‘World class’ – The surprise Man Utd, Man City and Liverpool verdict on Chelsea transfers – Football.London

The summer transfer window is now closed and the die has been cast until January after a spectacular window that saw some of the biggest players in the world switch clubs.

Jack Grealish smashed the British transfer record while Manchester United captured the imagination with their late move for Cristiano Ronaldo. And that does not even mention Lionel Messi’s move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain!

But what do the contenders for the top four make of each other’s business – and how does the title race look now?

Correspondents for Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea assessed the window – and how it’s changed the title picture.

The view from Manchester City – Simon Bajkowski

Manchester United

United have had an excellent window. They were too leaky at the back and too unimaginative up front last season, so the purchases of Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho are stellar. Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival is curious, and the extent of his impact will probably depend on his influences on his teammates.

Read more: Chelsea complete final signing of the summer window as Saul Niguez arrives on loan

United haven’t been able to resolve their balance in central midfield, but if they can’t challenge for the Premier League and Champions League this season with this squad their priority for next summer should be to recruit a manager that can meet expectations.

Chelsea

Chelsea have splashed nearly £100million on what was their biggest weakness in the squad. Thomas Tuchel had already set up his team to challenge by claiming Champions League glory in May and they have to be targeting a top-two finish as a minimum.

Their early-season form – including the resilience shown in grinding out a draw at Anfield with 10 men – suggests that they will be difficult for anybody else to best, although Tuchel’s honeymoon period may be tested when a rough patch of form inevitably comes.



Romelu Lukaku will be hoping to add to his debut goal today at Anfield
Romelu Lukaku will be hoping to add to his debut goal today at Anfield

Manchester City

City have had a very strange transfer window. They have failed to achieve their primary target of signing a world-class striker, kept a number of players who wanted out and showed no interest in appeasing the many fans who wanted another left-back brought in.

That being said, the £100million purchase of Jack Grealish showed their determination to improve the group and they still possess the best squad in the league if the best manager in the league can continue to keep getting as much out of them.

Liverpool

Liverpool may have to handle some fan frustration at their lack of activity but there are similarities to Chelsea and City.

It is less than a year since Klopp’s champions were hailed as outstanding and they have fixed the primary reason for their dethroning last year by spending a considerable chunk on a centre-back in Ibrahima Konate.

Liverpool still have the bulk of their title-winning side and should be hurting from falling away so badly last season.

Has it made City better or worse?

Swapping out Sergio Aguero for Jack Grealish doesn’t sound like an improvement when viewed as City letting their club record scorer go and leaving themselves without a centre-forward for the entire season.

On the flipside though, City have replaced somebody who wasn’t fit enough to play the majority of the last campaign with another who was one of the brightest talents in the division. Chelsea, Liverpool and United should all put up stiffer challenges, but on paper the Blues have improved a squad that recently coasted to their third title in four years.

If Guardiola can keep the hunger among the existing players, they will remain the team to beat.

Chelsea – Adam Newson

How do you rate Manchester United’s transfer window?

Highly. Raphael Varane is an elite-level defensive addition and I believe Jadon Sancho, when used on the right, will give United an element of unpredictability they’ve lacked on that flank.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return is obviously huge. He’ll score goals, no doubt about that. My main concern is whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is able to get the best out of the array of attacking talent at his disposal.



Raphael Varane
Raphael Varane of Manchester United applauds the supporters (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

How do you rate Manchester City’s transfer window?

Somewhat strange in truth. City needed a new forward to replace Sergio Aguero, albeit the Argentine didn’t play a huge amount of games last season.

Harry Kane seemed the answer and had he arrived, I don’t feel anyone would’ve taken the Premier League title away from Pep Guardiola.

Why the club felt Jack Grealish was more of a priority – and at £100million – I’m not sure. He’s an excellent player but not one I feel truly takes them a step forward in the same fashion Kane would have.

How do you rate Liverpool’s transfer window?

We’ve somewhat become used to this kind of transfer window from Liverpool.

The Reds got a signing (Ibrahima Konate) done early – one that made sense given their issues at centre-back last season – and then sat back and watched the rest crack on. Xherdan Shaqiri and Georginio Wijnaldum’s departures mean they’ve lost quality and experience from their squad too.

Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI remains capable of challenging for the title, but injuries could derail them. They look light again.

Has your own club’s window enhanced or detracted from chances of winning the league?

Chelsea did what they had to this window.

Top of the club’s list was a new number nine and in Romelu Lukaku they’ve got a goalscoring guarantee, one that will turn frustrating draws into narrow victories against the Premier League’s perceived weaker sides.

Saul Niguez’s late arrival also shores up what looked a slightly weak midfield, especially given N’Golo Kante has tended to pick up little injuries over the past two years. The only negative in my eyes is the number of academy graduates that have moved on: 12 in total. That’s a big talent drain and may continue in the seasons ahead.

However, Thomas Tuchel has undoubtedly been given the tools to mount a Premier League title challenge this summer. It’s going to be an exciting campaign for the Blues.


Video Loading

Manchester United – Samuel Luckhurst

How do you rate Manchester United’s transfer window?

It’s 8/10, a more strategic throwback to Louis van Gaal’s first summer, with everyone bar Tom Heaton a starry signing. Moving for Cristiano Ronaldo was justified, in that it deprived City of their fall-back target to Harry Kane and Ronaldo is Ronaldo, but it is not a deal without caveats. United have gone from being expected to challenge for the title to being expected to win it. The pressure is not on Ronaldo but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, yet to convince he is capable of becoming a top-level manager.

