Ranking Premier League Clubs on Their Transfer Window Activity
The Premier League transfer window has shut. All incoming business has been concluded.
The new early deadline, meaning all incoming deals had to be done before the first match of the league season kicks off on Friday, sent some clubs into an absolute frenzy, while others sat there stunned—perplexed—as things simply did not go their way. Oh, and one club didn't sign any first-team players. At all.
It was carnage, madness, and quite a lot of fun. Here, Bleacher Report dusts down each team's work in the window and assesses their business, ranking the clubs in order of who did best. It's a ranking of 1-19, not 1-20, due to history being made.
All transfer fees are from Transfermarkt. Figures are rounded to the nearest whole number.
What they needed: Increased quality in central midfield, between the sticks and central defence, plus depth in the attacking positions.
What they got: Jurgen Klopp wasted no time in bolstering his midfield, adding Fabinho (£41 million) to the already-secured Naby Keita (£54 million), and he bought Alisson Becker (£56 million) to allay widespread concern over the goalkeeping position. Xherdan Shaqiri (£13 million) is about as good a back-up option as you ask for.
Verdict: A new partner for Virgil van Dijk in central defence would have been nice, as would Nabil Fekir's signature, but this is an immensely strong window of work regardless. It sounds strange to say given their fees, but Fabinho and Keita could well end up looking like bargains.
2. Wolverhampton Wanderers
What they needed: Premier League-level quality, all over.
What they got: Upgrades in practically every position, with central midfield and wing-back the particular focuses. Several key loans were made permanent, Diogo Jota (£13 million) and Willy Boly (£11 million) among them, and the club transfer record was broken for Adama Traore (£18 million).
Verdict: Wow. Just wow. This is a team who, judging by squad strength, could finish in the top half of the table. Jota, Leander Dendoncker, Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho are Champions League-standard players.
What they needed: A striker, a centre-back and a left-back—badly. Then, some added quality in attack, midfield and in goal.
What they got: After being a bit extravagant on deadline day, we can now make an entire XI out of new Fulham signings. It felt a bit kid-in-a-sweetshop in truth, but you can't deny they've brought in some good players.
Jean Michael Seri (£27 million), Aleksandar Mitrovic (£18 million), Alfie Mawson (£15 million), Joe Bryan (£6 million) and Andre Schurrle (loan) all figure to be important this season. The only questionable deal is £27 million spent on Andre Zambo Anguissa, who may need quite a lot of technical coaching before he can cope with Fulham's possession-heavy system.
Verdict: Good luck to Slavisa Jokanovic in melding this squad together fast, but at least he can't complain he wasn't backed in the market. In reality, only six are likely to come in and start early on—one of those being Mitrovic, who was on loan at Craven Cottage last season—so it's perhaps not that much of a concern.
The XI was already mostly Premier League-level, and these transfers round it off nicely. Fulham could push for a top-half finish.
What they needed: A left-back, several centre-backs, at least one midfielder and some attacking options. So, in short, a fair bit.
What they got: A triple swoop from Barcelona secured Yerry Mina (£27 million), Lucas Digne (£18 million) and Andre Gomes (loan). Marco Silva raided his old club Watford for Richarlison (£35 million) and brought in Bernard for free, too.
Verdict: It's tempting to exercise a bit of caution here given what happened to Everton last summer, but if you believe in Silva as a man who can pull all of these talents together, you can't help but project a good season for the Toffees. Perhaps the one negative is they massively overspent on Richarlison.
5. Leicester City
What they needed: Some fresh attacking options following Riyad Mahrez's exit, plus upgrades at right-back and centre-back.
What they got: Quite a lot of centre-backs; were three really necessary? Jonny Evans (£4 million) was a bargain pickup, Caglar Soyuncu (£19 million) a shrewd move, but adding Filip Benkovic (£13 million) into the mix as well might crowd things.
James Maddison (£23 million) is a slight risk, but he excelled in the Championship and should step up OK, while Ricardo Pereira (£20 million) is a superb signing. A late move for Rachid Ghezzal (£13 million) fills out the wing corps.
Spending £13 million on Danny Ward seems a touch unnecessary given Kasper Schmeichel didn't leave, but it's always good to have a capable backup.
Verdict: They bought a lot of players, and the squad looks pretty packed considering they're not in Europe. Still, it puts them in a fine position to fight for seventh or even sixth in the table. It should not be underestimated how fine a signing Pereira is.
6. Brighton & Hove Albion
What they needed: A general influx of quality to stave off any second-season syndrome, particularly in defence, in central midfield and up front.
What they got: A gargantuan haul of players that breached double figures, some more notable than others. Yves Bissouma (£15 million), Bernardo (£9 million), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (£17 million) and Martin Montoya (£6 million) are clear upgrades on existing personnel. Leon Balogun (free) could prove a smart pickup.
Florin Andone (£5 million) is also a shrewd move, but we didn't see him in pre-season due to injury, so he's on the outside working his way in.
Verdict: Did they buy too many players? It feels like Brighton are preparing for a Europa League campaign they didn't qualify for. Regardless, you can't sniff at the quality they've brought in. They look a significantly better side (on paper) than last season. Can they click quickly?
7. West Ham United
What they needed: A creative replacement for the injured Manuel Lanzini, a designated No. 1 between the sticks, a right-back, a centre-back and some new midfield options. Plenty, then.
What they got: A whopping nine new players, but most arrive in a position obviously in need of strengthening. Ryan Fredericks and Jack Wilshere (both free) reinvigorate areas in which West Ham were looking tired, while Felipe Anderson (£34 million) and Andriy Yarmolenko (£18 million) are exciting additions.
They probably didn't need Lucas Perez (£4 million) given the striking options present, but he's not a bad player. Issa Diop (£23 million) is a quality young centre-back, and Lukasz Fabianski (£7 million) is an underrated shot-stopper.
Verdict: West Ham hoovered up a lot of talent this summer, and with a good manager in Manuel Pellegrini in charge, you have to believe they'll make the most of it.
There are some negatives, though. In selling Cheikhou Kouyate and buying Carlos Sanchez (£4 million), they've probably got weaker, plus Anderson comes with no small amount of risk given his price tag.
8. Manchester City
What they needed: Not a lot, in all honesty. Any players signed were going to be for depth purposes so the squad could cope better with multi-competition demands.
What they got: Another body for the wings in Riyad Mahrez (£61 million) who will ease the load on Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, perhaps ensuring they're fresher for Champions League nights.
Daniel Arzani was moved over from Melbourne City but then sent straight to Celtic on loan.
Verdict: A Fernandinho stand-in for central midfield would have been nice, but perhaps a touch gluttonous. Pep Guardiola didn't need to do much, so the lack of business is fine. At a certain point, it's OK to applaud restraint.
What they needed: New options at left-back, right-back and central midfield.
What they got: All of the above...if you stretch things considerably. Jefferson Lerma (£25 million) bolsters the midfield and can play right-back—though he obviously can't do both at the same time. Diego Rico (£11 million) strengthens the left side, while David Brooks (£10 million) is one worth keeping an eye on.
Verdict: The above signings, in addition to sorting out the bloated striking corps via two sales, makes for a good window. A designated right-back would have made it better.
What they needed: A manager to start with, then upgrades at goalkeeper, centre-back, central midfield and arguably the wing. A back-up right-back felt necessary, too.
What they got: They ticked the boxes in goal and in central midfield, but the player they've brought in to replenish the centre-back corps—Sokratis Papastathopoulos (£14 million)—probably isn't of the requisite quality to significantly change the team's fortunes.
Stephan Lichtsteiner (free) is a good veteran selection to help Hector Bellerin along.
Verdict: You can't consider Arsenal's window a poor one, but it also doesn't feel like enough to launch the club back into the top four. Lucas Torreira (£27 million) is an exciting signing, though.
What they needed: To refresh a tired-looking creative force in midfield, to improve the centre-back corps and to acquire another source of goals.
What they got: So long as he settles and finds form, swapping Dusan Tadic for Mohamed Elyounoussi (£16 million) is a great move. Recruiting Jannik Vestergaard (£23 million) to play at the centre of a back three is smart, as the system can cover his weaknesses (speed) and accentuate his strengths (strength, aerial ability).
Danny Ings on loan in the dying seconds of the transfer window is a nice pickup, though while both he and Charlie Austin are natural poachers, they're also injury prone.
Verdict: It's by no means a flashy haul, but Mark Hughes has been given five good players to add to a squad he rapidly improved after parachuting in late last season. It should be enough to stave off relegation.
12. Crystal Palace
What they needed: First and foremost to keep Wilfried Zaha and then to replace Yohan Cabaye in midfield. After that, a goalkeeper everyone could be confident in, some extra attacking options and perhaps a right-back.
What they got: Max Meyer (free) and Cheikhou Kouyate (£10 million) isn't a bad-looking midfield at all, Vicente Guaita (free) is a goalkeeper the club have had their eye on for a while, and Jordan Ayew (loan) is a player who can fulfil three different attacking positions, depending on requirement.
Verdict: Keeping Zaha is huge and probably means they won't face relegation—even if they have signed Ayew, who has been relegated with each of the last four clubs he's played for—but in terms of incomings, it does feel a little like Palace did the bare minimum. A couple of injuries here and there, and things might look a little bleak.
