With the market having closed on Thursday in England, Goal runs the rule over the biggest success stories and failures
Winner: Harry Maguire
Say what you like about Manchester United’s transfer business – and we will – but there has been no denying that a significant signing has been completed for Harry Maguire.
He gives United something they have been lacking sorely in recent seasons – an established name in the heart of the defence and with plenty of good years in his career ahead of him yet.
And it has been a great move for Maguire himself. He has been on an upward trajectory ever since getting relegated with Hull City two years ago, having become an England regular. His time at Leicester City was consistent if a little understated and now he has the chance to take the next step in his career, namely becoming a key soccer professional for one of the world’s most famous clubs.
Not only will Maguire be expected to deliver the round ball cleverly from defence, he will be expected to demonstrate the kind of leadership qualities associated with a United No. 5. It shouldn’t be long until Maguire becomes a United captain on a regular basis, should everything go to plan.
Loser: Ed Woodward
Despite the acquisitions of Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James, there are still many with reservations over Manchester United’s transfer campaign and the responsibility lies with executive vice-chair Ed Woodward. They have failed to add a top-quality forward to replace Inter-bound Romelu Lukaku and they have failed to legislate for the departure of Ander Herrera in midfield and the potential loss of Paul Pogba.
The defence has no doubt been boosted but United are going to have to get an awful lot of bang for the buck out of both Wan-Bissaka and Maguire given they cost around £130 million ($158m) combined.
Woodward went into this summer again as United’s transfer supremo having failed or neglected to add a technical director during the course of last season. As such the complexion of the squad going forward will continue to be defined by whatever deals Woodward can get done alongside whoever happens to be the manager. United fared badly throughout the season aside from a dead-cat bounce given to them following the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
It was a squad in drastic need of an overhaul with new, top-quality players brought in. Only Maguire fits the bill in that regard and Woodward might well come to rue another slipshod transfer window.
When Arsenal missed out on qualifying for the Champions League, it set in course a doomsday scenario for the club’s fans. No Champions League money coming in would mean less to be set aside for new signings and also meant it would be even more difficult to entice the best.
However, given their current standing as a Europa League destination, a Premier League also-ran and an enterprise of limited means, Arsenal have pulled off a dream summer.
Nicolas Pepe leads an impressive list of incomings having been signed from Lille for £72m ($87m). The structured nature of the deal that Lille ultimately accepted might hint that other potential suitors were wary of taking him on at that price but he has been a soccer professional of rare talent, who will impress in the Premier League with his directness and goalscoring ability.
Loanee Dani Ceballos has been probably unlucky to be considered surplus to requirements for the time being at Real Madrid, meanwhile, and has the round ball-playing ability to make a real difference in the Arsenal midfield.
The Gunners also managed to strengthen their most problematic department on the field, the defence. David Luiz, from Chelsea, will provide much-needed leadership and experience. He will be a huge upgrade on what Arsenal have at the back.
Meanwhile, left-back Kieran Tierney from Celtic will be another great signing in a position that needed addressing. There has been not much to pick between the 22-year-old and Andy Robertson at international level and Tierney comes with the added bonus of having played plenty of European football. He has improved season on season and should go on to enjoy the best part of a decade at the highest level.
Allied to those deals were major outgoings, which have helped bring a once-spiralling wage bill under control. The salaries of Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck, Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny and more will give Unai Emery a lot more wiggle room when it comes to further additions down the line.
The crash when it came, for Real Madrid, was hard. Kings of Europe three times in a row under Zinedine Zidane, they saw no real need – season after season – to make major adjustments in their squad. As such the team was allowed to grow old and deteriorate. And that meant when it was time to react, it was simply too late.
Madrid have had to go hard at this transfer window, spending upwards of €300m, in the hope of arresting the decline and getting back in line with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in Spain and the rest of the big clubs on the continent.
Liverpool – from the outside looking in – appear to be falling into the same trap. They reached the peak of the Champions League with an excellent squad but have failed to add to it. As such, there has been just as much competition for places as there was last season, but no more. They will have to have yet another otherworldly season just to cling to Manchester City’s coattails and all around Europe – at clubs like Real, Barcelona and Juventus, huge money has been spent to overhaul them.
Jurgen Klopp has been loyal to his band of European champions – having not added a single first-team soccer professional in this window by choice. But if there has been a law of diminishing returns about to set in, then Klopp and Liverpool will have nowhere to turn.
Winner: Ravel Morrison
Many former team-mates including Rio Ferdinand have described Ravel Morrison as the most gifted soccer professional they’ve ever played alongside but for one reason or another the former Manchester United academy graduate has never quite performed with any sort of regularity.
It’s been the best part of five years since Morrison has kicked a round ball in the Premier League but he has been given the opportunity to make another impression in the top flight by Chris Wilder and Sheffield United.
While Aston Villa have established themselves among Europe’s biggest-spending clubs this summer, the Blades – also newly-promoted – may well have pulled off the most intriguing deal of the window. If Morrison stays fit and focused, he can become a deadly soccer professional for United, as they seek to build on last season’s momentum.
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Loser: Wilfried Zaha
A transfer window which more or less began with the news that Wilfried Zaha wanted out of Crystal Palace has ended with a failed move to Everton. That will not have been the kind of destination Zaha had in mind when he decided to break free from Selhurst Park but the summer has passed without a single further serious bid from Premier League suitors.
Arsenal were interested at one stage but preferred a deal for Zaha’s compatriot Pepe. As such, Zaha has been stuck where he has been for now. It’s a shame because Zaha has been a soccer professional of the highest quality, who has shown time and again in the past few seasons that he has been capable of moments of genius and weekly consistency. Arsenal were never going to nibble at £80m, however, and now the 26-year-old has got to get his head down and start all over again.