In what has been a record breaking summer of transfer activity for the Premier League, the Diamond Formation summarises each club’s “ins” and “outs”:
Arsenal (NH): The first eye-catching signing to arrive into the Premier League this summer was Alexis Sanchez and at the time it was a real statement of intent from Arsene Wenger as it proved that last year’s investment for Mesut Ozil was not going to be a one-off. Despite not yet lighting up the league as was expected, Sanchez will surely prove himself to be a great player for The Gunners. Mathieu Debuchy was perhaps a predictable but nevertheless solid replacement for Bacary Sagna. Calum Chambers seemed to be more of a strange one but he’s taken very little time to settle in and has taken the responsibility of playing centre half in his stride. Perhaps the most important area which needed strengthening, particularly with the injury to Olivier Giroud, was the striking department. Whilst I’m not the biggest fan of Danny Welbeck, he does fit the Arsenal mould very well and with regular football, it’ll also benefit England at international level. Normally, all the transfer talk surrounding Arsenal is about which key player(s) they’ve lost to Premier League rivals but for once, that’s not been the case this summer (with the exception of Sagna being released and picked up by Man City). Overall, a good transfer window for Arsenal but they still needed to do a little bit more to throw themselves into the title race. Maybe signing Sami Khedira or Morgan Schneiderlin would’ve done that.
Aston Villa (NH): If there was an award for “most underwhelming summer acquisitions”, it would have to go to Villa. I don’t really know how Paul Lambert has managed to do this but he’s somehow brought in six new players and none of them have really strengthened his squad. This makes their excellent start to the season somewhat baffling but that’s football for you. Even so, if I were a Villa fan I’d be braced for another relegation battle. They did manage to hold on to Ron Vlaar, who was pursued by Southampton for much of the summer so they do deserve some credit for that. However, there is very little to say about the likes of Joe Cole, Kieran Richardson and Phillippe Senderos. Unfortunately, Villa are a club heading backwards and this summer all but confirmed that.
Burnley (NH): It was always going to be difficult for Burnley to compete in the transfer market and find ways of bringing in the players with the necessary quality to give them a realistic chance of staying up. Had they have still been in the Championship, the business they’ve done would have been very impressive but the gulf between that level and the level Burnley now find themselves at is very wide and the only way to bridge that gap nowadays is by spending lots and lots of money, which the Lancashire club also can’t do. £3 million for George Boyd on deadline day really was breaking the bank by their standards. Whilst they couldn’t have really done anything differently, Burnley’s squad is still considerably lacking in Premier League quality and this is despite pushing the boat out.
Chelsea (NH): For me, Chelsea have done the best business in this window. Granted, they have the deepest pockets to ensure that they have the “perfect” transfer window almost every time but unlike some of their rivals, they’ve invested their money into their weakest areas and made their team a complete powerhouse which will take some stopping this season. They needed a top class striker, they got one in Diego Costa. They needed a classy midfield player, they got Cesc Fabregas who is essentially a combination of Frank Lampard and Juan Mata, two players which Chelsea have recently let go of. It’s a shame that Romelu Lukaku, for whatever reason, wasn’t Jose Mourinho’s cup of tea but in selling him they’ve nearly got their money back from what they spent on Costa. Not only that but they managed to offload David Luiz for a ridiculous sum of £50 million. Chelsea’s transfer business has undoubtedly led to them becoming many people’s title favourites therefore they must have got this window absolutely spot on and early indications this season suggest that they have.
Crystal Palace (NH): Considering that Tony Pulis is understood to have left the club after a dispute over not being backed in the transfer market, The Eagles haven’t done too badly when all is said and done. Wilfried Zaha returning on loan has provided a welcome morale boost for the fans after a turbulent start to the season. The signings of Brede Hangeland, Martin Kelly and Fraizer Campbell are also decent ones but it’s difficult to say as to whether they’ll be enough to keep them up when you consider the calibre of players that their relegation rivals have brought in.
Everton (AT): Following a very successful year last season, Martinez has yet again shown his intentions to make Everton one of the best clubs in English football. This has been highlighted through the permanent signing of of Romelu Lukaku. The £28m signing shows Everton want to move forwards and compete for the Champions League. He scored 15 goals for Everton last season and at the age of 21 he will definitely be a star for them in the summer.
