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Transfer grades: Which teams aced the test and who failed?

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Transfer grades: Which teams aced the test and who failed? by : 6:37 am On August 10, 2018

With the buying season over for clubs in England, ESPN FC’s Nick
Miller grades how each Premier League team fared in the summer
New transfer maestros Sven Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi had a bit
of a run-up to this window, thus they broadly got their business
done early. None of their buys have been the type to blow off
socks, rather potentially shrewd recruits such as Lucas Torreira
and Sokratis Papastathopoulos; they should all improve the team,
but who knows by how much? Grade: B
It was a neat coincidence and a mark of how far they’ve come that
on the 10-year anniversary of their League Two 17-point deduction
for financial problems, Bournemouth spent upward of £25 million
on Jefferson Lerma. The Colombian midfielder should be quite
lively good fun, if nothing else (he was booked 16 times last
season), while young playmaker David Brooks is extremely
promising. A striker might have been useful — only Callum Wilson
broke double figures last season. Grade: B-
Brighton seemed to spend most of the summer stockpiling young
talent and “Chelsea-ing” them out on loan, but of the players who
will make a difference to the first team, Iranian flyer Alireza
Jahanbakhsh and midfielder Yves Bissouma are the most eye-
catching. Who knows whether they’ll take to Brighton/the Premier
League, but you’re inclined to trust the club who bought Pascal
Gross for £3 million. Grade: B+
A weird window. They left things late, making their first purchase
five days before deadline day, and the moves they did make were a
mixed bag. Ben Gibson was a very Burnley move, but the purchase
of Joe Hart seemed odd: Tom Heaton and Nick Pope are injured,
but when fit, they already had a goalkeeping conundrum, so why
spend a good slice of their budget on another goalie? It felt like a
man buying a new shirt simply because a button fell off. Grade: C
Cardiff City
On the face of things, recruiting a group of players from the
Championship to strengthen a newly promoted side doesn’t look
like sterling business. But Cardiff have learned lessons from last
time they were in the Premier League, when they spent like
drunken sailors, still got relegated and were lumbered with
significant debt. They’re being more parsimonious this time. That
said, at £4 million keeper Alex Smithies could be a bargain, and
Harry Arter on loan is a smart pick-up. Grade: C
It’s pretty hard to know what to make of Chelsea’s summer.
Mauricio Sarri clearly thought they needed more craft in midfield,
addressed by the additions of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacevic, but
replacing Thibaut Courtois with Kepa Arrizabalaga is at best a
neutral, and that’s all they did. Otherwise, Sarri has to make do
with the squad that finished sixth last season. Grade: C
Crystal Palace
Palace’s signings could go either way, really. Max Meyer was
touted as a boy wonder in his early days, but with respect to
Palace, there’s a reason he’s at Selhurst Park. Cheikhou Kouyate
did well at West Ham initially before losing his way, while Jordan
Ayew isn’t anything much to get excited about in theory but every
now and then throws you something to keep you alive. The real
win in this, or any other transfer window, was keeping hold of
Wilfried Zaha. Grade: B-
Transfer news must-reads
– Man United had £100m to spend on defender – sources
– Sanchez wishes United had signed more world-class players
– Navas compares leaving Madrid to dying
– Pochettino unfazed about signing nobody
– Real Madrid complete Courtois signing
– Done deals
A frantic last day pulled this back from the brink a little. Of course,
Richarlison looks hugely overpriced, but if Marco Silva can get him
playing like he did when the two were together at Watford, he’ll be
a good addition. But the late purchases of Bernard, Andre Gomes
and Yerry Mina filled a few holes, but they probably could have
done with a goal scorer. Grade: B-
How many of their new signings will actually work out remains to
be seen, but good lord are Fulham all-in. The wisdom of a freshly
promoted club spending north of £100 million is a matter worthy of
concern, but 11 arrivals filled every need and then some, from the
coup of Jean Michael Seri to the handy purchase of Joe Bryan
(useful not just in himself, but in ensuring Ryan Sessegnon doesn’t
have to play at left-back) to the low-key but very smart loan of
Timothy Fosu-Mensah. Fulham now have a squad to take on the
top flight. Grade: A
Huddersfield Town
A little underwhelming, perhaps? A few loanees from last season
have been purchased, and Erik Durm might turn out to be an
extremely shrewd recruit, but nobody is going to get excited about
Ramadan Sobhi and the others — Juninho Bacuna, Adama
Diakhaby, Isaac Mbenza — who to one extent or another sound like
wild cards. Grade: C
Leicester City
