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EPL: Pains, gains of ‘big’ summer spending

By Ikenna Okonkwo

 

Premier  League clubs will never be afraid to spend big money to improve their squad and last summer was no different. We will take a look at major spending carried out during last transfer period and the impact it is already having on clubs.

Clubs in the top flight spent well in excess of £1billion as they attempted to build sides that were good enough to achieve their respective goals, whether that be a title challenge, a push for Europe or pure survival.

Of the many players bought, however, only a few tend to stand head and shoulders above the rest.
But who has proven themselves to be the signing of the summer of the past two months?

Let’s take a look at them:
After enduring difficult times since arriving Manchester City three seasons ago, Nigeria’s Super Eagles Kelechi Iheanacho moved to another Premier league club, Leicester City in search of regular football action.

While his arrival at another City club is yet to see him actually his desire, Iheanacho has continued to search for moment of explosive action on the pitch with the current moving on.
At the league level, the former U-17 youngster is yet to stake a starting shirt. His game at the Leicester club which many tipped to be a big announcement pulled a setback for him following an injury he picked up immediately though he provided a vital assist that led to goal.

For many weeks during the summer window it looked as though Morata would be playing his football for Manchester United this season.
The Red Devils were leading the race for the Spain striker having agreed personal terms with Morata and his representative. But, having found it hard to negotiate with Real Madrid, United quickly changed tact and managed to get a deal over the line for Romelu Lukaku, a Chelsea transfer target.
That left Morata in limbo but with the Blues missing out on the big Belgian, they turned to the Real Madrid star. And how right a decision that has proven to be.

On his Premier League debut, which came from the bench against Burnley, Morata scored and created a goal in a shock 3-2 loss for the Blues.
It was the ideal start and in his next seven appearances for Antonio Conte’s side the 25-year-old would score six times.

He endured a goalless October but returned to form at the perfect time for Chelsea by scoring a stunning header against Manchester United. Given what happened in the summer, you sense it was a goal that meant a little more to the Blues No.9.
But Morata isn’t just a pure goalscorer.

He has registered three assists in the Premier League this term and is averaging one key pass a game.
It’s all led to Morata contributing to a Chelsea goal every 72 minutes in the top flight.
So much for it taking a season for players to settle in the Premier League.
When Liverpool paid Roma a then club-record £36million to sign the blisteringly quick Egyptian from Roma there were a few eyebrows raised. Salah was, after all, seen as a flop in England after a poor stint with Chelsea under Jose Mourinho.

But it hasn’t taken long for Salah to establish himself as one of the Premier League’s most dangerous attackers.
His pace can be devastating, as West Ham discovered at the weekend, and he has more than enough technical quality to make an impact when in dangerous positions.

In the Premier League this season the 25-year-old has struck seven times in 11 games, and he has also teed up two for his team-mates. It means Salah is involved in a Liverpool goal every 85.3 minutes.

The winger has also made a big impact in Europe, having netted four goals in the Reds’ four Champions League games. In the latter he was played more centrally, as he did against West Ham, and proved difficult for the opposition defence to contain.

If Salah continues his current scoring rate, and he certainly has been short of chances so far, he could end up surpassing the 20-goal mark with relative ease.
Perhaps Liverpool don’t need an out-an-out striker after all.

Jose Mourinho knew what he was getting when he swooped in ahead of Chelsea to take Lukaku from Goodison Park.
The big Belgian may not be the most refined of strikers but when he is on form, his pace and power make him virtually unplayable.

It took Lukaku just 62 minutes in a Manchester United shirt to get off the mark – he scored in the UEFA Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid – before scoring seven goals in his first seven Premier League games as a Red Devil.

A dry October in front of goal slowed his progress but he showed signs that his all-round game is developing by creating chances instead of finishing them off. So far this term, Lukaku has three assists in all competitions.
Last season at Everton he managed seven, so he is well on the way to eclipsing that figure.

The only blemish on his record so far is the disappointing performances he produced against Liverpool and Chelsea. The accusation often levelled at Lukaku is he is a flat-track bully and his failure in those games did little to change the opinion of his doubters.

However, he was instrumental in United’s win over Tottenham as it was his header that led to Anthony Martial scoring the winner.
And let’s not forget that despite his barren run, he still has eleven goals in 17 appearances.

He will net over 20, barring injury, without doubt and tends to get stronger as a campaign progresses.
Goalkeeper was a problem position for Pep Guardiola last season. Not only did he offload Joe Hart – then England’s undisputed No.1 and a fan favourite at the Etihad – but the man he brought into replace him, Claudio Bravo, was error-prone and unconfident.

The Chilean’s failure to get to grips with English football only unnerved the defenders in front of him and it led to Guardiola’s defence looking vulnerable on far too many occasions.
The Catalan is not a man who accepts second best which is why this summer Cityagain entered the transfer market for a goalkeeper. And this time they got it right.
Ederson may not have been a well-known name to many City fans but Guardiola sanctioned a £34.7million deal to bring him from Portugal. It was a world-record fee for a goalkeeper but the Brazilian has been worth every penny.

He is everything Bravo was not; confident, composed and an excellent shot-stopper. City may be devastating when they go forward, but they’ve also been solid in defence. So far this term Ederson has kept eight clean sheets in 15 matches, six of which have come in the Premier League.
And at only 24 years old he has the potential to be City’s No.1 for over a decade. If that does happen, his transfer fee will be seen as a bargain.

In the summer there was much speculation about the 20-year-old Brazilian. He was a Chelsea transfer target and for many weeks it appeared the Blues would get their man and, in all probability, he’d be farmed out on loan.

However, Watford stepped in and a phone call from Hornets head coach Marco Silva convinced Richarlison his future lay in Hertfordshire and not west London.
On his debut against Liverpool, Richarlison was brought on from the bench and his fearless dribbling and directness with the ball unnerved the Reds defence.

The following week he started against Bournemouth and opened the scoring; he hasn’t looked back since.
Richarlison has been one of the stand-out performers during the opening two months of the Premier League season. He is still very raw but is undoubtedly effective.
He has become a regular in Marco Silva’s side, featuring in 12 games in all competitions, and has contributed to seven goals for Watford.

Four of those have been the winger finding the net. His latest, in the 3-2 defeat to Everton, displayed his confidence as he tricked his way past Jordan Pickford before firing into the near post.
Richarlison is at the right club at the minute, one that will nuture his undoubted talent and let him make the mistakes he can learn form.

But there will come a point when he leaves Watford and there will be no shortage of takes from European football’s elite when he does.

 

About Ikenna Okonkwo

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