They have had a good shopping spree at Chelsea bringing in another two of their players. Adding more fire power is Samuel E’too who is certain to make an impact whether he is starting with Lukaku or coming off the bench. His experience could make him a very important signing for the Toffee’s. In addition to this they completed the loan signing of Christian Atsu. Chelsea have very high hopes for the young winger so he could offer something different for Martinez to think about. A final notable signing would be former England International, Gareth Barry. Similarly to Lukaku he had a very good season last year and Everton beat other teams in the race to sign him.
Unlike a lot of other top sides they have managed to keep hold of all their key players despite interest from bigger teams. The new signings combined with the already potent Everton squad could mean a stronger fight for a Champions League position.
Hull City (AT): Steve Bruce has worked wonders for Hull this window, proving to everyone he is creating a strong Premier League side. He has added bundles of Premier League experience while also adding talented players from abroad. Their most exciting signing would be Uruguayan striker Abel Hernandez. Bruce called him the new ‘Suarez’ and he could be the one to define a successful signing for the Tigers.
However, his transfer deadline day moves were a stroke of genius. Signing Hernandez, Ben Arfa and Ramirez have all added an extra dimension to their squad. Their attacking options are very strong and could cause a threat to many Premier League sides.
They have also improved their teams stability and spent he money to prove they are here to stay. The £8m permanent signing of Jake Livermore and the signing of Michael Dawson will add the extra experience their squad needs to compete in the league. They only lost one notable player which was Shane Long to Southampton but Hernandez should be a good enough replacement.
Leicester City: The business in the transfer window for the Championship winners is always interesting. Will they stick with the players that did so well the season before? How do they bolster the squad? From previous years Pearson did state signings would be made, however, he has kept the majority of the squad the same. Although, the signings he has made should make a major impact on the squad.
Last season Leicester had the smallest squad and only used 28 players last season, which is incredibly different to the 43 used by Blackpool and Millwall. So many of the signings have been made to increase squad depth. Ben Hamer has been brought in to provide extra stability in case of a Kasper Schmeichel injury. Similarly Danny Simpson is the same at right back. Marc Albrighton has also been brought in and for many fans still needs to prove himself in the Premier League, as he replaces last years star winger Lloyd Dyer.
At the start of the window Pearson did state he wouldn’t be afraid to make a ‘Marquee’ signing and Leonardo Ulloa was just that. He signing for £8m from Brighton Hove Albion which raised many eyebrows considering he scored less goals in the Championship than both Vardy and Nugent last season. However, he has been brought in or his height and hold up play which could be the key in the Premier League. In addition to that the Argentine has added a lot more squad depth and competition for places.
Although the most shocking transfer was that of Esteban Cambiasso. Yes, Cambiasso at Leicester. It doesn’t seem right and pleasantly surprised every single Leicester fan. After talks that went on for many weeks Leicester were able to bring in the former Real Madrid and Inter Milan man for a year. The experience he could bring to the club could help Leicester rise to the challenge of the Premier League a lot quicker while also boosting the confidence of the players around him.
“Man Utd youngsters have the correct morales and attitude to succeed in football” was a bold statement made by Pearson as the connection between the two clubs seem to grow. This year the signing of Nick Powell on loan and the permanent signing of youngster Tom Lawrence add to Pearson’s ever improving side.
Liverpool (LV): With the shadow of Luis Suarez still hovering over Anfield the big question everyone is asking is “Will Liverpool do a Spurs?.” After the departure of the £75M maverick to Barcelona there is concern the reds will do what Tottenham did last season when trying to replace Gareth Bale. It is well documented that Spurs attempts to replace a world class player with seven or eight average ones spectacularly failed but Liverpool’s situation is slightly different.
