The Premier League kicked off more than a fortnight ago, with Manchester United’s woeful start forcing them to splurge a British transfer record £59.7m on Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria, one of the stars of the 2014 World Cup.
Other clubs, such as Arsenal and Everton, have embellished their squad with a handful of high-calibre additions, while Newcastle United and Liverpool have been amongst this summer’s most active deal brokers.
How has each club fared during the 2014 summer transfer window? Dom Kureen takes a look at the ins and outs of all 20 top-flight sides.
Last season’s FA Cup winners have operated shrewdly in market this summer, with the marquee signing of attacking maestro Alexis Sanchez adding yet more flair to an already heaving creative hub.
The likes of Matthieu Debuchy (£12m from Newcastle) and Calum Chambers (£16m from Southampton) were probably overpriced additions, although both improve what was, at times, a leaky Gunners back line last term.
What they need: A striker is a must now that Olivier Giroud has gone down for up to five months with a broken leg – Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon would be an excellent addition to Arsene Wenger’s squad.
A strange window has seen the Villains snap up veterans Joe Cole, Kieran Richardson and Phillipe Senderos – all of whom are past their best.
On the flip side Paul Lambert has managed to conclude deals for Colombian defensive midfielder Carlos Sanchez Moreno and pacy French full-back Aly Cissokho, both of whom should command regular first-team spots at Villa Park.
What they need: a creative player such as Newcastle’s out of favour Hatem Ben-Arfa would add an air of spontaneity to an ostensibly uninspiring group of players.
Best addition: Matthew Taylor (West Ham, free)
Notable departure: Chris Baird (West Brom, free)
Newly promoted Burnley have been active in the market this summer, adding seven new faces to the ranks without spending more than £1.5m on any of them.
The free acquisition of versatile veteran Matthew Taylor adds a glaze of experience to a youthful setup, although the Clarets still look well short of possessing the quality to stay up.
What they need: Three or four proven Premier League players would be helpful, although with their limited budget that may prove difficult and the pursuit of Watford’s Lewis McGugan isn’t likely to improve early season fortunes drastically should it prove successful.
Best addition: Diego Costa (£32.2m, Athletico Madrid)
Notable departure: Romelu Lukaku (£28m, Everton)
A breathless turnaround for the always active Stamford Bridge club has seen the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Frank Lampard, Demba Ba, Ashley Cole, Fernando Torres and David Luiz depart – the latter to Paris Saint-Germain for an astonishing fee of £50m considering the regularity of the Brazilian’s mid-match brain farts.
Diego Costa has started well with goals in each of his first three league matches, and although Cesc Fabregas (£30m from Barcelona) has yet to sparkle, the ex-Arsenal man brings an abundance of pedigree to SW3. The return of ‘wunderkind’ custodian Thibaut Courtois, following a three year loan spell at Athletico Madrid, could prove the most pivotal addition of the lot.
What they need: Jose Mourinho would love to add Raphael Varane to the ranks, although it may take north of £30m to prise the central defender away from current club Real Madrid.
Best Signing: Wilfried Zaha (Manchester United, loan)
Notable departure: Danny Gabbidon (Released)
The Eagles lost their talismanic leader Tony Pulis this summer, whilst also missing out on most of their top targets, including free-scoring midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, who snubbed a move from Spurs in favour of a return to Swansea City.
Newly appointed gaffer Neil Warnock has more than a whiff of the lower leagues about him, and the whole setup reeks of troubled times ahead – a lot will depend on the success of the returning Wilfried Zaha, with Brede Hangeland and Martin Kelly the only other summer acquisitions of note.
What they need: A time machine to go back three months and draw up a more realistic list of targets, possibly placating Tony Pulis with the new faces that he desperately required.
Best signing: Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea, £28m)
Notable departure: None.
Christmas came early for Toffees fans when the club agreed a long-term deal with last season’s loan star, Romelu Lukaku, whose £28m jump from Chelsea almost doubled the club’s previous transfer record.
A less heralded loan deal made permanent was the free transfer of evergreen Gareth Barry from Manchester City – a fine player who fits the ethos at Goodison Park, although the short term signing of Samuel Eto’o may prove one move too many for the experienced forward.
What they need: Another central midfield option would be handy, with Manchester United’s want-away England international Tom Cleverley the subject of tug-of-war between Everton and Aston Villa.
Best signing: Harry McGuire (Sheffield United, £2.5m)
Notable departure: Shane Long (Southampton, £12m)
Steve Bruce has been a wily operator in pre-season, making Jake Livermore’s loan spell from Tottenham Hotspur permanent for a cool £7m, snapping up brilliant young central defender Harry McGuire from Sheffield United, nabbing the reliable Michael Dawson and stealing Thomas Ince from under the noses of a dozen or more other admirers.
Of the departing players only Shane Long was any great shakes, meaning that Tigers fans can expect another season of progression and some exciting months ahead.
What they need: With Long having headed south, the need for a new partner for Nikola Jelavic has grown more pressing, expect Palermo’s Uruguayan hitman Abel Hernandez to be announced later today.
