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Which English Premier League Clubs Have Had the Best 2020 Transfer Window?
With the first international break already a distant memory and the Premier League five rounds of fixtures deep, there are already patterns emerging that can tell us a lot of how this season might go. Defending seems to be a lost art as the amount of goals increases exponentially every week, VAR is going to frustrate everyone just as much as it did last year – and Fulham will be relegated at the end of the campaign.
But another aspect of EPL soccer that we can now start forming judgments about is which clubs enjoyed the summer transfer window – and which ones didn’t. New signings have now had four or five games to bed into their new squads and some have been more successful than others. As ever, there were some very high profile moves in the offseason (and first few weeks of the actual season), but which sides have been more successful in their transfer dealings this summer?
When Mikel Arteta took over the managerial reins in December 2019, Arsenal was in mid-table and was proving its regular detractors correct about it being a team of talented players that didn’t like it when things got tough. Arteta took his time, but has turned that team around and this season he has been able to begin molding the squad to his own ideas.
Arsenal is still a way off from challenging for the title but there have been a number of signings that have greatly improved the team and provide much hope for the future. Signing Willian from Chelsea was the first statement of intent, as it gave the squad an exciting new attacking drive that would be able to complement Pepe, Lacazette and Aubameyang up front. Bringing in Gabriel from Lille a month later also suggested that Arteta knew that he had to sort out the defense as well.
But the biggest signing of all – and the one that helps Arsenal to be included on this list – is Thomas Partey arriving from Atletico Madrid for £45 million. The Ghanaian midfielder joined just before the transfer window and could make all the difference in the midfield for Arsenal. His ability to break up opposing attacks is only matched by his own forward runs. Re-signing Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid also gives the team a better look.
None of this would mean much if Aubameyang had not been persuaded to stay, of course. But it could be an interesting season at the Emirates now.
It was another summer of confusing headlines surrounding the ongoing attempts of Mike Ashley to sell the club. But, for once, there were also some genuinely promising transfer deals done by the Newcastle board – with new arrivals that could take the fans’ minds off of the perennial state of chaos the club seems to inhabit.
Newcastle finished 13th in the Premier League last season and barely made it into the top half at all during the campaign. One of the main reasons for that was the fact that it averaged just one goal a game. So the signing of Callum Wilson from Bournemouth seemed like a masterstroke.
The club doubled up with the acquisition of Ryan Fraser from the south coast club as well – a player that had looked very impressive a year previously but had fallen out with the Bournemouth management. But it has been another new midfielder that has really taken off at St James’ Park.
Jeff Hendrick had never really received many plaudits during his time at Burnley but he has been very important to the way Newcastle have played in the opening games of the new season.
The other big arrival was defender Jamal Lewis, who was one of the few bright spots at Norwich last year and is expected to have a very good career ahead of him. He gives the Newcastle defense another dimension and it is these three new arrivals that have sparked a new sense of belief at the club.
Villa left it until the last two games of last season to climb out of the bottom three – and only stayed up thanks to the point it won on the very last day of the campaign away at West Ham. Many thought that Dean Smith’s side would face a similar struggle this season.
But at the time of writing, the West Midlands club is the only side in the top flight to still hold a 100% record. It sits one point behind Everton at the top having played one game fewer.
Committing Tyrone Mings and Jack Grealish to new long-term contracts would have been good enough. But Villa has also made a whole host of new signings that have improved the squad immensely.
Matty Cash and Ollie Watkins have both come from the Championship – from Forest and Brentford respectively – but look like they have played in the top flight their whole careers. Just as important has been the arrival of keeper Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal. There are plenty of Gunners fans (and even former players) still wondering how their club let such a prospect leave north London.
Aston Villa had been one of the favorites to be relegated before a ball had been kicked this season. But now Grealish is leading this team into the upper echelons of the division and repaying the faith that the owners showed in Dean Smith in granting him the funds necessary to bring in the players that he wanted this summer.
All that is without mentioning the loan signing of Ross Barkley, who had been stagnating at Chelsea but now looks somewhere near the exciting prospect he was at Everton just a few years ago.
Villa spent a fair amount of money. But when it comes to assembling some of the best players in the world thanks to an owner with seemingly unending amounts of cash, Chelsea is the Premier League club to look at.
The west London club did little business the summer before because of a transfer ban. But Roman Abramovich certainly made up for that during the most recent offseason.
Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner were signed before the end of last season for a combined £85 million, but Ben Chilwell came in from Leicester for a further £45 million at the end of August before Thiago Silva arrived on a free from PSG.
All of those players would have been enough to excite the Stamford Bridge faithful but there was more to come. A huge £72 million was paid out to bring Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen – and when Kepa started making more mistakes in goal, Edouard Mendy was poached from Rennes.
Frank Lampard had allowed a few top players to leave the club for free. But with an owner with such deep pockets, the financial outlay is not the problem. Some of the performances so far have left a lot to be desired – especially in the defensive areas. But the manager now has a squad that could possibly improve on what was a surprisingly good fourth-place finish last season.
If Chelsea doesn’t finish in the top four this season it won’t be for the lack of spending power shown in the offseason.
Even with all the new arrivals in the Premier League this season, it has to be said that the most successful transfer business was done by Everton.
The Merseyside club has lived in the shadow of Liverpool for far too long – even when the red half of the city was impatiently waiting to end its own title-winning drought. But the new players through the door at Goodison Park in the last few months have made everyone excited for the new campaign. More importantly, they have all been successful so far as well.
The best move Everton made was actually back in December 2019 when it appointed Carlo Ancelotti as manager. Everything that has happened since is because the Italian veteran joined the club. It was because of him that defensive midfield lynchpin Allan joined from Napoli at the beginning of September.
It was the signing of James Rodriguez from Real Madrid – on a free – just two days later that made the entire Premier League sit up and take notice. Further strength in the midfield arrived from Watford in the form of Abdoulaye Doucoure, before defender Ben Godfrey signed from Norwich on the last day of the transfer window.
All the new signings have turned the talent that was already at the club into better players. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has particularly enjoyed having James Rodriguez supplying goal chances that have catapulted him into the England squad and resulted in the striker scoring in each of the first five league games of the season.
For the first time in a long time, Everton went into the Merseyside derby on at least a level footing and big things are now expected by the blue half of the city for a change.
There have been a number of other big signings made by Premier League clubs this summer, of course. Gareth Bale returning to Spurs after being shunned at Real Madrid was one of the more sensational. But Manchester United, West Ham and even Liverpool have brought in some exciting new players in a bid to either improve from last year – or in an attempt to retain the title.
But it is Everton, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Newcastle and Arsenal who have made the biggest collective plays for glory this season – and on the whole, they have succeeded. The EPL sometimes feels like a closed shop at the top of the league, with little chance for anyone outside the top five or six clubs having any chance of getting anywhere near winning the title.
The fact that teams like Everton and Aston Villa have started the season so brightly has to be good for the whole league – even if they needed to overhaul their starting elevens to do so.
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