Despite his evident flaws Rodgers recognises Suarez is a one off player and so there is no direct replacement. Instead he has tried to sign players that will both get to close to Suarez’s thirty plus goals and make the team a stronger unit as a whole. Rodgers has a whole new type of challenge though with the £16M arrival of Mario Balotelli, as he hopes Balotelli will be able to express his obvious talent without his behaviour problems rising their ugly head. The likes of Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic and Rickie Lambert will provide different options going forward and add to the squad that is already extremley strong going forward due to Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Phillipe Coutinho.
Going forward however was not Liverpool’s issue last season. For a team that finished second lasts season they shipped 50 goals and they hope the new additions of Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo will help to significantly reduce that number. Moreno and Lovren are especially important. Liverpool have long had an issue with left-backs and Moreno’s ability to bomb forward and be strong at the back are key factors in his signing. Rodgers will also hope Lovren will provide the leadership skills needed to keep the defence tighter and give the reds a strong campaign both domestically and in Europe.
Manchester City: Last years Champions and without a doubt the strongest squad in the league last season do they really need strengthening? Well Pellegrini thinks so! Ok, he hasn’t signed many players but the strength of their squad is now incredible.
If it was anything they struggled with was definitely their defence and they improved that with the signing of Mangala for a pricey £32m. Although when you look at him and Kompany at centre back you know it will be a tough day for the strikers. The signing of another Porto player, this time through the defensive midfielder Fernando. Who could be very important when they have to battle out results against other title challengers. He has also signed former Malaga goalkeeper Caballero, just in case Hart has another dip in form.
They have also signed possibly to of the Premier League’s greatest players in Sagna and Lampard. They will both add extra experience in the dressing room and further improve their squad.
Manchester United (RH): Well quite frankly, where do you start with this current Manchester United side? After a turbulent season following Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure under David Moyes, it was agreed by fans and pundits alike that serious spending needed to be done to catapult the Red Devils back into the top four. Louis van Gaal didn’t disappoint in that respect. Manchester United managed to secure the signature of one of the brightest talents on the planet, Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria. The deal smashed the former British transfer record as £59.7m changed hands between two of the wealthiest football clubs in the world. Too many, the price paid by United for a player who was basically set to spend the season sat on Real Madrid’s bench, is far too much but I believe they have picked up a real game changer and the Argentine could be the answer to the midfield void left by the inadequate Marouane Fellaini and Tom Cleverley.
United fans also said goodbye to a once frightening defensive pairing in Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. In truth however, both players had been on the decline for the last couple of seasons and with the team under new leadership once more, now represents a good time to get rid of the old guard. Strangely though, Van Gaal has not concentrated his efforts on strengthening the team where it most desperately needed strengthening, in the central defence, aside from Marcos Rojo’s arrival from Sporting for £16m.
Van Gaal has allowed key first team players to leave this summer in Shinji Kagawa and Danny Welbeck. Japanese international Kagawa never really got a proper run in the side under Ferguson or Moyes, which I see as a great shame since he was part of that exciting Dortmund crop that lifted to consecutive Bundesliga titles not so long ago. Welbeck is another baffling departure for me. He is a young England international with pace and the ability to finish well, something we unfortunately are not blessed with many of. The strangest aspect of the deal though is to sell him to one of your fiercest rivals. Yes, winning the Premier League may be a little ambitious for the Gunners this year, but they have been crying out for a top class striker for years, why be the team to provide them with one?
United have also clearly looked at building for the future with the additions of 24 year olds Ander Herrera & Daley Blind as well as 19 year old, Luke Shaw. Herrera is a product of Basque outfit, Athletic Bilbao’s academy and is an energetic box to box midfielder, but you cannot help but feel the £29m the Old Trafford club parted ways with is a bit steep. Blind is super versatile and Van Gaal will be able to deploy him practically anywhere across the midfield or defence, so in my opinion, is a very good signing indeed. United have not been afraid to splash the cash to say the least and have made Southampton’s wonderkid, Shaw, the highest paid teenager in the Premier League. Whether he will live up to his billing will remain to be seen but he has put in consistently impressive displays already for the Saints and has three senior England caps to his name, so things are looking rosy.
Last but by no means least, we must to address the short and stocky, vastly rich, Colombian shaped elephant in the room. Radamel Falcao, on loan from tax haven Monaco with rumours of an option-to-buy clause. He is arguable the greatest out and out goalscorer in the World right now, despite the fact that he spent a great deal of last season, including the World Cup, sidelined through injury. He has proved he has what it takes to succeed and be the complete striker in Spain, Portugal, France and Argentina, and I have no hesitation in backing ‘El Tigre’ to do exactly the same in the Premier League. My only concern is what throwing a player of Falcao’s calibre (and astronomical wage demands) into a side will do to impact the rest of the team, in particular, Juan Mata, who is likely to be the player to miss out with Rooney taking his place in central attacking midfield.
Newcastle United (LV): They don’t call him Alain Pardeaux for nothing as the controversial Newcastle manager brought in a further two new imports from Ligue 1 during this window. A key issue for the Magpies last season was their lack of goals specifically after January once Yohan Cabaye had joined PSG and Loic Remy was sidelined through injury. With Remy opting to join Chelsea Newcastle were very light up front especially with Papiss Cisse suffering a long term knee injury in pre-season.
With this in mind Remy Cabella and Emmanuel Riviere were brought in from Montpellier and Monaco respectfully to try and bolster this area of the pitch. Cabella especially has already become very popular with the passionate Geordie support, being admired for his flair and tendency to perform outrageous step-overs. Even though these two players look promising during these early stages of the season, it has to be said the striker most fans were excited to see join was Siem de Jong from Dutch giants Ajax. De Jong has a excellent goal tally in Holland and so fans were understandably optimistic about his arrival, however he has suffered a thigh injury and will be out of action until Christmas at the earliest putting slightly more pressure on Cabella and Riviere, aswell as the likes of Sissoko, Gouffran and Ayoze Perez who joined from Tenerife.
Another Dutchman who arrived on the North East during the summer was impressive fullback Daryl Janmaat. Janmaat was part of Van Gaal’s World Cup squad who impressed in Brazil. The right-back was praised for his both his defensive work and his ability to offer another attacking option and was often deployed as a wing back by Van Gaal and Pardew is sure to utilise this option. Whilst Newcastle fans on the whole can be quite pleased with their sides business, one man who most certainly was not happy with two new arrivals at St James’ is Nottingham Forest boss Stuart ‘Psycho’ Pearce. The ex England skipper was outraged that Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles, two of the brightest young English prospects in the game, were permitted to join the Premier League outfit. Whilst both were immediately loaned back to the Midlands club for next season at least, Pearce very publicly showed his unhappiness at the deal.
One shock arrival at Newcastle is midfielder Jack Colback. Colback has been one of the few consistencies at arch rivals Sunderland over the last few seasons so many were surprised to see the man, recently dubbed the ‘ginger Pirlo’ by England boss Roy Hodgson, make the journey from one half of the North East to the other. Colback became the 14th member of an exclusive club to make the move between the two clubs. It has been over a decade since the last player to do so, Robbie Elliot in 2001. One thing that is certain is that Colback is likely to get a pretty vocal reception when he returns to the Stadium of Light in April.
In terms of departures Newcastle didn’t do too badly. Of course the most high profile departure from Newcastle is the loan of Frenchman Hatem Ben Arfa to Hull City. The Ben Arfa saga has been followed closely by magpies fans all summer ever since he arrived back for pre-season training overweight. Pardew then decided to strip Ben Arfa of his number 10 shirt and force him to train with the reserves due to his lack of fitness and poor attitude. It is a sad turn of events as not long ago Ben Arfa was one of Newcastle’s best players and it is a shame his talent has been overtook by events not to happen on the football pitch. He has now got a fresh start on Humberside for this season at least, and hopefully he can show what he is truly capable of with a football, although it is unlikely he will ever play for Newcastle again. France’s World Cup right-back Mathieu Debuchy also left the club in a £12M move to Arsenal but he will not be missed too much as Janmaat came in to replace him.
Overall Newcastle have done some tidy business in this window but the fans are realistic in their expectations. The best they can hope for is a top half finish in the league, but the fans will be hoping they can make a real go of it in the cup competitions as Newcastle have now won a major trophy since 1976 and the truly passionate supporters really deserve to have something to smile about again.
Queens Park Rangers (RH):
Football fans look towards one man in particular during transfer season, Harry Redknapp. The infamous interview through the car window has become part and partial of transfer deadline day over the last few years, partly down to the fact that old ‘Arry is a journalist’s dream with all his last minute dealings during the final hours of the window. This year was no exception.
We start off with a player Redknapp has now signed three times. Niko Kranjcar comes in on loan from Dynamo Kiev along with Chilean duo, Mauricio Isla and Eduardo Vargas. The former is able to play at wing back, suiting the in-vogue 3-5-2 formation QPR have used in the early season whilst Vargas is speedster with a low centre of gravity and an eye of a poacher’s goal. A nightmare for clumsy towering centre backs.
For a time, after his failed medical at Liverpool, it looked as though Queen’s Park Rangers fans would be enjoying the exploits of Loic Remy this season but have instead seen the Frenchman move to Chelsea in a £10.5m deal. He will be a big miss for Redknapp’s men as keeping hold of a player of Remy’s ability would have set the Hoops apart from the other relegation candidates.
Not a ‘signing’ per se but like a brand new signing, Adel Taarabt returns to Loftus Road following his loan spell in Milan. The flamboyant Moroccan playmaker promised so much after tearing apart the Championship 2 seasons ago, but many would say he hasn’t built on those performances since their promotion to the Premier League. Now 25, it is time for Taarabt to carry out that key role for QPR again, he has the ability, but pinning down some consistency will be the key to Premier League survival this season.
QPR have strengthened well with Cardiff’s pairing of energetic goalscoring midfielder, Jordon Mutch and young English centre half, Steven Caulker. They also provide Rio Ferdinand with one last crack in the Premier League but doubts over fitness could determine only a few appearances this season for the former West Ham, Leeds and Manchester United defensive rock.
Finally, there has been movement between the sticks. Brazilian shot stopper, Julio Cesar has moved to Benfica and has been replaced by Reading’s promising Englishman, Alex McCarthy. Add in Leroy Fer, signed from Norwich for £8m and this caps off what has been a tidy, consolidating summer of business for Queen’s Park Rangers and one which should set them up for a solid respectable mid-table finish come May 2015.
Southampton (RH): If you’re at a loose end and just happen to be looking for a way to wind up a Southampton fan, just mention the word ‘Liverpool’ and you’ll get the reaction you were after. Brendan Rodgers swiped not one, not too but three Southampton players over the summer months in Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren, the entire spine of the side that finished 8th last term.
It is only early days in the season but new boss, Ronald Koeman has a job on his hands just to get by without most of last season’s key players. Other players to leave were Calum Chambers who moved to Arsenal and Dani Osvaldo, who has gone on loan again, this time to Inter. But its not all bleak for Saints fans. With three games gone, Southampton find themselves in sixth place and appear to be coping well with life after Lambert, Lallana and co. Following Koeman from the Dutch Eredevisie is FC Twente’s Dusan Tadic, a Serb international with a creative brain and impressive ball control and Graziano Pelle, who scored a hatful of goals for Feyenoord last season. Fraser Forster comes in from Celtic as their new number one between the sticks and has settled in to the English game very quickly since crossing the border.
All in all, Southampton raised in excess of £90m from their combined sales of Shaw, Lallana and Chambers etc. Some of the money has been invested very wisely indeed, but one deal which caught many people off guard with its inflated transfer fee was the one for Hull and Republic of Ireland striker, Shane Long. Just six months earlier, he had moved from West Bromwich Albion for half of the £12m Southampton paid. Steve Bruce must be sat at home with his feet up with his sides splitting.
Stoke City (RH):
When you sign a player who has turned out for the likes of Barcelona, Ajax, Roma and AC Milan, you would expect him to be a fairly decorated and well-renowned figurehead in the game. But in fact, the story so far of Bojan Krkic is a sad one. He emerged from Barcelona’s prestigious La Masia youth academy at the same time as Lionel Messi and although enjoying a short period of success in the first team, he could never quite tie down a place in the starting eleven. At £3m, I believe Bojan is a player who still has so much to prove to both himself and to world which has already written him off as another prodigy who never could fulfil his potential. Stoke are an ambitious club and with Tony Pulis’ brutish style of football gone, could be a perfect match for a smaller skilful forward like Bojan who was raised with the tiki taka mentality.
