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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

EPL transfer window: Silly season's hits, misses and the rest

Silly season is finally over, with the 2015 summer transfer window seeing plenty of movement on deadline day. The Premier League's big boys though, wrapped up most of their shopping early in the window.

sports Updated: Sep 03, 2015 21:57 IST
Govindan Kishwar
Govindan Kishwar
Hindustan Times
A composite photograph of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, left, and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. (Agencies)
A composite photograph of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, left, and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. (Agencies)( )

Silly season is finally over, with the 2015 summer transfer window seeing plenty of movement on deadline day. The Premier League's big boys though, wrapped up most of their shopping early in the window.

A brief assessment of the ins and outs of the top five clubs in England:

Arsenal: Where is the striker Mr Wenger?

Another transfer window has passed and the Gunners are yet to sign a striker who could truly be called world class. They were linked to Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema all season, but the Frenchman quashed all rumours by stating he is happy at Real. Danny Welbeck was signed last season from Manchester United, but it soon became clear that the England forward, while a tireless worker, was never going to make the grade as an out and out striker for a club like Arsenal. The only centre forward at Arsene Wenger's disposal is Olivier Giroud who - despite his obvious talents - just does not have the pace to match the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Walcott (the winger failed to make a mark playing as a striker against Newcastle on Saturday) or even the slower Mesut Ozil. Should Arsenal continue to struggle in front of goal, the January transfer window will be another chance to finally add a forward who can complement one of the fastest attacks in the league. Their only notable signing was Petr Cech from Chelsea, with the goalkeeper finally ending Wenger's need for a world class shot-stopper. The depth in defensive midfield remains another area of concern, but the impressive form of youngster Francis Coquelin means that at least for now, that is not an issue. Although not in the same bracket as Sergio Aguero or Luis Suarez, why they did not move for out of favour Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez who moved to Bayer Leverkusen for a reported £7.3 million is baffling. The Mexican has pace, is a good finisher and has shown time and again that he is capable of leading the line when given the right support. Had they signed a world class forward, they would have been genuine contenders for the league title, only time will tell.

Chelsea: More problems inside, than out

The defending champions didn't look like they would need any reinforcements, but four games into the season showed their need for strengthening at the back. Their long pursuit of Everton centre back John Stones ended in disappointment, with the Mercysiders standing firm on their stance that the England international was not for sale. They turned to Papy Djilobodji (27), signed for a reported £2.7 million from Nantes, and made a late move for Reading youngster Michael Hector (he has been loaned back to Reading for the season). How Djilobodji, 27, will fit into manager Jose Mourinho's team remains to be seen. Elsewhere, the swoop for Barcelona winger Pedro - expected to sign for Manchester United all season - came as a surprise. The Spaniard made an immediate impact, scoring and getting an assist on his debut, but weather letting Juan Cuadrado join Juventus as a result was a wise decision, will only be clear as the season wears on. The most intriguing transfer of them all though, was that of Radamel Falcao. The Colombian spent last season on loan at Manchester United but failed to make a mark, scoring just four times all season. Mourinho has brought the striker back to the EPL from French side Monaco on a season long loan (with an option to buy), and it remains to be seen whether his faith in the 29-year-old will pay off. Most of their problems early in the season though, seem to be within the club. The public falling out with his medical staff and his critical assessment of his players means that the only issue Mourinho needs to solve is within his own team. They are the defending champions after all.

Manchester United: Some problems solved, but others remain

What Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal's strategy was during the transfer window is anyone's guess. Young Dutch winger Memphis Depay has arrived to add pace and goals to a slow attack, required even more following the departure of last season's biggest signing and eventual flop Angel di Maria to PSG. Forwards Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and Javier Hernandez were all let go, leaving captain Wayne Rooney as their only recognized senior striker. The England forward lacks pace, and does not seem to be suited to leading the line, with a string of poor displays in the early season matches - barring the hat-trick against Club Brugge in the Champions League qualifier - a case in point. A deadline day deal for unproven French striker Anthony Martial from Monaco for an eye watering £36 million (rising to a reported £58 million) came as a surprise (more a panic buy following their 1-2 loss to Swansea on Sunday), and it remains to be seen how the now most expensive teenager in world football will live up to the pressure. An experienced centre back too was needed, but the performances of Chris Smalling and Daley Blind - a defensive midfielder by trade - are promising. Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo too, will provide ample cover when fit again. On the bright side though, the club finally has a midfield. German World Cup winning midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger joined from Bayern Munich and will provide much needed experience to the team both on and off the pitch. He may be 31, but at a reported bargain of just £9 million, he may be prove to be a steal. He joins new recruit Morgan Schneiderlin to form a new look midfield. The signing of the season though, may prove to be little known Italian right back Matteo Darmian. The former Torino man was an unknown entity before his move to the Red Devils, and the 25-year-old has made an instant impact, easily their best player in the first few games.

Liverpool: We'll take the lot

With more signings than one could count, Liverpool were a club that seemed to have gotten in line outside a retail store ahead of a big sale. Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Danny Ings, Christian Benteke, just to name a few have joined to strengthen a attack that already had the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho. If there was any way to soften the blow of losing their best player last season, Raheem Sterling to Manchester City, this was it. Their attack, once all the pieces fit together, will be a force to be reckoned with. Youngsters Nathaniel Clyne and Joseph Gomez have come in to strengthen the defense, but the need for an experienced centre back like Vincent Kompany (Manchester City) or Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund) came to the fore in their 3-0 humiliation by West Ham over the weekend, and not signing one, may come back to haunt manager Brendan Rodgers.

Manchester City: Money to burn

The 2014 champions already boasted an enviable squad with the likes of Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Samir Nasri, but it was clear it needed some freshening up after finishing eight points behind champions Chelsea and some lacklustre performances throughout the season. City ended up solving their early season blues, and ended up being the highest scoring team in the league last season with 83 goals to their name, ten more than Chelsea. They dipped into the market to add even more fire power, and winger Raheem Sterling arrived from Liverpool, becoming the most expensive British player after his £49 million move. His ability to take on defenders at pace, and direct play will be a boost. Their long pursuit of Wolfsburg midfielder Kevin de Bruyne also ended in success, with the 24-year-old coming on board for £54 million. The Bundesliga's best player last season comes with high expectations, and will be keen to have a better second spell in the English game, after leaving Chelsea for the Germans, after he failed to make an impact at Stamford Bridge. Promising young English midfielder Patrick Roberts was also signed from Fulham, but that deal seems to have gone through just so City could meet the criteria of the minimum number of home grown players at the club, with the 18-year-old meeting the requirements.

First Published: Sep 02, 2015 15:00 IST

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