As the knee jerk reaction to this summer’s Premier League transfers are made, fans should remember transfers are ultimately deemed a successful or failure over a couple of seasons not a couple of weeks. With that in mind let’s cast our minds back to the summer of 2017, when Antonio Conte’s Chelsea were kings of England whilst Pep and Jose were preparing for make or break second seasons in Manchester. So here are the top ten hits and misses from that summer window based on the last two seasons.
10. Will Hughes (Watford, £8 million)
Hughes arrived from Derby as a highly promising but injury prone midfielder, indeed a move to Liverpool had been mooted several years earlier. Hughes did get injured early in his debut season at Watford, but he rebounded with a very strong end to the season, providing a box to box presence and a fancy for the odd spectacular long range goal. His second season saw his progress continue and after two seasons he’s managed a steady 41 games, 4 goals and 7 assists. Aged just 24 Hughes look set for a long Premier League career, even if Gareth Southgate seems unconvinced he’s worth an England call.
9. Matthew Ryan (Brighton, £5.4 million)
Having secured promotion, Brighton set about upgrading their squad with Australian goalkeeper Matthew Ryan a prominent addition. Having never quite made it at Valencia, Ryan was an ever present in his first season on the South Coast, keeping 10 clean sheets and played a further 34 games last term. Ryan has provided a steady presence at the back, proving a highly capable shot stopper, he’s also saved 2 penalties and remains a key player for the new boss Graham Potter.
8. Kyle Walker (Manchester City, £47 million)
Pep Guardiola’s style requires fullbacks who can play out of the back and quickly take the game to the opposition, so Walker was an obvious choice at right back. Walker said he’d moved to City to win things, 5 major trophies later he’s proved his point. Walker added 6 assists in a brilliant first season and although his form plateaued last season he remains a key player for City and one of the best right backs in the league. His game saving overhead clearance in this season community shield wasn’t a bad way to start his third season.
7. Nathan Ake (Bournemouth, £20.5 million)
Plenty of eyebrows were raised when Bournemouth paid over £20million for a player with just 46 league game under his belt since graduating Chelsea’s academy in 2012. However Ake has become the mainstay of Bournemouth’s defence and a regular for The Netherlands alongside Virgil Van Dijk. Ake offers assurance on the ball and in the air to one of the league’s weaker defences helping The Cherries to 16 clean sheets and attracting the interest of bigger clubs. If Ake does move on over the next few years it will be for a lot more than £20.5 million.
6. Harry Maguire (Leicester, £12 million)
Maguire arrived for £12million and earned Leicester a profit of £68million after just two years. Maguire made an instant impact at Leicester with his ball playing skills and aerial dominance. Maguire was quickly called up by England and ended his first season with Leicester as a regular in England’s World Cup side. Maguire continued to impress last season with club and country, leading to his big money move to Old Trafford. And to think five years ago Hull City unveiled Maguire and Andy Robertson for a combined fee of £5.3million.
5. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal, £48 million)
Arsene Wenger’s final summer at Arsenal saw him invest heavily in Lacazette. Failing to address Arsenal’s growing list of problems that summer was the final nail in Wenger’s coffin, but that doesn’t alter the fact that Lacazette has proved a fine striker at Arsenal.
In that troubled first season Lacazette still added 14 goals in 32 Premier League games. Last term under Unai Emery he notched 13 in 35 and was voted Arsenal’s player of the season. What makes all this more impressive is that for most of his time at Arsenal he’s had to share the striking duties with the equally impressive Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, £48 million well spent.
4. Andy Robertson (Liverpool, £8 million)
On his arrival at Anfield most observers wrote Robertson off as an unambitious move from Liverpool for a defensively suspect left back who apparently lacked the quality to succeed at the highest level. Robertson has since established himself as the best left back in the Premier League and captain of his country. Robertson’s defensive work has hugely improved and he looks immovable from the left back slot that previously caused Jurgen Klopp a huge headache. Last season he managed 11 assists in the Premier League alone, this season he may well beat that mark.
3. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City, £45 million)
City spent heavily on Bernardo after an outstanding season with Monaco, but he spent his first season with City as a supporting act at the Etihad Stadium. Last season with Kevin De Bruyne sidelined the Portuguese midfielder took centre stage, providing the creative spark for the best team in the league with 7 goals and 7 assists and being voted into the Premier League team of the season. He’s also moved up a gear at international level, becoming the key man in Portugal’s run to the Nations League title. Still just 25, Bernardo looks set to be one of the world’s elite playmaker’s for years to come.
2. Ederson (Manchester City, £36 million)
Pep Guardiola moved to rectify his biggest career gaff when he signed Ederson to replace the flawed Claudio Bravo in the 2017 summer window. Ederson had the sweeper keeper skills Guardiola requires but unlike Bravo he quickly proved a reliable shot stopper and a commanding presence in his penalty area. After two seasons Ederson has managed to record 36 clean sheets in 74 league games. Whilst those statistics have to weighed against the fact he plays in such a dominant side there’s no question he’s provided a rock solid base for his team and didn’t make a single mistake leading directly to a goal all last season.