The Potters have also brought in three solid free transfers in Steve Sidwell from relegated Fulham and Phil Bardsley from Sunderland, but the one which excites me the most is Hannover’s Mame Biram Diouf. The name will be familiar to Manchester United fans as the Senegalese striker spent three years there (albeit loaned out at various clubs). But in his spell in the Bundesliga, he averaged around a goal a game and you would think at only 26, he still feels as though he has unfinished business in the Premier League.
Although not exactly setting the world alight at Liverpool last season, Victor Moses who has signed on a season-long loan from Chelsea can potentially be a key player Hughes can utilise off the bench in the final third of games with his electrifying pace.
Going in the other direction, Jermaine Pennant, Cameron Jerome and Juan Agudelo were all deemed surplus to requirements and I cannot see any of them being missed too much. One that did surprise me slightly however was letting Matthew Etherington leave on a free but then at 33, the winger isn’t getting any younger and I can understand Mark Hughes’ logic in allowing him to leave the club.
Sunderland (LV):It is fair to say Sunderland had a steady transfer window this summer as Poyet tries to build on the roller coast end to last season which included, a miracle escape from relegation, a cup final and being the first team to ever beat Jose Mourinhio at Stamford Bridge in the league. The window started with a trio of free signings in the shape of Costel Pantimilion, Jordi Gomez and Billy Jones. Pantimillion will provide solid cover for Manone whilst Gomez and Jones will provide crucial Premier League experience which was lacking at times last season as Poyet and Di Canio before him preferred rookies from their homeland.
The clear marquee signing for Sunderland this summer will be the arrival of Jack Rodwell. Rodwell showed such promise at Everton before his big money move to Man City turned sour and he will be hoping he can recapture the form that won him 3 England caps in 2011. Sunderland also chased Liverpool striker Fabio Borini all summer, after a successful loan spell last season, and they even agreed a fee of £14M with the Merseyside club before the Italian opted to fight for his place at Anfield. This leaves Sunderland relying mainly on Wickham and Fletcher to provide the goals as well as Will Buckley who Poyet signed from previous club Brighton. Ricky Alvarez also arrived on loan from Inter Milan.
In terms of departures, Sunderland could have done a lot worse only really losing squad players such as Carlos Cuellar, and Keiren Westwood on frees. However they will be disappointed to lose midfielder Jack Colback to North East rivals Newcastle and he is bound to be reminded of his betrayal every time he returns to the Stadium of Light.
Swansea City (LV): The Swans have had an incredible start of the season winning all three of the opening matches and Garry Monk will be equally pleased with his transfer business. Monk will be thrilled with the fact that Swansea were able to hold onto forward Wilfried Bony despite the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham sniffing around him all summer, but being put off by the hefty asking price. Bony will have support this season in the form of Bafetimbi Gomis, the French striker was brought in to lessen the goal burden on Bony who at times was carrying the side last term, in the absence of Michu, who has since joined Napoli on loan.
Despite not signing Bony Tottenham and Swansea did a lot of business together over the summer. Swansea lost goalkeeper Michel Vorm and left back Ben Davies to the North Londoners for a combined £15M. Vorm was immediatley replaced by Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski but Swansea did not sufficiently replace Davies so Neil Taylor is the only real option Swansea now have at left back. Coming the other way was Gylfi Siggurdson who spent a successful loan spell at the Liberty in 2012 before joining Spurs. Siggurdson instantly repaid the investment by grabbing the winner at Old Trafford on the opening day. Serial loanee Tom Carroll also made the journey from North London to South Wales on a season long loan.
Argentine international Federico Fernandez joined from Napoli to partner Ashley Williams at the heart of the defence replacing Chico Flores who departed to Qatar leaving the Premier League with more memories of his erratic temper and hairstyles opposed to his defensive solidity. On the whole Swansea have replaced what they have lost rather than strengthen the squad but as I said earlier retaining Bony was the most important business done and Swansea look to have another comfortable mid-table finish.
