Chelsea dominate transfer window as opening matchweek nears
Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated
After a 2019-20 Premier League season dominated by Liverpool, who cruised to a their first Premier League crown in 30 years, Chelsea have dominated the summer transfer window with an incredible class of signings.
Manager Frank Lampard started with two bangs in the addition of attacking midfielder/winger Hakim Ziyech from Ajax (£36 million) and striker Timo Werner from RB Leipzig (£48 million). The transfers officially went through on July 1, and if Chelsea had stopped there it would have been enough to constitute a solid transfer window. However, they were nowhere near done.
By the end of August, Chelsea added veteran centre back Thiago Silva from Paris Saint-Germain, left-back Ben Chillwell from Leicester City (£45 million), and 21-year-old centre back Malang Sarr from Nice (though Sarr will be on loan for 2020-21).
Sarr and Silva were both free transfers, with Sarr signing a five-year deal and Silva signing for one year, with an option for a second.
As if that wasn't enough, Chelsea then added 21-year-old German phenom Kai Havertz, an attacking midfielder/winger from Bayer Leverkusen with a career as bright as any at his age, for the largest fee this window, £70 million. Havertz got right to work, seen at Chelsea's Cobham training ground just one day after his signing.
https://www.instagram.com/p/CEyc2xpFg0I/ Moving forward, Chelsea have also been rumored to be interested in Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana as their "number one" option to replace inconsistent incumbent starter Kepa Arrizabalaga. However, while Chelsea may have dominated the transfer window (four of the top six most expensive transfer fees paid), they weren't the only one doing business in England's Premier League. Both Manchester clubs have also been busy, with City adding Bournemouth defensive back Nathan Ake for £41 million, and United getting Donny Van de Beek from Ajax for £40 million. Tottenham Hotspur have also been busy with 'smaller' transfers, adding Wolverhampton Wanderers right back Matt Doherty (£15 million) and a "trade" with Southampton, gaining midfielder Pierre-Emile Hoibjerg (also £15m) for defender Kyle Walker-Peters (£12m). One other team that has done well in the transfer window is a side that is back in the Premier League for the first time in 15 years: Leeds United.
Leeds United fans and players celebrated their EFL Championship and their first season in the Premier League since 2004-05. Photo courtesy of AP.
First, they retained 2019-20 loanee and winger/forward Helder Costa for £16 million, then added Valencia winger/striker Rodrigo for £26 million. In an attempt to bolster a defense that allowed just 35 goals in last year's EFL Championship (the best in the league), the Lilywhites added German centreback/defensive midfielder Robin Koch from SC Freiburg (£12m). Sheffield United, the surprising of the 2019-20 Premier League season, added Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale for £19 million. Fellow upstart Leicester City (2015-16 champions) added right back Timothy Castagne from Atalanta (£25m) to bolster a defense that fell apart down the final stretch, giving up nine goals in four games to close the season. Rounding out the top ten most expensive signings, Arsenal added defender Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille (£27m) and Manchester City strengthened their ferocious attack with right winger Ferran Torres from Valencia (£21m). The biggest story, however, has to be a transfer that has not (and likely will not) happen: want-away Lionel Messi from Barcelona. The man needs no introduction, but when confirmation that he wanted out of Barcelona got out, rumors swirled about where he wanted to go until he explicitly said Manchester City. However, disputes over legal issues and whether his opt-out has passed means the forward will stay in Spain for one more year. Now, as teams round up pre-season training and friendlies, the focus shifts to Matchweek 1 (schedule via https://www.premierleague.com/fixtures.) Saturday 12 September 2020
Fulham 07:30 Arsenal Craven Cottage, London
Crystal Palace 10:00 Southampton Selhurst Park, London
West Ham 10:00 Newcastle London Stadium, London
Liverpool 12:30 Leeds Anfield, Liverpool
Sunday 13 September 2020
West Brom 09:00 Leicester The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
Spurs 11:30 Everton Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
Monday 14 September 2020
Brighton 15:00 Chelsea Amex Stadium, Falmer
Sheffield Utd 15:00 Wolves Bramall Lane, Sheffield
Man City-Aston Villa and Man United-Burnley have been pushed back because of European competition for the Manchester clubs, but the weekend is still full of exciting match-ups, include the return of Leeds versus defending-champions Liverpool, and a match-up between two potential Europa League teams (Sheffield Utd-Wolves).
Predictions for how I think the season will unfold will come before Saturday.
With any major transfers likely in the rear view, it's time to sit back and enjoy another year of the Premier League!