Premier League 2021 transfer window: Winners and losers (so far)
The summer transfer window is often the most chaotic part of the footballing calendar. Reports, contradictory reports, flight trackers, weird and wonderful social media announcements and Fabrizio Romano seemingly never going to sleep are just some of the factors that keep the soap opera going. For some, it's tiresome nonsense. For others, it's more exciting than the actual season.
This summer it has centred around three main sagas: Harry Kane (still at Tottenham at the time of writing), Jack Grealish (recently joined Man City) and Lionel Messi (left Barcelona after 21 years to join PSG and in turn, bring us closer to the death of football.)
But there have also been plenty of under the radar moves happening. For example, did you know that Ryan Bertrand has gone to Leicester on a free? Maybe you did. Well done. If you didn't, that's because it's barely newsworthy.
There are still a couple of weeks remaining in this window, but nevertheless we thought we would list our 'winners and losers' of the window.*
*So far. I cannot emphasise enough how much this is subject to change. With that in mind, let's dig in.
Leicester's summer windows usually involve losing one big name to one of the big boys - Kanté, Mahrez, Maguire et al. - helping to keep their model sustainable. And that could still happen with links between Arsenal and James Maddison refusing to subside, but as things stand they have improved their squad with exciting young players while holding onto their key men. Patson Daka racked up a hugely impressive 27 goals in 28 games in Austria last season, while 22-year-old Boubakary Soumaré has arrived from Ligue 1 champions Lille, adding depth and quality to their defensive midfield options. Add that to the arrival of Bertrand on a free, replacing the retired Christian Fuchs, and it looks like a strong window for the Foxes.
They've also signed Jannick Vestergaard, who is very tall.
Obviously, this all hinges on them managing to keep hold of Harry Kane, the prospect of which remains uncertain as Manchester City continue their chase for the striker valued at £150 million. But his recent backtracking from what appeared to be an attempt at going on strike can only be a good thing for Spurs, who have brought in one of the best defenders in Serie A last season in Cristian Romero. Whether it was the magic of Gian Piero Gasperini's hyper-specific system at Atalanta or Romero's individual quality that made him so good last season remains to be seen, but on paper he looks like a more than adequate replacement for the departed Toby Alderweireld.
🧱 All I see is a brick wall? pic.twitter.com/jU0tQZO7wA
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) August 7, 2021
They've also strengthened in the goalkeeping department, recruiting Pierluigi Gollini - also from Atalanta - to replace Joe Hart. Pretty much any top flight keeper would have been an improvement there but Gollini looks to be a particularly exciting candidate to succeed Hugo Lloris between the sticks.
Bryan Gil, who arrived in a swap deal for cult hero Erik Lamela, remains a rough diamond, but a quick glance at the highlights from his loan spell at Eibar suggest he will get the fans off their seats.
Yes, they've lost Jack Grealish, probably their greatest ever player. But, they did get £100 million in return, and they've made full use of it.
Leon Bailey will be an improvement on their inconsistent wingers - Trezeguet, El Ghazi - while Emi Buendia will replace much of Grealish's creativity. But perhaps most significantly, the arrival of Danny Ings from Southampton will take some of the goalscoring burden away from Ollie Watkins.
Welcome to Aston Villa, @IngsDanny! 🙌#WelcomeDanny
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) August 4, 2021
Ashley Young and Axel Tuanzebe returning to the club where they have both performed well in the past will only add to the optimism at Villa Park ahead of the new season as well, as will Neil Taylor and Ahmed Elmohamady leaving the club.
Even rival fans will have breathed a sigh of relief when Jadon Sancho's move to Old Trafford was confirmed, purely so we can all stop reading updates about what felt like the sport's longest ever transfer saga. The tedium of that saga might have also made some of us forget just what a brilliant player they have got in Sancho, and for considerably less money than Borussia Dortmund were asking for last summer.
In defence, Raphael Varane will provide some much needed pace, composure and winning experience so often missing from the Maguire-Lindelof partnership, regardless of the scepticism around his ability to deal with crosses spouted by reactionary pundits on the radio. United could still do with a defensive midfielder and maybe another forward, but so far they have boxed off their two main priorities with world class players.
Ahead of the summer window, there was a lot of concern about how Palace would fare this summer, with no manager and half their squad out of contract. But some stellar work from director of football Dougie Freedman has seen the club manage the crisis better than many would have imagined. Patrick Vieira's revolution has seen a lot of the dead weight leave, hugely reducing an inflated wage bill, with young talent coming in to replace the old guard.
Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen will give a significant boost to the defensive line, while Conor Gallagher and Michael Olise will rejuvenate a knackered midfield.
Wilfried Zaha appears to be going nowhere, and suddenly everything looks bright in SE25. Let's just hope Vieira does not suffer the same fate as Frank De Boer, who was sacked after just four games the last time Palace tried to evolve their style of play.
Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal. When will you ever escape this eternal banter era? Ben White is a perfectly fine defender, but £50 million seems very steep. Nuno Tavares should be an upgrade on Sead Kolasinac (who they still need to get rid of) as back up left-back, and Albert Sambi Lokonga has impressed in pre-season, but they are still crying out for someone to take some of the creative burden off Emile Smith Rowe in attacking midfield. Maddison, as mentioned earlier, would be a welcome addition at the Emirates, but it's still hard to see them finishing any higher than 7th. Trust the process and all that.
Everton are another club seemingly stuck in a perpetual state of disappointment. The excitement of last summer, with Carlo Ancelotti bringing James Rodriguez and Allan to the club, has drained completely. They've now got a manager the fans don't want, a star player who wants to leave, and their only outfield recruits have been Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray, who have scored a combined six goals in the last two years.
They've signed nobody, obviously.
Sean Dyche's side are the epitome of 'they'll be ok', purely because they have Sean Dyche. But if you don't move forward, you move backwards. And signing Wayne Hennessey and Nathan Collins is not exactly moving forward. The only positive thing you can say about their window is that - so far - they've kept hold of Dwight McNeil. But that could so easily change.
And so concludes this ranking. We'll probably do another one of these at the end of the window, when every deal has been concluded. So stay tuned for that and withhold any abuse until early September.