At the stroke of midnight on the 31st August the transfer window slammed shut, with all the deals finalised plenty of fans will be happy, others will be questioning what on earth is happening. The Hype Train looks at the summer transfer market of 2016 and ponders on what did just happen, the ups, downs, and the confusing pieces of business that have gone in the past few months. In the most expensive transfer market yet we may not be a closer to figuring out the answer, but we can speculate.
The Premier League have a fantastic page with all the confirmed deals, so take a peak to remind yourself at exactly who moved clubs this summer.
Insert Link: https://www.premierleague.com/news/61463
Looking at who did the best business we are looking at everything, not just the best buys. The transfer market is also about management, retaining quality players, and making good decisions in the aspects of all activities. There are some surprising additions, but these are the opinions of The Hype Train who have looked at the wider picture.
Best Business: Newcastle United
The Toon under the guidance of Rafa Benitez have had a storming transfer window, you may be surprised to see their name on the top of this list but there is good reason why a Championship team has stormed it in the window just passed.
Keeping Rafa at the club is a huge piece of business, a man of his managerial acumen should be at a league in higher esteem than the Championship, and yet he still lingers in a lower division after being shown incredible support from both the club and its supporters that he is the man to lead them back to the promised land of the Premier League, and there isn't any doubt he won't do it. This alone could be why Newcastle did the best business, if they lost Rafa their optimistic season could be torn to sunder and the Toon once again rallying against Mike Ashley. Newcastle is now a club united under Benitez and his organisation and discipline could see Newcastle dominate the second division this season.
Aside from this the Toon have cleared all the expensive dead-weight out of their teams, players who didn't want to be there, and yes we are talking about Gini Wijnaldum who moved to Liverpool, and also Moussa Sissoko who moved to Spurs. Bringing in a total of £55 million for these two players alone they have brought their transfer profit into the green whilst still investing heavily in the squad. The likes of Dwight Gayle, Matt Sels, Matt Ritchie, DeAndre Yedlin are huge coups that actually improve the squad from last season whilst being in a lower division. Rafa has restructured the entire team and addressed every problem area and brought in depth to every position from goalkeeper to forwards. Newcastle could field two teams and have enough players to manage the season ahead with ease, and for a club whose support has been ever critical about transfer activity and investment have no complaints about the transfer window just gone whilst Mike Ashley still made a profit on big assets departing the club.
This transfer window has been win-win for everyone involved in the club and they stand every chance of convincingly winning the Championship and being prepared for life back in the Premier League next season.
Worst Business: Sunderland
A new start under David Moyes has asked the same relegation related questions as every manager in the past three seasons at the Stadium of Light, this hasn't been helped by the unconvincing transfer window endured by the clubs fans. There haven’t been enough reinforcements brought in to convince the supporters or neutrals that this could be another season where the Black Cats defy all expectations and stay up, and having mostly brought in defenders into the fold that is even more worrying. There was no cover for Jermain Defoe brought in or top-end quality that makes the side a better attacking force.
Problems are still lingering in every position and the few players they have brought in are sceptical buys. Paddy McNair and Donald Love from Manchester United's ongoing youth exodus are prime examples of players who are questionable buys, as is Jason Denayer on loan from Manchester City. Then we get onto their record signing who few would have heard of, Ndong was purchased with the intent on becoming 'Wearside Kante', a mobile and battling midfielder who can help out the defence and turn a perilous moment into a dangerous attack within seconds. Unfortunately for a club record signing there is little evidence of real quality in any purchase.
Most people will have a jostling concern that this might not be enough to save them from the drop, and for the past three seasons they have seriously flirted with relegation only to be bailed out after heroics against all odds in the last ten games of the season. Unlike their neighbours in Tyneside the Black Cats could be staring into the abyss this time round.
Best Premier League Business: Everton
When Everton announced the tenure of Ronald Koeman I think everyone was a bit shocked that he chose the Merseyside club, we were too, we thought a bigger club would come in for the coveted Dutchman. Back with the investment of a new owner the sky was the limit for the new Toffees boss who could start putting his stamp on his new team. Fortunately for Koeman Everton were awash with talented players massively under-utilised by former manager Roberto Martinez, so adding depth to the squad was the main priority. The acquisition of Ronald Koeman is a huge coup and a feather in the Toffee's cap for this transfer window, but what about transfers made so far?
