Is it too early to declare Darwin Nunez the greatest Premier League signing of all time? Absolutely not. A ludicrous flicked goal, a fluked assist and a ridiculous red card within his first two games is the stuff of greatness.
That his obviously deserved red card has prompted some really weird defences from Liverpool-adjacent pundits only adds to the sense of a master at work. But luckily for us, he’s not the only chaotic footballer to make a move this summer.
Yes please. This is precisely the way we want the £85m superstar arrivals in Our League to behave. Total, utter chaos with heroism and villainy never more than a moment away. Darwin’s start to Premier League life has been absolutely spot on. A Community Shield performance to Serve Notice of what he was about, a Premier League debut that really, in its own beautifully ridiculously chaotically impressive way, asked more questions than it answered and then a home debut that few will forget.
Against Fulham, there is absolutely no doubt that Darwin altered the course of the game. Yet the manner in which he did so was… weird. The flick for his goal managed to be both brilliantly inventive and also unconvincing – and also came almost immediately after a failed attempt, which was enjoyable – while his assist came from a dismal miscontrol in the penalty area. Incredibly that has already been usurped as the best assist for Liverpool this season thanks to James Milner putting the equaliser against Palace on a plate for Luis Diaz. Nunez, of course, had departed stage right by this point having walked into Joachim Andersen. Clumsy dafty.
Spurs’ summer spending has been unreasonably impressive, with eye-catching names who provide obvious squad and/or starting XI improvement secured all over the shop. The age profile is also ideal, ranging from the wily veteran Ivan Perisic to the promising if raw Djed Spence and plenty filling the acres of space between the two.
We pretty much had to include one of them here, and we’ve gone for Richarlison. You want reasons? Sigh. Fine, we’ll give you reasons. First, he’s a fascinating bit of business from Spurs because on the one hand paying north of £50m for a player with a good but not great Premier League record who has almost no shot at being first choice seems a bit mad. But he’s also an immediate second choice in three different positions, and what makes him most tantalising is he possesses enough of the cunning and craft to be an able deputy for any of Spurs’ stellar front three while also remaining markedly and profoundly different.
Chaos is the word we keep coming back to and he definitely offers a bit more of that than the more predictably reliable excellence of Kane, Son and Kulusevski. The fact the Chelsea game was his Spurs debut because he had to serve a suspension last weekend for lobbing a flare is kind of proof enough, but his performance at Stamford Bridge also feels instructive here. On the one hand it’s almost impossible to think of a single specific thing he did that was particularly impressive once he came off the bench, yet it also feels profoundly and unavoidably true that Spurs wouldn’t have saved that game without him.
Spurs have a front three to bring plenty of goals and assists. Richarlison brings something less tangible. Richarlison brings vibes. And just as importantly these days, xV. Obviously, he’s been around the Premier League for a long time already but he’s been at Everton where things are generally just too bleak and grey to be truly heart-soaringly enjoyable for either better or worse. No such concerns at Spurs.
West Ham have a proud history of success when it comes to signing strikers and the latest is Scamacca. At the moment he’s been restricted to a couple of cameos from the bench but with the Hammers now the only side to have both zero points and zero goals on the board after two games – even Manchester United have managed to score, guys! – that will surely soon change.
Obviously, he won’t score any goals because he is a West Ham centre-forward but he is absolutely massive and looks an absolutely textbook Nightmare To Play Against. Fully expect him to be named as a leftfield shout by, say, Eric Dier a decade from now as the toughest opponent he came up against in the Greatest League in the World. Also, shifting Michail Antonio out wide to accommodate Scamacca in a front three with Jarrod Bowen absolutely screams vibes. At the most fundamental straightforward level, West Ham are in any case already in a position where they might as well do this because it can’t be any worse.
Nottingham Forest’s whole new squad
It would be rude to pick out one name from Nottingham Forest’s absolutely wild summer recruitment drive. It is a performance piece that must be considered in the round. Taiwo Awoniyi is already doing bits, making Jesse Lingard your highest earner is always correct and Emmanuel Dennis was absolutely the relegated player every promoted club should have been targeting.
But as we say, the individuals are less important than the entire concept. Just the identity of the clubs Forest have bought from is enough to tell you this is going to be great: Bayern Munich, Union Berlin, Manchester United, Troyes, Mainz, Liverpool, Burnley, Alajuelense, Huddersfield, Stuttgart, Watford, Crystal Palace, Atalanta. Glorious.
What we do need, though, is an official ruling from the Classiness Police on this. What precisely is the number of new players that constitutes Making A Mockery of the very serious business that is Premier League football? Once the boffins have nailed that one, we’ll then be needing a number of new signings that must be made before a club stands accused of wasting a place in the division by not trying.
Whichever lucky sod Manchester United overpay for most egregiously over the next few weeks
Or failing that, Adrien Rabiot. We’d still love it to be Marko Arnautovic, which genuinely sounds like the most obvious hack name you could come up with if you wanted to invent a transfer to sum up Manchester United’s vibe in the year of our Lord 2022. The spoilsport fans have already ruined that one for the rest of us, but don’t worry. They are going to buy someone wildly inappropriate or wildly expensive or ideally both before August is done.
We’ve got a sneaky feeling that they’re going to come up with a bid of something around nine figures for a player such as for e.g. James Ward-Prowse.