Deadline Day has passed and it is time for supporters of Premier League clubs to reflect on their transfer business. Many will be excited, some unsure, and others frustrated.
Everton and Aston Villa are first and second respectively in the Premier League table with new signings playing a key part in their strong starts to the season.
Meanwhile, Manchester United’s poor results at the beginning of the campaign have highlighted the weaknesses in their squad that have still not been addressed.
As for Burnley, what must Sean Dyche make of it all?
Here, we pick out some of the winners and losers of the 2020 summer transfer window…
Everton business transforms Toffees
Everton made it four wins out of four with their 4-2 victory over Brighton and it has escaped nobody’s attention that their summer signings have played a vital role in their bright start to the season.
The midfield, previously a problem area under Carlo Ancelotti, has been transformed by the arrivals of James Rodriguez from Real Madrid, Allan from Napoli and Abdoulaye Doucoure from Watford.
The trio did not come cheaply but the early evidence suggests the investment was well worth it. James has brought guile and creativity, scoring three goals and providing two assists already, Doucoure has provided an injection of box-to-box energy, while Allan has offered defensive steel and ball-playing composure in equal measure.
Suddenly, Everton look like a balanced side, and their new recruits are also helping to bring the best out of the players already in place at Goodison Park. Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s free-scoring start to the season has earned him an England call-up, while Richarlison has been similarly impressive. The hope will be that the late arrival of Robin Olsen on loan from Roma will see Jordan Pickford up his game too.
There is even reason for optimism at the back. The £20m Ben Godfrey endured a difficult season with Norwich last year, but it gave him invaluable Premier League experience and, at just 22 years old, there is plenty of scope for him to fulfil his considerable potential on Merseyside.
Godfrey is a ball-playing centre-back in the mould of Mason Holgate, and, like his new Everton team-mate, he is viewed as a future England international. He may not go straight into the team, but Ancelotti will certainly hope to build around him in the future. He’ll also hope his other defenders benefit from the increased competition for places.
Added firepower as Spurs strengthen
Jose Mourinho can have few complaints about the club’s summer dealings.
Gareth Bale was the headline addition, of course, sealing a sensational return to Spurs on loan from Real Madrid. And with Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son starting the season in such explosive form, Spurs fans are entitled to feel optimistic about what will be possible when Bale is fit to start too.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has brought leadership and combativeness to Tottenham’s midfield, but it’s the signings of Matt Doherty and Sergio Reguilon which are perhaps the most significant. The pair are attacking wing-backs who will allow Mourinho to switch between a back four and a back three.
Doherty and Reguilon will aim to provide ammunition for Carlos Vinicius as well as Kane, Son, Bale and the rest. The Brazilian has joined Spurs on loan with a £36m option to buy having averaged a goal every 101 minutes for Benfica last season and should ease Mourinho’s reliance on Kane in the central striking position.
With Steven Bergwijn, Lucas Moura and Giovani Lo Celso also at his disposal, and with Dele Alli staying at the club despite interest from Paris Saint-Germain, it is little wonder Mourinho has been heard purring over Tottenham’s “absolutely incredible” attacking options.
If there was one area that Tottenham still wanted to strengthen going into Deadline Day it was the centre of defence, having failed in an effort to bring in Milan Skriniar from Inter Milan.
Joe Rodon remains a target and while a deal for the Swansea defender could not be done on Monday, the window for signings from the EFL does not close until October 16. There is still time for Spurs to make an impressive summer of business even better.
Chelsea’s big push shows title-winning intent
With their transfer ban finally lifted, Chelsea went all out this summer.
Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech arrived in attack, Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell were added in defence, and there was even a deal for a goalkeeper, with Edouard Mendy arriving from Rennes to provide a much-needed alternative to Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Suddenly, Frank Lampard’s squad looks well-equipped to aim higher than just a top-four finish.
It has not been a straightforward start to the season, of course, with defeats to Liverpool and Tottenham as well as a crazy 3-3 draw against West Brom. But the 4-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday was the first sign of Frank Lampard’s new-look side coming together.
It helps, of course, that he still has a stellar collection of young players at his disposal too. He will need to find a way to continue giving them opportunities to grow and improve, but recent evidence suggests the influx of new additions has served as a motivation for them.
It was, after all, only thanks to goals from Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham’s that Chelsea salvaged a draw against West Brom, and two of that trio then kept their places in the side for the 4-0 win over Palace.
Chelsea’s strength in depth could prove invaluable in a gruelling season.
Villa address flaws and boost prospects
Aston Villa signed no fewer than 12 new players last summer, but they have taken a less is more approach this time around and their brilliant start to the season suggests they were right to do so.
There has been no hint of panic buying, instead their recruitment has simply targeted the flaws in their squad. Emiliano Martinez has provided an instant upgrade in goal following his arrival from Arsenal, while it has been a similar story with Matty Cash at right-back.
It is further forward, though, that their summer dealings look most inspired. Villa were well short up front last season – Jack Grealish was their top scorer in the Premier League with eight goals – but Ollie Watkins already looks like the right man to lead the line having adapted to the division seamlessly and hit a perfect hat-trick in the 7-2 demolition of Liverpool.
Bertrand Traore offers added depth in the position and showed his class with his brilliant strike against Bristol City in the Carabao Cup, while Ross Barkley has provided an injection of physical power and technical quality in midfield. The 26-year-old, signed on loan from Chelsea, was outstanding on his debut on Sunday.
