Klopp, Pep lead Top Six rivals in transfer market
What you need to know:
- Overall, it’s difficult to think of European rivals that are doing better in the transfer market.
Fans of Premier League Top Six rivals are split into three categories. Those who support the division’s two most dominant sides in recent seasons, Manchester City and Liverpool, are in delirium over the razor sharp precision with which their management hierarchies are executing transfer business.
Little wonder they are laughing hard. The shambolic approach adopted by Manchester United, and to a less extent Chelsea is triggering schadenfreude. Quietly satisfied somewhere in between, are diehards of North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
The Sky Blues’ engrossing rivalry with the Kop on the pitch is being played out in the transfer market. The most devastating finisher in the game, Erling Braut Haaland, has been snapped up for a paltry $60m, a couple of millions less than the Etihad Stadium club received from the sale of Ferran Torres to Barcelona.
Midfield terrier Kalvin Phillips has meanwhile plugged the hole left by Fernandinho for $52m – much of which recouped by flogging off upcoming pair Gavin Bazunu and Romeo Lavia – both of whom have joined Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton.
When it comes to balancing books, Liverpool remain the EPL’s shrewdest operators. The mammoth transfer fee forked out to sign Darwin Nunez from Benfica has been recouped from the sales of Takahashi Minamino, Neco Williams and Sadio Mane who have been sold for a combined £60m. Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola are showing the rest of England’s top-flight rivals how to strengthen their sides while following Uefa’s Financial Fair Play rules.
Europa League bound Manchester United are attracting most derision because they are the team that most need patching up. Exciting attacking left back Tyrell Malacia has arrived from Eredivisie but he hardly elicits excitement because the Red Devils already have the able Luke Shaw and Brazilian international Alex Telles on their books. Of more concern to United fans is new boss Erik Ten Haag’s insistence on signing players he’s worked with before.
Ten Haag’s chief targets Lisandro Martinez, Julien Timber and Frenkie de Jong are all his former players at Ajax Amsterdam. This portrays a limited worldview from United’s technical department.
New Chelsea supremo Todd Boehly has shown great ambition by ensnaring Raheem Sterling but Stamford Bridge fans remain jittery due to slow progress in beefing up the back four which has already lost Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, and is bound to be further weakened by Cesar Azpilicueta’s imminent departure to Barcelona.
How quickly Boehly, who is operating as sporting director, having lost Petr Cech and Marina Granovskaia, recruits will determine whether the west London club will be able to challenge the City-Liverpool duopoly.
Spurs fans are content because Antonio Conte’s surgical procedures on team personnel make complete sense and are within their means. World Cup bound Richarlison is an upgrade on Steven Bergwijn whereas Yves Bissouma is better suited to the Premier League than exiled misfit Tanguy Ndombele.
Gunners faithfuls are over the moon that Gabriel Jesus is replacing Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Alexander Lacazette though it remains to be seen whether Fabio Vieira is an improvement on players already on Emirates Stadium books.
Overall, it’s difficult to think of European rivals that are doing better in the transfer market.
Former Bolton Wanderers boss Sam Allardyce built a career by knowing where and when to buy. Fernando Hierro, Ivan Campos, Youri Djorkaeff and Jay Jay Okocha were all his players at the Reebok Stadium thanks to a simple philosophy: the best players are always at the biggest clubs.
It’s a philosophy that’s informed Chelsea’s pursuit of Raheem Sterling and Arsenal’s capture of Gabriel Jesus.