1. Mo Salah (Liverpool, £38 million)
Despite arriving on the back of an impressive of two hugely impressive seasons with Roma, many doubted Salah would be a hit in the Premier League on the grounds that he’d failed at Chelsea back in 2014. Salah has been phenomenal at Liverpool, bagging 32 goals and 10 assists in a first season that saw him voted PFA and FWA Player of the Year.
Last season saw him reach 50 Liverpool goals in just 65 games, a new club record as he notched 22 goals and 8 assists in the league. In Europe, he overcame the misery of the 2018 Champions League final with the opening goal of the 2019 final. So far it’s 72 goals in 108 games for Salah, if he can maintain this form he could even challenge Kenny Dalglish for the title of Liverpool’s greatest ever forward.
And briefly the misses…
10. Adrien Silva (Leicester, £22 million)
A strange deal from the start, Silva’s registration documents missed the transfer deadline by 14 seconds meaning he was ineligible to play until January. The Portuguese international struggled to force his way into the side under Claude Puel but at least made 16 all completion appearances in half a season. Things should have picked up in year two but Silva slipped out of contention and by January was on his way to Monaco. Now back from loan Leicester are desperate to find a buyer before September.
9. Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford, £5 million)
Chalobah arrived at Watford with 97 junior caps for England but short of senior football. Things started well with Chalobah a regular as his second stint at the club got underway, but a broken knee cap shattered his season. Since recovering his fitness, Chalobah has struggled to regain his place in the side and whilst he still has time on his side, he’s managed just 13 appearances in two years seasons.
8. Asmir Begovic (Bournemouth, £10.3 million)
This looked the safest of safe deals when the experienced ‘keeper arrived from Chelsea. However after a steady first season, Begovic regressed at an alarming rate last season. In all he made as many errors leading to goals as he managed clean sheets… five! By the end of last season Borunemouth were looking to youngster Mark Travers and now Aaron Ramsdale, who spent last season in League One. Begovic remains in the reserves.
7. Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City, £52 million)
This looked a perfect fit, after Mendy’s brilliant displays for Monaco in their Champions League run. It started well with Mendy raiding down the left, but then the dreaded cruciate knee injury struck and Mendy was restricted to just 7 games in his first Premier League campaign. The second season followed a similar pattern with a bright start followed by knee surgery. With Oleksandr Zinchenko making rapid progress, it seems Mendy is running out of time to make a success of his City career.
6. Tiemeue Bakayoko (Chelsea, £36 million)
Another star of Monaco’s dynamic 2017 side, Bakayoko was supposed to provide Chelsea with a midfield powerhouse. But Bakayoko has never quite settled at Chelsea and that infamous early bath against Watford and a howler of a performance at Newcastle ended his first season on a downward spiral. Another gaff in preseason convinced Chelsea to loan him out to AC Milan last season. He’s now back at Chelsea but nowhere near the first team and looking set for another season on loan.
5. Wilfried Bony (Swansea, £11.70 million)
They never go back, if only someone told Bony. The summer window of 2017 was a disaster for Swansea and their then manager Paul Clement, after loaning Renato Sanches and re-signing Bony. The number’s behind Bony’s second stint in South Wales tell the story: 22 appearances, 3 goals, 1 relegation and 1 loan spell with Qatar All Stars. Now out of contract he was last seen training with Newport County, a crying shame given his fabulous first stint at the Liberty Stadium.
4. Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester, £25 million)
Most were surprised when Pep Guardiola let the promising Nigerian forward leave Manchester City. However Iheanacho has struggled badly at Leicester, scoring just 3 goals in his first season as he found himself playing second fiddle to the evergreen Jamie Vardy. Last season was even worse with just 1 goal to show and a shocking miss on his return to the Etihad that could have cost his old employers the title. No wonder Brendan Rodgers signed Ayoze Perez.
3. Davy Klaassen (Everton, £24 million)
Everton were so desperate for number 10 that summer, they signed three of them! The emotion of the Rooney homecoming and the knowledge that Gylfi Sigurdsson was Everton’s best option meant former Ajax captain Klaassen was quickly shifted out of position where he quickly disappeared. In all Klaassen played just 7 games for The Toffees before being moved on to Werder Bremen for half the fee Everton paid.
2. Danny Drinkwater (Chelsea, £34 million)
A classic deadline day panic buy, Chelsea signed Drinkwater despite the fact that a thigh injury that saw him go straight into the treatment room. When he did finally make his debut in October, Drinkwater failed to establish himself as a regular and made just 12 Premier League appearances that season. It never looked like working and the Community Shield proved his only appearance last season. He’s now on loan to Burnley where can hopefully rekindle his form from Leicester.
1. Alvaro Morata (Chelsea, £59 million)
2017 was a truly awful summer for Chelsea. On the plus side they did add Antonio Rudiger, but they spent a combined £141million on Drinkwater, Bakayoko, Zappacosta and worst of all Morata. The Spanish international arrived to replace Diego Costa but from the start it looked an awkward fit, with Morata lacking the physicality of Costa. For a while the goals at least did come, including a hat trick against Stoke, but his form tailed off and he finished his first season with just 11 goals. He was then overlooked by Spain for the World Cup. In his second year he cut a sullen figure and added just 6 more goals before he escaped to Atletico Madrid.