Premier League Transfer Review (1/4)

Written by Andy Wood

The transfer window is now closed following a very interesting summer, with plenty of deals and record breaking figures going around in the Premiership. Here, All Out Football review each Premiership side’s business with a rating and an opinion on how each club have done in a four part series. All deals have rough figures attached to them with details not being released by the clubs.

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credit Paul Hudson

Arsenal

Ins:– Granit Xhaka (£30m) – Takuma Asano (£800,000) – Rob Holding (£2m) – Kelechi Nwakali (£3m) – Lucas Perez (£17m) – Shkodran Mustafi (£35m)

Outs:– Mikel Arteta (Retired)- Mathieu Flamini (Released)- Tomas Rosicky (Released)- Dan Crowley (Loan)- Ryan Huddart (Loan)- Isaac Hayden (£2.5m)- Jon Toral (Loan)- Wellington Silva (Undisclosed)- Wojciech Szczseny (Loan)- Stefan O’Connor (Loan)- Julio Pleguezuelo (Loan)- Tafari Moore (Loan)- Joel Campbell (Loan)- Takuma Asano (Loan)- Calum Chambers (Loan)- Serge Gnabry (£5m)- Kelechi Nwakali (Loan)- Glen Kamara (Loan)- Jack Wilshere (Loan)

From an outside perspective (and probably an inside one too) every summer seems to be a repeat of the last at Arsenal. World class players are linked to the club as they look to build from a previous ‘nearly season’, yet apparent unwillingness to invest large sums of money frustrates the fanbase. Although this has been the case through much of this summer, reflecting back on the business that’s been done should be welcoming for the Gunners.

Crucially, Arsenal have strengthened in two of the areas where they’ve come in for criticism in recent seasons. Although the drawing out of the deal was questionable, finally landing the signing of German international Shkodran Mustafi gives the club a big boost in the centre of defence. The lack of depth previously there was highlighted early on in the season, starting two inexperienced players against a strong Liverpool attack and ultimately being found out. That being said, one of those players was another summer addition in Rob Holding, and although he struggled against Liverpool he’s since showed signs of being a top prospect, having previously been the Player of the Season at Bolton Wanderers.

The defensive midfield position has also been under constant scrutiny at Arsenal, and recently they’ve addressed this by blooding in Francis Coquelin and signing Mohammed Elneny, but there are still question marks over their quality to take the team to the top level. Spending big on Granit Xhaka could be the best business all summer, as he brings the essential blend of tough tackling and expansive passing to not only complement the ‘Arsenal style’ but also to add a crucial extra dimension to it. Fans will hope that this will allow extra freedom to the wealth of attacking talent at the club, which has been added to by bringing in Spanish forward Lucas Perez. It’s unclear what impact he’ll bring having only really had his breakthrough year in La Liga last year. Another striker (preferably one named Gonzalo Higuain) might have gone down a little better.

In terms of departures, no major players have left although some long servers were graciously moved on. Serge Gnabry will feel disappointed that he never lived up to his early billing at the club, whilst further loans for Wojciech Szczesny and Joel Campbell probably means that their long term futures lie elsewhere. Calum Chambers and Jack Wilshere have made temporary switches to other Premier League clubs and this could be major turning points in their Arsenal careers – good seasons could well open up a first team place at the Emirates on their return.

Rating: 7.5/10

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credit Ronnie Macdonald

Bournemouth

Ins:– Nathan Ake (Loan)- Emerson Hyndman (Undisclosed)- Lys Mousset (Undisclosed)- Mark Travers (Free)- Mikael Ndjoli (Free)- Lewis Cook (£7m)- Jordan Ibe (£15m)- Brad Smith (£6m)- Marc Wilson (£2m)- Jack Wilshere (Loan)

Outs:– Josh Carmichael (Released)- Sylvain Distin (Released)- Tommy Elphick (£3m)- Jon Muleba (Released)- Matt Ritchie (£12m)- Jayden Stockley (Free)- Mason Walsh (Released)- Josh Wakefield (Released)- Stephane Zubar (Released)- Glenn Murray (Loan)- Lee Tomlin (£3m)- Joe Quigley (Loan)- Harry Cornick (Loan)- Matt Butcher (Loan)- Jordan Green (Loan)- Shaun MacDonald (Undisclosed)- Ben Whitfield (Loan)- Eunan O’Kane (Undisclosed)- Baily Cargill (Loan)- Rhoys Wiggins (Loan)

I was surprised to see Tommy Elphick and Matt Ritchie depart Bournemouth over the summer. They’re two players who have done a good job in the club’s remarkable rise up the leagues and I still think they are capable of performing well in a Premier League team. That being said, it also gave them a decent windfall of extra money which ultimately covered the cost of club-record signing Jordon Ibe. This is another one that surprised me as I thought he had a long term future at Liverpool, but Bournemouth will be delighted to have him amongst their ranks. Lewis Cook is another young, English addition that goes to show that Bournemouth have a long term ambition. Emerson Hyndman and Brad Smith have less experience at first team level but also have a lot of potential from what they’ve shown so far.

