There has been relatively little activity in the Barclays Premier League summer transfer window so far, but there have been some completed transfers that will most definitely impact the table this upcoming 2014-2015 season. With the FIFA World Cup in full swing, it can be difficult to get pen to paper for many full internationals that are completely focused on their national teams, and not their club teams. The English top flight is arguably the most competitive league, top to bottom, in the world, and therefore many top international players are lured to the prestige and lucrative contracts.
There have been whole hosts of players who have left their clubs this season, but not as many who have been brought in yet. According to Football365, a well-known English footballing website, there have been a total of 81 transfers out of the 20 Barclays Premier League clubs to other various clubs around the world. The most notable players to leave the English top flight for other teams so far are David Luiz from Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain, Ashley Cole from Chelsea to Roma, Alexander Buttner from Manchester United to Dynamo Moscow, Nemanja Vidic from Manchester United to Inter Milan, Yossi Benayoun from Queens Palace Rangers to Maccabi Haifa, and Liam Ridgewell to the Portland Timbers. Most of these moves, especially Cole and Vidic, are older experienced players that are looking to secure lucrative contracts to end out their career.
There have also been a number of interesting moves inside the Barclays Premier League, including Bacary Sagna’s move from Arsenal to Manchester City, where the Frenchman will have to battle it out with Pablo Zabaleta and Micah Richards for a starting right back role at the club. Lukasz Fabianski also left Arsenal, after tiring of playing second fiddle to his younger Polish compatriot Wojciech Szczęsny. He will join Swansea City and likely become their number one goalkeeper ahead of Michel Vorm. Jole Cole has left West Ham United, his hometown club, for a chance at first team action at Aston Villa.
Burnley has signed a number of players this year to try and compete in the Barclays Premier League after promotion last year. The list includes Michael Kightly from Stoke City, Matthew Gilks from Blackpool, Matthew Taylor from West Ham, Marvin Sordell from Bolton, and Steven Reid from West Bromwich Albion. Crystal Palace has offloaded a few players on free transfers to clean up the books for a later signing perhaps, but have only so far signed Chris Kettings on a free from Blackpool.
Hull City has definitely done a good bit of business this summer, already signing Jake Livermore from Tottenham, Robert Snodgrass from Norwich and the promising Tom Ince from Blackpool. All three signings show that Hull City is determined not to be drawn into another relegation battle this year, but instead stay safe in midtable. Leicester, off their recent promotion to the Premier League, has been very busy, letting five players go on free transfers and signing up four new players. They clearly are looking to shore up their defense with goalkeeper Ben Hamer from Charlton Athletic, and defenders Matthew Upson and Marc Albrighton from Brighton and Hobe Albion and Aston Villa respectively. They also added a bit of attack with the young Jack Barmby from Manchester United.
Liverpool has been active in the transfer market, bringing in Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana before the pair went off to Brazil with the English National Team. They contributed to a combined 24 goals last year for Muricio Pochettino’s fluid Southampton attack. Another Southampton product that left the southern coast of England for the bigger clubs of the north was Luke Shaw, who signed for Manchester United. Shaw is a promising left back that is about to turn just 19 years old on July 12. He has poise on the ball, is great in both attack and defense, and is technically very gifted. He often brings comparisons to another Southampton product who used to play left back, Gareth Bale.
Newcastle’s signing of Jack Colback is very controversial because he used to play for their Tyne-Wear derby rivals, Sunderland. Colback had a very good season last year with Sunderland appearing in 41 games and scoring three goals. He has admitted that he will be hated from the rest of his life by Sunderland fans.
Stoke City have signed two key players from other English clubs, Phil Bardsley and Steve Sidwell, from Sunderland and Fulham respectively. Sunderland have gotten rid of a lot of deadwood this summer, six players have left on free transfers. They have added Costel Pantillimon as a reliable goalkeeper from Manchester City, Jordi Gomez an experience central midfielder, and a new right back, Billy Jones, from West Brom. Gus Poyet hopes a full pre-season training schedule, with a core of players used to each other, will enable Sunderland to start off better than they did last season.
