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5 winners and losers from the latest transfer window

It’s been a hectic summer with some Premier League teams getting on better than others.

The winners

Man United

Manchester United v Leicester City - Premier League - Old Trafford Jose Mourinho can be satisfied with United's summer transfer business. Source: Anthony Devlin

One of the key questions to ask of a team’s summer transfer dealings is whether they have ended up considerably stronger than the previous season. The signings of Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku have undoubtedly improved United’s side, while recapturing Zlatan Ibrahimovic is another coup, with the Swede a more than useful back-up in attack once he returns to full fitness. Whether young Swedish arrival Victor Lindelof can succeed at Old Trafford remains to be seen, though the Red Devils are hardly short of strong alternatives at the back. The one disappointment for Jose Mourinho will be the failure to land a top-class winger – Ivan Perisic had been heavily linked with United, but the move failed to materialise ultimately.

Everton

Everton v Hajduk Split - UEFA Europa League Play-Off - First Leg - Goodison Park Gylfi Sigurdsson was among the new arrivals at Everton this summer. Source: Richard Sellers

Romelu Lukaku’s departure always looked inevitable, and so Everton seemed to have made the best of a bad situation. Their ambitions have clearly stepped up a level following the arrival of new owners. Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Wayne Rooney are all strong signings, players most clubs in the league would be happy to have at their disposal. They could probably have done with another top-class striker, but there is no doubt the Toffees have done good business overall.

The League of Ireland

Preston North End v Burnley - Pre-Season Friendly - Deepdale Kevin O'Connor joined Preston from Cork City recently. Source: Martin Rickett

There has been plenty of hand-wringing about the future of Irish football in recent years, but this transfer window has shown there are still opportunities for young players on these shores. Moves for the likes of Sean Maguire, Conor O’Malley, Kevin O’Connor, Marc Walsh and Rory Holden prove that English clubs are still watching the League of Ireland with interest. Such transfers will consequently enhance Irish football’s reputation, boosting the league’s profile and encouraging ambitious young footballers to view it as a viable pathway to the top.

‘Average players’

Roy Keane Roy Keane has lamented the vast sums being paid for "average players". Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Not many people will have disagreed with Irish boss Roy Keane’s recent assertion that “average players” are increasingly going for astronomical transfer fees in the current climate. The excessive TV money that has been pumped into the English game has played a large role in creating this situation. Moreover, the Premier League’s rules, which dictate that every club must have a certain quota of homegrown players within their squad, means British-born and former academy players in particular tend to attract extortionate fees by clubs desperate to capitalise on the limited talent available within the market. The result is that footballers who would have struggled to attract high seven-figure sums 20 years ago are now going for eight figures, with clubs less willing to take risks on unproven players and instead paying over the odds for solid-but-unremarkable Premier League regulars.

Man City

Manchester City v Everton - Premier League - Etihad Stadium Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson was bought by the club from Benfica during the summer. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

They may have missed out on Alexis Sanchez ultimately, but overall Man City can be happy with their business this summer. Players such as Bernardo Silva, Ederson, Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy will all significantly enhance their squad, while they have done well to get some out-of-favour players, such as Wilfried Bony, Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas, off the books at the club. It is consequently not a surprise that many people are tipping Pep Guardiola’s men to claim the Premier League title come the end of the season.

The losers

English clubs in general

Arsenal v Leicester City - Premier League - Emirates Stadium The Premier League trophy. Source: Nick Potts

The crazy TV money Premier League teams are receiving is somewhat of a mixed blessing. On the one hand, many English clubs’ resources are increasingly at least on a par with the richest sides in Europe. Nevertheless, their significant wealth means sides on the continent are capitalising on the situation, by holding out for bigger fees and over-valuing players in the hope that cash-rich English clubs will be so desperate to land a star that they will be more than willing to get ripped off in the process. In some cases, they have been, and in others, deals have fallen through as a result of a standoff owing to certain clubs demanding unrealistic fees.

Barcelona

France: Paris Saint Germain v AS Saint-Etienne - Ligue 1 Paris Saint-Germain signed Neymar for a word-record fee from Barcelona last month. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

For a long time now, Barcelona have looked like a fading force. They failed to land La Liga or the Champions League last season, and many critics put these disappointments down to poor recruitment. Xavi, so long a driving force at the club has never really been replaced by a player worthy of taking up the mantle, while there seems very little convincing back-up for established stars such as Andres Iniesta, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. To make matters worse, they lost Neymar to PSG during this window. They signed Ousmane Dembélé in his place, and the 20-year-old may well develop into a world-class player, but the fact that he managed just six goals in the Bundesliga last season suggests he is nowhere near the Brazilian international’s level yet. Furthermore, the acquisition of players such as Paulinho and Gerard Deulofeu have done little to quell the sense that it has been a deeply underwhelming window for the Catalan club.

Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez File Photo Alexis Sanchez was hoping for a move away from Arsenal. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Out of all the sides who are viewed as genuine contenders for the Premier League top four, Arsenal have surely had the worst window. Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac could well turn out to be decent buys, but they do not currently look like the type of game-changers who can drastically reverse the North London club’s dire fortunes of late. Moreover, while they kept Alexis Sanchez after last-minute drama involving Thomas Lemar, it remains to be seen whether the unhappy Chilean can overcome this difficult situation and maintain the excellent form of recent seasons.

Wantaway stars

Virgil van Dijk File Photo Virgil van Dijk will stay at Southampton until January at least, having failed to secure a move away from the club. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

The end of the transfer window has left many players in a difficult situation. The likes of Virgil van Dijk, Alexis Sanchez, Philippe Coutinho, Riyad Mahrez and Diego Costa have clearly been angling for a move all summer, but their wishes were not granted ultimately. From an Irish perspective, Shane Long and James McCarthy, who are out of favour at their current clubs, will probably be disappointed not to have sealed moves away. There are two ways this type of situation could go though. The disillusioned footballers in question could, like Luis Suarez with Liverpool a few years back, get over this setback and have their best season yet at club level. Alternatively, they could do a Saido Berahino by falling further out of favour before eventually getting a move to a lesser club having barely kicked a ball and seen their value plummet owing to a long time spent in the footballing doldrums.

Newcastle

Preston North End v Newcastle United - Pre-Season Friendly - Deepdale Rafa Benitez is understood to be unhappy at Newcastle's lack of transfer activity. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Newcastle have started the season unconvincingly and look like contenders to get relegated. Manager Rafa Benitez has done little to hide his displeasure at owner Mike Ashley’s reluctance to invest more heavily in the club, with the Magpies having a relatively quiet summer transfer-wise. After some deadline day deals fell through, Newcastle have been left in a very difficult position amid worrying rumours that Benitez is now considering his long-term future at the club.

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Paul Fennessy

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