what will happen, as it could be crucial for the season of the Red Devils.
Major Ins: None
Major Outs: None
Tottenham did an excellent job of keeping all of his players. Mauricio Pochettino has been developing the core of the team for a couple of years now, and the progress is obvious.
However, the club didn’t sign any new players, which is never a good thing. I believe the Spurs lacked strength in depth and quality in some areas last season. They didn’t address them, and this could cost them dearly.
After all, Tottenham will be playing in the Champions League, too, so the whole squad will be stretched to the maximum in various points of the season. I don’t think they have enough to compete, and this could have disastrous consequences on the long-term future of the club.
If the season goes bad, the manager and some of the key players might be lured by other clubs. For all the progress they made since Pochettino’s arrival, the Spurs have yet to win a trophy, and this certainly could become a problem for the likes of Kane, Alli, and Eriksen.
When your main target is a youngster from the Championship, and you still fail to get him, it doesn’t look good for the ambitions of the club.
Major Ins: Alisson, Naby Keita, Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri
Major Outs: Emre Can
Liverpool was among the biggest spenders of this transfer window, and Jurgen Klopp must be happy. The club is obviously much better compared to last season thanks to the arrival of a couple of strong players.
The Reds had one glaring problem last season, and it was related to the goalkeeper position. Both Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius are simply not good enough for a team pushing for a major trophy.
That’s why Liverpool splashed the cash to get Alisson, who’s one of the top goalies in Europe right now. He’s an instant upgrade and should bring the team a decent amount of points with his performances.
The other new players are strong as well. Naby Keita and Fabinho will easily fill the gap left by the absence of Emre Can, and Xherdan Shaqiri is a steal for less than £15 million. The Swiss winger already showed his qualities with strong performances in the pre-season friendlies.
The only reason I gave Liverpool A- instead of A or even A+ is related to the defense. I believe that the center backs are not good enough. Virgil Van Dijk is good, but he doesn’t have a partner.
I don’t think that Klavan, Lovren, or Matip are at the same level, and this could be an issue.
Replacing one of them with a better player at this position would’ve made Liverpool’s squad close to perfect. Still, it is very strong without such an addition, and Man City aside, this is probably the top team in the English Premier League right now.
Major Ins: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic (loan)
Major Outs: Thibaut Courtois
A lot of people believe Chelsea did well in this summer window, but I’m not entirely convinced. Thibaut Courtois is an exceptional goalkeeper and the finished article. Replacing him with someone who’s only 23 and paying loads of cash for him doesn’t seem like the smart move.
I do think Kepa Arrizabalaga will be a world-class goalie in the future, but he’s not there yet. In terms of this season, it’s a downgrade for Chelsea, and the youngster will be under immense pressure to perform.
The other problem I see is the lack of clinical finisher in attack. Alvaro Morata looks like a man low on confidence, while Olivier Giroud is the type of player who does a lot and will bring some goals, but he’s not a poacher.
On the bright side, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic look like good deals who should contribute immediately.
Chelsea now has a large group of solid midfielders. I expect Maurizio Sarri to play with five in the middle, including two defensive-minded players.
The other positive factor is that the Blues manager will keep Eden Hazard at the club. Of course, there is still time until the end of the transfer window in Europe, but I don’t think the Belgian will go this summer.
Major Ins: Lucas Torreira, Bernd Leno, Sokratis, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Matteo Guendouzi
Major Outs: Jack Wilshere
It was interesting to see what the new Arsenal manager Unai Emery would do in the summer, and he didn’t disappoint. The club bought a bunch of players, and they all look like deals targeting the most problematic positions in the Gunners squad.
For a start, Arsenal got the defensive midfielder that was so desperately needed for years. Lucas Torreira is a great anchorman, and I think he will do a great job for the team.
The other problems of Arsenal are related to the defense and the goalkeeper. The likes of Sokratis, Lichtsteiner, and Leno all could help in these areas. The numbers are certainly there for the Gunners, but I’m not completely convinced about their quality.
The Swiss right-back is 35, so I think he will be a mentor and a back-up for Hector Bellerin, while Bernd Leno is rather inexperienced for a goalkeeper. On the bright side, he will have Petr Cech to learn from.
Overall, I think it has been a good window for Arsenal, and the squad is way better. If the club manages to convince Aaron Ramsey to sign a new deal, the core will be impressive.
Major Ins: Ben Gibson, Matej Vydra, Joe Hart
Major Outs: Dean Marney, Scott Arfield
I’m a bit on the fence when it comes to Burnley, mostly because I struggle to determine the criteria I should use about that club. After all, 7th place in the English Premier League is a huge achievement for the team, and going a step up would require massive investments.