That being said, as admirable as a strong stance on youth is in today’s environment, the lack of established Premier League experience coming in to the club could well be a cause for concern. I think the position this could most be felt is in centre back, as two experienced players have departed in Elphick and Sylvain Distin. Marc Wilson is a decent backup option but the level of depth there should be of concern. A long term injury to Steve Cook or Simon Francis could offer a major problem this season.

Of course, the story of the summer at Bournemouth came on deadline day. Jack Wilshere takes a summer of decent additions into ultimately a very good one. Wilshere should complement the passing style of play very well, is a committed individual and importantly shows that the club are ambitious to be bringing top talent to the club. In my opinion, although I was critical of his call up to the England Euro 2016 squad, Wilshere has always shown himself to be a fantastic player. Bournemouth’s attacking play is going to be absolutely improved with his dynamism and creativity and I really hope he can answer a few critics and really become a favourite on the south coast.

Rating: 7.5/10

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Burnley

Ins:– Robbie Deitch (Free)- Jamie Thomas (Free)- Jimmy Dunne (Free)- Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Undisclosed)- Nick Pope (Undisclosed)- Jon Flanagan (Loan)- Steven Defour (£8m)- Patrick Bamford (Loan)- Jeff Hendrick (£10.5m)

Outs:– Joey Barton, Luke Conlan, Lloyd Dyer, Jason Gilchrist, Matt Gilks, Danijel Nizic, Brandon Wilson, Matthew Taylor (All released)- Michael Duff (Retired)- David Jones (Undisclosed)- Cameron Dummigan (Undisclosed)- Jamie Thomas, Alex Whitmore, Josh Ginnelly, Khius Metz, George Green, Chris Long, Dan Agyei, Luke Hendrie, Rouwen Hemmings, Tom Anderson, Lukas Jutkiewicz, Daniel Lafferty, Fredrik Ulvestad (All loan)

The last time Burnley were promoted to the Premier League their tight budget meant that they opted to keep faith in the core of the team that earned them promotion, choosing only to add good value deals in key positions. This summer has been much the same at Turf Moor, although the deals that have been done have been slightly more eye catching with the club transfer record being broken on two separate occasions.

Steven Defour and Jeff Hendrick are the two big acquisitions and on the whole they seem like good additions to the squad. Sean Dyche likes his team to be an organised and hard working unit and this is where both players are strong. Defour immediately impressed on his debut, a famous 2-0 win over Liverpool, and showed excellent drive to run forward and assist the second goal. Hendrick has characterised his Derby career on a dynamic box to box style, combining combative tackling with a nice range of passing and powerful running. These two have the attributes to deliver an exciting midfield partnership.

It was argued that a lack of real depth contributed to Burnley’s relegation in 2015 and that is going to be a worry this time around. They have good players around the team but even a couple of injuries could affect them badly. They made a couple of canny loan signings in Jon Flanagan and Patrick Bamford, although their lack of game time might lead to caution amongst fans. I would have thought they’d have looked to get a couple more loan signings in, given their relatively small budget and the apparently high amount of available loanees this summer. A double signing from Charlton doesn’t inspire much when looking at the overall quality of the squad and this could come back to haunt them later on.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Chelsea

Ins:– Michy Batshuayi (£33m)- N’golo Kante (£30m)- Eduardo (Free)- Marcos Alonso (£23m)- David Luiz (£30m)

Outs: Marco Amelia (Released)- Kevin Smith (Released)- Nathan Ake, Lewis Baker, Mitchell Beeney, Andreas Christensen, Charly Musonda, Nathan, Joao Rodriguez (Loan)- Stipe Perica (£3.5m)- Reece Mitchell (Free)- Jeremie Boga (Loan)- Tomas Kalas (Loan)- John Swift (Free)- Kasey Palmer, Alex Kiwomya, Victorien Angben, Matej Delac, Baba Rahman (Loan)- Mohammed Salah (£14.5m)- Tammy Abraham (Loan)- Papy Djilobodji (£8m)- Jordan Houghton, Alex Davey, Bertrand Traore, Danilo Pantic, Michael Hector, Jamal Blackman, Isaiah Brown (Loan)- Marko Marin (£3m)- Mario Pasalic, Patrick Bamford, Loic Remy, Kenedy, Dion Conroy, Christian Cuevas, Nathan Baxter, Islam Feruz, Kenneth Omeruo, Juan Cuadrado, Jake Clarke-Salter, Charlie Colkett, Lucas Piazon, Christian Atsu, Matt Miazga (Loan)

Chelsea are always going to have a huge backlog of players heading out on loan or squad players finally finding pastures new. With no major players leaving Stamford Bridge over the summer there’s little to gauge from the outgoings. This is a rich club ambitious to get back to the top so recruitment is of vital importance, and in my opinion this has been one of the best summers in a while for Chelsea.

