Premier transfers’ showtime
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