Tottenham Hotspur (LV): Another transfer window another manager at Tottenham Hotspur. This time Maurico Pochettinio is in the hot-seat as he tries to get Spurs back in the Champions League. This window was very much focused on strengthening the defensive aspect of the team with Pochettinio putting his faith in many of AVB’s attacking failures such as Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli. Michel Vorm was brought in to provide more competition to Hugo Lloris and Brad Fridel between the sticks and Ben Davies was also signed to compete with Danny Rose at left-back.
The stand-out signing so for Spurs though is the shrewd purchase of Eric Dier from Sporting Lisbon. Dier is actually English but has been in Portugal since the age of 7 and so has had a very different footballing education to the other British defenders in the league. Dier scored in his first two Premier League games for Spurs, thus becoming the first ever defender to score on his first two appearances in the division. Dier is also extremely versatile and can play anywhere along the back four and in midfield and therefore provides an excellent option for Roy Hodgson and the national team.
Federico Fazio joined from Sevilla to bolster the defensive ranks and Benjamin Stambouli joined from Montpellier to provide competition for Capoue and Bentaleb as the defensive midfielder option. This led to the departure of fan favourite Sandro who joined QPR. Whilst Pochettinio has started well with two wins out of three, as-well as Lamela finally showing some signs of the player he can be there are some concerns at the lack of strikers. They desperately tried to sign Danny Welbeck but he opted for rivals Arsenal meaning that should Adebayor get injured they will be dangerously light in this area of the field, with only youngster Harry Kane the other attacking option.
West Bromwich Albion (RH): West Bromwich Albion are a lot of people’s favourites for the drop this year and they won’t have helped their chances by failing to make the loan deals for Matej Vydra and Morgan Amalfitano permanent. Further disappointment for Baggies fans comes after allowing marauding full back Billy Jones, who was one of the standout players last season, to leave for Sunderland on a free transfer. He however has been replaced with Cristian Gamboa, a member of the World Cup’s surprise package, Costa Rica’s squad.
Elsewhere 35 year-old Zoltan Gera who has had two spells in the Black Country returns to his native Hungary with Ferencvaros. Other players to leave the club on a free were Liam Ridgewell, a disaster waiting to happen at times last season, who has made the switch to the MLS with Portland Timbers and Uruguay captain, Diego Lugano, who struggled to adapt to the pace of the Premier League.
The Baggies managed to capture the highest number of players over the summer, totalling eleven. Craig Gardner and Joleon Lescott I believe are excellent acquisitions and will add some invaluable Premier League experience across the pitch. Giorgios Samaras is another sensible, useful signing as his versatility means that Head Coach Alan Irvine has options to deploy the Greek on the left wing or as a centre forward.
Sebastien Pocognoli was unlucky to miss out on Belgium’s World Cup squad through injury, but looks to be a bargain costing just £1.5m from Hannover 96.
Club Chairman, Jeremy Peace is renowned for being extremely careful in managing the club’s finances, so it comes as a bit of a surprise to many to have smashed the transfer record for the second year running as Dynamo Kiev’s Brown Ideye joins for £10m. The Nigerian has proved he has what it takes in the Ukrainian league, but whether or not he has what it takes to make that step up and start bangin them in for West Brom and be their saviour remains to be seen.
West Ham United: Big Sam has come under a lot of criticism over the past few season due to his long ball style of football and his summer signings seem to show a possible change to that.
He has improved the squad once again in every position as he strives to prove his worth to the squad. The signings of Enner Valencia, Diafro Sakho and Mauro Zarate would suggest a more attacking style of football would be shown at Upton Park. Zarate was impressive for Birmingham in his last spell in the Premier League, while Valencia was very impressive in the World Cup with Ecuador.
They have also improved their defence, where they were very short at the end of last season. They have taken possible the best left back in the Championship off Ipswich, Aaron Cresswell for only £3m and signed Kouyate and Jenkinson from Anderlecht and Arsenal respectively.
The signings made by Sam could prize the Hammers away from relegation this season and keep big Sam in a job.