Deadline Day Recap
Yesterday’s Premier League transfer deadline day was in many respects a day of firsts. Following last September’s ruling that was voted on by the clubs, for the first time the transfer window closed before the start of the season. The deadline was pushed up by three weeks from the normal August 31st date. For the first time since 2010, Premier League clubs failed to spend more than the amount spent the previous summer. Fulham became the first newly-promoted club to break £100 million in spending, while Tottenham became the first Premier League club to not sign a single player since the English transfer window was introduced in 2003.
Despite the drop in spending, a lot of fresh faces will be on display this season for teams at both ends of the table. Some clubs saw their stock surge yesterday, with an influx of new arrivals, while others will enter the season feeling like they are a player or two short of truly challenging for the top spots. In more ways than one, this transfer deadline day was defined as much by the deals that happened as those that didn’t. Here is a breakdown of both
The Deals that Happened
In terms of sheer numbers, Fulham were yesterday’s busiest team. The newly-promoted club completed 5 deadline day signings, rounding off a record-breaking summer. Avoiding relegation has become notoriously difficult for newly-promoted teams in recent seasons (2017-18 being an exception), so it shouldn’t be too surprising to see investment from a club that just squeaked into the Premier League through the Championship Playoff. With that being said, Fulham have taken investment to a new level for a promoted side.
Having already secured some quality signings earlier in the window, including midfielders Andre Schurrle and Jean Michael Seri, Fulham’s deadline deals included loans for Sergio Rico, Luciano Vietto, and Timothy Fosu-Mensah and permanent deals for left back Joe Bryan and central midfielder André-Frank Zambo Anguissa. Rico and Vietto have both arrived from Spain and bring Champions League experience to a club that may hope to end up in a European spot by the end of the season. In completing the £30 million signing of Anguissa, Fulham broke their club transfer record for the second time this window. That record was previously held by Seri with whom Anguissa could form a formidable midfield duo. While Seri is best known for his passing and play-making ability, Anguissa will provide a physical presence- he covers a lot of ground and is great in the air. At just 22 years old, the Cameroon midfielder could turn out to be a great investment.
Yesterday’s other stand out club were Everton who completed three signings. Center back Yerry Mina and midfielder Andre Gomes became Everton’s second and third acquisitions from Barcelona this window, after left back Lucas Digne was signed earlier this week. Mina has joined after an impressive World Cup, scoring 3 goals for Columbia during their run to the knockout stage. Earlier in the window, he was linked with both Manchester United and Lyon. Meanwhile, Gomes may find it more difficult to break into the Everton starting lineup. The Portuguese midfielder struggled last year in Spain and will likely compete for a place in the team with the more established Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Similar to Fulham and Everton, other clubs who made moves on deadline day had already been busy earlier in the window. Leicester capped off their spending by adding two young center backs while managing to hold on to Harry Maguire (but more on that later). Wolves, this summer’s other free-spending promoted club, brought in the versatile Leander Dendoncker who started a World Cup game for Belgium. West Ham finished a big summer with the signings of former Arsenal striker Lucas Perez and experienced midfielder Carlos Sanchez.
For all of the transfers completed yesterday, what was missing was a big name signing. Chelsea completed their big business the day before the deadline. They finally sold keeper Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid, with sought-after Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic joining the Blues on loan as part of the deal, and replaced him with the 23 year-old former Athletic Bilbao keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for a world record fee. On deadline day itself, the Premier League’s top six clubs collectively made one signing between them- Manchester City brought in the 19 year-old Australian prospect Daniel Arzani for less than £1 million, and then immediately shipped him out on loan to Celtic.
For whatever reason, maybe the modified transfer window or the fact that it is a World Cup year, many of the rumored marquee Premier League transfers just didn’t get done this summer.
The Deals that Didn’t Happen
One of the best bits of business on deadline day was Leicester’s ability to hold on to center back Harry Maguire. Maguire was a force at the World Cup this summer, starting all but one game in England’s run to the semifinal and proving to be a dangerous threat on setpieces. Manchester United, in need of a center back, approached Leicester several times throughout the summer to sign Maguire, but they were never able to pull the trigger on the price tag rumored to be between £65-80 million.
Maguire is not the only center back United failed to sign this summer, joining him on that list is the aforementioned Yerry Mina, Spurs’ Toby Alderweireld, and Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng. Eric Bailly looks like a sure starter in Jose Mourinho’s backline this season, but one of Smalling, Jones, Rojo, or Lindelof (most of whom were rumored to be for sale this summer) will have to step up if United is going to finish in the top four.
Another Manchester United transfer that failed to materialize was the sale of Anthony Martial. Martial was in and out of the team last year and has been criticized by Jose Mourinho this summer. The French winger was linked heavily with Chelsea and Tottenham at different points of the transfer window, but at this point he will likely have to wait until January for a move.
After the Martial rumors died down, the one deadline day deal that looked likely for Tottenham was for Bournemouth’s Lewis Cook. Cook is a 21 year-old midfielder who made the standby list for England’s World Cup squad, someone who could have provided great depth for Spurs considering that Mousa Dembélé is not getting any younger. Spurs are notorious for leaving their business until late in the window in hopes of getting a bargain. But once deadline day came around, with other clubs across London busy making deals, all was quiet on the Spurs front.
The Premier League season opens later today at Old Trafford with Leicester v. Manchester United. Be on the lookout for a Leicester side that could be chock full of new signings and a post-game press conference that could be full of Jose Mourinho pettiness.