It was already noted that Swansea did a good bit of business to sign goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, but they have also signed promising young midfielder Raheem Hanley from Blackburn, and the attacker Marvin Emnes from Middlesbrough. West Bromwich Albion have been frugal in the market, signing Craig Gardner, Joleon Lescott, and Chris Baird, all on free transfers from Sundlerland, Manchester City and Burnley respectively. All three are good additions to the squad and will strengthen the core of a team, which narrowly avoided relegation last season, finishing three points above the drop zone. West Ham United have bought two players from English teams, Aaron Cresswell, a decent left back from Ipswich Town, and Diego Poyet, a young midfielder from Charlton Athletic, who is the son of Gus Poyet, the Sunderland Manager.
The transfers from outside the Barclays Premier league to inside England’s top flight are often the most lucrative and attention grabbing of them all, and there have already been some aspirational ones so far in the summer of 2014. The individuals coming over to the English top flight are usually players who have already made a name for themselves, or who are about to explode on the scene of European football.
Chelsea has made two big splashes in the transfer market so far by signing big name players from Spain’s La Liga. Diego Costa led Athletico Madrid to the Spanish League Title last year with 36 goals in 52 appearances. He is one of the best strikers in the world and at 25 years of age is still learning. Chelsea manager José Mourinho criticized his strike force of Demba Ba, Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o for their lack of efficiency in front of the net last year, claiming it was a critical reason they did not win any trophies. Costa will look to change the fortunes of the London club, especially since he will be receiving passes supplied from Cesc Fàbregas. Fàbregas moved from Barcelona to Chelsea, even though he claimed in 2011 that he would never play for another Premier League besides Arsenal. Apparently Arsène Wenger had the chance to bring back Cesc in a buyback clause, but refused since Arsenal has an abundance of attacking midfielders.
Liverpool has signed Emre Can from Bayer Leverkusen to bolster their midfield. The 20-year-old midfielder played in 39 games for the German team, scoring four goals from a defensive midfielder position. He has been compared to both Michael Ballack and Bastian Schweinsteiger, because of his box-to-box ability to contribute to both attack and defense. Philippe Senderos is a journeyman footballer that has played for seven clubs in 12 years. The Swiss centerback now finds himself at Aston Villa by way of Valencia.
Manchester City is looking to repeat as Barclays Premier League Champions next year by signing two stars from the Iberian Peninsula. Fernando is a defensive midfielder who came from Porto and will be asked to screen the back four of the City defense, allowing the likes of David Silva, Yaya Toure and Samri Nasri to roam free in the attack. The other signing is Willy Caballero, a veteran goalkeeper from Málaga, who will provide cover for Joe Hart since former backup Pantillimon is gone. Caballero played for Manuel Pellegrini, the Manchester City manager, when Pellegrini was at Málaga from 2011-2013.
Manchester United’s big move so far this summer besides signing the promising Luke Shaw, is attaining Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao. Herrera was originally the subject to a move last year to United, but it fell through. This year the club apparently rejected the bid again, but Herrera activated his own buyout clause. United most definitely need to improve their midfield, which looked poor on multiple occasions last year when United finished 7th in the league.
Newcastle has pulled in two young attacking players from abroad. They definitely need the help, because once they sold Yohan Cabaye last year to Paris Saint-Germain in the January transfer window, they looked lethargic going forward. Siem de Jong played for Ajax since 2007, scoring 57 goals in 168 appearances, and he will join the young Ayoze Pérez from Tenerife at Newcastle next season. Stoke City decided to add some pace to their attack, signing Mame Biram Diouf from Hannover 96. Diouf has had 35 goals in 71 games for the Bundesliga club, which is a pretty decent return for a top flight forward.
Swansea is also looking to bolster their attack, brining in Bafétimbi Gomis from Lyon on a free transfer. Gomis has spent the past five years at the Ligue 1 side, scoring 91 goals in 239 appearances. West Ham went for a balance in their summer deals from abroad, signing both an attacker and defensive midfielder. Cheikhou Kouyaté is a very physical defensive midfielder destroyer who has joined West Ham from the Belgian side Anderlecht. West Ham’s attack will be bolstered by Mauro Zárate who returned last year to his childhood club Vélez Sarsfield in Argentina, finding his form with 19 goals in 29 appearances. Zárate had previously struggled in Serie A in Italy.
It is likely many more deals will be completed after the FIFA World Cup is over next week, since players and their agents, will be able to sit down and discuss terms back in England. There are also five teams who have yet to make a first team signing this summer window, Arsenal, Everton, QPR, Southampton and Tottenham. The Barclays Premier League summer transfer window does not end until the first week of September 2014, so lover of the English football should expect many more signings to be completed in the coming weeks.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash