Premier League: Transfer Window Grade Report

by Back Page Football

A record transfer spending spree from Premier League clubs, but how did they rate? We run down each club’s transfer business and grade them on their arrivals and major departures. See if your club gets a gold star in their copybook or the dunce’s cap.

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Arsenal C

A deadline day signing of Mesut Ozil skyrocketed Arsenal’s grade from undoubted failure, such is the impact of his £40million signing. It can’t be underestimated how much quality the German brings to Arsenal.

Akin to a student leaving his best exam til last, but one A+ doesn’t look half as impressive around a couple of Ds. Arsenal’s other signings were Mathieu Flamini and Yana Sanogo. Flamini is a decent signing on a free, but Arsenal needed much more quality to shore up the oft injury-stricken central midfield. Sanogo, on the other hand, will have his Football Manager admirers, but is a considerably underwhelming striker signing to provide cover for Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski.

Emiliano Viviano will provide adequate goalkeeping cover, but won’t offer the competition they perhaps needed to usurp Wojciech Szcesney. However, they did get £2million for Vito Mannone.

Ozil will bring a speed and intelligence to the attack that will stretch beyond the abilities of even players like Santi Cazorla. His price may seem a tad inflated, but Real Madrid just spent £80million on Gareth Bale.

But having missed out on Luis Suarez, Luis Gustavo and many more big names, the summer should have been so much better.

Aston Villa C

A fairly underwhelming transfer window, but the signing of the summer was keeping Christian Benteke for this season.

Libor Kozak was their most expensive signing. He impressed in last year’s Europa League for Lazio with eight goals, and might be a nice addition to Benteke and Andreas Weimann.

Jores Okore, Leandro Bacuna, Aleksander Tonev, Antonio Luna and Nicklas Helenius are all good young players. Paul Lambert will be hoping they play above expectations.

They did get Darren Bent and Richard Dunne off the books, but Shay Given is still there, sucking an expensive wage when Liverpool wanted to take some of that off their hands.

Cardiff City B

A quite impressive transfer window for the newly promoted side. You don’t often see new clubs spending over £25million, but the Bluebirds – if we can still call them that – have added steel at the back and goals up front.

Gary Medel has long been a ‘football hipster’ favourite, a part of Marcelo Bielsa’s beloved Chilean side that went to the 2010 World Cup. The “Chilean Gattuso” will provide plenty of tenacity, commitment and the odd yellow card.

Steven Caulker was quite expensive at £8million, but is a talented young centre half. Over the years newly promoted teams with strength at centre half seemed to do better than those without a good pairing.

Andreas Cornelius is an exciting signing with a good scoring record in the Danish league. He’s only 20-years-old but looks like he can handle the rough and tumble of the Premier League. Peter Odemwingie had a fantastic start to life in the Premier League with West Brom, but infamously fell out of favour after his January transfer window antics. A return to 2010 form will make his £2.5million transfer a bargain.

Chelsea B

As a team not shy of splashing the cash, it is strange to see the men from Stamford Bridge not shelling out for that big name Abramovich often desires. Samuel Eto’o may have represented that deal a number of years ago. The 32 year old arrived on a free transfer and will add experience to the squad that has been lacking the cutting edge up front since the departure of Didier Drogba. The decision to loan out Romelu Lukaku to Everton seems a strange one as Belgian enjoyed a prolific season last year and looked set to challenge Fernando Torres and Demba Ba for a starting berth.

Andre Schurrle, who arrived for an undisclosed from Bayer Leverkusen, has added to the ever-growing number of attacking midfielders at the club as Mourinho attempts to add that “mobility” he alluded to before his side’s clash with Manchester United. He is joined by fellow midfielder Marco van Ginkel who will provide competition in the middle of the park. This summer also saw the arrival of Mark Schwarzer from Fulham on a free transfer to provide backup for current number one, Petr Cech.

Perhaps the most exciting addition comes in the form of Willian for £32m from Anzhi Makhachkala. Stolen from under the noses of Spurs, the Brazilian arrives with plenty of Champions League experience having featured for Shakhtar Donetsk in the competition.

Mourinho claimed this summer that they did not require any signings and that it was “Rooney or bust”, it seems like the returning manager told a little lie. Who knew?

