Clearly, this summer represents a difficult one for clubs.
After playing in front of empty stadiums for pretty much the entirety of last season, a post-pandemic transfer market isn’t exactly the best setting for huge spending, even amongst the biggest teams in the country.
Still, the insatiable nature of the annual season shows little slowing down from a fan perspective. Indeed, one of the biggest differences in the modern-day football fan seems to be that they have just as much appetite for big signings to get excited about, just as much as there is for results on the pitch.
Now, that is not to get on a moral high horse and reflect on rose-tinted notions of how the game was before. As much as a pursuit as we might pretend to be, frankly, the void created after the culmination of this summer’s international tournaments needs filling.
So, with plenty of fanbases across social media begging their club to smash all manner of transfer records in the build-up to the new season, GIVEMESPORT are going to look at how they’ve spent their money before.
Obviously, the fact Aston Villa, Brighton Brentford and Norwich City have all broken their transfer records ths summer makes them exempt from the rankings. While football conversation is ludicrously reactionary at the best of times, judging any of those additions on a couple of pre-season games would be entirely unfair.
16) Newcastle United – Joelinton
Considering the lack of investment Mike Ashley has offered to Newcastle United during his time at St James’ Park, the £40m move for Joelinton in the summer of 2019 looks even stranger.
Pretty much doubling their previous transfer record for a relatively unknown player and duly playing him out of position in a dismal team has gone exactly how most people would have predicted.
15) Wolverhampton Wanderers – Fabio Silva
Wolves’ success in the Portuguese market had to dry up at some point and the £35m purchase of Fabio Silva looks a terrible bit of business.
Luckily, the 19-year-old has time on his side.
14) Arsenal – Nicolas Pepe
It’s not Nicolas Pepe is a particularly bad player, it’s just that the £72m Arsenal paid for him in 2019 has rarely ever looked like being repaid.
Even at the time, it seemed that money could have been put to better use.
13) West Ham United – Sebastien Haller
A symbol of West Ham’s free-spending for little in the way of reward under Manuel Pellegrini, the only saving grace of Sebastien Haller’s time in East London was the money the club were able to recoup when Ajax bought him earlier this year.
12) Crystal Palace – Christian Benteke
First season at Crystal Palace aside, Christian Benteke has often looked a shell of his former self after arriving for £27m.
The Belgian hasn’t hit double figures in years and, while injuries may have played a part in his decline, to suggest he’s been a good use of funds would be a stretch for even the most ardent Palace fan.
11) Everton – Gylfi Sigurdsson
At £45m, Gyfli Sigurdsson just hasn’t been the centre-piece of the attack Everton needed him to be.
10) Southampton – Jannik Vestergaard
While the towering Dane has certainly improved since his first season on the south coast, Jannik Vestergaard has not been the Virgil van Dijk replacement the club would have expected him to be.
Clearly a talented player, the overall investment just hasn’t been repaid.
9) Leeds United – Rodrigo
Perhaps we’ll see a huge improvement in Rodrigo at Leeds United next season after a full year of working under Marcelo Bielsa’s coaching.
Still, 7 goals and 2 assists in a team who don’t exactly struggle to create chances is barely the most prolific of returns.
8) Watford – Ismaila Sarr
Whatever the structural problems were during Ismaila Sarr’s first season at Watford were, the Senegal star did impress on an individual basis. 5 goals and 4 assists during his maiden voyage in English football were about as much as one can reasonably expect, while his 13 goals and 4 assists during last season’s Championship campaign helped The Hornets back into the big time.
7) Tottenham Hotspur – Tanguy Ndombele
Tanguy Ndombele’s redemption under Jose Mourinho stopped his £53m arrival from being a complete disaster.
A wonderfully gifted midfielder in full flow, the French international still has it all to prove but, on his day, he’s one of the best players to watch in the Premier League.
6) Manchester United – Paul Pogba
Whatever you think about Paul Pogba, Manchester United have at least experienced some success with him in the team.
Perhaps the EFL Cup and the Europa League aren’t exactly the competitions he was brought in at world-record expense to win but, frankly, imagine what a state United would be in had they not lifted such silverware.
5) Chelsea – Kai Havertz
Clearly, after only one season, the jury is still out on Kai Havertz.
Still, scoring the winner in the Champions League final during his first season should buy the German some time and, if this is just the beginning, the future looks incredibly bright.
4) Leicester City – Youri Tielemans
The signing of Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante will probably live longer in the memory of those praising but landing Youri Tielemans for just £35m is a remarkable bit of business.
With time on his side, the Belgian international could feasibly become one of the best central midfielders in the world and has already scored the goal to win the club their first ever FA Cup.
3) Burnley – Chris Wood
For just £15m, Chris Wood’s goals have pretty much kept Burnley in the Premier League since he arrived in 2017.
Given how much money that would have earned the club, that seems like one of the best investments in the club’s history.
2) Manchester City – Ruben Dias
In one fell swoop, Manchester City signed a replacement for Vincent Kompany and a player capable of helping them recapture the Premier League title.
Amid the vast array of attacking signings to get excited about, Ruben Dias has had a transformative effect at the Etihad Stadium.
The most important player in the post-Steven Gerrard era at Liverpool.
Where Liverpool once looked like headless chickens in defence as Jurgen Klopp brought his high–pressing system to Anfield, they now look like perhaps the most assured team in Europe with the Dutchman in the team.
A £75m investment has yielded a Champions League and a Premier League title. Now fit and firing ahead of the new season, it’d take a brave observer to that being only silverware van Dijk lifts as a Liverpool player.