A few years ago, a team featuring both Bojan and Xerdan Shaqiri was a dream only possible for fans of Football Manager. Now it seems Europe’s finest are desperate to prove they can do it on a cold Tuesday night at the Britannia. It is no wonder Jose Mourinho thinks this season’s champion’s points total will be lower than usual when Stoke can now boast the same number of Champion’s League winners as his own Chelsea side.The new TV deal in place for the 2016-17 season has given Premier League clubs a bigger incentive than ever to spend big. This is your guide to the Premier League’s most surprising big-money moves this summer.
Petr Cech’s signing means Arsenal have fulfilled their annual quota – buying one of the ‘couple of players they need to become a title-winning side’. This move left many wondering why Jose Mourinho had allowed Cech to move and especially to the team most consider to be their biggest rivals for the title this year. A shaky first week for Cech makes you wonder whether Mourinho knew something the rest of us didn’t. He is an undeniably good keeper but one perhaps on the decline. For the sake of the title race we should all hope he’s still got it.
Robert Firmino’s move to Liverpool for £28 million early on this summer caught everyone by surprise. Comparisons are already being drawn between him and Luis Suarez with Firmino’s game showing the same tenacity and quick feet. However you also can’t help but compare him to Robinho and Anderson – diminuitive Brazilians who never realized their potential in the Premier League. With Daniel Sturridge fit it will be interesting to see how Brendan Rogers sets up his forwards – with proven Premier League strikers in Danny Ings and Christian Benteke while starlet Divock Origi has finally arrived from Lille.
Liverpool may look to Firmino to replace the creativity of Raheem Sterling, whose transfer to Manchester City drew a fair amount of media attention as well, to say the very least. 2 years ago we might have been shocked at Sterling’s £49 million price tag, but in 2015 the transfer saga that made Sterling the most expensive Englishman of all time aged just 20 barely raised an eyebrow. In pre-season at least, Sterling has been looking like the real deal. He will, however, have his work cut out at city if he is to avoid Scott Sinclair’s old seat on the City bench.
Perhaps a bigger surprise was City’s signing of Fabian Delph. This transfer caught the eye after Delph tweeted Villa fans to assure them he had chosen to stay at Villa Park before changing his mind a few days later to sign for Manchester City. Delph is by no means a bad signing especially as he helps City to meet their quota for homegrown players but it is hard to see how he is an improvement on everyone’s favorite utility man James Milner who himself looks set to have much more playing time this year at Liverpool.
A few transfers to the Championship that caught the eye but none more so than Stewart Downing’s return to Middlesbrough.The former West Ham playmaker had one of his best seasons for the hammers last year – showing the talent that football fans have known about for years. An amazing transfer for the Boro – you would think Downing’s partnership with David Nugent will give them the edge in the promotion race after their disappointment last year.
The mid-table sides have already spent big this summer with 3 weeks of the transfer window still remaining. Last summer, Yohan Cabaye was being touted for Arsenal but this year found himself moving for £10 million to Alan Pardrew’s Crystal Palace. Perhaps it was the lure of Alan Pardrew’s personality or maybe his years at Newcastle gave him a taste for the Premier League’s bottom half. Either way, on a reported £100,000 a week this move shows Palace’s ambition and I expect them to build a side round the French international. His ability from set pieces will also be key if Crystal Palace are to improve on last year’s 10th place. Salomon Rondon’s recent signing for West Brom looks to be in the typical Tony Pulis mould. The 6 ft 3 in Venezuelan centre forward signed from Zenit St. Petersburg for £12 million and looks set to slot in up front with the agile Saido Berahino forming an intimidating partnership. With Pulis’ sides notorious for their threat from set pieces, you can expect plenty of headed goals from Rondon this season.
Meanwhile, FIFA 15 players will be aware of Andre Ayew’s talent and this year he gets the chance to prove himself in England with Swansea. He has been quick out of the blocks with 2 goals in 2 games so far he joins a set of pacey forwards at Swansea who will be dangerous on the counter attack this year. Could Ayew be this years Michu?
As ever, the only thing that is predictable is that the league will be unpredictable, and this year’s summer transfers have added an extra level of intrigue leading up to the new season. And that’s exactly what we want.