Brighton are the masters but Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth absolutely smashed it. Newcastle and the promoted clubs can be happy, too.
Laugh at your transfer window losers and then meet back here, yeah?
He really did make it all look so bloody easy.
Since the summer of 2020, Brighton have sold Anthony Knockaert for £15m, Ben White for £50m, Dan Burn for £13m, Yves Bissouma for £25m, Leo Ostigard for £4.5m, Marc Cucurella for £56m, Leandro Trossard for £20m, Alexis Mac Allister for £35m, Robert Sanchez for £25m and Moises Caicedo for £100m. Those 10 players were bought for a combined £63.7m and moved on for £343.5m, having made a mean average of just 66 Premier League appearances for the club.
Factor in a club-record £30m signing sorted in May, the loan of one of the best young players in the world from Barcelona completed on deadline day and everything in between, this remains a truly surreal time to be Brighton: the operational envy of any club looking to exploit its position in the football food chain rather than surrendering to it.
Brighton have got plenty of attacking talent to choose from 🔥 pic.twitter.com/uIpthE6oV7
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 1, 2023
The knowledge that there are Aston Villa fans out there impotently seething at what they perceive to be an underwhelming net spend in preparation for European football is comforting.
Steven Gerrard spent more than £60m on Diego Carlos, Philippe Coutinho, Robin Olsen, Boubacar Kamara and Leander Dendoncker last summer, loaning Ludwig Augustinsson and Jan Bednarek. Unai Emery and Monchi have bought Youri Tielemans, Pau Torres and Moussa Diaby for a similar amount, loaning Nicolo Zaniolo and Clement Lenglet. Those there are levels. And really quite disparate ones.
Villa were already one of the best teams in the Premier League based on their form under Emery, even if that sample size is relatively small. Adding five players who bring the experience and quality of more than 200 games combined in continental competition, while losing no first-teamer of note and making great money on two academy graduates who had little genuine prospect of meaningful minutes, is as close to the perfect summer as realistically possible.
A nice low-key window after last season’s excess. Just the 14 players signed this time, including six on deadline day.
It is difficult to argue the case for any Premier League club having a better window. The Goalkeeping Department has been refined with Matt Turner and Odysseas Vlachodimos. The full-back ranks have been enhanced by Ola Aina, Gonzalo Montiel and Nuno Tavares. Needing another centre-half, Forest found the way to a Murillo. Andrey Santos, Nicolas Dominguez and particularly Ibrahima Sangare are upgrades in midfield. The attack has lost Brennan Johnson but has more variation with Anthony Elanga, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Divock Origi. Chris Wood is also still there.
After the scattergun approach of Filippo Giraldi, new chief football officer Ross Wilson, appointed in April, has done a phenomenal job of focusing the club’s sights a little and only really pulling the trigger when necessary.
The first few weeks of the summer were spent burning the phrase ‘payment structure’ into our collective transfer psyche as Arsenal were made to work for Declan Rice. Another month was wasted trying to help David Moyes and Tim Steidten appreciate the other’s way of skinning a cat. And for the longest time it really did seem as though the Hammers had irrevocably cocked it all.
But the Premier League leaders have reinvested their windfall shrewdly, improving their squad in every position. Konstantinos Mavropanos, Edson Alvarez and James Ward-Prowse had already helped fill the many voids left behind by the former Hammers captain before Mohammed Kudus became the latest player to accept the challenge of showing the manager that Michail Antonio isn’t the only forward who exists. That really could be a spectacular deal. But in any event the Hammers making three £30m-plus transfers in one window is precisely how one should capitalise on winning a European trophy, even if the lack of A Proper Centre-Forward is stark and perpetual.
Hold on… nine signings, none permanent for any player older than 24, with two teenagers and a few notable injuries chucked in, all on long-term contracts for a club which finished in the Premier League’s bottom half last season under a caretaker English manager who was replaced by a Spanish speaker in the summer. And their owner is an American called ‘Bill Foley’. Sure. You’re not fooling anyone, Todd.
A lovely window, in all seriousness. Perhaps a little too relaxed on the medicals side but that is a revitalised squad, if one short of a prolific striker.
Allan Saint-Maximin did die for this. Figuratively. But also specifically. It was upon his noble sacrifice Newcastle have based the latest stage in their evolution. And Eddie Howe continues to be tediously sensible when it comes to such fatuous concepts as FFP and unlimited pits of money. The nerd.
