19 July 2015

Transfer Round-up: How does Arsenal compare to Chelsea, Man City, and Man U?

There are still almost seven weeks to go in the transfer-window, but there’s been enough activity already to justify a quick assessment of how the transfers in and out might affect the Prem. Man U have been aggressive while Chelsea, Man City, and Arsenal have been a bit more subdued. It’s possible that this is the eye of the storm rather than the storm itself, and we may yet see a hurricane of transfers in the last few weeks of the window. However, more is usually said than done, and, in keeping with that vein, let’s talk through the business that’s been done…

We’ll keep our focus limited to confirmed transfers of the type likely to affect each squad’s starting XI, ignoring the innumerable loans an free transfers that clutter each club’s list.

Chelsea
Chelsea have been uncharacteristically quiet, with the news of club-legend Čech’s departure dominating the news. Of course, one should never underestimate the rapaciousness of Roman or the mendacity of Mourinho. Still, their moves thus far have been modest at best, with the respect conceded to Čech an odd contrast to recent dealings.
Transfers in:
Player
Fee
Comments
Asmir Begović
£7.77m (Stoke)
Begović might be a poor man’s Čech, well-accustomed to playing behind a stingy, parked-bus defense, but that might not be enough to keep Courtois on his toes. Begović isn’t an upgrade on Čech, but he might be enough to sustain Chelsea through another title-tilt.
Radamel Falcao
Loan (Man U)
Falcao is an intriguing prospect but one who has struggled to impress since leaving Atlético Madrid, even more so after his indifferent season at Man U, but Mourinho is voracious and insistent on upgrading, and Falcaco is likely to dare Diego Costa to do better than he did this past season.

Transfers out:
Player
Fee
Comments
Petr Čech
£9.8m (Arsenal)
By John Terry’s own admission, Čech could add as many as 10-12 points to Arsenal’s total over the course of the season—and that doesn’t address the League Cup, FA Cup, or Champions League. Setting aside the revenge/spite factors, this transfer could change the balance of power in the Prem…
Signal of intent: 6/10.

Manchester City
Despite suggestions that the squad would be overhauled after finishing trophyless, Man City have been about as tame as Chelsea—with the exception of the move for Sterling. So far, there’s been no implosion, with no serious stories of still-valued or unwanted assets leaving. There are a lot of ageing players in this squad, which will make it difficult for City compete or reload…
Transfers in:
Player
Fee
Comments
Raheem Sterling
£43.75m (Liverpool)
That’s more than Arsenal spent on Mesut Özil, for those seeking context. Sterling, age 20, is certainly an upgrade over the departed Alvaro Negredo and did thrive when he wasn’t his team’s primary scoring option. Whether he can make similar contributions while playing alongside another pacy, tricksy forward in Agüero is another question.
Fabian Delph
£8.05m (Aston Villa)
At some point in the very-near future, Man City have to face life without Yaya. Whether Delph embodies that future is not really an open question. He’s a serviceable CM but hardly inspires visions of Yaya in his prime.

Transfers out:
Player
Fee
Comments
Alvaro Negredo
£21m (Valencia)
Negredo on his day is a dangerously fast winger with a nose for goal, but he ultimately wasn’t enough for Man City’s demands. His departure may have paved the way for Sterling to come to Man City.
Signal of intent: 7/10.

Arsenal
After blockbuster deals for Özil and Alexis, the £9.8m transfer-fee for Čech might feel like a bit of a let-down. The desire for a world-class striker still surpasses the signing of the Czech, even if he does solidify the defense in ways that few other available players could do. Is he enough to elevate Arsenal to the level of legitimate contenders? That’s a legitimate question with quite a few answers.
Transfers in:
Player
Fee
Comments
Petr Čech
£9.8m (Chelsea)
For the first time since Seaman, Arsenal have a world-class keeper. Čech may not command headlines at the same level as Özil or Alexis, but he may prove every bit as vital to winning the Prem. Shoring up our defense has, after all, been a persistently sore spot.

Transfers out:
Player
Fee
Comments
About Diaby
End of contract
Diaby embodied so much of the dark years under Arsène—so much potential so often undone by so many injuries—that it almost seems cruel to cut him loose. However, it seems, compassion has its limits.
Lukas Podolski
£1.75m (Gala)
Podolsk occasionally excited but never quite convinced in his brief time at the club and may rise to Eboué’s level as cult-hero turned Galatasaray regular. As with Diaby, Podolski’s departure may signal a more-strategic, less-sentimental era under Arsène…
Signal of intent: 7/10.

Manchester United
Perhaps alone among the top four, Man U have been aggressively aggregating assets, having already spent nearly £60m in transfer fees (never mind weekly wages), far exceeding the other three.  Will they trod the path paved by Tottenham and Liverpool, or will they rise to the level of title-contenders?
Transfers in:
Player
Fee
Comments
Morgan Schneiderlin
£24.5m
(Soton)
This one might sting Gooners the most as the French CM from Southampton opted for the higher wages available at Old Trafford. He’s been at his best alongside a rugged defender, so it remains to be seen how well he’ll do without that support.
Memphis Depay
£19.25
(PSV Eindhoven)
Depay will have to slot into a position (LW) already crowded by the likes of Mata, Young, Di Maria, and Januzaj. Even if one or more of them leave, the 21-year old will likely face a period of transition to the Prem.
Bastian Schweinsteiger
£12.6 (Bayern Munich)
He’s a proven winner, albeit with a club that’s a bit of a flat-track bully. If he can offer the kind of dogged defense that will allow Schneiderlin a bit more license to roam, Man U could be onto something.

Transfers out:
Player
Fee
Comments
Nani
£4.2m (Fener)
He never figured into Van Gaal’s plans and was deemed superfluous to needs after the arrival of Di Maria.
Robin van Persie
£3.85m (Fener)
The unexpectedly ruthless relegation of van Persie by Van Gaal might offer some schadenfreude to Gooners. Whether that amounts to a strategic gain or loss is another question.
Signal of intent: 8/10

There you have it for now. The top four’s transfer dealings as they currently stand. We’ll have another look at the situation a week from now—unless something dramatic happens between now and then. We’ll take a look at the next tier of pretenders to the throne (Tottenham, Liverpool, Southampton…) midweek. For now, though, how would you rate Arsenal’s transfer business compared to Chelsea, Man City, and Man U?