Crystal Palace D

Reading through the list of Palace’s list of summer signings, you’re waiting for that one name to jump out that makes you think “Yep, he’ll do what’s needed to keep them up”. The losses of Wilfried Zaha to Manchester United and Glenn Murray to injury were huge blows and it’s hard to see the likes of Cameron Jerome, Jimmy Kebe, Barry Bannan and Jason Puncheon doing what’s necessary.

The player who could potentially fire them to safety is Marouane Chamakh. The Moroccan struggled during his spell at Arsenal but it emerged recently that a blackmail case that took its toll on him mentally helped ruin his time at The Emirates. Chamakh’s partnership with Dwight Gayle has potential that will need to be fulfilled.

A late move to sign Australian international Mark Milligan failed to materialise with the player’s club, Melbourne Victory, stating that Palace wouldn’t meet their valuation.

Everton B

Your new manager joins from a club that got relegated and by the end of his first transfer window he has brought four players from said club with him. Alarm bells anyone?

To be fair to Roberto Martinez, all of his signings from Wigan Athletic will improve Everton’s depth at the very least. Joel Robles replaces Jan Mucha as the back up goalkeeper for Tim Howard, Antolin Alcaraz is a reasonable defender, Aroune Kone knows where the net is, and Irish international James McCarthy should excel with better players around him.

Their biggest coup though has definitely been the acquisition of Romelu Lukaku on a season-long loan from Chelsea. The Belgian was superb for West Brom last season, and many feel he should have been given a go ahead of Fernando Torres and Demba Ba under Jose Mourinho. He’ll score goals, make no mistake about it.

Gareth Barry helps fill the midfield void left by Marouane Fellaini who departed for Manchester United but Leighton Baines remains at Goodison Park after a summer of speculation.

Getting £6 million from West Brom for Victor Anichebe should also be commended.

Fulham B

Things were looking decidedly average for Fulham up until the middle of August but deals for Darren Bent and Scott Parker amongst others have pushed them up a grade from C to B. Bent will form a potentially potent strike force with Dimitar Berbatov, with support coming from another summer signing, Adel Taarabt, whenever he feels like it.

Fernando Amorebieta and Sasha Riether signed on to bolster the backline, while Montenegro international Elsad Zverotic joined on Deadline Day as a further defensive option. Derek Boateng, a Ghanaian international who has experience in a number of European leagues, was a handy pick up on a free transfer.

After veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer departed after years of service, the excellent Martin Stekelenburg was signed as a more than adequate replacement. However, the Dutchman injured a shoulder in the club’s opening game of the season and is set to spend some time on the sidelines.

Hull City C

Some good signings from Hull, but nothing close to the quality of their fellow promoted sides. Jake Livermore is an excellent addition on loan, while Allan McGregor will be worth every penny of his £1.8million fee.

Tom Huddlestone is a very talented player but we question if, at £5million, he’s really what they needed in a good passing midfielder with little else. Maynor Figueroa and Danny Graham are relegation-quality additions, while Yannick Sagbo has already been sent off.

Liverpool A

Liverpool fans will have to be very pleased with their summer. Not only did they hold onto prized asset Luis Suarez, against all the odds, but successfully offloaded some of the wage-sucking expendables in the likes of Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll, Pepe Reina and Fabio Borini.

If we were grading a well timelined summer, Brendan Rodgers’ team would also score highly. They got the most of their signings in early, with the arrivals of Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas and Kolo Toure. They also did very well on deadline day, wrapping up three signings by noon, while other clubs were left sweating until the last minute. Ian Ayre had time to send a reassured text to Sky’s Jim White before the close of the window that their summer was finally over.

Iago Aspas has had a decent start to his career at Liverpool, starting in all three league games, however with the imminent return of Luis Suarez it’s unfortunately hard to see the Spaniard retaining a starting berth. Surprisingly, Kolo Toure has been an excellent summer signing, proving to be a shrewd addition on a free transfer, that was until his injury against Notts County.

Simon Mignolet has had a dream start to his Liverpool career as well, with three clean sheets in three league games.

The deadline day trio of Victor Moses, Tiago Ilori and Mamadou Sakho are worthwhile additions to the squad, providing much needed depth at the forward and centre half position. Liverpool were perhaps a good centre midfield player away from the perfect transfer window.