Still, Burnley remains an organization with a rather modest budget, and I will judge them as such. I think they did an okay job overall by getting three decent players.
For all of the inconsistency around him, Joe Hart is a good goalkeeper with solid experience in the EPL. Getting him for peanuts looks like a good deal, especially since Burnley desperately needed someone in this position.
Ben Gibson and Matej Vydra are not the best players on the market, but I feel they will add squad depth. Burnley certainly will take advantage, as the club will be playing the Europa League. We’ve often seen smaller clubs struggle under such circumstances, and I fear for Burnley.
I believe they needed at least one more player in midfield, but they didn’t get one, and this could hurt them at some point of the season.
Major Ins: Richarlison, Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne, Andre Gomes, Bernard
Major Outs: Davy Klaassen, Ramiro Funes Mori, Wayne Rooney, Ashley Williams
The Deadline Day of 2018 was relatively quiet for most clubs, but not for Everton. The Toffees managed to snatch Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes from Barcelona. I think both are exciting prospects that could improve the team.
If you add the likes of Richarlison, Lucas Digne, and Bernard, it’s obvious that Everton is rebuilding the squad under the new manager Marco Silva. He got rid of a couple of players and brought in direct replacements for each.
I think his main goal is to create a team that handles the ball well, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens.
If Silva does well, Everton might be one of the entertaining sides in the EPL.
There’s always a risk when you change so many players. However, I expect patience from the supporters, who weren’t exactly delighted with the stable but boring style of Sam Allardyce. Marco Silva certainly will try to provide a much different experience, and he did a good job in the transfer window.
Major Ins: James Maddison, Ricardo Pereira, Caglar Soyuncu, Filip Benkovic, Rachid Ghezzal, Danny Ward, Jonny Evans
Major Outs: Riyad Mahrez, Ahmed Musa, Robert Huth
I think the loss of Riyad Mahrez was simply inevitable, as the player wanted to join Man City, and the reigning champions were also eager to get him. At least Leicester City got £60 million for him and instantly reinvested in a bunch of players.
It’s hard to expect any of them to reach the same heights as Mahrez, but the team has a lot of depth now.
On top of that, there was another player who could’ve ended up in Manchester. Harry Maguire was one of the targets of Manchester United after an impressive World Cup performance with England.
At one point, the deal seemed imminent, but he stayed at the end. The manager, Claude Puel, was pretty happy about that, and the defense seems settled now. Leicester has both the numbers and the quality to be steady at the back.
The big question is if they will manage to replace Mahrez and keep scoring enough goals. It won’t be an easy task, but I feel the squad is decent, and Leicester had a good transfer window overall.
Major Ins: Yoshinori Muto, Federico Fernandez, Martin Dubravka, Ki Sung-yueng, Salomon Rondon (loan), Kenedy (loan)
Major Outs: Aleksandar Mitrovic, Chancel Mbemba, Jack Colback, Dwight Gayle
A lot of people are worried about Newcastle, and I can see the reason why. The club recruited a lot of players, but it’s hard to be too optimistic about that. Kenedy is the best among them, while everybody else is either average or of an unknown quality.
On a positive note, the team did buy enough players, so the numbers should be there. If Rafa Benitez manages to integrate the new boys and squeeze some good performances from them, it might be a steady season for Newcastle.
And yet, I don’t think the manager will be happy with the business of the club. According to the rumors, Rafa Benitez had a wish list of players, and Mike Ashley failed to recruit any of them.
That’s never good news, but it’s hardly the first time the owner didn’t really back the manager on the transfer market.
This was one of the reasons Newcastle went down last time around. I don’t think it will happen again this year, but it could break the relationship with Benitez, which will be a massive blow for the club.
Crystal Palace: C-
Major Ins: Cheikhou Kouyate, Vicente Guaita, Max Meyer, Jordan Ayew (loan)
Major Outs: Damien Delaney, Yohan Cabaye, Bakary Sako
Crystal Palace was one of the teams that underperformed massively last year, and this almost cost them their spot in the English Premier League. This was the reason Roy Hodgson was appointed in September 2017, and he helped the team reach a mid-table position in the end.
I think Crystal Palace will once again stay in the top-flight soccer division, but the transfer window wasn’t the greatest you could imagine. The club got Kouyate and Ayew, who have EPL experience and should do a decent job.
However, their only other transfers were free agents Guaita and Meyer. I’m not convinced they will contribute much in the league.
