Football

Russian Oligarchs And An American Invasion: Stories Of The Transfer Window

Rachel Roberts

This summer’s transfer window, like everything, has been hit by the uncertainty of COVID-19, but one thing that has not changed is the levels of spending. The market is open until the 5th October – Rachel Roberts takes a look at the biggest stories in England so far.

Chelsea

Chelsea have undoubtedly made the most of this window, with a haul of new players arriving at the Bridge. After last season’s transfer ban, owner Roman Abramovich has stamped a mark of intent on this season, spending over £200m.

The Bundesliga’s 2nd top scorer, Timo Werner from RB Leipzig, and highly-rated youngster, Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen, signed for £45m and £72m respectively. Midfielder Hakim Ziyech, £32m from Ajax, adds further threat as Chelsea strengthen an attack that includes American star, Christian Pulisic, and British talents, Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount.

It seems Lampard’s trust in youth has been swapped for big-money signings at the first opportunity.

It is in defence where Chelsea suffered throughout the last campaign. A goal difference of 15, compared to 30 for 3rdplace Manchester United and 52 for league winners Liverpool, tells you where the weakness is. £50m left-back, Ben Chilwell from Leicester, and centre-back Thiago Silva arriving from PSG on a free transfer, have been turned to for improvement.

Frank Lampard arguably over-achieved last season, his first in charge of his former club, finishing 4th with a youthful team. This season however, it seems Lampard’s trust in youth has been swapped for big-money signings at the first opportunity. As a consequence, the measure of success is undoubtedly much higher, and Abramovich’s spending signals a serious effort to put his club back on top.

Everton

Everton’s owners haven’t been shy to splash the cash over the years, but so far have reaped little reward. However, with serial winner Carlo Ancelotti at the helm, they already look to have a better plan. Former Real Madrid attacker James Rodriguez signed for the Toffees for £22.5m and although he has underachieved in his career since being top scorer at the 2014 World Cup, he is undoubtedly a talent. It will be interesting to see how he fares in the Premier League.

Midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure cost £20m from relegated Watford but has proved his potential to succeed in the top-flight. He, alongside fellow centre-mid Allan, £22.5m from Napoli, looks set to strengthen a weak midfield with the addition of creativity and steel.

Balancing the books remains a necessity, and so the futures of former Arsenal duo Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi look uncertain. Under Ancelotti this seems fair; neither have had consistent performances since joining in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Everton have been floundering mid-table in recent years, their best result being a 7th place finish in 16/17. With no major silverware since 1995, fans will be hoping that under Ancelotti and a revived squad, this may soon change.

Nottingham Forest

Our own Nottingham Forest’s promising 19/20 campaign started with the target of reaching the Play-Offs but tailed off by the end, and concluded in 7th place. This window has seen shrewd business but entailed the departure of one of the club’s most faithful servants.

Matty Cash was 17 when he joined the Reds in 2014 and this summer, after 6 years, left for Aston Villa for £15m. Holding off interest in January in the hope he could help Forest reach the Premier League, no-one could begrudge Cash the chance to play in the big time himself this time round. No direct right-back replacement of his quality has been bought in, but the signings of strikers Lyle Taylor and Miguel Guerrero on free deals from Charlton and Olympiacos, respectively have the potential to be smart moves by the club.

Forest have the budget of the Championship side they are, and so need to balance the books. They will be looking to reach the Play-Offs again this season, but will need to perform far more consistently if they are to challenge the likes of relegated sides Norwich and Watford, and a Brentford side who agonisingly lost the Play-Off final last year. 

Aston Villa

Alongside Cash, Aston Villa have bolstered their defence with the signing of ‘keeper Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal at £16m – a replacement for Premier League legend Pepe Reina whose loan move from AC Milan came to end. At the other end, striker Ollie Watkins’ £28m move from Brentford is a serious statement of firepower. His haul of 26 goals was the 2nd highest tally in the league last season, and a potential strike partnership between him and Villa captain Jack Grealish is a frightening prospect.

Aston Villa stayed up by the skin of their teeth in the return to the Premier League, and seem to have spent the money to ensure survival is not such a tight affair this year.

Women’s Super League

The WSL was suspended in March with a points-per-game system used to decide relegation and champion. In the end, Chelsea jumped above Manchester City to be crowned unbeaten champions, whilst disappointingly, in opposing form to their male counterparts, Liverpool were relegated.

This has been one of the biggest transfer windows for the WSL since its inauguration in 2011 with the arrival of 5 stars of the United States National Team – 4 time World Cup and Olympic champions. Manchester has been a hot destination: United, in their 2nd season in the league, signed forwards Tobin Heath and Christen Press, whilst powerhouse City secured the signatures of midfielders Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis.

The arrival of such names will undoubtedly heighten the profile of the league.

English talent has returned home too. Twice PFA Player of the Year Lucy Bronze and fellow defender Alex Greenwood signed for City from Lyon, a club who have just won the Champions League for the 5th year running.  

In one of the biggest moves, Alex Morgan, one of the most high-profile faces of football in America, has signed for Tottenham from Orlando Pride, where she shared the pitch with fellow superstar Megan Rapinoe. The arrival of such names will undoubtedly heighten the profile of the league, and seeing how these players adapt in a new league makes this season especially interesting to follow.

 

Rachel Roberts

 

Featured image used courtesy of John Cooper via FlickrNo changes were made to this image. Image use license here.

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