Manchester City B

There have been big changes at City since the turn of the year with Mario Balotelli’s exit followed by those of title winning manager Roberto Mancini in May and problem child Carlos Tevez. In their place have come a group with far less baggage – Manuel Pellegrini is the new boss and he has brought in Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic and Martin Demichelis.

One of City’s biggest problems under Mancini was a lack of width. Even natural wide players like Adam Johnson were played on the opposite side, narrowing the pitch and making the team very one dimensional. Jesus Navas will help correct that, and brings pace and directness with him from La Liga where he created the most chances from open play in a Sevilla side that also featured 25-goal Negredo.

Fernandinho is a busy midfielder whose primary role will be to break up play, allowing Yaya Toure to foray further forward, while Jovetic, when fit, will help David Silva with his heavy workload.

The only concern is at centre half where the signing of Demichelis is no significant upgrade on the cover already available or Kolo Toure who was allowed leave on a free transfer at the end of last season.

Gareth Barry departed for Everton on Deadline Day having failed to even make the substitutes bench for any of City’s opening three league games.

Manchester Utd E

Much has been said about Manchester United’s transfer activity this summer. From the seemingly pointless pursuit of Cesc Fàbregas to the lack of conviction with Thiago Alcantara, the champions endured an embarrassing summer of transfer activity.

Wilfried Zaha was agreed in January, 20 year old Uruguayan Guillermo Varela signed after a successful trial in July and the club’s sole major signing, Marouane Fellaini, arrives from David Moyes’ former club for the hefty fee of £27.5m. With Fellaini being available for £4m less earlier in the summer, it’s hard to see why the club didn’t act earlier. The new #31 will add a degree of combativeness to the midfield which has arguably been lacking since the days of a certain former Irish captain.

The retirement of Paul Scholes and Sir Alex Ferguson along with the departure of former chief executive, David Gill, seems to have had a significant impact on the club. Ed Woodward has rubbed the fans up the wrong way with his seemingly aimless transfer strategy which involved bidding the same amount for Fellaini and Baines twice as well the fiasco with Ander Herrera. The 24-year-old Athletic Bilbao man looked set to join but only for the club to run out of time and demonstrate their lack of knowledge of Spanish buy-out clauses. It seems the club may attempt to sign him in January, provided they haven’t burned their bridges with the player completely.

Perhaps the most promising thing to come out of this transfer window for the club is the retention of the services of Wayne Rooney. The champions need their talisman to step up more than ever this season to help continue their challenge for honours.

Newcastle F

Summer, what summer?

The signing of Loic Remy on a loan deal is all that resembles a summer transfer window for Newcastle. Considering the high-profile return of Joe Kinnear, who promised good signings, this non-existent transfer period was all the more of a let down.

Remy did well last season for QPR and should do well again at Newcastle, especially if he wants to get anywhere near the French national side for the World Cup next June.

Leaving the club is a load of players to the English lower leagues, most notably James Perch to Wigan.

Norwich City A

Norwich had a good summer, strengthening in attack, bringing in a quality centre midfield player and selling a large number of lower league quality players.

They spent big on Ricky van Wolfswinkel from Sporting Lisbon for £8.5million. In him they sign a player with three back-to-back 20 goal seasons and a host of European football experience. Leroy Fer was also a good signing from FC Twente and has already stood out in the middle of the park for the Canaries.

Nathan Redmond, a £2.2million with add-ons signing from Birmingham, looks like a potential bargain. In Gary Hooper, Norwich signed one of the most prolific players in Britain over the past three seasons.

They signings of Swedish internationals Martin Olsson and Johan Elmander were also solid.

Southampton B

They only signed three players, but they did splash out on those three.

Pablo Daniel Osvaldo for £15million from Roma, Victor Wanyama for £12.5million from Celtic and £8.5million for Dejan Lovren from Lyon. Three good signings, particularly if Osvaldo keeps out of trouble and performs like he did for Roma last season. Wanyama was excellent for Celtic and a reproduction of his performances in the Premier League would be fantastic for Southampton.

In Lovren, they sign a young internationl centre back with plenty of experience already at the top level with Lyon.

Stoke City B

There’s a new regime in place at the Britannia Stadium with Mark Hughes replacing Tony Pulis who had been in charge for seven seasons. Former Wales, Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers boss Hughes has spoken about changing Stoke’s style of play which has been the subject of much criticism for its directness in recent years.