If we consider the departing players, I believe that the Crystal Palace squad is slightly worse or on about the same level as last year.
With the overall competition expected to be a bit stronger this time around, Crystal Palace will probably finish lower in the table than last season. Still, Roy Hodgson is very good at keeping clubs of such caliber safely around the middle of the rankings, which would be ideal for Palace.
Major Ins: Jefferson Lerma, Diego Rico, David Brooks
Major Outs: Benik Afobe, Harry Arter, Adam Federici
I like Eddie Howe, and I believe he’s doing a great job at Bournemouth. Ever since finding a place in the Premier League, the manager has been smart with his transfers. This is why I feel a lot of people are underestimating the club’s deals.
They got their top target in Colombian defensive midfielder Jefferson Lerma from Levante. I have a good feeling about this guy, as he’s both physically tough and comfortable with the ball. Bournemouth certainly needs such a player in the middle of the park.
If Lerma doesn’t struggle with the physicality of the EPL, and I think he won’t, the Colombian prospect actually has the potential of being one of the most exciting young players.
Still, there is always a risk that he will fail, and Bournemouth didn’t exactly get many other players. I was on the fence between giving them C+ and B-, but I decided on the latter, as I expect a lot from Lerma.
If he fails to slot in the EPL, Bournemouth could actually be involved in the relegation fight until late in the season.
West Ham: A+
Major Ins: Felipe Anderson, Issa Diop, Andriy Yarmolenko, Lukasz Fabianski, Carlos Sanchez, Lucas Perez, Jack Wilshere, Fabian Balbuena
Major Outs: Cheikhou Kouyate, James Collins
After a tough last season, West Ham United was one of the major winners in the transfer window this summer. Manuel Pellegrini must be excited about the players he now has at his disposal.
The club was able to get a solid goalie with EPL experience in Fabianski and a bunch of quality players like Felipe Anderson, Yarmolenko, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, and Lucas Perez. I feel most of these guys will instantly start doing a good job.
On top of that, most of them have been part of a bigger club and will be eager to prove they are elite soccer players. Jack Wilshere, especially, has enormous potential, and the main question is if he will stay fit for most of the season.
The indications are good, as the Arsenal academy graduate featured for most of the last campaign and had some great games. However, Wilshere wasn’t in the plans of the new manager of the Gunners, Unai Emery, and also lost his place on the England national team.
The midfielder will be eager to prove to the world how good he is, and this could work very well for West Ham.
The main problem I see is that sometimes it’s hard to integrate so many players into the first team. They might take some time to click. Still, West Ham will be a formidable force when this happens.
Major Ins: Gerard Deulofeu, Adam Masina, Ken Sema, Marc Navarro, Ben Foster
Major Outs: Richarlison, Nordin Amrabat, Mauro Zarate, Costel Pantilimon
I fear for Watford, and I think the team faces a tough season that could very well end up with a relegation to the Championship. The club has been extremely inconsistent in the past two years or so.
At one point, the side was playing exciting soccer and winning against big teams, but now I could see them going a bunch of games without getting any points.
Inconsistent teams often go down at some point, and the transfer business from the summer window will hardly help. On the surface, Watford bought enough players to replace the departures and probably upgrade the squad.
However, the only truly solid signing is Ben Foster, who’s a good goalie with a bunch of EPL experience. The rest of the deals brought players who very well might be below the level of the tournament and a prospect who’s failed to show consistency throughout his career.
Gerard Deulofeu will be vital in the creative part of Watford’s game, and you never know what you get from him. On rare occasions, he might look like Lionel Messi, but there are large periods where he’s largely ineffective.
Unless some of the low-key players surprise us, I think Watford will suffer this season.
Major Ins: Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Yves Bissouma, Bernardo, David Button, Florin Andone
Major Outs: Sam Baldock, Connor Goldson, Jamie Murphy, Tim Krul, Steve Sidwell, Liam Rosenior
I feel that Brighton was one of the teams from the bottom of the table that did the best job in the transfer market. The side lost a couple of players, but most of them were hardly in Chris Hughton’s plan anyway.
The manager did a good job identifying some exciting replacements, and we could see Brighton in the middle of the table in 2018-2019. Still, most of the players they got don’t have experience in England.
This could be a problem, and Hughton will have to slowly integrate them, or he’ll risk a bad start. There is still a risk for the club, but if they manage to get some points at the start of the season, it should be smooth sailing after that.
I’m curious to see what Yves Bissouma brings, as the youngster has a lot of energy in the middle of the park. He is naturally strong as well, so he should fit the style of the EPL well.
