The final days of the summer transfer window proved to be somewhat of an anti-climax with the most anticipated big money deals falling through in the end.
Although Premier league clubs spent £1.4 billion on players during the transfer window – breaking the summer spending record for a sixth consecutive year – there was none of the final day drama we’ve become accustomed to.
There was certainly no repeat of English striker Andy Carroll’s famous helicopter ride from Newcastle to Liverpool on deadline day in 2011, arriving just in time to finalize what was a record deal at the time.
Fernando Torres’ £50 million transfer from Liverpool to Chelsea echoed Carroll’s west-bound chopper adventure, although neither player ultimately lived up to their hefty price tag.
Mesut Ozil arrived at Arsenal from Real Madrid for £42.5 million in the summer of 2013 and proved to be one of the best signings of that season, while Anthony Martial’s final day move from Monaco to Manchester United in a £36 million deal seems to be an increasingly prudent investment under the guidance of José Mourinho.
So, what went wrong with this summer’s transfer window? Where was the final day bonfire? One fact holds the key: no Premier League club wanted to become a ʻʻsellingˮ club in the current market given the dramatically increasing financial power of many English clubs.
The big one, of course, was Philippe Coutinho who for now at least remains a Liverpool man after the club showed resolute determination to resist huge offers from Spanish giants Barcelona. The Catalan club didn’t give up in their dogged pursuit of Coutinho, making their intentions very clear despite the Reds stating there was zero chance the Brazilian star was for sale.
But Liverpool had their own struggles, with their attempted late market splash netting only want-away Arsenal youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Missing from the list is French international Thomas Lemar, Dutch center back Virgil van Dijk and rising star Naby Keita who all had moves to England’s north blocked by their current clubs. Keita was eventually signed by the Reds but on the condition that he remains with German Bundesliga club Leipzig for another 12 months before they let him go.
Even Manchester City’s seemingly promising chase of Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez proved fruitless due to a concurrent deal by the Gunners to snatch Lemar from under the nose of Liverpool also falling through.
Such misfortune gives added credence to Mourinho’s decision to steal Romelu Lukaku away from Everton early in the transfer window so as to avoid any such panic. Chelsea, on the other hand, failed to lure fellow Evertonian Ross Barkley to Stamford Bridge even though the player completed a the medical with the Premier League champions. A dramatic U-turn meant Barkley will stay put for now, joining Sanchez, van Dijk, Lemar, Riyad Mahrez and Diego Costa in that course of action.
In the end it was left to Chelsea’s £35 million signing Danny Drinkwater from Leicester and Crystal Palace’s new £26 million defender Mamadou Sakho to claim the transfer headlines even if neither player will rank as a major transfer day coup.
But one thing is for sure – as unsuccessful as the summer proved to be for England’s big clubs, they will all be back in the market with cash to burn once the January window opens for business.