2020/21 Premier League Preview – How well have your team done in the transfer window?!
The new Premier League season is almost upon us. Because of factors beyond anyone’s control, there is not much time between this season and the previous one. The transfer window is open and teams still need to get their business done, but how well have your beloved club done so far? Here is the preview of the upcoming season, with each team being graded in regards to their transfer activity up to the time of print. The teams have been split into sections, but these sections are not by any means to predict where they will finish this time. But more in relation to the position they finished in last season, and to make the literature easier to digest.
Premier League champions Liverpool enter unchartered waters. Having to now make additions to their squad as forerunners for the first time in the Premier League era. Thus far the fans are restless, as the only senior player to come in the window so far is Greek left back Kostas Tsimikas. Tsimikas will give good competition to the marauding Andrew Robertson. Liverpool sold Dejan Lovren to Zenit St Petersburg, and Adam Lallana left on a free transfer to Brighton. Jurgen Klopp will surely need to bring in cover for the front three after not having the funds to get Timo Werner, and another defender for the aforementioned departure of Lovren. The Reds’ sketchy finish to the 2019/20 campaign after the restart means followers are anxious for the squad to be freshened up so they can successfully defend their crown, if they do not, then it could be a much more complex season for them if they get hit with mass injuries. The on-going Thiago Alcantara saga needs to come to a conclusion, and if Georginio Wijnaldum departs to Barcelona, then it is imperative they get the Spanish international in.
Transfer window grade at the time of print: D-
Pep Guardiola will not tolerate finishing second again, let alone being 18 points off of Liverpool. David Silva has returned to Spain, as his contract has expired and rapid German Leroy Sane has joined Bayern Munich. It is looking like 20-year-old Phil Foden will be trusted to fill some of Silva’s minutes, and they raided Valencia for another 20-year-old Ferran Torres to replace Sane. Defender Nathan Ake comes in from Bournemouth in a £41m package; a man who can also play at left back. There is still talk of City bringing in centre back Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli, which would be gargantuan; as they still have not covered the leadership they lost when Vincent Kompany departed for Anderlecht in 2019. Guardiola’s men are the bookies favourites to win their third title in four seasons, despite the massive gap between them and Liverpool last season. City lost an astonishing nine league games last time round, but if they can lure Koulibaly this would be an exceptional window.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men made a late burst to finish third last season, and although their fans would like to see a title challenge this time around, there is still work to be done. Keeper Dean Henderson arrives back on loan from Sheffield United, to give some strong competition to David de Gea. Striker Odion Ighalo has had his loan extended from Chinese outfit Shanghai Shenhua, to provide cover for Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, but another front man would not go a miss. More importantly Dutch international Donny van der Beek arrives for £40m from Ajax to give their already well-populated central midfield further depth. With the injury worries of Luke Shaw at left back, they continue to be linked to Alex Telles at Porto and Ajax’ Nicolas Tagliafico. At centre half with Eric Bailly being injury prone, and Phil Jones possibly being moved on, they may look to bring in another centre back. If they can get the Jadon Sancho deal over the line then there is no stopping them from significantly closing the gap on the top two and their grade will fly up.
After being banned from buying players for two transfer windows; Chelsea are clearly now playing Football Manager with their work in the window. With what is currently looking like a bottomless pit of money at their disposal, they have seemingly abandoned giving the younger players at the club some of the quality minutes on the pitch. Winger Hakim Ziyech was already sown up early on in the year, and they followed that up when the window officially opened with the big coup of German forward Timo Werner. Experienced Brazilian centre back Thiago Silva followed on a free transfer and Leicester left back Ben Chilwell signed for £50m. They were far from finished as they made another free transfer signing as Malang Sarr joined form Nice, the Frenchman may be loaned out however. Another massive move from them was bringing in Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverksuen for a club record fee. Something says they may not be finished as Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is apparently on their radar, with Frank Lampard losing faith in Kepa Arrizabalaga. With this money spent, despite being a club legend, Lampard has not got much room for error you would think.
After a brilliant start to the 2019/20 season; Brendan Rodgers’ anaemic squad suffered vital injuries leading to a capitulation of the highest order. After looking like being in the title race at Christmas, they fell to fifth place, meaning no Champions League football. So with that being said, they are expected to make a few purchases before the deadline on October 5th. Thus far they have only made a like for like change. With Ben Chilwell departing to Chelsea, in his place comes Belgian international full back Timothy Castagne. If the Foxes are to withstand the vigour of having Europa League football this time around then they are surely going to flash the cash. Things could get quite complicated again unless they have luck with injuries this time around. At the back Burley’s James Tarkowski has been linked, as well as Saint Etienne’s Wesley Fofana. In midfield, Bournemouth winger David Brooks remains a distinct possibility.