Villa only survived by a point last season, but they look more like top-half finishers this time around and that’s thanks to an excellent summer in the transfer market. Having beaten the reigning champions in such exhilarating fashion, some supporters might in fact be aiming even higher.
Arsenal’s Partey raid caps strong summer
Arsenal’s deal to sign Thomas Partey – the biggest of Deadline Day at £45m – capped an extremely encouraging summer for the Gunners.
There was no Houssem Aouar, who stayed put after Arsenal’s negotiations with Lyon came to nothing, but Partey joins Willian and Gabriel Magalhaes at the Emirates Stadium while the Gunners also struck deals to ensure Dani Ceballos, Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares extended their stays in north London.
Mesut Ozil remains at the club, meaning Arsenal will likely have to continue paying his huge wages until his contract ends this summer, but they did succeed in moving some others on, including Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira. They also raised £20m from the sale of Emiliano Martinez to Aston Villa.
The result is that Mikel Arteta is now equipped with a squad which looks far more like his own, and what’s most important of all, of course, is that he was able to tie Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to a new contract. There is a long way to go before they will be considered genuine title contenders again, but their summer business should at least set them up for a top-four push.
Mixed window for Liverpool
Liverpool sit somewhere between the winners and the losers of this summer’s window.
On the one hand, they have signed Thiago Alcantara, a genuinely transformative midfield signing, for a paltry £25m from Bayern Munich. In Diogo Jota, they have also recruited a high-quality back-up option for their front three. Konstantinos Tsimikas, meanwhile, provides depth at left-back.
But on the other, there is concern that they remain short in key areas.
With Joe Gomez and Joel Matip injured and Dejan Lovren sold, they started the season with only one fit centre-back in Virgil van Dijk. Fabinho filled in ably in the win over Chelsea, but Gomez endured a calamitous afternoon in the 7-2 thrashing by Aston Villa and a lack of depth in the position is a gamble with such a hectic schedule to come this season.
There are also question marks in goal.
Adrian struggled again when deputising for Alisson against Aston Villa – he has now made five errors leading to goals in his 21 appearances for Liverpool – but with the Brazilian facing four to six weeks out with a shoulder problem, the former West Ham goalkeeper is the Reds’ only other option.
Leicester lose Chilwell but still strengthen
When Leicester reached September having yet to make a major addition to the squad, despite selling England left-back Ben Chilwell to Chelsea, there was some unease. Throw in the poor finish to last season that saw Brendan Rodgers’ side miss out on Champions League on the final day and anxiety levels were rising in the East Midlands.
While it would be an exaggeration to say that Leicester’s business since then has wowed supporters, some of the concerns have since been addressed. Timothy Castagne can play in either of the full-back positions and has already won over fans after a strong start. Cengiz Under adds that little bit of creativity in the final third that is always welcome.
But it is the late acquisition of Wesley Fofana that Rodgers will hope solves the problem of a lack of depth in defence that saw Wilfred Ndidi pressed into action at centre-back on the opening weekend of the season. With three wins from four games to open their Premier League campaign too, the Leicester ship looks to have been steadied again.
Wolves shake things up in hope of progress
Wolves reshaped their squad during the transfer window and it will be intriguing to see whether the ins and outs see the team progress under Nuno Espirito Santo or compromise the cohesion so that has been such a factor in their success over the past two seasons.
Matt Doherty was sold to Tottenham with Nelson Semedo coming in from Barcelona, while Diogo Jota departed for Liverpool after Wolves invested £35m in teenager Fabio Silva.
The loan signing of Rayan Ait-Nouri looks to be a clearer case of the club strengthening, with Ruben Vinagre making way to join Olympiakos on what is initially a temporary deal. Whether the manoeuvrings are enough to take Wolves forward remains to be seen.
Man Utd leave it late, fail in Sancho pursuit
The frustration surrounding Manchester United’s transfer window hit new heights as they were thrashed 6-1 by Tottenham on the penultimate day of the window. At that point, their only new signing was midfielder Donny van de Beek, a £37m addition from Ajax who is yet to start a Premier League game.
More reinforcements arrived on Deadline Day, with Alex Telles sealing his move from Porto, Edinson Cavani joining, and Amad Diallo from Atalanta, but there was no deal for Jadon Sancho despite their summer-long pursuit and supporters are entitled to wonder why it took until the final hours of the window for Manchester United to get their business done.
The spotlight is firmly on executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward for his role in what has been another difficult transfer window for the club, with Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville leading the criticism. “Not good enough,” was his blunt assessment of Woodward’s dealings during Sunday’s miserable thrashing by Spurs.
The club will hope the players they have signed can make a difference – the club’s recent record in the transfer window before this window has certainly not been bad – but performances will need to improve rapidly in order to change the mood.
Burnley up against it once again
Spare a thought for Sean Dyche.
The Burnley boss has been operating on a shoestring budget throughout his time in charge at Turf Moor, but this summer has surely been the most difficult yet.
His depleted squad saw him unable to name the full complement of substitutes at times after the lockdown last season, and despite an urgent need to bring in reinforcements, the club reached Deadline Day with back-up goalkeeper Will Norris and 31-year-old midfielder Dale Stephens as their only senior signings of the transfer window.