And just like that, the Premier League is back! This long blur of a year continues with what seems like continuous football. One week of this campaign is done and dusted en route to what looks to be a genuine rollercoaster of an English season. And with the transfer window still open, clubs are making late pushes to add star power to their lineups.
Chelsea are buying players as if they were relegation threatened last season. The amount of money they are spending is Roman Abramovich’s bread and butter. This is how Chelsea got to where they are at and after their very brief spending ban (which saw a refreshing amount of youngsters getting blooded), they are back at what they do best.
Chelsea’s spree has forced clubs all over Britain to reinforce their squads, especially at the top.
Liverpool have added Thiago to bolster their middle. The Spaniard is a very tidy signing for almost no up-front money. He adds world class depth during a jam packed season to come where the top sides will all have to rotate starters. Diogo Jota from Wolves looks to be on the way as well. He is tailor-made for this squad as he can play in any of the front 3 attacking positions. Not the worst player to have on your bench.
Speaking of Wolves, how has no one launched a conflict-of-interest investigation into Jorge Mendes and the entire club hierarchy?? Mendes has basically chosen Wolves and is now just unloading client after client onto the club, including the manager. Portuguese restaurants popping up all over Wolverhampton just to cater to the masses. Wolves even released a Portugal third shirt just to let you know that they don’t give a fuck about being subtle. They have Mendes and full access to his stable of top quality Portuguese footballers. Yes, Jota may be on his way out, but Portuguese starlet Fabio Silva has already been brought in from Porto as a replacement.
The quality in the Premier League just continues to skyrocket. Teams big and small chock-a-block with the type of playmakers that can win games on their own. And at nowhere is that more evident than at Everton. The Toffees, perennial underachievers and whipping boys of the Liverpool region, may have finally done a bit of business this past summer. James Rodríguez is one of the biggest transfers of the new season. A true behemoth years ago, the Colombian is looking to restart his career and is now reunited with his former boss at Bayern Munich in Carlo Ancelotti. James has the potential to reshape this Everton side with his technical ability and nose for goal. And he is a signing that signals the legitimate importance of a manager as a recruiting tool. James and Allan (central midfielder from Napoli) do not come to Everton if Carlo is not there. And just when everyone thought they were done, Everton solidified their spending with a proven rock in midfield in Abdoulaye Doucouré from Watford. A proper proper player who will boss the middle of Goodison Park. Who knows, Everton may have finally gotten over the hump and could now challenge for a European place. It would require some heavy lifting from the new boys but this is the type of talent that can get them there.
And then there’s always United. As all of their rivals spend big and retool for another assault on silverware, Manchester United should be desperate to follow along. But as they are victim to the criminal ineptitude of those closing deals, it’s been a bit of a stalemate for the club. Donny van de Beek has come in from Ajax, but still gaping holes on the wing and in defence linger. Also, somebody over at Old Trafford needs to score some goals. There will be activity at United before the window shuts as none of the league leaders look like they are done purchasing just yet, but time is running out. More depth and more chutzpah are necessary if this team wants to realistically bring some trophies back to the Northwest.
But it’s at Tottenham where the most high profile action has taken place. Spurs looked abjectly listless in their opening match versus Everton. It was dire and woeful. Sergio Reguilón has been brought in from Real Madrid. He’s a left back that enjoys a foray up the flank. A fantastic and necessary signing for Jose Mourinho, despite the fact that Real Madrid inserted a buy back clause into the deal. And of course, the marquee signing is Gareth Bale returning to North London from the very same Real Madrid. Bale still has the skill set to be elite. And it is genuinely enjoyable to finally see him at a club with a fanbase that respects him. His tenure under Zinedine Zidane became awkward and it would have been a waste to see Bale just up and leave for Asia or the Middle East (I am well aware that the Middle East is also in Asia). Both signings inject energy and experience sorely lacking at Tottenham as they begin an absolute dogfight for the top 4. And let’s not forget, Bale can spell Harry Kane as a #9 as well as score goals, something that has become a bit of a rarity under Mourinho of late.
As you can see from the above, the race to finish in the top half of the table is going to be ferocious. With Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham all swinging for the fences, there are only four spots left in the top 10. Wolves, Leicester City, Everton, Newcastle United, Sheffield United, Southampton and Crystal Palace will all be fighting to be there. But, it will come down to a question of consistency. The biggest and fittest sides will make it through, which will only lead to more spending now and in the winter.
The Premier League has never seen this level of widespread quality. Most matches should be competitive. Teams like Aston Villa and Leeds United have England internationals. The standard being set by these English teams and their all-star rosters will only bring more and more exquisite talent to the island. So, enjoy, as football now doesn’t stop until the summer of 2023.