Manchester United are reportedly closing in on Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal, while Liverpool are on the verge of snapping up Lazar Markovic from Benfica – neither have heeded Arsene Wenger’s words or learned from Tottenham’s example last season.
Gareth Bale’s transfer to Real Madrid was disappointing for both Spurs and the Premier League as it was another of the competition’s best players departing for one of the two giants of La Liga. Losing its best players is an indication that the Premier League is not quite the ‘best league in the world’ as the sellers of the brand are so keen to claim.
Luis Suarez has left for Barcelona already this summer in another blockbuster deal and Brendan Rodgers has gone about replenishing his ranks with a few different names, with Markovic and Divock Origi joining Emre Can, Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana as summer additions for the Reds.
Spending has started
Meanwhile, Manchester United have already snapped up Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera, with the Vidal deal expected to follow soon after in some quarters. Louis van Gaal’s spending is not expected to end there either, with a new centre-back a priority and more experienced cover at left-back if Patrice Evra departs for Juventus.
While big spending is always something to get most fans excited about, this spate of cash splashing may be met with some trepidation by those whose memories turn back to a similar time last season. Added to those would be the people that still have Arsene Wenger’s prescient words regarding Spurs last season.
“In our job, there is a technical risk when you buy more than three players as you unbalance a bit the stability of your squad,” he said ahead of the first of three north London derbies last season – the Gunners won all three without conceding a goal.
“It’s always difficult when you bring so many players in to predict how well they’ll do. You have to find a way to integrate.”
Tottenham didn’t find a way and the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino as manager this summer came after both Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood were discarded in a disjointed season that saw the White Hart Lane club finish sixth and outside of the European places.
Liverpool splashing the cash after losing their best player has obvious comparisons to that of Tottenham’s situation last season and it will be very difficult for them to repeat their success this time around. Rodgers could well be pulling off a masterstroke to enable his squad to deal with the rigours of a more congested fixture list, but it is legitimate top question whether Wenger’s words could apply to them.
Manchester United are not in the same boat as Liverpool but their own decision to splash a bit of cash could be questioned all the same. Last season was abysmal by their standards and Van Gaal has the job of lifting a club low on confidence since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Questions over whether David Moyes was the man for the job in the first place are valid, but his failure was also down to the difficulty new managers face when taking over a new team. Players were used to one man’s rule and struggled to adapt to a new regime.
A new manager implementing new ideas is one obstacle to deal with already, so the introduction of enough new players to “unbalance the stability”, as Wenger says, has the potential to become troublesome for the Dutch tactician.
Next season will be crucial to the long-term futures of both clubs and the pressure is on to perform, for differing reasons. These groups of new signings should be met with excitement and caution in equal measure – Tottenham have set an example of how not to do, while, as is many an Arsenal fan’s wont to say, Arsene knows.