The Magpies are definitely a centre-half short and probably lacking one more attacking option, but these things have to be viewed holistically and not every squad deficiency can be addressed in a single window.
One elite-level signing, two exciting teenagers and two sought-after players untarnished by relegation. Sandro Tonali, Harvey Barnes, Tino Livramento and Lewis Hall are better than Matty Longstaff, Saint Maximin, Harrison Ashby, Jamal Lewis, with Yankuba Minteh the wildcard. And getting more than £15m for Chris Wood and Karl Darlow is witchcraft.
Manchester United spent about £10m on Mark Bosnich, Quinton Fortune, Massimo Taibi and Mikael Silvestre in the summer immediately after winning the Treble.
Sure, the only departure of note Sir Alex Ferguson had to deal with at the time was that of Peter Schmeichel. Pep Guardiola has instead shed Ilkay Gundogan, Riyad Mahrez and Aymeric Laporte from his trophy-winning troop. But spending more than £200m in response still seems a bit much.
Chelsea have spent more on transfers this summer than Tottenham did in the five years Pochettino was their manager.
“I think it was a different project, different circumstance,” the Argentinean has said of that comparison. Too bloody right. No club has ever spent more in a single transfer window.
From the jaws of disaster, Wolves have snatched what could be a victorious window. Their first summer since 2015 without signing either someone Portuguese or from the Portuguese league really does point to a long overdue shift in approach. Have that, Jorge.
They are still laughably short of goals – the highest Premier League scorer in that Wolves squad is Craig Dawson with 20 goals, with his closest competitors on nine – but the switch to targeting young, talented, low-risk signings who might actually want to stay for a bit is welcome. The rest of the Neves and Nunes money is presumably kept aside just in case.
It remains to be seen if it constitutes Doing A Forest, Doing A Fulham or Doing A Villa. There is always option d) of it simply being a promoted club using their new-found status and augmented financial situation to reinvest and consolidate their position, having lost some key players in the summer. But that is less fun.
Probably more accurate though. Burnley have set themselves up for the future: all 11 of the players they have signed permanently (for a cumulative £97.5m) are aged between 18 and 25, loanees Mike Tresor and Jacob Bruun Larsen are both 24, and even the freebie pair of Nathan Redmond and Lawrence Vigouroux are the right side of 30. In seven summers as a Premier League manager at Turf Moor, Sean Dyche permanently signed a total of 15 players aged 25 or under. Vincent Kompany is two-thirds of the way there after one window.
One need only glance at the starting line-up which faced Crystal Palace in the season opener – and gave up 24 shots at home to a mid-table club – to see how far Sheffield United have come in the final weeks of the transfer window.
Foderingham; Ahmedhodzic, Egan, Robinson; Baldock, Basham, Norwood, Lowe; Traore, Osula, Osborn was quietly challenging for the record low points total. The losses of Billy Sharp, Iliman Ndiaye, Sander Berge and James McAtee was debilitating.
But August has offered new hope. The defence looks stronger for the arrivals of Auston Trusty and Luke Thomas. That starting midfield is genuinely excellent. Cameron Archer is an exponential upgrade on what came before. The squad depth has improved. The Blades are still among the favourites for relegation but they look much sharper than when they started.
The ten permanent signings Luton have made this summer have 780 combined career Championship appearances between them, and 518 games in the Premier League. With Ross Barkley and Tim Krul, two of the three oldest additions, accounting for 455 of those matches in England’s top flight, it is clear to see the Hatters have looked beyond the end of their noses in this window.
It would have been easy to fall into the trap of chasing the glamour signing but Luton had a plan and it has been executed wonderfully. Promotion provided them an opportunity some may mistakenly believe they have wasted; the Hatters used it to further their long-term ambitions rather than making any short-sighted decisions and they should be commended for it.
It doesn’t feel as though one needs to have been head of academy recruitment at Manchester City to figure out that Manchester City probably have some good players in their academy. Yet there Shields goes, bringing his spend on players signed directly from the Manchester City academy to around £80m for five prodigies signed for two different clubs over the past year. Great work if you can get it, while buying loads of Brazilian teenagers and Romeo Lavia at any chance you get in between.
You did it, big fella. Now get that office motorbike shipped to Munich and bloody well enjoy yourself.