You might be sitting there and scratching your head about why we chose Everton, after all they sold John Stones to Manchester City, a player with huge potential. There is a huge debate that Stones was actually no good for Everton and was wasted by Martinez, so the decision to sell was applicable for those reasons. Koeman also reinforced after the sale by bringing in the proven Ashley Williams which is ironic because he is a Liverpool supporter, so they immediately replaced a player who had big questions marks above their head with a player that was considered a valuable asset in the Premier League, and they even made a tidy profit to reinvest into their team. The further buys of Idrissa Gueye and Yannick Bolasie, and Maarten Stekelenburg are also just as important; they reinforced their ranks with a hard working central midfielder and a winger who can dictate the pace of the game, and a goalkeeper to replace Tim Howard. None of their buys are questionable and make the team better than the alternative under Martinez. Every player they have brought into the team actually makes the other players better in theory, no question about it, and as a result they look a better unit as a result.
The transfer market has been a win-win for Everton and even better is that they kept in Romelu Lukaku and Seamus Coleman, whilst also removing the ageing dead-weight from the squad. Everton are already reaping the rewards of a good transfer window and they could be a real force this season under Koeman.
There are also a handful teams that also had very good transfer windows, and none of them are surprising. When it comes to seeing the needs of a team and then plugging any necessary holes there were some teams who addressed this in their bid for the title this season, brace yourselves for the predictability of these teams. There is also one team that may or may not surprise you.
Other good notable Premier League Business:
Man Utd: By ignoring Jose Mourinho's activity in the transfer market would be unjust considering that the Portuguese manoeuvred the world record transfer of Paul Pogba. Manchester United didn't necessarily buy in bulk, but they bought in quality for positions that did need reinforcement. United needed a striker, and they got Zlatan, they needed a play-making central midfielder and got Paul Pogba, they needed a utility winger and brought in Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and they definitely needed another centre-half and they purchased the imposing Eric Bailly from Villarreal.
Chelsea: Antonio Conte has kept core Chelsea group whilst adding N'Golo Kante, David Luiz, Alonso, and the Batsman to add depth to their squad. Cover at full-back was required, as was at centre-half, and Batsman is an upgrade on Remy. Just basing it on the transfer of Kante they are once again one of the best performers in the transfer market after adding quality to the team and retaining all of their core assets, small tweaks, but an upgrade nonetheless.
Man City: Brought in some fresh faces to their attack and defence, Pep wasn't afraid to shake it up at the Etihad this season and as predicted brought in some top class players to the squad that have made immediate impacts to the team. The most important of these players is not Jon Stones, but Nolito. Man City were criticized last season for a lack of diversity in their end product, for a team that was so free scoring the reinforcements of the goal scoring Spaniard actually makes their attack better whilst being able to still field De Bruyne in a support capacity along with David Silva. Despite what people may think the addition of Claudio Bravo is an upgrade on Joe Hart to play the Pep way, it wasn't all perfect because they could have freshened up their full-back positions with some young blood.
Spurs: Spurs had a large squad as it was, with lots of flexibility they were in truth crying out for more depth now they are in the Champions League. They brought in cover for Harry Kane in the shape of Vincent Janssen, a solid defensive midfielder in Victor Wanyama, a versatile attacking midfielder called Moussa Sissoko and also a replacement for Clinton N'Jie by the name of Georges-Kevin N'Koudou. Overall the Lilywhites have added a decent collection of players to their team and they look a better team this year and able to manage the challenge of competing in Europe's grand stage.
Middlesbrough: What a summer Boro have had, Alvaro Negredo, Victor Valdes, Adama Traore, Antonio Barragan, Maarten de Roon, and Viktor Fischer are the purchases that really stand out in a very strong transfer window. Additionally keeping Daniel Ayala after being pursued by Newcastle was just as good as bringing in a new player. Adding depth and competition for places in the Boro team has been the priority for the manager who seeks to succeed in the Premier League and build a solid foundation to grow. Where Watford have over-bought Boro have brought in a handful of starters as well as improving their bench. They possess legitimate quality all over the pitch and the intent is to maintain their position in the league after a strong start to the season.
