10th – Everton – £76m
Having avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth in 2021/22, it was crucial that Everton strengthened and levelled out what was an immensely imbalanced squad this summer to give Frank Lampard any chance of avoiding a repeat of last term. It started off badly; Richarlison departed for Tottenham in June with little signs of incomings post the free arrival of James Tarkowski, but once the links did arrive, they came in the uninspiring shape of Harry Winks and Ross Barkley.
This worried many Evertonians. Last year’s collapse had been preceded by a cost-cutting transfer window, and with their best player gone, many felt this could be another year of immense struggle. Thankfully for the Toffees faithful new Director of Football Kevin Thelwell oversaw a revamping of the squad, bringing in eight new players while seeing twelve leave through the exit door.
The aforementioned Tarkowski was joined by fellow England international Conor Coady to add steel and leadership to this Everton side, while Amadou Onana arrived to much fanfare from Lille as one of European football’s hottest midfield properties. Idrissa Gana Gueye returned from PSG for a nominal fee three years after leaving, with Dwight McNeil, Rúben Vinagre, Neal Maupay and James Garner also bolstering Lampard’s options.
Another year of struggle is naturally still a huge possibility, but Everton fans can be pleased that the club have addressed many of the squad’s issues, complied with the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rulings and kissed goodbye to virtually the last of the dead wood.
Could they have done more? One more attacker was the aim but deals for João Pedro, Ben Brereton Díaz and Armando Broja failed to materialise. But if Dominic Calvert-Lewin can stay fit once back from injury, then that will be less of an issue.
9th – Wolves – £122m
At different parts of last season, Bruno Lage’s Wolves looked a safe bet for European football in one form or another, but an end-of-season nosedive dashed those dreams with no wins coming from their final nine games of the campaign.
The Portuguese manager seems to have opted for a chance of tack this summer; moving away from the five-at-the-back shape that the Midlands club had become synonymous with, instead opting for.a more offensive 4-3-3. To facilitate this, the club splashed £22m on Burnley’s Nathan Collins – a star of the Clarets’ ultimately disappointing campaign, and a player who will surely grow at Molineux.
Further up the pitch, Gonçalo Guedes has come in for £27m which could be a snip for the Valencia man if he can recreate his original Mestalla form, while Matheus Nunes has been one of Liga Nos’ standout players over the previous three seasons and massively strengthens a tired looking Wolves midfield.
Six-foot-five striker Sasa Kalajdzic – who scored six goals from 15 Bundesliga games last season and 16 the one before – adds a new dimension up top, although his season has already been curtailed by a nasty ACL injury. The departure of Conor Coady to Everton will hurt the Wolves dressing room no doubt but keeping hold of Rúben Neves was a massive plus.
Could they have done more? They’re a little short in defence and central midfield, with selling Leander Dendonker – who doesn’t massively enamour me – lightning those options even further. They’ll be praying the inevitable injuries come elsewhere.
8th – Brentford – £45m
The main story of Brentford’s transfer window is undoubtedly the departure of star man Christian Eriksen – with the Dane’s impact playing a sizeable role in the Bees’ recovery last season. But even without the former Spurs man, Thomas Frank had a good squad to call upon when fully fit – and one which is now arguably more balanced.
Keane Lewis-Potter and Aaron Hickey represent smart buys which are both distinctly very ‘Brentford’, while the experience of Ben Mee on a free transfer is set to be one of the bargains of the summer. Mikel Damsgaard – another player shaped very much in the Brentford transfer philosophy – should plug the creative hole left in the Bees’ engine room for a cool £13.5m. Assuming they have better luck with injuries, then Brentford should be in for another good season.
Could they have done more? Each signing they’ve made screams ‘hit’, but it feels a waste to use Hickey on the right due to a lack of viable options – unless that’s Thomas Frank’s plan all along.
7th – Newcastle United – £122m
Newcastle’s summer window could have gone one of two ways. Either the club would splash the cash and the wages to match in an attempt to lure players to the North-East without much care, or they would deploy a more tactical approach whereby they strengthened the squad with a handful of quality additions, while keeping the wolf of FFP away from the door. Overall, despite some high-profile bid rejections, it’s safe to say Eddie Howe and Dan Ashworth engaged in the latter.
Sven Botman and Nick Pope were the two initial arrivals (as well as a permanent deal for Matt Targett), adding quality and steel down the spine of a side that had already been revamped in the winter window. They may well have wanted to bring in Hugo Ekitiké, James Maddison or João Pedro (amongst others), but Newcastle sensibly moved away from those deals rather than pursuing them beyond their market value.
Once things started to go quiet, out popped the big move their window seemed to be missing; Alexander Isak. Joining for £63m from Real Sociedad, the Swede not only smashes the club’s record transfer, but also represents a massive upgrade to their forward line. Capable of playing through the middle or rotating to either side, the 22-year-old is a massive statement of intent and exactly the type of deal – and player – they should be targeting. There’s massive pressure, but there is for anyone who plays in black and white.
It was never going to be easy and any idea that the Magpies were going to overhaul their squad this summer was wide of the mark, but having watched the likes of Everton and QPR fail when chasing players only to hand them extortionate contracts when compared to their impact on the team, it was important that Howe and Ashworth improved without going overboard.
Could they have done more? A right winger of genuine quality is the next step for the Magpies, but otherwise, it was another successful silly season.
6th – Southampton – £75m
The Saints have banked on the innocence of youth this summer to keep them afloat in the Premier League; bringing in ten players with an average age of just 21.4 years for a total of £75m – but were they the right deals?
A trio of teenagers were plucked from the Manchester City youth setup in the shape of Roméo Lavia, Juan Larios and Samuel Edozie for a combined £11m – making him the eleventh most-expensive player at that age that these shores have ever known. But his early displays have been hugely impressive and those of someone five years his senior even in a struggling side.
Gavin Bazunu is the youngest Premier League number one ever at just 20 but already has international pedigree with the Republic of Ireland and is showing everyone why he’s commanded a £12m fee at such a tender age, while Armel Bella-Kotchap and Sékou Mara have also started brightly.
The main outlier from the plan was 26-year-old Joe Aribo – a relative Granddad amongst this summer’s signings but one whose steady rise needed a move to the Premier League and it’s showing in spades – he’s ready made for this division and a snip at £6.4m.
But it’s tricky where to rank them. All of these signings are exciting and there is little doubt that each will increase in value and could be big assets for Southampton – but they’ve skirted close to the sun recently and if their young guns fail to deliver, then it could be fatal.
Could they have done more? Saints fans were pining out for a striker by the end of the window which never arrived, but if they can remain above the dotted line this season, I’m sure this transfer window will go down in the record books.
By: James Pendleton / @Jpends_
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile