Connect in the back of the net

As we’ve now entered the final month of the transfer window, stand by for all hell to break loose. Brinksmanship and desperation are about to play key roles in club’s futures as remaining gaps in Premier League squads are hastily filled.

Before that inevitably garish extravaganza, I’ve looked at the deals already completed. Here’s my top five signings of the summer. (Disclaimer: free transfers were not considered for selection).

 

5) Nathaniel Clyne, Southampton to Liverpool, £12.5m

Southampton transfer-nutmegged Liverpool last summer as Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert joined the Reds for a combined £50m, before floundering as the Saints flourished. £12.5m for Clyne, one of the Premier League’s best right-backs for two seasons, prime candidate of course for English premium inflation, at least addresses the balance.

Clyne has proven himself capable of contributing to an expansive attack whilst reliably adhering to defensive duties. The latter strength will be of particular use to Livepool.

Man Utd scouring for right-backs this summer makes Liverpool’s uncharacteristic value extraction all the more commendable.

 

4) Gerard Deulofeu, Barcelona to Everton, £4.2m

During Deulofeu’s troubled year on loan at Sevilla, coach Unai Emery spoke of maturity issues, suggesting the youngster needed to work harder for the team. Still, Deulofeu’s five assists were level second with Barca-bound Aleix Vidal, bettered only by Carlos Bacca’s six. More creativity is precisely what Everton need.

Kevin Mirallas was the Toffees’ only consistently productive winger last season, at least until Why Didn’t Baines Take It-Gate. Eventually, Aaron Lennon had to be loaned to offer respite.

£4.2m seems significantly below the true value of a player schooled at football’s greatest club side, who even during a perhaps immature year was highly effective.

 

3) Jordy Clasie, Feyenoord to Southampton, £8m

One of Dutch football’s prize assets, Clasie was instrumental in Feyernood’s recent renaissance, particularly under Ronald Koeman, and will offer Southampton the creative-destructive combo required in Morgan Schneiderlin’s absence.

Aged 24, his 11 international caps include a World Cup semi-final.

What sets this transfer apart is the manner of its handling. Schneiderlin’s eye-catching influence telegraphed his exit for about 18 months – enough time to test Saint’ successful off-field strategy.

A year after Schneiderlin preferred, planning and research enabled Southampton to sell their best player for a minimum £23.5m profit and source a highly competent, up-and-coming replacement for a third of the price – a hell of a way to soften the blow.

 

2) Yohan Cabaye, PSG to Crystal Palace, £10m

Alan Pardew’s rescue mission turned top half finish sealed Crystal Palace’s fifth straight higher league finish and brought into focus a culmination of off-field positives. Investment and new stadium talks continue just as broadcasting income is set to soar.

Cabaye’s signing backs that up by giving fans a new experience. He left his homeland within a year of it hosting Euro 2016, and the national champs after five trophies in 18 months.

Aged 29, Cabaye turned his back on the Champions League after just nine games for a side with no immediate chance of making it. The sheer incredulity has already altered perceptions of Pardew. Ultimately, his oft-mocked Newcastle reign yielded a promising post at a club on the rise, and one of Europe’s finest midfielders on the cheap.

Cabaye will increase Palace’s overall quality and, just before that off-field growth truly comes to fruition, demonstrate Pardew’s value.

 

1) Petr Čech, Chelsea to Arsenal, £11m

Short-termism is most likely a swearword in the Wenger household and yet here he is sanctioning £11m for a 33-year-old.  If guaranteed results were sought, Čech, who won 13 trophies in 11 years at Chelsea and remains world class, must surely constitute the safest of bets.

Beyond his obvious points-return-improving value however, his signing is, for want of a better word, special due to the personalities involved.

Signing a still capable key component of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea success strikes a great blow for Wenger, so often patronised and insulted by his counterpart. Ego clashes and power battles between Mourinho and Roman Abramovic were laid bare.

No way’, said Jose; ‘it’s not your decision’, replied Roman.

Wenger exploited circumstance, potentially reigniting long-standing power struggles within his champion rival, to secure vital quality, perhaps for the rest of his reign. There’s life in the old dog yet.

 

Written by Chris Smith

Follow Chris on Twitter @cdsmith789

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