So now the dust has settled from this summer’s transfer window, Jim White has had his fix until January and Premier League teams have broken the £1b transfer ceiling, we take a look at the top 3 signings made by Premiership clubs this window, as well as 3 headscratchers that we didn’t see coming.
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic – PSG to Manchester United – Free
“He’s too old at 34”, “anyone can score in France but can he score in the Premiership”, “he’s only interested in one last payoff before he retires”. These were some of the question raised by journalists and opposing fans when the deal was first announced, however I think Zlatan has already gone some way to dashing these claims. People that have followed Zlatan’s career would know that whilst his exterior is brash and egotistical, he is actually the consummate professional who works very hard on and off the field for his craft. He is not in England just to make up the numbers or to tick a box, he’s here to win.
Already he’s scored 4 goals this season, with 3 in the Premier League from the 6 shots he’s had. He has also won 50% of his aerial duels so far this season, giving Man United a much more domineering figure leading the line.
Aside from his fine touch and link up play, aerial abilities, and goal scoring, Zlatan has already had a big impact on the young players off the pitch. Both Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford are already singing his praises, and on a free transfer, it makes a great bit of business for United.
- N’Golo Kante – Leicester City to Chelsea – £32m
What happened last season at Leicester was a footballing marvel. As the season progressed no one really thought they would stick it out and go all the way, the result of which was an amazing crowning as Premier League champions, a place in this season’s Champions league, and unfortunately the first Match of the Day with Gary Lineker in his pants.
Whilst Jamie Vardy’s accomplished goal scoring record and Riyad Mahrez exceptional technical abilities stole the headline last season, for me N’Golo Kante was the cog in midfield that allowed those two match winners to express themselves. Kante had an effect on that team much like Claude Makelele did at Real Madrid, and the impact of his departure could very well be seen this season.
For a reasonably priced £32m (compared to the £30m paid for Yannick Bolasie which we’ll come to later) Chelsea have bought a midfield rock. Kante finished last season with a solid 82% pass completion rate including a not too shabby 26 key passes. But it is on the defensive side where Chelsea will see the benefit. Last season Kante totted up 156 Interceptions in the Premier League and made no defensive errors leading to a goal.
The role Kante plays in midfield is often overlooked, but Chelsea fans will know that they have a top signing. Given the prices paid in today’s market for a player of his calibre, £32m is a real good bit of business for Chelsea who in the past have often been criticised for over paying for players, and for those reason’s Kante makes out top 3.
- Jack Wilshire – Arsenal to Bournemouth (on Loan)
One of the major surprises of this transfer window was Arsenal allowing Jack Wilshire to go out on loan with a reported 22 clubs scrambling over for his signature. Whilst some big clubs were in the mix including Roma and AC Milan, Wilshire settled on Bournemouth, which is an absolutely massive signing for them. This move says a lot about Eddie Howe as a manager, that Wilshire felt this was the place to play his trade this season. Whilst it’s only a loan move, it could be one that works out very well for a Bournemouth side that have struggled to get going so far this season, with only 1 point on the board.
Jack Wilshire’s qualities as a ball playing midfielder have been known for some time, however his excessive injury record have cast doubts over his progression. In the past 2 seasons, Wilshire has only played 17 games in the premier league which is just not good enough. Over that time however he recorded a very good pass completion rate of 84% but only averages 27 successful passes a game, due to the lack of minutes.
However if you go back to the 2013/14 season where Wilshire played 24 Premier league games, his pass completion rate was higher at 86% and averaged 43 successful passes per game. He also racked up 29 key passes that season. At his best we know Wilshire is a great midfielder, someone who is good on the ball with great vision who can control the pace of the game. Barcelona’s Xavi once famously said “If he had a career that had been injury-free we would already be talking about him as one of the top central midfield players in Europe. I have played against him, I have watched him carefully, and if he can overcome injuries, then he can still go on and be one of the best midfield players in the world”.
His move to Bournemouth means less games with no European competitions to play. If he can stay fit and get game time under his belt he will be a great success for Bournemouth this season. This loan signing is a great coo for Eddie Howe and his team.
- David Luiz – PSG to Chelsea – £32m
The deadline day deal to bring David Luiz back to Chelsea was one of the surprises of the entire transfer window. David Luiz was sold to PSG for £50m back in 2014, a transfer that was met with cheers and delight. Most Chelsea fans couldn’t believe their luck at receiving £50m for a defender who wasn’t particularly good at defending. It seems somewhat odd therefore, that Chelsea should buy him back at 29 years old where his defensive game has seen very few signs of improvement. For all David Luiz’s defensive frailties, it has to be said he is prime-time. He’s a player, that as a fan you want to watch, but it’s not always for the right reasons which is worrying. He suffers from ill-discipline in terms of altercations but also in terms of positioning and positional awareness, both which can negatively affect teammates, as they will have to come out of position to cover him. The move seems a very un-Conte like signing, a manager who likes discipline, players to know and play their position, much like Kante does.
With that said over the past couple of seasons Luiz has had a very impressive pass completion rate of 92% in Ligue 1 averaging 53 successful passes per game. Last season saw 4 defensive errors from Luiz, something which at PSG is quite concerning given the fact that they saw very little in the way of competition. If his 2nd spell at Chelsea is to be a successful one, it’s the defensive error’s he needs to cut out of his game, as the pace and competitiveness of the Premier League is even higher than when he was here last time. For £32m, and at 29, you’d expect to sign a ready-made defensive rock, a defensive organiser much like Terry, Kompany, Vidic, and Mertesacker, David Luiz is far from that.
- Yannick Bolasie – Crystal Palace to Everton £30m
Much has been made of the transfer fees paid nowadays for players, in particular the price paid by English clubs, as Sky have completely inflated the market with the ridiculous amount of money paid for the Premier League TV rights. However whilst we are aware of the inflated market place, the £30m paid by Everton for Bolasie just seems crazy. Bolasie is a decent Premier League Midfielder, don’t get me wrong, but valued around about twice what he’s worth. Over the past 2 seasons, Bolasie has averaged 72% pass completion, which for a midfielder is pretty poor. He also averages only 14 successful passes a game, which when you factor in Ronald Koeman’s style of play of and the passing game he likes, this should concern Everton fans.
Last season saw Bolasie contribute only 3 assists, compared to the 6 the season prior, although he did score 1 more goal with 5 last season. Compare this to Ross Barkley, who despite having a poor season last year, still beats out Bolasie in all the key stats you would expect from a midfield player. Barkley’s pass completion was at 86% compared to Bolasie’s 73%, he scored 8 to Bolasie’s 5, and had 8 assists to Bolasie’s 3. Even when you look at successful take ons, a stat you would expect Bolasie to excel in, he is still bettered by Barkley with 63% successful take ons to Bolasie’s 52%.
It seems to me this is a signing just to add another player to the squad as opposed to improving it, and at £30m, it’s an expensive way to do it.
- Moussa Sissoko – Newcastle United to Tottenham £30m
Another case of last minute panic buying and overpricing, saw Moussa Sissoko’s U-turn from Everton to Spurs in the dying minutes of this summer’s transfer window. Sissoko had an average season last year at Newcastle. A year that saw the North East club relegated. In the heart of the midfield, he averaged just a 76% pass completion, with just 28 successful passes per game. Whilst he did contribute a decent 7 assists last season, it has to be said his price has been massively hiked by his performance during this summer’s Euro’s. In a way that sums up Sissoko as a player, he can mix it really well for a few games, as he did when he first joined Newcastle and the Euro’s, but ultimately plateaus to mediocrity.
For Spurs this is very concerning, as they haven’t has the best transfer window and perhaps missed a big opportunity to bring in players of better quality, as they can offer Champions League football this season. When you look at Sissoko, does he enhance the Tottenham midfield? Does he add to their chances of a top 4 finish? Does he increase their chances of Champions League progression? On all counts you would have to go for a resounding no. The fee of £30m is also excessive for a player who offers nothing to improve the team.
As an aside to his average season last year, the way he reportedly conducted himself during deadline day, turning his phone off and turning his back on the waiting helicopter to Everton for a move to Spurs also gives an indication to the type of guy he is, and not someone I expect many Spurs fans are happy to see.
By Michael Thatcher @Footballmono