The last day of the transfer window saw Hughes pick up one of his favourite sons, Stephen Ireland, on loan from Aston Villa. Ireland excelled under Hughes at Manchester City during the 2009/09, scoring nine times in 35 league games to pick up the club’s Player of the Year award. If he can recapture anything close to that form then Ireland will be a handy pick up, though the same thing was said when he joined both Villa and Newcastle United.

Austrian international Marko Arnautovic also joined on Deadline Day from Werder Bremen and offers another attacking threat.

Other areas of concern have been addressed, just not very well. Oussame Assaidi is surplus to requirements at Liverpool after just one season but joins on loan, while defender Erik Pieters had numerous injury problems at PSV (one self inflicted for punching a window after being sent off). If the latter can keep himself fit though he could prove his worth long term.

Hughes has managed to ship out plenty of deadwood from the squad with the likes of Michael Owen, Matthew Upson, Rory Delap, Dean Whitehead, Carlo Nash and Mamady Sidibe all leaving, while Cameron Jerome, Michael Kightly and Ryan Shotton have all taken up loan offers elsewhere.

Looking to the future, Stoke have again ventured into Major League Soccer for a player and 20 year old Juan Agudelo is a bright prospect. He scored six goals in just seven games for New England Revolution this season having joined them from Chivas USA in May. Agudelo will join up with his new team mates in January when his MLS contract expires.

Sunderland D

Paolo Di Canio signed a lot of players, but it remains to be seen if any of them are actually any good.

Jozy Altidore was the biggest signing but has so far failed to show anything of note, despite an eye-catching goal record in the Eredivisie and for the US national team. Emanuele Giaccherini however, has done ok and shouldn’t be long proving his £6.5million value.

They got rid of Stephane Sessegnon, their best player last year, to arguably a league table rival in West Brom. They also sold Simon Mignolet, who we praised earlier, for what now seems like a meagre £9million. They spent £2million on Vito Mannone but continue to start Kieron Westwood, who unfortunately from an Irish point of view hasn’t done well.

It was also disappointing to see James McClean leave, but for £1million? We wonder if Sunderland could have demanded more from potential suitors.

Despite its volume (15 players in), none change our relegation-fearing thought process for Sunderland.

Swansea City B

The club record £12million signing of Wilfried Bony raised some eyebrows. Swansea looked like they meant business this summer. They followed that up with the signings of Alejandro Pozuelo, Jose Canas and Jordi Amat, and the unfair expectation that everyone is going to turn into Michu.

Jonjo Shelvey for £5million could turn out to be a good signing once the former Liverpool player gets a long run of games under his belt.

But bonus points for Bony, who appears to be just what they needed in attack to take the pressure off of Michu. Bony scored more goals than games he had played in the Eredivisie last season, and now he’s at Swansea. I know, it’s the infamous striker roulette of the Dutch league – but this should be different.

Tottenham A

Are you sick of hearing about Tottenham’s transfer window as much as us?

Ok, so it was pretty good. Signing Roberto Soldado, one of the best strikers in La Liga for the past few seasons, was a good start. Nacer Chadli and Paulinho were also good additions to the side.

But when the Gareth Bale moved looked just about certain, they went and signed Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen. That’s some good business. Etienne Capoue also looked great in his debut against Arsenal until he got stretchered off.

They sold Steven Caulker for £8million, Scott Parker for £2million and Tom Huddlestone for £5million, all great prices. Although they were quick to depart with Clint Dempsey.

But a world record fee for Gareth Bale? Daniel Levy is our valedictorian.

West Bromwich Albion C

Steve Clarke’s side pulled off a relative coup on deadline day with the arrival of Stephane Sessegnon from Sunderland. Although he’s had trouble recently off the field, he’s a talented one on it and will help provide for the Baggies’ selection of strikers.

Nicolas Anelka and Diego Lugano bring good experience on free transfers. Although the former has also had problems off the field, many rate him to repay West Brom’s faith with a few goals, having looked very sharp in pre-season.

Bringing in Scott Sinclair on a loan deal was good business, however we question the £6million spent on Victor Anichebe. But in better news, they did finally rid themselves of Peter Odemwingie.

West Ham D

An uninspiring transfer window for West Ham. Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll were good signings no doubt, but you’d wonder if that £20million could have been spent elsewhere and not on their two huge contracts.

Razvan Rat was a good signing on a free, but has seen better days at 32.