Premier trans­fers’ show­time

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

LON­DON: No-one doubted that English clubs would break their own £1.2-bil­lion (about R21b) trans­fer-spend­ing record this summer; all that was dis­puted was by how much and which play­ers would go where.

Romelu Lukaku might have joined Chelsea but ended up at Manch­ester United for £75m, a move that pushed Jose Mour­inho’s al­ter­na­tive tar­gets Alexan­dre La­cazette and Al­varo Mo­rata to­wards Ar­se­nal and Chelsea, re­spec­tively.

Ben­jamin Mendy had also seemed des­tined for Stam­ford Bridge be­fore Manch­ester City nabbed him for a re­ported £43m, while Mo Salah be­came Liver­pool’s record £37m sign­ing.

It is too early to say who has got the best of a fre­netic trans­fer mar­ket, but few of the buys come with the proven record that Zla­tan Ibrahi­moivic brought to United last summer. In­stead, many look like hugely ex­pen­sive punts.

Mo­rata, per­haps the win­dow’s most in­trigu­ing sign­ing, spent most of last sea­son warm­ing the bench at Real Madrid and is re­ported to have con­fi­dence is­sues. Mendy’s rep­u­ta­tion is based on one ex­cel­lent year at Monaco.

City’s other new full­back, Karl Walker, was rated sec­ondbest to Kieran Trip­pier at Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur.

City man­ager Pep Guardi­ola’s de­ci­sion to spend more than £200m on five play­ers may be the most as­ton­ish­ing piece of busi­ness, but money has been lav­ished ev­ery­where: Ever­ton and pro­moted Hud­der­s­field Town both brought in nine new play­ers and most clubs ei­ther broke their own trans­fer records or spent much of the summer try­ing to do so.

Brighton and Hove Al­bion even did it three times, first sign­ing Aus­tralian keeper Mathew Ryan, then Dutch mid­fielder Davy Prop­per and fi­nally Colom­bian Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge.

Noth­ing epit­o­mises summer short-ter­mism more than West Ham’s de­ci­sion to spend a re­ported £36m on four play­ers with a col­lec­tive age of 119 years.

The most ex­pen­sive of those, Marko Ar­nau­tovic, ar­rives on a five-year con­tract from Stoke City for £1m af­ter scor­ing an un­der­whelm­ing 22 goals in 125 games.

At Liver­pool, Salah is also em­bark­ing on his sec­ond spell in Eng­land and has im­pressed with four goals in pre-sea­son friendlies.

La­cazette comes to Ar­se­nal with a big rep­u­ta­tion af­ter net­ting more than 20 league goals in each of the past three sea­sons with French side Lyon.

Ar­se­nal’s other new­comer, 24-year-old Bos­nian de­fender Sead Ko­lasinac, cost noth­ing af­ter see­ing out his con­tract at Schalke, where he was voted into the Bun­deliga team of the sea­son in 2016/17.

Bos­nia is just one of 105 na­tions out­side the Bri­tish Isles who have sup­plied play­ers to the Premier League in its 25year his­tory. – Reuters

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