Premier League clubs have splashed out more than £500million on players this summer. And with three weeks of the summer window remaining, that figure is only going to rise.
The top six have led the way when it comes to spending. Pep Guardiola has revamped Manchester City’s back four and goalkeeper with a £150million splurge on Ederson Moraes, Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy, as well as picking up Monaco’s Bernardo Silva for £43million.
Across the city, Manchester United made Romelu Lukaku their new No.9 at £75million but have spent a further £71million on Nemanja Matić and Victor Lindelöf.
Chelsea also have a new No.9 in Álvaro Morata, signed for £65million from Real Madrid, while Tiémoué Bakayoko and Antonio Rüdiger are unlikely to be the last of Antonio Conte’s signings as the Blues look to defend the Premier League title.
Penny-pinchers Arsenal and Liverpool have broken the bank, splashing £46.5million on Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon and £37.5million on Roma’s Mo Salah respectively.
But which signing will prove to be the best value this season? Everyone will have their opinions and now there is a way to make money from being proven right.
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Manchester United might have achieved their main aim of returning to the Champions League last term, beating Ajax in the Europa League final to qualify, but José Mourinho’s men left plenty to be desired in the Premier League.
The Red Devils were only the eighth-highest scorers in the top flight with just 54 goals – fewer than Bournemouth – and struggled to break teams down at home, winning only eight matches at Old Trafford.
With home draws against Stoke, Hull, Burnley, Bournemouth and Swansea, United need to be better at killing off smaller teams. And Lukaku should help with that.
The Belgian scored 26 times for seventh-placed Everton last season with 17 goals coming at Goodison Park. Crucially, ten of those came against sides who finished tenth or lower in the Premier League.
Lukaku is, by some distance, United’s senior striking option and he will be the man expected to fill Zlatan Ibrahimović’s boots. The accusation levelled against the former Chelsea youngster is that he’s a flat-track bully. But that’s just what United need.
He won’t come cheap but he guarantees goals and that should mean dividends.
Chelsea’s record signing, finally eclipsing the £50million wasted on Fernando Torres, did not come out of Sunday’s Community Shield final at Wembley well.
But once the Premier League begins that should all change. The Spanish international averaged a goal every 88 minutes at Real Madrid last season – a better record than Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale. Chelsea’s top scorer, Atlético Madrid transfer target Diego Costa, averaged a goal every 154.5 minutes for context.
Forced to play second fiddle to the BBC, the 24-year-old knows all there is to know about taking his chances when they come along, so getting up to speed with the pace of the Premier League should hold no fear.
However, the perception is the Madrid native has always been a prolific finisher. That isn’t quite true. Morata was not first choice at Juventus, where he had Mario Mandžukić, Paulo Dybala, Simone Zaza, Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente for competition in two seasons in Turin.
In the first two months of the season Chelsea face Arsenal, Everton, Tottenham and Manchester City. The pressure is on Morata to prove he can be the main man for one of Europe’s top clubs, but he could prove a long-term investment.
The French international had been linked with a move to the Premier League for several years before Arsenal finally splashed a club-record fee to sign him at the start of the summer.
Lacazette scored a minimum of 20 Ligue 1 goals in each of the last four seasons in France, ending his time at OL with 28 goals in as many starts – his best return.
It took Lacazette 2.5 shots per game to reach that tally while Arsenal’s top Premier League marksman, Manchester City transfer target Alexis Sánchez, averaged 3.5.
At 26 he is primed and ready to make an impact in the Premier League. The signs from Sunday’s Community Shield final were encouraging, coming closest to opening his account in competitive action with a shot which cracked against Thibaut Courtois’ left-hand post.
The one big question mark against Lacazette is why has it taken until now for a Premier League club to gamble on him?
Strikers from France have done well in the past – think Didier Drogba, Olivier Giroud or, further back, Nicolas Anelka. However, there have been a fair share of busts too – Florent Sinama Pongolle, David Bellion or Emmanuel Rivière.
After finishing without silverware for the first time in an otherwise stellar management career, Guardiola wasted no time in getting his primary target through the door this summer.
The Catalan had seen first hand what Silva could do as he helped Ligue 1 winners Monaco knock his Manchester City side out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage.
Silva spent the summer with Portugal at the Confederations Cup meaning he has had an extended break before joining up with his new team-mates.
For that reason the 22-year-old is unlikely to be ready for the start of the new Premier League season and City’s opener at new-boys Brighton & Hove Albion, making him something of a long-term investment.
However, if the tricky winger can build on the ten goals and ten assists he managed in Ligue 1 and the Champions League last season, he could prove a shrewd purchase.
Liverpool broke their transfer record to snap up former Chelsea winger Salah from Roma this summer.
The pacy forward, who will only add further threat to the Reds’ frontline, bagged 15 goals and 11 assists last season, building on the 14 strikes and six assists he managed the previous campaign.
Salah has improved hugely since flopping at Stamford Bridge under Mourinho and reinvented himself in Serie A as one of the most deadly wingers in Europe. Liverpool will hope the Egyptian can dovetail with Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané and Philippe Coutinho – if the Barcelona transfer target doesn’t leave Anfield.
Last term Salah attempted 2.6 shots per game, 2.3 dribbles per game and supplied 2.3 key passes for his team-mates. Only Coutinho (3.4) and Firmino (2.9) attempted more shots while Mané (2.5) was the only man to set off on more dribbles. And in the key pass stakes, Salah would have come out in top spot.
He might not be the most heralded summer arrival in the Premier League but Salah has a point to prove and the statistics to suggest he will only go from strength-to-strength back in England – all at a price which makes him outstanding value in the market.