The summer transfer window saw Premier League clubs once again spend big in pursuit of progress, with some notable names arriving into the division ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.
With the deadline passed and much of the focus on the incomings around the Premier League, we’ve decided to look at some potential market mistakes.
Here are six transfer window decisions that could prove costly this season.
Liverpool’s failure to add firepower
Liverpool were amongst the quietest sides during the summer’s transfer frenzy, adding just RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate to their senior squad.
Konate bolsters a defensive department that was decimated by injuries last season, whilst the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip will represent ‘new signings’ following their respective returns from lengthy absences.
However, the concern at Anfield is at the opposite end of the pitch with the Reds’ failure to sign a new forward one that has already been questioned.
Jurgen Klopp’s established front three have been at the forefront of the club’s modern successes and whilst Diogo Jota’s arrival last summer has added quality and competition, there remains a significant lack of depth beyond that quartet.
Liverpool also face the hinderance of a mid-season Africa Cup of Nations that will deprive the club of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane for a period of the season, the absence of the former in particular a major blow to the club’s hopes of challenging for the title.
With Roberto Firmino’s performances having also appeared on the wane of late, have Liverpool left themselves short of the firepower required to sustain a title charge?
Manchester United – Superstar signings but no midfield anchor
Manchester United’s transfer window has stirred up a cauldron of excitement at Old Trafford, the signings of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane having been followed by the stunning return of Cristiano Ronaldo to the Premier League.
Ronaldo’s return has raised optimism that the Red Devils can mount a challenge for the title this season, with the 36-year-old remaining one of world football’s elite goalscorers despite his advancing years.
However, for all the improvement that Sancho, Ronaldo and perhaps even more so Varane will make to this side, the club’s gaping need for a world-class defensive midfielder remains following the window’s closure.
The much-maligned ‘McFred’ double-pivot continues to be utilised in high-stakes clashes, with an ageing Nemanja Matic lacking the mobility needed to plug the gaps in the Red Devils’ midfield.
Zinedine Zidane once compared Real Madrid’s sale of Claude Makelele – and subsequent signing of David Beckham – to adding a gold layer to a Bentley that has just lost its engine. There is no doubt parallels with United’s failure to address a huge need at the base of their midfield – even if the Bentley looks a whole lot nicer.
West Ham to overload Antonio?
David Moyes’ stellar work at West Ham led to a sixth-place finish and Europa League qualification last season, though the Hammers’ boss was forced to wait until the final stages of the transfer window to finalise his business.
The late window arrivals of Kurt Zouma, Alex Kral and Nikola Vlasic strengthened the squad ahead of their European campaign, adding to the earlier arrival of Alphonse Areola and the permanent signing of Craig Dawson.
Numbers were needed given the added workload of continental competition in 2021/22, but it is difficult to not think the Hammers have left themselves short at centre-forward.
Michail Antonio has developed into a fine forward and has become a talismanic presence for Moyes, so much so that the club were happy to cut their losses on club-record signing Sebastien Haller in January.
Haller has yet to be replaced however, leaving West Ham short of alternatives for Antonio, who has suffered with hamstring injuries in recent seasons.
The prospect of a gruelling Thursday-Sunday schedule and just one forward is a real concern, with the likes of Jarrod Bowen and Vlasic likely to have to deputise in unfamiliar roles in any absence of Antonio this season.
Manchester City – Stubborn Levy leaves City short
Manchester City made no secret of their number one transfer target this summer, the Premier League champions placing all their eggs in a Harry Kane-shaped basket.
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has developed a reputation as a tough negotiator during his time at the helm, often extracting the maximum when sanctioning high-profile departures from Spurs.
Levy set out his stall early and insisted only a record-breaking bid of extortionate proportions would persuade the north Londoners to the negotiating table, a figure that City proved unwilling to match despite a summer-long saga.
Spurs’ stance was clear, so for City to wait until the final days of the window before accepting a deal could not be done seems strange, with Levy far from the sort of character expected to wilt in the closing stages of the window.
The lack of a back-up plan to Kane leaves City short at centre-forward, with Ferran Torres and Gabriel Jesus – who has expressed a desire for a wide role – set to shoulder the responsibility.
Pep Guardiola’s side won the title last season without a recognised forward, but with each of their title rivals improving during the summer it looks a huge challenge to repeat that feat.
Chelsea – Has Zouma’s exit depleted defensive cover?
Thomas Tuchel had been keen to sign a new central defender during the transfer window, though saw a move for Sevilla’s Jules Kounde fail to materialise.
A deal for the France international had appeared close, but Sevilla’s late change of demands meant a potential transfer collapsed in the closing stages of the window.
In preparation for Kounde’s expected arrival, Chelsea allowed Kurt Zouma to sign for West Ham, with the defender’s departure having seen the west Londoners lose an established figure without a replacement being sourced.
Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Thiago Silva remain the form options in Chelsea’s preferred back three system, but the latter is 37 later this month and susceptible to injury.
Trevoh Chalobah’s emergence has lessened the concerns somewhat, but the inexperienced academy graduate and Reece James will likely have to cover the gaps in a testing season that will include Club World Cup involvement.
Arsenal – Huge spend, no improvement?
Three defeats, no goals scored, and nine conceded, Arsenal appear a club in crisis, rooted to the bottom of the Premier League following the worst start to a season in their history.
The north London side’s fans have often criticised the ownership, but there can be no denying that Mikel Arteta and Edu have been backed in the transfer market this summer with the Gunners the highest-spending Premier League club.
Arsenal have spent more than £140m on new additions this summer and there is still, somehow, a strong argument that the club have regressed.
Mikel Arteta has inconceivably chosen to invest in potential, adding unproven promise to a side whose core is far from the standard required.
Each of the six summer additions has room to grow and re-sale value, but with Arsenal so far adrift of England’s elite was this really the right time to look into the distant future?
Arsenal are into their fifth season without Champions League football and the gap between the Gunners and the top four is ever increasing, their transfer decisions a huge concern for the club.
William Saliba – signed for £27m in 2018 – has been allowed to leave on a third consecutive loan deal despite the club’s centre-back options struggling, whilst both Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira have also departed on temporary deals despite having the talent to improve this side.
The less said of Willian’s lucrative contract and failed move from Chelsea the better, whilst the investment of £24m into back-up goalkeeper Ramsdale is baffling given priorities elsewhere.
Hindsight could prove a wonderful thing, but given some of the value-for-money deals found elsewhere across the Premier League and Europe, Arsenal’s window can be described only as a disaster on current viewing.
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The post DMs, CBs and Arsenal – Six transfer window decisions that could be costly mistakes first appeared on The Football Faithful.
Author: Harry Diamond