Soccer: Grading Every English Premier League Club's Transfer Window in 2021Sep 2, 2021 at 4:50AM
It took a while, but the silly season is finally over. From Romelu Lukaku, to Jack Grealish, to Jadon Sancho, to Nikola Vlasic and to the nostalgia filled return of Cristiano Ronaldo – this summer transfer window has had it all.
Now that it’s over, Dimers.com takes a look at how each of the Premier League’s 20 sides fared throughout the off-season.
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Poor start aside, Arsenal have focused solely on building a young core, investing over £150 million on players all under the age of 23.
Centre-back Ben White and versatile defender Takehiro Tomiyasu will help plug their leaky defence while Martin Odegaard will add much-needed creativity in the final-third.
Albert Sambi Lokonga has a very bright future as a holding midfielder while Aaron Ramsdale could be in-line for a call-up due to Bernd Leno’s early struggles between the sticks.
Willian and David Luiz were both released by the club but were unable to strike deals for Granit Xhaka and the wantaway Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
The Villains’ off-season was that of intent as they look to launch out of mid-table mediocrity and into the hunt for European football – living by the mantra of go big or go home.
Argentinian attacking-midfielder Emiliano Buendia became the club’s record signing for £33 million from Norwich City before being joined by exciting winger Leon Bailey and striker Danny Ings – rounding out an exciting front-line.
Club-legend Ashley Young also returned on a free transfer along with Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe on loan.
This was all done before Villa received a fat sum of £100 million for Jack Grealish, essentially meaning City were able to break-even on the transfer front - bringing in three quality players for the price of one.
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After finally winning promotion, Brentford were able to keep much of their squad together and add some key-pieces to ensure their Premier League tenure wouldn’t be short lived.
So far, life in the top tier has been gone swimmingly for the Bees who are undefeated from their first three games and are the least likely of the newly promoted sides to be relegated according to the Dimers model (25.8% chance).
Highly rated defender Kristoffer Ajer and midfielder Frank Onyeka have been brilliant since arriving – winning plaudits from coach Thomas Frank and pundits alike.
Brighton & Hove Albion
It’s been a mostly quiet off-season for the Seagulls.
Heading into Deadline Day, Graeme Potter’s side had only made the one recognised signing with the arrival of exciting midfielder Enock Mwepu from Red Bull Salzburg and had made a raft of sales including the departures of Mat Ryan, Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Davy Propper.
Experienced defender Shane Duffy returned from his loan-spell at Celtic to help plug the Ben White sized hole in defence.
The arrival of Marc Cucurella from Getafe on Deadline Day gives Brighton a sizeable upgrade on the left-hand side with his attacking attributes fitting the exact profile Potter wants to use at wing-back.
Burnley face an enormous task to beat the drop (45.7% chance of relegation) but their chances of staying up have been dealt a major boost.
The Clarets beat Leeds United and West Ham for the signature of Lyon winger Maxwel Cornet – becoming the club’s record signing.
Cornet showcased his versatility as both a winger and full-back throughout his six-years at the club and will offer a major boost to a side which will face an uphill battle to stave off the drop.
Sean Dyche’s side also bolstered their defensive stocks with the signings of promising defenders Nathan Collins and Swansea’s Player of the Year Connor Roberts.
Did Chelsea win the transfer market? Absolutely – on both the arrivals and departures market.
The arrivals of Romelu Lukaku and Saul Niguez are a statement of intent from Chelsea as they look to back up their Champions League crown with a push for the Premier League title.
The Belgian forward returns to Stamford Bridge fresh off a dominant season in Serie A for Inter where he led the Nerazzurri to their first Scudetto in over a decade – scoring 30 goals in all competitions and winning the league MVP.
Saul answered Thomas Tuchel’s call, arriving on loan from Atletico Madrid with an option to buy at the end of the season – adding another spoke to the Blues’ stacked midfield core which already boasts the likes of Jorginho and N’Golo Kante.
Chelsea have been equally impressive on the departure front, making over £126 million worth in sales which included the sales of Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Kurt Zouma.
Although they’ve been heavily fancied for relegation (36.1%) under new boss Patrick Viera, the Eagles have been busy this summer making a host of signings in all areas of the park.
The arrivals of Joachim Anderen and Marc Guehi help bolster their defensive stocks and are set to be the first-choice centre-back partnership for the upcoming campaign.