Other bad and notable Premier League business:
AFC Bournemouth: Selling Ritchie to Newcastle and Tommy Elphick to Aston Villa might just be a stupid mistake, not only because they offloaded them to Championship clubs but also because they were the leaders on the pitch. Eddie Howe bought in a lot of suspect players during the transfer window, and we even include the injury hit Jack Wilshere in that list, and there are quiet grumblings that a miracle might save Bournemouth from the cursed 'second season syndrome' of getting relegated. Jordan Ibe is the biggest metaphor of their business in the transfer window: promising, exciting, but ultimately unproven. This could cost Bournemouth as it could affect the team dynamic they had last season.
Hull City: Too late to really impact on the result of this decision, and even though they added Weir and Mbokani on deadline day we don't believe they add quality to the team that it needs to potentially stave off relegation should they face that fight. Also, when you sell your best player to Newcastle expect the club to struggle, Mo Diame was the glue to the Hull team and the man that got them promoted, they let a real winner go and that could hurt them in the long run. Ryan Mason has come in to fill that void, but like it was mentioned with the Bournemouth signings it could ultimately hurt them
Crystal Palace: The main problem is momentum, and the Eagles didn't address it, as proven at Liverpool Benteke will need the right players round him to thrive, and we are not convinced Palace can do that with the squad they have. Losing Yannick Bolasie is a real deal breaker on their chances of fighting off a relegation battle. Last season The Hype Train said Palace could make a top six finish if they kept Bolasie in the team, and when the winger went injured they were just floating above relegation towards the end of the season. Having players like Benteke and Remy in the team doesn't mean anything if you can't get the ball to them. However, they will be plenty powerful on dead-ball situations which they might rely on quite a lot this season but that may not be enough having not addressed the main reason they struggled so far in 2016.
West Brom: Tony Pulis even admitted that he struggled bringing in key targets for the upcoming season; a part of it might to do with his style of defensive football that is unattractive to most players. The team looks exactly the same as it did last season and they didn't manage to sell Berahino who just doesn't have his heart set on staying at the Hawthorne’s. He'll be plucked up by another club on a free transfer in January, no doubt about it. Hal Robson-Kane is also an interesting choice, mostly because he had a fantastic Euro 2016 campaign with Wales but any Reading fan will tell you that he struggled for any form during his long tenure with the Berkshire club. Another transfer window and the consensus is that they haven't improved on what they had last year.
Who aren't we sure on?
Liverpool: Five major signings added, but still uncertainty on key areas of holding midfielder and a left back. Klopp has decided for a team approach so it might be a patient wait to see any long term results. Sadio Mane, Loris Karius, and Joel Matip are highlights for the fans who wanted to reinforce with a new winger, goalkeeper, and dominating defender, but in typical Liverpool fashion the same problems and questions about their capabilities still linger after the window has closed.
Arsenal: Wenger reinforcing his team with outfield players was a shock, but a needed one as many of their golden oldies departed the club. All you need to do is take a trip to any Arsenal forum to still see the frustration of not adding the big names to their squad, the biggest case is still the unrest at the thought of Giroud still the primary striker. After a summer of being linked with every top talent under the sun most people are not convinced by their activity this summer, and neither are we.
Southampton: Losing Mane and Pelle is a real blow to Southampton who now go into this season planning for the Europa League. The robots that control the transfer committee have made good buys this time round in the form of Boufal and Redmond, yet there is still the pessimism that once you sell quality players you may not get that in return with the new players. The Saints are a hard one to judge this window as they have rarely looked a goal threat so far with Mane's intensity and running dictating the pace of the Saint's game.
West Ham: Despite making some big signings and keeping Payet in the team this transfer window has been a strange one for the Hammers who have seen incredible attacking talent added to the team, but still not a good centre back to partner Winston Reid. Also, key injuries to their main men and without Payet playing have showed that they are weaker in quality than most people think.