Huddersfield Town: D
Major Ins: Terence Kongolo, Adama Diakhaby, Ramadan Sobhi, Florent Hadergjonaj, Jonas Lossl
Major Outs: Tom Ince, Rob Green, Dean Whitehead
The only reason Huddersfield Town is still a part of the English Premier League is the disastrous performance by Stoke City, West Brom, and Swansea. They were all abysmal and rightfully got relegated.
However, Huddersfield had 37 points at the end of the season and had the worst attack in the division. The side scored only 28 goals, and I honestly can’t see any reason to believe this will change. The transfer activity brought mostly defensive players, and I’m not sure what was the logic behind that.
While strengthening your back line is always a good thing, the side simply had bigger problems that were left unaddressed. I expect Huddersfield Town to struggle badly this year, and I won’t be surprised to see them go down.
The bookies are of the same opinion, as only Cardiff City is priced lower in the relegation battle.
Major Ins: Jannik Vestergaard, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Angus Gunn, Stuart Armstrong, Danny Ings (loan)
Major Outs: Dusan Tadic
Southampton was another club that was on the brink of relegation last year, but I feel they did a good job in the summer. The core of the squad was kept intact, with the exception of Dusan Tadic, and a couple of players in each line were added.
Some of them might struggle to adapt to the EPL, but I feel that the potential is there. I’m excited to see what happens with Danny Ings. The striker was such a prospect before the horrific injury that has derailed his career.
He will be eager to find some fitness and get back on the right track. Southampton is a great place for this purpose, and I think the team will be better this year. Especially now that manager Mark Hughes has a full season to make an impact.
Southampton will benefit from Mark Hughes’ wealth of experience managing in the EPL.
Hughes has successfully managed clubs on a similar level to Southampton and could bring stability to a club that has been selling his best players for years now. I like the Saints, and I feel confident they will win significantly more points in 2018-2019.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: B+
Major Ins: Adama Traore, Diogo Jota, Willy Boly, Joao Moutinho, Leo Bonatini, Raul Jimenez (loan)
Major Outs: Barry Douglas, Ben Marshall
The new teams in the English Premier League usually struggle, but the Championship winner from last season, Wolves, is expected to be an exception to this rule. The side has an ambitious manager in Nuno Santo, and he built a great team last year.
The core is still here, but Wolves made sure to add enough players to make sure that the side will be fine in the elite soccer division of England.
The transfer deals provide enough depth to the squad and add a couple of players with loads of potential. As usual, getting so many new signings could be an issue, but the manager has been brilliant for Wolves so far.
There’s no reason to doubt him, and I’m part of the majority that expects a strong season for Wolves. A mid-table finish would be a great start to the life in the EPL, and the club certainly has the potential to achieve that.
Cardiff City: C
Major Ins: Josh Murphy, Bobby Reid, Alex Smithies, Harry Arter (loan), Victor Camarasa (loan)
Major Outs: Lee Camp
Cardiff City is the major candidate for relegation this season, but I think the team improved its chances to stay in the last minute. Neil Warnock struggled to get enough players this summer, but the two midfielders that arrived at the end of Deadline Day could do a solid job.
On top of that, Cardiff did manage to keep their squad intact, so if the new arrivals manage to contribute, the side has a chance. Still, it will be a struggle for Neil Warnock and his boys.
I believe the best chance for the team would be to follow the steps of Burnley and Brighton. Both sides survived their first seasons after promotion from Championship thanks to a great form at home. If Cardiff and the supporters manage to do the same, they might be in the EPL next year as well.
Major Ins: Calum Chambers (loan), Jean Michael Seri, Andre Anguissa, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Alfie Mawson, Fabri, Andre Schurrle (loan)
Major Outs: David Button
If I had to single out one team that did an almost perfect job in the summer, it has to be Fulham. They got a bunch of good players that will improve all areas of the pitch, and plenty of them have EPL experience, so they have all the potential to start performing instantly.
The likes of Chambers, Schurrle, and Mitrovic are absolute steals, and I expect them to become the key players for Fulham. On top of that, I believe that Fabri is a much better goalkeeper than David Button.
Fulham deserves nothing less than an A+, and I feel that the fans and the manager Slavisa Jokanovic will certainly enjoy the 2018-2019 season.
As always, you never know what will happen in the English Premier League. Some of the foreign players that came in might become stars, while others will fail miserably.
And yet, I feel the teams of Fulham, Wolves, Liverpool, and West Ham did the best job.
What is your opinion on the transfer activity of this summer? Did your favorite club buy enough quality players? Let me know in the comments section below!
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