Conor Gallagher’s arrival on loan from Chelsea has already borne fruit, scoring a double against West Ham last weekend while Will Hughes and Michael Olise are yet to debut since putting pen to paper.
However, Odsonne Edouard’s arrival from Celtic looms as the stand-out signing having scored 88 goals in just over four seasons for the Hoops and will provide much-needed firepower in attack.
Recent history has usually seen Everton among the busiest Premier League outfits heading into the new season.
However, the Toffees have been quieter this season, making only five signings - with four of them being free transfers including Andros Townsend, Asmir Begovic and Solomon Rondon.
The pick of the arrivals has been Demarai Gray, who was the only player Everton forked out cash for (£1.7 million) has shone on the left-flank scoring two goals from his first three games on Merseyside.
Townsend has been solid without being spectacular so far but has won plaudits for his performances on the opposite flank to Gray while Rondon – a proven scorer in the Premier League – offers a solid alternative to Domenic Calvert-Lewin up top.
It hasn’t been the most inspiring off-season for Leeds who are looking to consolidate their place in England’s top flight.
The Whites have stuck with much of the same squad which served them brilliantly last season but have failed to substantially build upon those solid foundations – outside of two new inclusions.
Jack Harrison’s deal was made permanent after three seasons on loan from Manchester City and exciting full-back Junior Firpo was brought in from Barcelona.
Two years after initially trying to sign him from Swansea, Marcelo Bielsa finally gets his wish with the arrival of speedy Welsh winger Daniel James on a club-record fee – which will certainly offer Leeds an extra outlet going forward.
The Foxes have been constantly on the periphery of a return to Champions League football but this may be the season where it all changes (17.1% chance of top four).
Having kept much of their squad intact, Brendan Rodgers’ side have gotten to work on the transfer front and have made a series of key acquisitions.
The arrivals of both Ryan Bertrand and Jannik Vestergaard from Southampton solidify their defensive stocks with the latter’s arrival timely considering the serious injury to Wesley Fofana.
Boubakary Soumare’s a solid acquisition in the middle of the park while Austrian Bundesliga top scorer Patson Daka and recently signed Ademola Lookman provide another outlet up top.
Heading into this off-season, Liverpool knew they had the squad to compete – they just had to stay fit.
Last season’s assault on back-to-back Premier League crowns was halted due to an injury crisis which completely derailed their season before it could even get started but this season they are as well placed as anyone to take home the Premier League crown (15.7% chance and second favourite).
Jurgen Klopp’s side lost key squad member Georginio Wijnaldum to PSG on a free transfer, but looked internally to replace the Dutchman with impressive youngster Harvey Elliott stepping through the mire after an impressive loan-spell at Blackburn.
Virgil Van Dijk’s injury last season exposed their centre-back stocks but the arrival of Ibrahima Konate helps remedy that – adding much-needed depth to a very thin area of the park.
The ‘C+’ grade may be underwhelming on face-value but the return of the likes of Van Dijk, Diogo Jota and co help counter-act that - acting as ultimately ‘new signings’ given how much football they missed last season.
It’s been an interesting transfer window for the reigning champs.
After the departure of club-legend Sergio Aguero, much of the discourse revolved around possible replacements for the Argentinian striker with the likes of Harry Kane, Erling Haaland, Dusan Vlahovic and even Cristiano Ronaldo all linked with the club.
However, none of these deals eventuated, leaving City thin in the striker department – at least until next summer when they’re expected to make a big play for Haaland.
Instead, the club targeted Jack Grealish, who signed for a club record £100 million from Aston Villa and has already shot ahead in Pep Guardiola’s stacked attacking midfield corps – making the most of Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden’s absence due to injury.
United won the market – from a commercial standpoint.
The Red Devils went into the summer needing additions in almost every area of the park with centre-back, midfield and the wide areas sorely needing upgrades if they were to challenge for the title (11.8%).
Raphael Varane’s arrival provides steel in the heart of defence while Jadon Sancho is the exact profile United needed in the wide areas – adding another creative outlet alongside Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba.
However, they saved the biggest splash of the entire Premier League window, bringing Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford from right under their rival’s noses in one swift move.
