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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Grading Chelsea's, Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal and Manchester United Summer Transfers

The just concluded summer transfer window has been one of the busiest in English football history. A record £835m has been spent by the 20 Premier League clubs with Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea leading the pack. While the likes of Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres, David Luiz, Thomas Vermaleen, to mention but a few have moved away allowing other world class talents like Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa, Radamel Falcao, Angel di Maria, Eliaquim Mangala, Lazar Markovic, Alberto Moreno, Marcos Rojo, to mention but a few, to join what is regarded as the best league in the world.

Inevitably, Manchester United who finished 7th last season have been the busiest of all the Premier League clubs spending a whooping £149m on new arrivals. That is a record spend in a transfer window by an English club beating Manchester City's £148m outlay in 2009.

But just how good were these signings? Take a look as I grade the top 5 clubs summer signings below:

Chelsea A
Jose Mourinho was widely criticized for selling Juan Mata to Manchester United in January. The Portuguese manager was never Mata’s fan from the onset and looked glad to offload him for a whooping £37.1m to United. That now looks like a shrewd move after Mourinho secured the signature of Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona for £7 million less than what he sold Mata for. The Spaniard has had a flying start to his Chelsea career perhaps justifying Mourinho’s move to sell Mata. Chelsea had problems scoring goals last season but the signing of Diego Costa seems to have shoved that to oblivion. The Spaniard has four goals in three starts to his name and looks like he will play a big part for the Blues this season. Didier Drogba rejoined the club and will act as backup striker with the Ivorian more likely to be given a coaching role at the club in the future. Mourinho also recalled Thibaut Courtois from Atletico Madrid and made the young Belgian shot stopper the No. 1 keeper at the club in place of Petr Cech while Philipe Luis joined from Atletico Madrid. The likes of David Luiz, Demba Ba, Romelu Lukaku, Fernando Torres and aging Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole were all shown the door. A very successful transfer window indeed that makes Chelsea favorites to win the league.

Manchester City A
Title holders Manchester City have had a fairly quite transfer window by their standards. Only six signings have been made by the Citizens, not that they needed more anyway. Their biggest business of the summer has been the £32 million signing of big Eliaquim Mangala from Porto who is expected to partner captain Vincent Kompany at centerback. That has allowed the Eitihad club to part ways with Joleon Lescott. Mangala’s teammate at Porto, Fernando also arrived on a £12 million deal and is expected to slot alongside Yaya Toure and co in a solid midfield. Bacary Sagna arrived on a free from Arsenal with the Frenchman expected to fight for the rightback position with Pablo Zabaleta. Argentine international, Willy Cabalero was snapped up from Malaga to provide competition for Joe Hart in goal while Frank Lampard was loaned from New York City. The likes of Javi Garcia, Costel Pantilimon, Gareth Barry, Jack Rodwell and Alvaro Negredo have all been removed from the wage list. Another pretty successful transfer window for Manuel Pellegrini.

Liverpool A- (minus)
Of all the clubs who lost players this transfer window, Liverpool took the biggest hit. The Reds came to within two points of winning their first Premier League title last season. Spurred by Uruguayan Luis Suarez who netted 31 goals last season, the Merseyside outfit still had a chance to win the league on the final day of the season. However, that never materialized leaving the 18-time winners to fight another day. That day was supposed to be this season. However, the news that Luis Suarez would eventually leave the club and sign for Barcelona left the Reds’ title ambitions hanging by a thread. Just how do you replace such a precocious talent, a man who netted three hat-tricks last season and swept all individual awards in his wake. Barcelona boosted Liverpool’s transfer war chest paying the Reds £75 million for the Uruguayan’s services. Brendan Rodgers embarked on a spending akin to a small kid on a candy store but instead of going for a marquee signing, the Ulsterman has gone for depth. And he had to given the fact that the Merseysiders are back in the Champions League. Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren joined in a combined £47 million pay to Southampton, Alberto Moreno arrived for £12 million from Sevilla, Javier Manquillo joined on loan from Atletico Madrid while Lazar Markovic switched Portugal for England in a £20 million arrival from Benfica. However, it is the signing of Mario Balotelli for £16 million that grabbed more headlines, as you would expect. Pepe Reina and Daniel Agger were the only other high profile players to leave the club on a permanent as most players were shipped out across Europe to get first-team experience. The loss of Suarez might bite later but on the account of the 3-0 demolition of Tottenham Hotspurs at White Hart Lane, Rodgers seems to have done a good job as his side gives another go at the title although finishing in the top four won’t be frowned at much.

Arsenal C+
Arsenal started their summer transfer business on a high snapping up the signature of Chilean Alexis Sanchez who was one of hottest properties in the summer following his starring role in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Liverpool, Juventus and clubs of that ilk were all after Sanchez but Arsene Wenger’s charm offensive (and reportedly the desire of the Chilean’s wife to live in London) saw the 25-year-old sign from Barca man for £30 million. More signings followed with defender Calum Chambers joining from Southampton for £12 million and Frenchman Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle for £10 million. Another World Cup star, David Ospina arrived from Nice at £3 million. The departure of Thomas Vermaleen to Barcelona had Arsenal fans thinking Wenger would sign another centerback but that never materialized and neither did he bring in a marquee striker before the transfer window slammed shut to the ire of the Gunners fans. But wait, Danny Welbeck joined from Man United for £16 million. That signing, predictably, haven’t inspired confidence on Arsenal fans who dreamed bigger and expected the likes of Balotelli, Falcao or Edinson Cavani to occupy the No. 9 position. Another transfer window that Wenger fails to convince and although they have a team good enough to finish among the top four or thereabouts, the decision not sign a commanding centerback and a proven striker might come to bite especially during the mid season when the Gunners are always on a freefall.

Manchester United C (plain)
It’s not often that a club spends £149m on player transfer, breaks the British transfer record by close to £10m and signs a man rightfully nicknamed El Tigre (Spanish for The Tiger) but still gets such a low grade. Well, Manchester United just did that! The record Premier League title winners have been one of the busiest clubs this transfer window. New manager, Louis van Gaal has splashed loads of cash on new players, Angel di Maria arrived for a British transfer record of £59.7m, Atletico Bilbao banked £29m for Ander Herrera while Sporting Lisbon received £16m for Marcos Rojo with Luis Nani sweetening the deal on a loan move. Luke Shaw somehow commanded £31.5m fee (Southampton must still be laughing all the way to the bank) while panic kicked in hours before the transfer window slummed shut if the costly 1 year £24m (fee+wages) signing of Radamel Falcao is anything to go by. United are now bloated with attacking talent but van Gaal failed to address the more obvious shortcomings in midfield and defence. A basic look at Manchester United team minus the front six and it is obvious that Van Gaal looks to have shot himself in the foot.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!