Very strong. Of course, keeping Harry Maguire and getting Jamie
Vardy to sign a new deal were two big wins, but they brought in a
few very useful new players, too. James Maddison could be a star,
Jonny Evans was a bargain at £3.5 million and Ricardo Pereira
comes with rave reviews from Portugal. The two young defenders
who arrived on deadline day — Filip Benkovic and Caglar Soyuncu
— suggest they have one eye on the possibility of Maguire’s
departure at some point and they’re planning ahead. Grade: B+
If you want to nit-pick, you could say some more dead wood could
have been cleared and Emre Can might be missed more than
people think. But ultimately Liverpool identified the weak areas in
their team and bought essentially the best available players to bulk
up those areas. Plenty of money they may have cost, but people
will forget the outlay if Alisson, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan
Shaqiri work out. Grade: A
Manchester City
When you’re as good as City were last season, finding areas to
strengthen is tricky. Riyad Mahrez addresses one issue — a
relative lack of depth in wide attackers — but the question of who
will help out and ultimately replace Fernandinho remains
unanswered. After Jorginho’s snub, Pep Guardiola might quite
justifiably say there’s no point in buying someone for the sake of
it, and presumably Fabian Delph will be able to play in midfield
more this term, but ultimately, City wanted a deep-lying midfielder
and didn’t get one. Grade: B-
Manchester United
If Jose Mourinho was grading this, he would probably give United a
Z. But while it clearly isn’t ideal that they didn’t sign a central
defender and perhaps a right-sided attacker — plus, being played
like a cheap banjo to get Diego Godin a new contract was
embarrassing — they really should have enough in their squad to be
better this season. Fred beefs up their midfield, and Diogo Dalot is
highly rated. Ultimately, a summer in which a team chooses not to
spend north of £60 million on Harry Maguire can’t be all bad.
Grade: C+
Newcastle United
Awful. You can be as optimistic about Salomon Rondon’s capacity
to play as a battering ram as you like, or enthuse about another
year on loan for Kenedy. But ultimately, Mike Ashley’s policy of not
paying more than £9.5 million for any player is another reason for
Rafa Benitez — one of the few good things Newcastle have going at
the moment — to contemplate walking out. Grade: F
Difficult to know what to make of their crop of arrivals. Everyone
wishes Danny Ings well but fears his years of injuries might have
kicked the best out of him; Angus Gunn is a promising keeper but
untested in the Premier League; Mohamed Elyounoussi is an
interesting recruit from Basel. But Dusan Tadic, as infuriating as
he could be, was sold without really being replaced, and one
wonders by how much a team who were nearly relegated last term
will have improved. Grade: C
Tottenham Hotspur
There have been adorably optimistic types who have tried to dress
Tottenham’s transfer window up as a success, not least manager
Mauricio Pochettino, who called it “brave.” That camp said the
team is already good enough, keeping hold of Harry Kane, Toby
Alderweireld and Christian Eriksen et al. is a win, no point in
signing for the sake of it. But Spurs signed absolutely nobody, the
first club to “manage that feat” since transfer windows were
introduced in 2003. It’s either arrogant or complacent to think this
very good team can’t be improved, and the rest of Europe can still
sign players, so the jewels aren’t even entirely safe yet. Pochettino
put a brave face on things, but this summer was a disaster for
Spurs. Grade: F
It was a little odd that Watford didn’t reinvest the Richarlison
money, but then again, there’s little logic to the modern-day
iteration of Watford. Gerard Deulofeu, signed on a permanent deal,
remains an enigma, while Ben Foster might be a handy purchase in
goal. The big win of the window was nailing Abdoulaye Doucoure
down to a new deal, but while that was shrewd, you can’t help
thinking they could have done more. Grade: C
West Ham United
In their favour, this was an improvement on last summer. But
that’s not especially hard, and you start to realise there are a good
few big gambles in this list of “ins” at the London Stadium. Jack
Wilshere is obvious, Andriy Yarmolenko could go either way, they
paid upward of £30 million for Felipe Anderson, who wasn’t a cast-
iron first-teamer at Lazio last season, and Lucas Perez isn’t that
inspiring, either. Grade: C+
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Yes, indeed. A few people have apparently been unhappy with a
lack of wing-back signings, but when you’re a newly promoted club
who can attract Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho — for whatever
reason — you know life is reasonably sweet. Adama Traore is the
most intriguing recruit; as one wag on Twitter put it, there’s
something delicious about a player who came through the
Barcelona academy but produced his best football under Tony
Pulis. Grade: A

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