What they needed: Initially, just depth all over in order to cope with the Europa League demands on their schedule, plus a sprinkling of quality in midfield. Then after Nick Pope damaged his shoulder, a goalkeeper.
What they got: The goalkeeper seemed easy to source, and Joe Hart (£4 million) transferred over from Manchester City to plug the gap. They only signed two more, though: Ben Gibson (£15 million) and Matej Vydra (£11 million). Both deals are from the Championship and both took an age to get done.
Verdict: You can understand Sean Dyche exercising caution with his squad size given the wage limits at Burnley, but this simply isn't the summer he will have wanted. They still lack depth at full-back and in midfield, and if they do qualify for the Europa League proper, they'll run into trouble further down the line.
What they needed: A goalkeeping resolution, Eden Hazard to stay, goalscoring additions to the squad.
What they got: A crucial piece of the jigsaw in Jorginho (£51 million); a good, young, but expensive goalkeeper in Kepa Arrizabalaga (£72 million) to replace Thibaut Courtois; and a talented player in Mateo Kovacic on loan—but without an option to purchase.
Verdict: This didn't go well. It took a month to appoint Maurizio Sarri as manager, eating badly into his time to buy players and shape his system.
The required goalscoring players weren't bought, and they've downgraded in the goalkeeper position despite spending £40 million (net) in that area.
15. Manchester United
What they needed: A centre-back, a right-back and a left-back pretty badly, then a right-winger if possible.
What they got: A project to develop at right-back in Diogo Dalot (£20 million), who is injured to begin the season. A central midfielder in Fred (£53 million) that they didn't explicitly need but is good. A back-up goalkeeper who will likely never play.
Verdict: United chased a variety of centre-backs, including Toby Alderweireld and Harry Maguire, but signed none. Worse, they let Daley Blind leave only to not sign another left-back, meaning Dalot's playing his maiden campaign in red on the wrong flank (he can do it, but it's not ideal) or Ashley Young is the pick there for another season.
What they needed: A striker, perhaps two of them, plus a winger, a left-back and a goalkeeper.
What they got: Good players in the form of Gerard Deulofeu (£12 million) and Adam Masina (£5 million) but not much else. Watford fans will have to hope £2 million signing Ken Sema's great pre-season is a good omen and that he can really surprise people in 2018-19.
Ben Foster has been good for a bad West Bromwich Albion side over the last two seasons and is a decent pickup.
Verdict: The big miss here is no striker. Troy Deeney and Andre Gray scored five each in the Premier League last season and will need to do a lot better this time around.
All in all, despite the fact Deulofeu is great and the club kept Abdoulaye Doucoure, this squad looks like one of the weakest in the division.
17. Cardiff City
What they needed: Better players, everywhere.
What they got: Eventually, Neil Warnock was able to reinforce his flagging midfield with two good players in Harry Arter and Victor Camarasa (loans). Bobby Reid (£10 million) scored plenty last season and looked great for Bristol City, but this is another stage altogether. Josh Murphy (£10 million) joins his brother (Jacob) in the Premier League.
Verdict: Predictably, a recruitment policy that limited itself to the Championship until the dying hours of the window did not yield the requisite quality. Cardiff City are most people's picks to go down in 20th place this season and at this stage that seems justified.
18. Huddersfield Town
What they needed: Goals, be it from new strikers or new attacking midfielders/wingers. A new creative source to take the pressure off Aaron Mooy seemed a wise shout, too.
What they got: Seemingly none of the above. They spent around £25 million making loan moves for Jonas Lossl, Florent Hadergjonaj and Terence Kongolo permanent, perhaps limiting their ability in the market.
Verdict: With no new strikers acquired, and only Adama Diakhaby and Ramadan Sobhi signed as genuine attacking options, it's tough to shake the feeling Huddersfield Town failed in their two most important tasks this summer.
19. Newcastle United
What they needed: An injection of quality across the board, so the club are less reliant on Rafael Benitez's stellar coaching and player improvement and more suited to the Premier League personnel-wise.
What they got: Seven players, each either on loan or for under £10 million. Price is not the ultimate marker of quality, but it's clear Benitez was shopping in the reduced aisle this summer.
Verdict: It's not enough. Plenty of the signings were shrewd or cheap, and Martin Dubravka returning permanently is great, but in a window where newly promoted sides flexed their muscles and acquired £20 million-£25 million signings, and lower-half sides did the same, you can't help but be concerned for the Magpies.
N/A: Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur became the first Premier League side not to sign a player during the summer transfer window since its inception in 2003. They didn't sell anyone, either, but they may yet with some transfer windows in Europe closing as late as August 31.
For that reason, they're not even ranked here.