Stoke City: Bony and Allen are welcome additions, but like most Stoke fans we aren't quite sure either if the club is getting better or still plodding around the mid-table.
Burnley: Having brought in Steven Defour, Jeff Hendrick and Icelandic hero Johann Berg Gudmundsson the Burnley team look better outfitted this season than their last. They retained all of their key assets in Michael Keane who was target by Leicester and also Andre Gray who caught the interest from Aston Villa. Additionally, they have brought in Flanagan and Bamford on loan, on paper it looks like Sean Dyche might be learning from his first venture in the Premier League that ended finishing bottom of the table. The reason we aren't so sure is that we can't see where the quality is in the new transfers, it is difficult for the team to recruit and we still think that these transfers also set up for a life in return to the Championship whilst letting go of high-priced loan players.
Watford: Complete overhaul in the Watford camp with twelve new additions, and yet we think most of the new players don't actually improve the squad that was dropping momentum towards the end of last season. Roberto Pereya is a highlight and a real surprise transfer, but other buys like Younes Kaboul and Daryl Janmaat hardly inspire confidence the team is improving on what it already had.
Swansea: Losing Ashley Williams was a real blow for the Swans, they did replace him with Mike van der Hoorn but that is still questionable as he hasn't featured yet this season. Swansea did buy two new strikers, and again, questionable buys but players who could make the team better should they hit any form. Aside from this it has been an up and down transfer window that hasn't actually been that exhilarating for Swansea who need to up their performance quality or face a fight to stay in the league.
Crystal Palace: After selling Yannick Bolasie and replacing him with a different type of player in Christian Benteke there are lots of hits and misses for the Eagles in this transfer window. Having brought in Steve Mandanda was a huge acquisition for them too but their other signings are very underwhelming. The Palace team has not drastically changed and they needed a strong window to help build their momentum. The potential is there, but like most teams the caution is definitely in the wind.
We now tackle some of the thoughts we have had during the transfer window, with a lot of the focus being on a certain world-record transfer we take a step back to answer some frequently asked questions about this summer’s transfer window.
Did Liverpool actually strengthen their defence?
Maybe, but we don't believe so. In areas they have done good business, Klavan and Matip look on the surface to be upgrades on Skrtel and Toure who departed this summer. The problem they have is, and forever will be, at left-back where they have right footed James Milner currently playing in the position ahead of out of form Alberto Moreno. Nobody in the Liverpool fan base is convinced of the new defence and it already after three games the goals leaked in from the left-back position still continues to thwart the rest of the team. Even more confusing is the decision to let Jon Flanagan go on loan who could walk into the left-back position.
All it takes is one injury to this Liverpool defence for it crumbles, but there could be some optimism with Sakho refusing to leave on loan, Joe Gomez returning from injury, and Loris Karius to usurp error-king Simon Mignolet in goal. FPL managers will want to avoid the Reds defence in favour of their stellar attacking options this season.
Did Watford overload on transfers... again?
Yes, we believe so. They could have two main teams fielded with subs at the number of transfers they have made, the logical explanation is that the new manager wants all the players fighting tooth and claw for places in the main team. The difficulty from an FPL standpoint is now whether or not any Hornet is guaranteed their starting position. Odion Ighalo is the biggest example of this because Deeney will play and is the better asset on the pitch, so should he continue his dry-spell expect Okaka to come in and take a chance to fill the obvious lack of goals from the Watford attack.
Full-back rotation is also a concern for FPL managers; two capable left-backs now exist on either side. Watford is intriguing because Walter Mazzari has created a Lord of the Fly's style situation that could turn out in any possible way.
Did Leicester buy any starters to their team?
Maybe, but we actually doubt it. The only player brought in that could rival for a regular starting spot is Islam Slimani, Leicester's record signing, who could challenge Okazaki's position as the hard-working centre forward. For a big guy his work rate is immense and is more likely the figure to rival for the place next to Vardy than directly for the England international's starting spot. Musa was brought in as competition for Vardy as a like-for-like replacement. Based on recent line-ups and the performance of Daniel Amartey in the spot next to Danny Drinkwater it looks like the Ghanaian will be given a chance at last to fill the Kante sized hole in the team, thus leaving Mendy to work his way into the team.
