As the new Premier League season approaches, Lynsey Hooper looks at the biggest transfers of the window so far, and casts an eye over who has done the best business.
Lukaku can thrive under Mourinho and Old Trafford pressure
We are less than four weeks away from the start of the new Premier League season, meaning transfers have taken a huge interest, particularly the ones that cost the big bucks and their ramifications.
Up until recently, the biggest signing had been Romelu Lukaku’s move to Manchester United. The Belgian striker was highly expected to join Chelsea and it appeared the club had missed out on their main target. In my last column, I commented on how Chelsea’s moves in this window could be critical in keeping their Italian coach Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge for the duration of his new contract.
Although Lukaku moving to United can be seen as something of an own goal, with Chelsea failing to bring the striker back, the Alvaro Morata deal saw order restored.
The champions mean business and this marquee signing shows they have the pulling power to lure big names from the top clubs in Spain. However, there is part of me that is still disappointed so many Chelsea players are let go. They have more players out on loan than any other Premier League team, and despite the elation Chelsea fans feel at securing Morata, I sense there are still a few who would like to see more of “their own” breaking in to the starting XI.
Lukaku becoming a regular in the first team would have inspired others rising through the Chelsea ranks to remain ambitious, but I can’t help feeling most talent will end up plying their trade somewhere else.
The positive side to the former Everton forward’s move is, of course, for the team he has signed for in United. He has generally flourished when the focus was not entirely on him, but it will be now and he should absolutely thrive.
Holding on to Zlatan Ibrahimovic could have a big influence on the Belgian’s career at Old Trafford. If there’s anyone to take a lesson in confidence from it’s The Zlat. When Romelu is on it, he scores from everywhere, but when his confidence dips he can fall in to a rut. It will be interesting to see if under Mourinho and the influence of Zlatan whether Lukaku’s mindset improves.
Who has done the best bit of business?
Arsenal’s big move has been for Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette. Although this is a positive move and business was done early in the window, meaning he’s had ample time to bed in, there’s also a sense of same old, same old.
We’ve seen big name signings like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil before, but with Sanchez making murmurs he wants to leave for Champions League football it’s going to take more than one stellar individual to take Arsenal to the next level.
There is still work to do for Arsene Wenger. As well as needing more additions, he has current players’ contracts to negotiate, including Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. What looked like good early business is starting to turn in to a window which is late, rushed and ultimately expensive.
Manchester City have finally signed Kyle Walker from Tottenham in a record breaking £53 million transfer. Walker became the world’s most expensive defender by moving up north and adds another dimension to Pep Guardiola’s attacking side.
He has good pace but there are slight question marks over the rest of their business, despite spending over £200m.
There is an abundance of attacking talent at the Etihad and Joe Hart’s move to West Ham means their goalkeeper situation is still raising eyebrows.
Then there’s the future of Sergio Aguero. If he is allowed to leave, there could be some twitching from the owners ahead of another gruelling campaign. Guardiola has had his free pass after falling short of expectations last time out, much more is expected this time around.
Wayne Rooney’s return to Everton is another transfer that really catches the eye, having personally said a long time ago he would go back to Merseyside.
A move to China just wouldn’t be for him, he’s very much a home boy and the move back to Goodison means staying in the area and not having to uproot his young family. It’s a really nice move to round off his career and despite Rooney not having too much left in the tank, he will certainly have a really good couple of seasons left in him.
It looks like he’s put the work in pre-season to get in tip-top shape too. Manchester United are subsidising his wages, allowing his move back to the club where his career began and with Lukaku going the other way, all parties must feel it’s win win. That’s until Rooney scores against United – come on, it’s bound to happen!
In terms of the rest of the big six, it’s been a quiet window so far for Liverpool and Tottenham. That’s fair enough for Spurs, as they have plenty in reserve and you’d expect them to make big moves soon enough. However, back-up for Kieran Trippier has been muted.
Holding on to their current roster is going to be key, especially with Manchester United expressing interest in Eric Dier and Dele Alli always the subject of interest around Europe.
But the big concern could be Liverpool. Their big signing so far has been Mo Salah from Roma, but that is hardly the area they need to be strengthening.
Their weak spots are the defence and goalkeeping areas, and apart from the mess surrounding Virgil van Dijk, they’re only really being linked with Naby Keita, a midfielder.
With Everton having a huge overhaul and West Ham bringing in Hernandez, Hart and Marko Arnautovic, are the Reds in danger of being eclipsed? It certainly looks like Ronald Koeman is going for broke and Jurgen Klopp’s likability factor won’t weigh as heavy should their noisy neighbours leapfrog them.
So, Chelsea seem to be in good shape for a title defence, Arsenal are doing what Arsenal generally do and City have made good signings with no clear plan, while Liverpool are quiet and Spurs, namely Daniel Levy, could have something up their sleeve.
As far as I see it, at this stage United are the team who have strengthened the most, adding Lukaku and potentially hanging on to Ibrahimovic. There seems to be more of an objective but with still time until the window closes, that could of course all change.
Follow Lynsey on Twitter at @lynseyhooper