The eyes of the world may be back on United but even with all this fanfare, the soaring social media metrics and expected jersey sales – did they really need a 36-year-old Ronaldo?
He may bring excitement, nostalgia and can still score goals but United already have an excess of younger players who can perform those roles.
Again, the middle of the park has been neglected as they go another window without a suitable upgrade in defensive midfield.
It’s the old familiar feeling for Newcastle fans after yet another uninspiring transfer market.
Mike Ashley’s refusal to loosen the purse strings has seen the Magpies fail to substantially improve a side which are looking to not only escape the relegation dog-fight (30.3% chance of relegation) but turn their dismal start to the campaign around.
Joe Willock was brought in from Arsenal having signed on a permanent basis after an impressive spell at the Toon last season while Mexican forward Santiago Munoz (yes, this isn’t a joke) arrived on loan.
Unlike ‘Goal!’, Newcastle won’t be in a position to battle for the top four and Munoz may be either switching places or coming up against ‘Full-ham’ relatively soon in the Championship.
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They may be the perennial yo-yo team of English football but the Canaries have gotten to business in order to ensure this isn’t a one-year stay.
Despite still being heavily fancied for the drop (66.8% chance), Norwich have gotten to work making a raft of permanent and loan-deals to help bolster their squad.
Ben Gibson and Ozan Kabak solidify the heart of defence and Brandon Williams and Dimitri Giannoulis offer solid competition at full-back.
The arrivals of Billy Gilmour, Pierre Lees-Melou and Mathias Norman add superb depth in the middle of the park help cover the loss of Oliver Skipp.
The loss of Emiliano Buendia has been eased with the signings of Christos Tzolis and Milot Rashica while Josh Sargent is a solid back-up for Teemu Pukki.
It’s been a big off-season for Southampton.
The losses key squad members Jannik Vestegaard, Ryan Bertrand and Danny Ings left a sizeable gap in the Saints side who have scurried to replace the departed trio.
Summer signings suggest the main-focus was not only covering the losses of Vestegaard and Bertrand but building a stronger defensive core – bringing in six defenders among their nine signings.
Romain Perraud and Tino Livramento have already been drafted into the side throughout the opening three games while Lyanco looks set to make his way into the side after the international break.
Adam Armstrong was brought in from Blackburn to replace Ings and has impressed so far, scoring on debut at Everton.
Spurs have emerged from this window better than most may have initially thought as they look to make a return to the top-four (36.7% chance).
Harry Kane sticking around is a massive plus given he was almost certainly heading for the exit door only weeks ago which would’ve left Tottenham scampering for a last-minute replacement in a very thin striker market.
Atalanta duo Cristian Romero and Pierluigi Gollini are solid signings with the former a boost in the heart of defence given the departure of Toby Alderweireld, while Emerson Royal is an upgrade on the recently released Serge Aurier.
20-year-old winger Bryan Gil is also a brilliant acquisition from Sevilla having arrived in a ‘swap’ for Erik Lamela.
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The third of the Premier League’s newest outfits have made some solid, experienced signings to help their survival clause.
Juraj Kucka, Moussa Sissoko and Danny Rose all add much-needed experience while Cucho Hernandez has impressed since returning from his loan-spell.
With long-serving striker Troy Deeney departing, the goal-scoring burden will fall onto Emmanuel Dennis – who scored their first goal of the season and has already forged a solid partnership with Ismaila Sarr.
Will it be enough to keep them up (50.3% chance of relegation)? The jury is still out.
The Hammers have been the big winners this transfer window.
Having secured a Europa League birth this season, West Ham’s signings suggest they are aiming to go one step better – bringing in four quality acquisitions.
Alphonse Areola and Kurt Zouma add extra stability at the back while defensive midfielder Alex Kral joins the Czech clique though the signing of Croatian playmaker Nikola Vlasic is perhaps the most exciting.
They’ve been brilliant to start the season and perhaps top four is not quite off the table this season.
It’s been a very disappointing window for Wolves.
The signing of Trincao on loan from Barcelona looms as an exciting pick-up while Jose Sa is a solid replacement for long-time goalkeeper Rui Patricio – but beyond that they’ve been relatively quiet on the transfer front.
Questions still remain as to whether this will be enough to take the club back to European contention.
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*This article originally appeared on StatsInsider.com.au and was republished with permission