It feels like as a Liverpool fan all we’ve been able to do the last few weeks is attempt to ignore the soap opera that is the club’s pursuit of Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keïta.
The Reds have struggled immensely to bring their primary targets into the club and the general consensus from a Liverpool perspective is now that the club have fallen behind their top four rivals this summer – all this without a minute of Premier League football even being played yet!
To escape from this ever-growing meltdown within the fanbase, I decided to take a look at what the other Premier League clubs have been doing this summer and bring in some outside opinions.
First up was always going to be last season’s champions, Chelsea.
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I spoke to Dávid Pásztor of ‘We Ain’t Got No History,’ to find out a little bit more of how Chelsea’s business has been received by their own fan base and how Liverpool’s summer window is being perceived from a position on the outside looking in.
Here’s what he had to say.
Chelsea may have missed out on Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United but they’ve so far managed to bring in three major additions in the form of Antonio Rüdiger, Tiemoué Bakayoko and most recently Alvaro Morata. Based on just these three, how would you rate your summer business so far?
The quality of incoming signings has been excellent.
All three major signings so far are 24 or under and include a Champions League (and La Liga) winner, a Champions League semifinalist (and Ligue 1 winner), and a defender from the Confederations Cup-winning Germany side (and second place in Serie A).
Both Rüdiger and Morata have been long-term targets of Chelsea and Conte, respectively, while Bakayoko was one of the breakout stars of everyone’s favourite second team, Monaco last season.
That said, the business overall has been perfunctory, despite the many millions spent. All three arrivals are one-to-one replacements of major outgoing pieces, which doesn’t help in fixing the one thing everyone’s worried about; squad depth.
Conte has evidently focussed on strengthening the spine of his Chelsea squad this transfer window but what areas do you believe still need reinforcements if any and who could be the answer to those positions?
The most glaring holes in the squad right now are at right and left wing-back, where neither Victor Moses nor Marcos Alonso have a recognised backup, let alone an upgrade.
Chelsea managed to get away with that last season without European football, but if we are to make a credible challenge on two fronts this season, we need quality players to challenge and rotate with the starters.
Having missed out on Kyle Walker, Dani Alves, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy, Chelsea’s current options include pining wistfully after Alex Sandro at Juventus and possibly challenging Spurs for young Jeremy Toljan of Hoffenheim, who’s going to be a smart signing for whoever gets him eventually.
When it comes to outgoings, Chelsea haven’t made any significant sales this window thus far but there are suggestions that Nemanja Matić and Diego Costa could leave the club by the time the window shuts. Do either of these possible exits worry you, or are Chelsea in a good enough position to cope?
We’re replacing two proven veterans with younger versions, and while Bakayoko (who does have a touch of a young Matić about him) proved excellent for Monaco and should form a fantastic partnership with N’Golo Kanté, Morata has yet to be a featured centre forward for any of his club teams.
He’s also just about the polar opposite of Diego Costa, at least in terms of personality, so we’ll see how all that fits in with Chelsea. (The hope is obviously that he will be a less controversial but just as effective option).
Moving onto Liverpool for a moment, we too have only made three new additions this summer in the form of Mohamed Salah, Dominic Solanke and Andrew Robertson. Do you think this is sufficient, or does Klopp desperately need more out of this summer window?
Not sure if the need is desperate but the way the Premier League’s going these days, Liverpool probably need a couple of key signings still (and that’s assuming Coutinho stays).
Robertson is a good signing, Salah is probably okay these days, and we once had very high hopes for Solanke before that situation broke down over contracts and such.
On a related note, I’m certainly glad that Liverpool weren’t able to prize Naby Keïta or Virgil van Dijk away from their teams, at least so far.
Focussing on Mohamed Salah specifically – he was a Chelsea player after all! – do you think he will be a success at Liverpool now that he’s had time to develop at Fiorentina and AS Roma?
Yes. Not sure he was worth a club record fee but world class pace is world class pace and that’s hard to find.
Salah’s goals/assists record in Italy speaks for itself. It didn’t work out for him at Chelsea for whatever reason (and then we had to deal with Fiorentina being annoying about it all) but it would be rather unfair to hold that against him still.
Your most expensive signing Alvaro Morata looks to have cost an initial £58m, potentially rising as high as £70m while there have also been mega-money moves for Lukaku (£75m+), Walker/Mendy (£50m+) and Alexandre Lacazette (£50m). Does the amount of money spent by Premier League clubs so far surprise you, or do you believe it’s just becoming a necessity if clubs are to compete for the Premier League?
It may have been at first, but it’s not really a surprise anymore given the ridiculous amounts of money coming in from TV rights and sponsorship deals.
This is the new reality, where every halfway decent player costs £40m. It may not be sustainable and the bubble might eventually burst but for now, this is what’s necessary to compete and what the fans are expecting.
Finally, who out of last season’s top six is currently ‘winning’ the transfer market in your opinion?
Well, since AC Milan don’t play in the Premier League, I guess I’d say Manchester City are winning it.
We might poke fun at them for signing all the wing-backs and adding yet another attacking midfielder, but they appear to be doing exactly what Pep Guardiola wants. What more can you ask for than your club supporting and backing the manager with untold millions in the transfer market?