The best signing by a mile is that of Leicester and France midfielder N’golo Kante, arguably the best player in the league last season. Chelsea have needed an effective presence in the centre of the pitch to provide balance alongside Nemanja Matic; John Obi Mikel is not technically sufficient or lively enough, Cesc Fabregas doesn’t have the defensive qualities and Ruben Loftus-Cheek is still a work in progress. Kante brings every necessary attribute to the team, combining disciplined and intelligent positional play, dynamic energy and a composed distribution style allowing for a box to box presence linking the defence and attack in a way no one was able to last season. His consistency over the past year has been incredible and Chelsea seem to be on to a sure fire winner. Michy Batshuayi is another smart addition, offering a pacey and clinical option to compete with the unpredictable Diego Costa for a striking role, and this is depth they lacked last season as well.

There was a lot of pressure on the team to improve defensively and there will be undoubted frustration that the deals that ended up being done were left until the last day. Marcos Alonso is an underwhelming addition at left back- especially at £23m- having hardly set the world alight at Bolton or Sunderland. David Luiz was a major surprise and it’s hard to say what to make of it. He’s still extremely popular at the club for his passionate nature and key role in the Champions League win of 2012, but there remain doubts over his discipline and capacity for mistakes. Having seen targets such as John Stones, Kalidou Koulibaly and Alessio Romagnoli fail to be delivered it may well seem a step back, but at the same time it’s enough cause for optimism to round off a very positive summer at Chelsea.

Rating: 8/10

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Crystal Palace

Ins:– Steve Mandanda (Undisclosed)- Andros Townsend (£13m)- James Tomkins (£10m)- Christian Benteke (£27m)- Loic Remy (Loan)

Outs:– Emmanuel Adebayor, Reise Allassani, Andreas Breimyr, Marouane Chamakh, Connor Dymond, William Hoare, Chris Kettings, Adrian Mariappa, Paddy McCarthy, Christian Scales, Oliver Pain (Released)- Brede Hangeland (Retired)- Dwight Gayle (£10m)- David Gregory (Free)- Jake Gray (Free)- Alex McCarthy (Undisclosed)- Jerome Binnom-WIlliams (Free)- Yannick Bolasie (£25m)- Mike Jedinak (Undisclosed)- Freddie Ladapo, Luke Croll, Jonny Williams, Hiram Boateng, Sulley Kaikai, Ryan Iniss, Keshi Anderson (Loan)

Crystal Palace needed a good summer to address the alarming slide in form that they have suffered during the calendar year of 2016. Although they’ve sold their top scorer over the past few seasons in Dwight Gayle and one of their most stylish players in Yannick Bolasie, I still think this has been a really good summer from their point of view.

Chief amongst their priorities in this transfer window was the need to add a goalscorer to their squad, and in the end they’ve come out with two. Christian Benteke has been much maligned for his year at Liverpool after a £32 million deal from Aston Villa, but even then I think he’s shown glimpses of the player he could be. I remember watching Liverpool draw 1-1 with Southampton quite early on last season. He came off the bench at half time and completely changed the game- Southampton just didn’t know how to handle him. He ended up scoring and being named man of the match despite only playing the second half and with this following on fairly soon after his overhead goal against Manchester United, I was surprised to see him pushed away so easily by Liverpool. With regular games and some confidence, he could be one hell of an asset for Palace. Loic Remy is another player who has always seemed to bring a positive contribution from the bench at Chelsea and yet has been easily dismissed by them. He’s shown enough in the past at QPR and Newcastle to suggest that he’ll be another major asset.

I also think the signing of Andros Townsend is great business to replace Bolasie. I personally thought Townsend should have gone to Euro 2016 this summer having been the form player at a struggling Newcastle side and also having generally performed well for England. He complements the direct style that Zaha and Bolasie took to well at Palace and I think he’ll be a real hit there. France international Mandanda is a real coup to compete with the impressive Wayne Hennessey in goal and James Tomkins is a solid defensive option. Overall I think Palace will pleased with these players but they need to gel and find consistency fast.

Rating: 8.5/10

Do you agree with these ratings? Let us know in the comments below!

featured image by 

Ronnie Macdonald

Bournemouth