In Depth

Man United beat City, Chelsea and Arsenal in the transfer window

Which of the Premier League title favourites fared best in the battle to bring in new players over the summer?

After a transfer window that saw Premier League sides fork out more than £1bn, the experts are largely agreed on who fared best over the summer, with the sides at the top of the table also credited with doing the best business.

Manchester United

Most observers believe that Manchester United are top of the transfer table.

"Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba are four headline signings who appear to have significantly strengthened Jose Mourinho's squad as his side's flying start underlines," says The Guardian. The paper also notes that he did most of his business before the start of the season. "The United he is fashioning have pace, power and a win-at-all costs mentality that will remind seasoned United watchers of the best Sir Alex Ferguson XIs."

Landing Zlatan Ibrahimovic was a stroke of genius, says Paul Hirst of The Times. "The Swede has everything United have missed over the last three years – presence, authority, height, power and the ability to score lots of goals. And United paid nothing for the striker, who despite being 34, has already scored four times in his opening four matches. The fact that Mourinho signed Ibrahimovic on July 1 is important too, as it has given him time to bond with his new team-mates."

However, his colleague Oliver Kay has reservations over the £89m paid for Paul Pogba. It is hard to see "what he or United can possibly do to justify a transfer fee and other associated costs (wages, signing-on fee, agent's commission, image rights) that even Real Madrid and Manchester City felt were far too excessive".

Manchester City

New Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has spent almost as much as Mourinho this summer, but it "hasn't been flashy and over-stated at the Etihad", says the Daily Mail. It has, however, been just as effective. 

"Guardiola has quietly gone about addressing the shortcomings of the squad he inherited. John Stones, Leroy Sane and Nolito have added youth and energy to an ageing and somewhat stale group. But Guardiola has perhaps done more in ridding the camp of those who either weren't good enough or had hung around too long," says the paper.

However, the Guardian is not alone in warning that the exile of Joe Hart could come back to hurt Guardiola. Players like Sane and Stones could be key this season but "it is the Hart-Bravo move that Guardiola may be judged on. If the Chilean proves a bad buy City could struggle," warns the paper.


Have the blues made a mammoth faux pas in re-signing David Luiz? It's the "biggest gamble" of the transfer window, says Paul Hirst of the Times. "Those who thought Luiz's performances could not get any worse than the one he put in during the 7-1 thrashing of Brazil by Germany in Belo Horizonte two years ago have been proven wrong. The centre back has continued to baffle his team-mates by giving away fouls and going on rampaging runs upfield since his move to Paris Saint-Germain."

The signing could be a "stroke of genius or a disaster" agrees the Daily Telegraph, which only awards the Blues a B. 

"The arrivals of N'Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi set an upbeat tone," says the Guardian, but "there was a rather slapdash feel to much of Chelsea's business" culminating in the Deadline Day moves for Luiz and Marcos Alonso. "Antonio Conte clearly likes a challenge."


"Don't let the late-August addition of defender Shkodran Mustafi or forward Lucas Perez fool you into thinking they had a decent window. They didn't," declares the Mail. The Gunners needed a marksman and Perez is not that player. "Yet again, Wenger has failed to address the one area which could turn his side from nearly men into title winners."

Others are less scathing. The Guardian praises Wenger for strengthening the team's spine by signing Granit Xhaka and Mustafi, but warns that letting Jack Wilshere leave could be a risk.

"Granit XChaka has the best pedigree, but will need to ensure the fans do not start pining for Jack Wilshere," agrees the Telegraph. 


The jury is out on Liverpool's summer. Sadio Mane "has made an excellent start and £30m looks a bargain," says the Telegraph. But two members of the Times jury pick out Georginio Wijnaldum as a candidate for the biggest waste of money this summer.

"Jurgen Klopp did most of his business quickly and decisively, bringing in a couple of proven though expensive Premier League performers," says the Guardian. "It is the outgoing list that catches the eye at Anfield," it adds. "While Liverpool still have a large squad, their slightly muted start to the season has led to some discussion about whether Klopp has left all his bases fully covered."


"Spurs were always building from a strong base and the additions of Vincent Janssen and Victor Wanyama have served to add more strength in depth," says the Guardian, but the Times says Moussa Sissoko could be a waste of money.

Meanwhile the Mail is unimpressed. "They came within a week of the title last season but their summer business has not been that of a club trying to address the deficit to the top. Why? They simply have not improved their starting XI."


"They were in League One three years ago. On deadline day they signed England international Jack Wilshere. Now that, in our book, is enough to make them a transfer-window winner," says the Mail. Landing Jordan Ibe and Brad Smith from Liverpool and Leeds prospect Lewis Cook, signed for £7m, could also prove vital to their season.


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