A Sir Jim Ratcliffe-like summer transfer rule for each Premier League club

Will Ford
Edu Slot Tonali
Edu must avoid Man City cast-offs while Liverpool should listen to Arne Slot.

Just when you thought we had milked the news of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s ‘five strict rules’ at Manchester United for all it’s worth in this footballing gooch between the Premier League and Euro 2024, we’ve come up with a Ratcliffe-like rule for each Premier League club to hold them in good stead this summer…

Here are those five Manchester United rules by the way.


Arsenal – No Man City cast-offs
Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko were smart additions to the squad in 2022. They made Arsenal better. But they were allowed to leave Manchester City because they weren’t good enough for Manchester City, and having given Arsenal a leg up to get somewhere sort of near their Premier League rivals, now that the Gunners are within touching distance they find themselves on the periphery.

If Arsenal are going to beat Pep Guardiola’s side to the title next season, director Edu needs to target players who are as good as, or better, than those deemed worthy of sticking around at the Etihad.


Aston Villa – Switch phones off
The end of the season showed the need for bodies to bulk out the squad ahead of their Champions League campaign next season, but the key to their continued success in the Premier League and Europe is keeping hold of their players. Specifically, Douglas Luiz and Ollie Watkins.

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Bournemouth – Copy Richard Hughes
Liverpool-bound Richard Hughes signed Dominic Solanke when many thought it was a grave error, doubled their money on Nathan Ake, got £10m for Lys Mousset and was the brains behind the heavily doubted move to replace Gary O’Neil with Andoni Iraola. New technical director Simon Francis would do well to copy his predecessor.

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Brentford – Make Toney attainable
It’s all gone a bit quiet on the Toney transfer front on the back of Brentford slapping an £80m price tag on their talisman, who’s frankly been a bit balls since returning from his betting ban. Recent reports suggest the Bees will accept closer to £40m for him, and barring a Harry Kane injury and Toney-inspired Euros win for England, that sounds about right.


Brighton – Under 23, over 30
Roberto De Zerbi left Brighton over disagreements with Tony Bloom over the Brighton owner’s very successful transfer strategy of signing either little-known youngsters or Premier League veterans. De Zerbi pushed for players in their prime, like Mahmoud Dahoud, who may well be their worst signing since promotion to the Premier League. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.


Chelsea – Over 25
The opposite of a Ratcliffe rule that Chelsea too have stuck religiously to since the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Kalidou Koulibaly shenanigans in the summer of 2022. But it was patently clear for the vast majority of Mauricio Pochettino’s time at Stamford Bridge that Chelsea lacked the composure and football IQ that often comes with age and experience.

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Crystal Palace – Only Championship players
Two of their Championship additions are in with a chance of going to the European Championships this summer and another would also be going if his nation didn’t churn out brilliant footballers like they’re chocolate bars. Adam Wharton joined from Blackburn in January, following Eberechi Eze (QPR) and Michael Olise (Reading) in seamlessly making the step up to the Premier League.


Everton – Follow the actual rules
Guys, it’s pretty simple.


Fulham – No loans
They’re terrible at it. Fode Ballo-Toure played 65 minutes having joined from AC Milan last summer, and they had to pay Chelsea £4m for six months of Armando Broja because he failed to play 60 per cent of their games in the second half of the season. He played 81 minutes in total. So five per cent.

The season before they signed Shane Duffy, who featured for 15 Premier League minutes, and Dan James, who started just five games.


Ipswich – Don’t listen to McKenna
He’s obviously brilliant and they’ll all love him even more now that he’s signed a new deal. But buying a load of players specifically for McKenna is a massive risk given the amount of interest in him, particularly when one specific basket case of a football club holds him in such high regard. Who else are Chelsea going to call when they sack Enzo Maresca at Christmas?


Leicester – Net spend zero
We don’t yet know what the punishment will be, but reports claim Leicester could start the season with a 15-point deduction. It means they will likely go straight back down and need to curb their instincts to spend big on that assumption; they don’t want to be in an even bigger hole back in the Championship.


Liverpool – Ask Arne
With the structure alterations at Liverpool that have seen Michael Edwards return as the kingpin, Hughes join as sporting director and the title change from manager to head coach, it looks very much like Arne Slot will have a backseat when it comes to transfers. We reckon it might be a good idea though to ask the guy charged with organising and coaching the team to have some say in who’s going to be part of it.


Manchester City – Go for the 116th
They already face the transfer bans, Premier League expulsion and title stripping. What more can be done? May as well go down in a blaze of free-spending glory.


Manchester United – No more rules
Ratcliffe’s five rules are already set to thwart them so that these five moves are out the window, and to the point where we’ve managed to predict with more certainty than ever before which five players Manchester United are going to sign.


Newcastle – No gamblers
We would urge the Newcastle bosses to a tad bit more suspicious than they were when AC Milan agreed to let Sandro Tonali leave with no negotiation whatsoever.


Nottingham Forest – Fewer than ten new arrivals
It sounds easier than it’s proven to be for Forest since they returned to the Premier League. Not including loans they signed 24 players in their first season and 12 in their second. We reckon about eight of the 36 have been any good.


Southampton – Only Man City U21s
Gavin Bazunu is the exception – he’s continued to look as ropey in the Championship as he did in the Premier League – but the Manchester City academy has otherwise been a very happy hunting ground for Southampton.

They made £40m on Romeo Lavia in a season, Taylor Harwood-Bellis has been excellent and Samuel Edozie and Shea Charles have shown promise, as did Juan Larios before his long-term injury.


Tottenham – No big-name buys
Most of us knew very little about Guglielmo Vicario or Micky van de Ven before they joined and they were both brilliant, and in general Tottenham’s best buys over the last few seasons have been from clubs below the top tier. Pedro Porro, Destiny Udogie and Pape Matar Sarr would all fit in that category.


West Ham – No strikers
What’s the point? They’ll be rubbish. Michail Antonio remains their main man up top – and does feel a bit juxtaposed when flanked by Jarrod Bowen and Mohammed Kudus – and joined the club nine years ago. Since then they’ve signed Andre Ayew, Chicharito, Lucas Perez, Sebastien Haller and Gianluca Scamacca for a combined fee of £110m and they scored 57 goals in 213 games between them for the Hammers. Seriously, don’t bother.


Wolves – Only sign Jorge Mendes players again
It made for easy feature writing and they’ve landed some absolute gems as a result of their relationship with the super-agent. Diogo Jota, Joao Moutinho, Rui Patricio, Pedro Neto, Ruben Neves, Jose Sa, Nelson Semedo and Matheus Nunes all arrived thanks to Mendes.