The Sporting Life football team look at the winners and losers in the Premier League from the 2020 summer transfer window.
Chelsea came flying out of the blocks this summer with Roman Abramovich recognising that his side were one of the few that could really spend as usual despite the pandemic – and he’s backed Frank Lampard with over £200m of new signings.
Timo Werner looks like a bargain while Kai Havertz was twice as expensive but also looks to be a special talent. Hakim Ziyech, Thiago Silva and Ben Chiwell also arrived along with keeper Edouard Mendy, who instantly usurped Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea’s results haven’t matched their investment just yet, and the problem with a big influx of players is finding your best team and system, something Lampard is going through. Compared to most other managers though that’s a lovely problem to have.
Arsenal’s best signing of the summer could well be keeping hold of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang given his importance to the team, but the late, late signing of Thomas Partey was the icing on the cake of a decent summer for the Gunners.
Partey will offer that solidity, work-rate and toughness in midfield that Arsenal have seemingly lacked for years – while Gabriel looks another solid centre at the back.
Crucially, Arsenal’s business all looks to have been done with Arteta and his style of football in mind – almost more important that the quality of players is how they fit into the system
Aston Villa’s signing of Ollie Watkins and Ross Barkley look master strokes, but the biggest winners of all this summer could well be Everton, who have been turned into table-toppers by Carlo Ancelotti’s clever shopping.
It looked for a while that he wouldn’t be given the cash to spend, but when he was he was always going to get it right, and his new signings James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure have all hit the ground running.
All three have starred in their perfect start to the season as the team has been transformed into a ball-playing, goal-scoring machine. Their one big problem looks to be Jordan Pickford’s lapses in concentration, which Ancelotti has addressed by bringing in Robin Olsen from Roma to challenge him for the gloves.
Everton look well capable of upsetting the top six, maybe even top four this season, and Ancelotti’s recruitment is the main reason.
Undoubtedly it’s Manchester United, who made it tough for themselves by setting their stall out to sign Jadon Sancho right at the start of the summer. The fans, especially those operating fan channels and social media groups, were naturally delighted with the prospect of Sancho, but as the summer dragged on it began to become clear that this deal was unlikely.
United probably had no intention of matching Dortmund’s valuation, but thought they could strike a deal somewhere along the line. They were wrong. They were left with Donny van de Beek as their only signing until deadline day – a talent but not their area if largest concern.
In an era of football when perception and PR is everything, United have handled the summer woefully. Results at the start of this season haven’t helped, and now even signing Edinson Cavani looks like an afterthought, a desperate measure from a club devoid of a gameplan when it comes to signings.
Alex Telles may do well at left-back, while their two youngsters could be good in the future, but United needed a statement, after finishing third last season they needed to signal that they were out to catch the top two. They couldn’t have done a worse job.
If he had any, Sean Dyche would be tearing his hair out as Burnley yet again played hardly any part in the transfer window. Brighton’s Dale Stephens being his only real signing.
Liverpool’s Harry Wilson seemed there for the taking, but the Clarets couldn’t come up with a suitable offer, and Dyche will again have to make do with what he has. He’s probably a victim of his own success, having done so well with hardly a penny spent, but you wonder how long he’ll put up with it.
Kai Havertz could turn out to be something special, James Rodriguez looks something special already, but the biggest signing in terms of the way it could change the entire club has to be Gareth Bale’s return to Tottenham.
Even though he’s only on loan, it’s a blockbuster. Jose Mourinho being at Spurs already elevates them as a club, but now having a global superstar and a multiple Champions League winner around the place gives the club’s stature a huge boost in the game.
Bale will also make the players around him better, and more confident, while if he can get anywhere near his best then he could form a devastating three-pronged attack alongside Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.
It’s a risk of course, and Bales’ injuries could prevent him from hitting top form, but of all the signings made this summer, this one has the biggest potential to totally change a club.
The current financial situation made this window a buyer's market and that led to some players making moves for transfer fees that were below their usual value.
Leeds' transfer window was a really positive one and we could point to any of their major additions as being great value. Rodrigo, Spain's starting forward, joined for an initial £27million fee but the arrival of Robin Koch from Freiburg is perhaps their best bit of business with the initial fee just £13million.
Leeds were willing to go to £30million for Ben White, the loanee who had done so well with them as they won the Sky Bet Championship title last season, so to land a German international for under half that is testament to their scouting network. The early signs are showing that it could well be one of the Premier League's best signings for the price.
However, the best value signing comes at Everton and the arrival of Rodriguez from Real Madrid. The two clubs signed a confidentiality agreement regarding the transfer fee but multiple reports have said that he cost the Toffees nothing in terms of a transfer fee.
This was further backed up by comments from one of Rodriguez's former clubs in Atletico Banfield; they claimed that because it was a free transfer they were due no money from the move.
For Everton to get a player of Rodriguez's quality for the price of buying out of the remainder of his contract is beyond incredible. In his first four games at the club, the Colombian playmaker has three goals and two assists on his tally.
Carlo Ancelotti wants to revolutionise an Everton side who have struggled in recent seasons and the overhaul of the midfield has played a big part in that. However, Rodriguez's presence on the right wing has completely transformed their attack which also brings out the best in Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.