I’ll be focusing on clubs who I feel are aiming for the Europa league in this coming campaign and comparing how the clubs have done in the transfer market.
Southampton – Mario Lemina is great business by the Saints, the Italian struggled for game time for Juventus but his quality is apparent. A good addition to Southampton’s already solid midfield. However, it must be said losing Virgil van Dijk would be a big loss for them, but Southampton’s recruitment is brilliant in bringing in key players and Polish centre-back Jan Bednarek could be one of those replacements.
Transfer rating: 6.5 – A very solid squad already and sometimes you only need one or two players with real quality to come in to balance things.
Leicester – Signing Kelechi Iheanacho is a fantastic addition for the Foxes. The Nigerian’s goal-to-game ratio is fantastic and could go on to become a star for them. Also, Vicente Iborra was superb the last few seasons for Sevilla in midfield and I think is one of the shrewd buys of the transfer window. Harry Maguire proved his worth in a struggling Hull team in which he made stand-out performances, and is a commanding presence at the back. With Wes Morgan and Robert Huth ageing I think this was a smart move by Leicester. Also, Ron-Robert Zieler being sold to Stuttgart meant Eldin Jakupovic was brought in from Hull who is a decent replacement for a No.2 goalkeeper.
Finally, Welsh 20-year-old, George Thomas really could be one to keep an eye on too after an impressive season for Coventry.
Transfer rating: 7.5 – Iheanacho and Iborra will be massive additions for the club and can seriously help them mount a challenge for the Europa League.
Everton – The Merseyside club have been very busy to say the least. Signing: Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen, Cuco Martina, Henry Onyekuru, Jordan Pickford, Sandro Ramirez & Wayne Rooney. Bar Onyekuru who has been loaned out to Anderlecht, all the above signings will go into the starting eleven for the Toffees. Klaassen was brilliant for Ajax last season and Pickford shone in an abysmal Sunderland side, as well as Michael Keane who had a quality season for Burnley. The injection of cash from the Lukaku deal has seen Everton operate swiftly in the transfer market and with Gylfi Sigurdsson potentially joining the club it’s fair to say they’ve invested heavily into the team. The only doubt I have is how will Sandro Ramirez fill the big boots that Lukaku left behind.
Transfer rating: 8.5 – Everton have brought in some real talent to their starting eleven not just their squad, and finished comfortably in the Europa league spot last year. Seeing how the team copes without Romelu Lukaku will be interesting.
West Ham – Three problems the Hammers experienced last year were: conceding a lot of goals and not scoring enough, add to that a spanner like Dimitri Payet and there you have a recipe for disaster.
That’s why this season it was important for the manager and chairmen to address that. In terms of the defence bringing in: Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta has been great business by the club. Hart on his day is England’s number one and a born leader but is prone to mistakes. A familiar trait it seems for West Ham goalkeepers if you look back at the likes of Robert Green, David James, Stephen Bywater & Shaka Hislop.
Zabaleta is another leader who brings in experience, albeit not as agile as he once was, but could prove to be a valuable addition.
Since the departure of Dimitri Payet in January the Hammers have lacked goals and seemed to run out of ideas in the final third quite often last season. So, when the club announced the signing of Javier Hernandez it’s no surprise fans got excited. Someone who has played at the highest level of football and is bound to find the net for the club and has a lot of expectation to live up to, starting at Manchester United on the first day of the season.
Marko Arnautovic was Stoke’s star player over the last few seasons and his skill and power on the pitch will most definitely become an asset for the club. The powerful Austrian will look to fill the void Payet has left behind which isn’t an easy task.
Sead Haksabanovic is another interesting one for the future. The highly rated Swedish attacking-midfielder has received high praise from Slaven Bilic and the club has been watching him for quite some time. I can’t say I’ve seen him play very much so it’s hard to say how much of an impact he’ll have so we’ll have to wait and see.
The biggest deal of the window for the Hammers could be yet to happen still. West Ham have been in negotiations with Sporting Lisbon over a deal for Portuguese midfielder William Carvalho. The 25-year-old has been touted as one of the best holding midfielders in Europe, with Arsenal being previously heavily interested in the player but unable to agree a fee. This would be an enormous signing for West Ham and would mean breaking the clubs transfer record fee for the second time this window.
Transfer rating: 8