Jadon Sancho was always going to end up at United, so it felt moot even to debate the merits of it. He was not as essential as some supporters suggested. Raphael Varane was and it is not a coincidence United kept their first clean sheet of the season with him in the side.

It is remiss not to have signed a defensive midfielder and that could be costly. United’s midfield balance was problematic at Southampton and Wolves and they were fortunate to take four points from those games when they could have easily lost both. Kieran Trippier would have been an improvement on Aaron Wan-Bissaka but previous title winners have got by with glaring weaknesses in their XI.



Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo’s number has been confirmed.

How do you rate Chelsea’s transfer window?

Chelsea have the most rounded squad of the title challengers, now Romelu Lukaku is their number nine. Their XI is arguably the weakest of the quartet but their squad depth is impressive and the coach is key.

Thomas Tuchel can derive the maximum effort from players and Chelsea have been on an upward curve ever since he replaced Frank Lampard, a sacking that did not warrant the mawkish mourning from some fans and Lampard’s media acolytes.

The balance from back to front seems sound and the coach is world-class. Chelsea have to be favourites for the title.

How do you rate Manchester City’s transfer window?

This could be the season where Pep Guardiola struggles to silence those detractors who claim he is a ‘chequebook manager’. City have huge issues in their first-team: still no specialist left-back, a lack of authority at the base of midfield and no out-and-out goalscorer.

They will still demolish sides, as evinced by the eviscerations of Norwich and Arsenal. They are too good a side to fall away as badly as they did in 2019-20, particularly as they have a centre-back in Ruben Dias who has had a more transformative effect than Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool. So they are still a defensive force and they are still liable to outscore most sides.

But Fernandinho looks to have stayed a year too long, Kevin de Bruyne’s fitness is a monthly concern and there will be matches where they could play all night and not score.

Jack Grealish is a crowd pleaser but he was inessential.

How do you rate Liverpool’s transfer window?

We can already declare Jurgen Klopp the title winner of hypocrisy. Having derided United’s world-record signing of Paul Pogba in 2016, Liverpool set world record fees for a defender and goalkeeper two years later. Now Klopp is back to questioning other clubs’ spending because Liverpool have underspent.

Ibrahima Konaté will provide valuable cover after last season’s defensive disasters – both the injuries and the stop-gap signings in January. Not replacing Georginio Wijnaldum is mystifying. Midfield has always been Liverpool’s weakest area – where grit reigns over guile – and they lack a runner to supplement their ageing attacking trio.

Roberto Firmino is a goalscorer who does not score enough goals and Liverpool remain heavily reliant on Mohamed Salah’s potency. They no longer unnerve opponents as they did two seasons ago, even though the starting XI can still be a formidable line-up.

Ultimately, they are content enough just with Van Dijk back. Little can be done to improve Liverpool’s back five other than tying them down on new contracts, which they have done.

Liverpool – Paul Gorst

How do you rate Manchester United’s transfer window?

It’s hard to deny that Manchester United have enjoyed a very fruitful transfer window.

After years of forking out huge sums at centre-back, they’ve addressed the weakness properly by bringing in Raphael Varane from Real Madrid.

Jadon Sancho can play on the flanks for the best part of a decade and the feel-good factor is back following the return of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The social engagement numbers will have Ed Woodwards grinning from ear to ear! I’m not sure they have enough to nudge in front of Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea yet, mind.

How do you rate Chelsea’s transfer window?

The champions of Europe have added nearly £100m worth of prime centre-forward in the shape of Romelu Lukaku. He will undoubtedly bag the goals that Timo Werner simply couldn’t last season and they now have plenty of options right throughout the squad.

Perhaps still a top-class centre-back short but Thomas Tuchel has them well drilled enough to combat that.

How do you rate Manchester City’s transfer window?

Did Man City really need to add £100m Jack Grealish to a squad already bursting at the seams with creative talent?

Their inability to land Harry Kane – or any other top-class centre-forward – could yet hurt them in this Premier League title race. There are few who can stop them when they get rolling with the attacking options they have, but when the going is tough, the lack of a pure predator who can earn three points from a half chance could yet be the deciding factor on where this trophy ends up.

Get the latest Chelsea transfer news straight to your inbox

The summer window is ramping up as the Blues are chasing some big name and big money targets, so we want to make sure you’re always in the know.

By signing up to the Chelsea newsletter here, you’ll be receiving the latest news and rumours directly to you, as well as exclusive articles and content from club writers Sam Inkersole and Adam Newson, plus a daily transfer round-up recapping the news and rumours all for free!

And if you want to take part in the debate in the comments and join in with the Q&As to get your questions answered, create an account here, because we want to hear from you too.

How do you rate Liverpool’s transfer window?

The early confirmation of Ibrahima Konate suggested Liverpool had their ducks in a row, but following the public statement about his imminent arrival way back in May, the Reds have kept their powder dry since.

Instead, the focus has been on player retention with a string of new deals for the likes of Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Nat Phillips and Jordan Henderson.

That keeps the nucleus of a title-winning squad together, but the departures of the likes of Marko Grujic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Harry Wilson have not been reinvested through incomings. Liverpool are at least one attacking option light, there is no question of that.

Has your own club’s window enhanced or detracted from chances of winning the league?

The arrival of Konate means Liverpool probably have the best set of centre-backs to choose from in the Premier League. That is likely to eradicate the problems that plagued them last season, but there is a feeling that Shaqiri’s exit merely moves that particular issue up the other end of the pitch.

Divock Origi’s best days in Liverpool red are firmly in the rearview and Takumi Minamino has yet to convince. That leaves four ‘proper’ options for the front three. It is a risky game to play.

Rate article