Spurs enter their first full season under Jose Mourinho with the spotlight fully on them after the release of their Amazon documentary ‘All or Nothing’. Despite the Premier League title looking more than a mile away, after last campaign’s 6th place finish, Mourinho is trying to fill the squad out to cope better with injuries and make a proper assault on the top four. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg arrives from Southampton, to add steel to the central midfield. Forgotten man Joe Hart comes in to backup goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. The best buy from them in the window so far was scooping right back Matt Doherty from Wolves in an unexpected £12m deal plus add-ons. Doherty will give them reliability rather than Serge Aurier and if Spurs can make one or two more additions, then it looks like Mourinho is slowly building a squad capable of competing on all fronts until deeper into the season. A centre half is maybe needed, but definitely another frontman is required to challenge Harry Kane, and then Tottenham fans will really be rubbing their hands.
Mikel Arteta is still not even a year into being in charge but already he has shown signs that the future could be a very bright one. After taking over from Unai Emery he managed to win the FA Cup to save Arsenal from their worst season in the Premier League era after coming in 8th place. In the midst of a quite busy transfer window for the Gunners, he also won the Community Shield. Attacking midfielder Willian has joined on a free transfer from Chelsea, to provide experience and a great work ethic. Defenders Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari come in on permanent deals after being on loan last season. Sought after Brazilian centre half Gabriel Magalhaes was purchased from Lille, and Dani Ceballos returns on a season-long loan from Real Madrid. Coutinho; was an Arsenal target, but the hopes of bringing him in from Barcelona, have been squashed by the Brazilian’s agent Kia Joorabchian. If Arsenal can lure Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid then this would have been a very good window for them.
After a solid seventh placed finish, that actually maybe could have been higher, Wolves unfortunately miss out on European football this time around. Not having to make numerous trips across Europe could really aid them in the battle to try and break the top six. Matt Doherty has departed and needs replacing. Alternatively, there could be a shift to right back for Jonny, as they have brought in Lyon’s left back Marcal. Jonny has played predominately on the left, but is good with both feet, so this would not be an issue. Wolves’ alliance with super agent Jorge Mendes has proved pivotal, and they have broken their club record to sign first of all: Porto’s Portuguese starlet striker Fabio Silva for £35m. This will provide good cover for Raul Jimenez. Secondly, the Mendes connection has secured them a loan deal for 20-year old Portuguese midfielder Vitinha who also arrives from Porto. Expect one or two more deals as Wolves do not have the largest squad and they have loaned out promising Morgan Gibbs-White.
The Blades were expected to go straight back down to the Championship in thir first season back up in the top flight, but impressively they claimed ninth place, falling two points short of Arsenal. The fact they did not boast a big squad further displays how well Chris Wilder did. And he has not wasted any time in trying to make the squad more bulky. Goalkeeper Dean Henderson; who was brilliant for them for the last two seasons, returns to his parent club Manchester United. So in comes Aaron Ramsdale (Bournemouth) returning to Bramall Lane after leaving in 2017 to be their first choice keeper. The defence which Wilder rarely changed in the last campaign is bolstered by three new additions. They raided Derby County for full backs Jayden Bogle and Max Lowe. Along with them comes Chelsea’s Ethan Ampadu on loan, who operates in midfield also. They have let go of Callum Robinson to West Bromwich Albion in a swap deal as they receive Scottish international forward Oliver Burke. So far their business is looking good and these additions will help their squad significantly.
The Clarets are always a team that will come up in discussions of sides that could get relegated, but it is still yet to happen, therefore all praise must go to Sean Dyche. Every year he works with what is a shoestring budget, so Burnley fans are never going to expect anything spectacular. They will still be underwhelmed thus far however with the lack of business done. Interestingly a player they have splashed out on in recent seasons is defender Ben Gibson who was bought for £15m in 2018. But after only one league appearance for the club since signing, he has now been loaned to Norwich City in the Championship. Aaron Lennon, Jeff Hendrick and Joe Hart have left on free transfers, and if Burnley want to come anywhere near tenth again you would believe more has to be done personnel-wise. A crop of players have been signed to aid the Under-23 setup, but the only senior player acquired is goalkeeper Will Norris who comes in from Wolves. But with Nick Pope and Bradley Peacock-Farrell, Norris will be only be their third choice.
Ralph Hussenhuttl’s job looked on the line when Southampton were made to look pathetic after a 9-0 home defeat against Leicester last October, but he recovered brilliantly to lead them to 11th in the table. Now he needs to beef up the squad for them to maintain that, or even possibly move higher, and they have made a decent start. They have lost Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to Spurs, as well as Cedric Soares going permanently to Arsenal and Maya Yoshida leaving for free. Harrison Reed heads back to Fulham, but this time permanently and Mario Lemina also joins him in a loan deal at Craven Cottage. Into St Mary’s come Kyle Walker-Peters permanently after being on loan for the second part of last season from Spurs. At the back they have also made another good purchase; as they activated the £10.9m release clause of highly rated Ghanaian centre back Mohammed Salisu, from La Liga side Valladolid. The Saints will do more business, as they need a central midfielder with the loss of Hojbjerg, but expect them to be okay this campaign, especially if Danny Ings is firing away again.
After taking over mid-season, and Everton finishing in a disappointing 12th place, Carlo Ancelotti now will have charge from the start of the season, and he is not messing about. The Italian managers’ CV speaks for itself and his ‘pulling power’ is already evident in this window. Everton have not been afraid to splash money in recent years, but they may finally be getting it right, now they have a manager with huge pedigree. Ancelotti has called on players that he can trust to help steer the Toffees in the right direction. Brazilian international Allan, who he worked with at Napoli, joins for £25m, a no-nonsense central midfielder. James Rodriguez who Ancelotti coached at Real Madrid, and then he took him on loan when he was in charge at Bayern Munich, joins on a two-year deal. Ancelotti does not seem to be the biggest fan of Gylfi Sigurdsson, so this deal more than made sense for their attacking midfield options. Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucoure joins also for around £25m. Doucoure has been very good in a box-to-box role and is another excellent acquisition. Expect more deals done before the deadline, and anything lower than 7th may be a huge disappointment for them.
Newcastle fans still want owner Mike Ashley out of their club, but at the moment they are being appeased in a manner that they did not think was plausible. Manager Steve Bruce was not given much of a chance, if any at all, when he took over from Rafa Benitez, but he led the Magpies to 13th place, ten points above relegation. After a series of loans last season, Newcastle are bringing in players permanently this time around and good players at that. Bournemouth duo; Callum Wilson (£20m) and Ryan Fraser (free transfer) arrive, a combination that has been very good for the Cherries in the last few years. Ireland international Jeff Hendrick is another free transfer, as he comes in from Burnley. Left back Jamal Lewis was brought from Norwich for just under £15m, and suddenly Newcastle are showing the intent that their fans craved from the board when Benitez was in charge. Whether any form of takeover happens or not, right now the fans have the right to have some optimism.
Fans of the Eagles feel like they have literally made a new signing anytime Wilfried Zaha is still at the club when a transfer window closes. Whether he is still there when this one shuts is another story. Regardless of that currently Palace need to do a little more work on their squad, and if they need to sell to buy, there is no way surely that they can keep him. Their significant buy in this window is QPR’s Eberechi Eze, a technically gifted attacking midfield who to an extent could replace Zaha in a worst-case scenario for the club. But in reality, Zaha needs Eze’s help, as Roy Hodgson depends far too much on the Ivorian to be creative, whether he is used in his natural wide berth or more centrally. Hodgson’s other deals were to sign teenager Nathan Ferguson on a free transfer from West Bromwich Albion. There is much optimism about the full back and he could be a key player for years to come. The loan signing of Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi is key, on his day he can be quite effective. Only Norwich City scored fewer goals than the Eagles last season and he provides another useful option to help overcome the lack of goals.
Brighton and Hove Albion
Manager Graham Potter was able to implement his style quite rapidly on the Seagulls, but in terms of league position he did not differ much from his predecessor Chris Hughton. This season will tell whether he really is the man to lead Brighton forward after he was given a contract extension not even halfway through his first campaign at the helm. One thing is for sure, they will need to win more than the nine games they won in the 2019/20 season if they are to be comfortable. Brighton’s two main deals so far in the window have all been about experience. England international Adam Lallana joins from Liverpool on a free transfer, and if he can stay fit then that is a steal. Joel Veltman arrives from Ajax, and his versatility as well as Champions League experience will do the squad wonders. There have been quite a few outgoings at the AMEX Stadium as Aaron Mooy (Shanghai SIPG), Anthony Knockaert (Fulham), Martin Montoya (Betis), Leon Balogun (Wigan) have all left the club. As well as this Shane Duffy (Celtic) and Glenn Murray (Watford) have gone out on loan. More signings are needed.
West Ham United
West Ham’s board were ridiculed for appointing David Moyes for the second time, but the trick worked wonders and they stayed up. Michail Antonio’s goalscoring exploits much fuelled their mini revival, but he needs help this time around, so they will need some consistency from last year’s big money signing Sebastien Haller. Despite some of the fans wanting the board to change, the board are not bashful in regards to spending, so expect them to pull something out of the bag before the window closes. As of now however, more needs to be done for the Hammers to steer away from relegation once more. Tomas Soucek, who was a big success on loan from Slavia Prague last term, and he has now been signed permanently, but he is the only senior name thus far to come in. Captain Mark Noble expressed his concern at the club letting go of Grady Diangana who departs for West Bromwich Albion after being on loan there, and work must be done or they could be in some trouble.
Dean Smith’s men stayed up by the skin of their teeth, after getting the point they needed on the last day to survive. Goals were a big problem for them, but they have tried to solve that by splashing out on Brentford’s Ollie Watkins. Watkins comes in for a hefty £28m, which could rise to £33m. If he hits the ground running and they can keep hold of captain Jack Grealish, then they have a real chance of beating the drop once again. The Villans have also spent decent money on Nottingham Forest’s Matty Cash, a man who can operate anywhere down the right hand side, and he comes for around £16m. Despite keeping them up, Dean Smith’s job could be under threat if things do not start off well, and it is expected that there will be more new faces before the window closes. There was talk of them trying to get striker Rhian Brewster on loan from Liverpool, but after luring Watkins this looks unlikely now. James Chester leaving on a free transfer to Stoke is their only notable loss so far.
The Premier League will finally be blessed with the character of Marcelo Bielsa. Promotion may have come a year later than advertised, but it is still great to have Leeds back. Understanding the significance of Leeds’ return, the board are pulling no punches and are clearly backing their manager. Winger Jack Harrison (Manchester City) comes in again on loan, while Helder Costa (Wolverhampton), and Illan Meslier (Lorient) join on a permanent basis, after both being on loan at Elland Road last season. Their mammoth statement of intent comes as they have signed Spanish international Rodrigo Moreno (£27m) from cash strapped Valencia. In addition to Rodrigo, they also welcome German international central defender Robin Koch from Freiburg for around £12m. Leeds will do more business and if the other players in the squad can step up to this level, then they will be a handful for some teams with their quick passing, movement and high pressing. ‘Bielsaball’ is here.
West Bromwich Albion
Slaven Bilic has led the Baggies back up to the ‘promised land’ after just two seasons away. This season could prove tricky for him, but they have made a decent start to try and assemble a squad worthy of staying in the division. Two men they had on loan last season; Matheus Pereira (Sporting Lisbon) and Grady Diangana (West Ham) join on a permanent basis providing creativity and goals. They have also swapped Oliver Burke for Callum Robinson at Sheffield United permanently; Robinson was on loan at the Hawthorns for half of last campaign also. With good attacking options sealed, they have not forgotten about the defence. David Button comes in from Brighton to provide competition for first choice keeper Sam Johnstone. Also they have signed Wigan centre back Ivorian Cedric Kipre. More than likely they will bring in one or two more faces but the fans will be content with the business done so far.
Last time around Fulham made the mistake of bringing in too many new players, knowing there is not much time for them to be integrated, they ended up going down. This time around expect them to improve the squad, but to be a bit more meticulous in their transactions…well the fans will hope so anyway. Harrison Reed who did well on loan from Southampton last season comes in on a permanent deal. Marco Lemina also comes in from the Saints but on a season loan deal. American international left back Antonee Robinson joins from Wigan, as well as Lyon’s Dutch right back Kenny Tete. The biggest deal the Cottagers have completed is the loan signing of Paris Saint Germain’s keeper Alphonse Areola, who was on loan at Real Madrid last season. Cruel to an extent on Marek Rodak, but there is no way Areola would have joined if he were not promised the number one spot. Whilst their business looks good on paper, they cannot afford to go overboard again, so they must be careful, but the fans will believe things will be different under Scott Parker.
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