Elsewhere German goalkeeper Zieler, Polish winger Kapustka, Spanish defender Luis Hernandez, and fellow countryman and forward player Rubio all look to play the part of rotation players in and around cup games, Champions League fixtures, and in case of any injuries. Also, with the African cup of nations likely to take Amartey, Slimani, and Mahrez away from the King Power it could be that Leicester wanted to cover for the worst case scenario of losing key players for long duration's.
Can you believe the number of new goalkeepers new to this season?
Shocking to think that the number of new goalkeeping options in the Premier League has skyrocketed, we are including promoted teams keepers in this too because they did not play a minute last season in the top flight, so Heaton is still a new edition for this crazy season. We have believed that the Premier League last season has a good 17-18 goalkeepers in the league, starting. The age of goalkeepers holding their place is behind us as many clubs have opted for safer hands. Joe Hart was the biggest casualty of this, and soon Simon Mignolet could be displaced by Loris Karius when he has returned from injury. In the new, and out with the old as they say.
Manchester City: Claudio Bravo
Liverpool: Loris Karius
Everton: Maarten Stekelenburg
Hull City: David Marshall
Crystal Palace: Steve Mandanda
Victor Valdes: Middlesbrough
Burnley: Tom Heaton
It is reasons like this why Petr Cech and David De Gea have been heavily selected picks so far in the FPL. Jack Butland's long term injury will also give further justification for trusting in these two pairs of safe hands.
Are Burnley a better team than the last time they were in the Premier League?
Record transfer for Steven Defour was a real surprise, and a move that makes complete sense. After scoring his first goal in GW4 this seems to be a solid bit of business by Sean Dyche, and a move that makes the team better. Burnley has a better balance this season, but because of their prior performance there is good reason to be unsure for this season. They actually have a goal scoring partnership, but it is very much in the same vein of Ings and Vokes when they were in the league together...and seeing as how Andre Gray scored against Liverpool he will be odds on to join the Merseyside outfit in the next summer transfer window.
They kept Michael Keane and Tom Heaton has made a considerable step up, so they look better, but they might be struggling for rest of the season based on performances so far. They are one of the favourites to be relegated and even if they have brought in good quality that may not be enough as they haven't found any consistent form which could hurt them in the long run.
Potential FPL Options
We wouldn't be doing our FPL duty without mentioning who we believe will do well in their new moves from a fantasy standpoint, this isn't a comprehensive list but the names that stand out in comparison to others, and some more to think about. It will be a long season and as teams and players minds are now totally focused on the season ahead we could really start to see some of the new boy’s blossom in the Premier League.
* indicates if the player is on loan at their new club.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (MUN)
Wilfried Bony (STK)*
Michy Batshuayi (CHE)
Christian Benteke (CRY)
Alvaro Negredo (MID)*
Fernando Llorente (SWA)
Borja Baston (SWA)
Vincent Janssen (TOT)
Lucas Perez (ARS)
Islam Slimani (LEI)
Simone Zaza (WHU)*
Sadio Mane (LIV)
Gini Wijnaldum (LIV)
Nathan Redmond (SOU)
Sofiane Boufal (SOU)
Adnan Januzaj (SUN)
Leroy Fer (SWA)
Gaston Ramirez (MID)
Roberto Pereya (WAT)
Andre Ayew (WHU)
Sofiane Feghouli (WHU)
Steven Defour (BUR)
Yannick Bolasie (EVE)
Nacer Chadli (WBA)
Ashley Williams (EVE)
Brendan Galloway (WBA)*
Shkodran Mustafi (ARS)
John Stones (MCI)
Joel Matip (LIV)
Antonio Barragan (MID)
Bruno Martins Indi (STK)
Eric Bailly (MUN)
Daryl Janmaat (WAT)
David Luiz (CHE)
Maarten Stekelenburg (EVE)
Steve Mandanda (CRY)
David Marshall (HUL)
Loris Karius (LIV)
Claudio Bravo (MCI)
Victor Valdes (MID)
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