Best signing: Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton, £7m)
Notable departure: None
The Foxes have shown faith in the majority of the group that brought them success last season, as Nigel Pearson’s men romped to the Championship title to gain promotion to the Premier division with weeks to spare.
Leonardo Ulloa should add some muscle to a lightweight frontline, although at £7m the former Brighton and Hove Albion man is probably a little overpriced. Marc Albrighton and Esteban Cambiasso are two of the better free transfers of the summer.
What they need: One more experienced player could prove invaluable – something that should be addressed by the imminent arrival of Lokomotiv Moscow striker Dame N’Doye.
Best signing: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan, £16m)
Notable departure: Luis Suarez (Barcelona, £65m)
The departure of Luis Suarez hinted at an end to the controversial times at Anfield… and then they decided to sign AC Milan’s wild-eyed forward Mario Balotelli.
The Italian should prove a shrewd investment, likewise Dejan Lovren is a terrific defensive addition and Lazar Markovic has the potential to do well after his big bucks move from Benfica. In contrast Adam Lallana might find the going tough at such a high-profile club.
What they need: Not much. If anything the defence lacks a bit of depth, something that the potential signing of River Plate’s Eder Balanta would resolve.
Best signing: Eliaquim Mangala (Porto, £32m)
Notable departure: Gareth Barry (Everton, free)
A quiet summer by Manchester City’s standards has been more courtesy of FIFA restrictions than design of the club, with the champions punished for a previous breach of financial fair play rules with a budget of ‘only’ £49m net expenditure allowed.
Almost two thirds of that amount was splashed on Porto’s promising centre-half Eliaquim Mangala, who should provide captain Vincent Kompany with a worthy partner. Midfield scrapper Fernando was signed from the same club, while the addition of goalkeeper Willy Caballero from Malaga provides decent competition for Joe Hart.
What they need: With Alvaro Negredo unsettled Manchester City might look to do a swap deal for Athletico Madrid’s creative starlet Koke.
Best signing: Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid, £59m)
Notable departure: Nemanja Vidic (Inter Milan, free)
Louis Van Gaal arrived at Old Trafford having taken the Netherlands to an impressive third place finish at the World Cup, in theory his presence was intended to create a quick fix for David Moyes’ doomed tenure, in reality it is proving more difficult.
This is despite a massive summer outlay of around £140m, easily the most in the division, and the addition of half a dozen very highly rated players to the roster. There is still a sense that the shiny new Dutch boss has plenty of streamlining to do before the window shuts.
What they need: Clearing out dead wood such as Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Anderson would be progress, as would the expected conclusion of deals for Ajax schemer Daley Blind and long-term target Arturo Vidal from Juventus.
Best signing: Siem De Jong (Ajax, £6.1m)
Notable departure: Mathieu Debuchy (Arsenal, £12m)
Following two painfully reticent previous transfer windows, Newcastle have been busy this summer, capturing nine new players and allowing a slew of second rate performers to depart.
The £14m spent acquiring Remy Cabella from Montpellier and Siem De Jong from Ajax should prove a bargain, although both will take time to settle. One player who has adapted quickly is £5m full-back Darryl Janmaat, recruited from Feyenoord to replace outgoing incumbent Mathieu Debuchy. Jack Colback’s free transfer from arch rivals Sunderland is a genuine coup for the club.
What they need: a 15+ goals a season striker and a pacy centre back are paramount, Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette and Virgil Van Dijk of Celtic are two players who could be the difference between a season of struggle and a top half finish for the Toon.
Best signing: Steven Caulker (Cardiff City, £7m)
Notable departure: Loic Remy (Chelsea, £10.5m)
Harry Redknapp made defence his priority this summer, pairing new signings Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker to add some much needed steel to last season’s play-off winners.
The versatile Mauricio Isla, on loan from Juventus, is a quality utility man and in Leroy Fer and Jordan Mutch the Loftus Road outfit have stoked up their engine room. Losing Loic Remy to Chelsea has severely depleted an already paper thin attack.
What they need: A replacement for Remy is vital to reduce the burden on Charlie Austin. Jordan Rhodes could probably be persuaded to take the step up, although Blackburn Rovers are demanding more than £12m for the Scotland international.
Best signing: Fraser Forster (Celtic, £10m)
Notable departure: Adam Lallana (Liverpool, £25m)
The summer started horribly for the Saints, with manager Mauricio Pochettino heading to Spurs and no less than four key players and exciting young defender Callum Chambers all exiting, albeit generally for massively inflated fees.
New manager Ronald Koeman has managed to snap up some nifty talent to alleviate much of the misery from St Mary’s. The most impressive of these are goalkeeper Fraser Forster, Dusan Tadic of FC Twente and £12m hit man Shane Long from West Bromwich Albion.
What they need: A couple more squad players and centre-half would fill some of the gaping holes in the squad. Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld would solve the latter issue and is expected to join on loan today.
Best signing: Bojan Krkic (Barcelona, £6.8m)
Notable departure: None
In typical Stoke City fashion, the club have made a series of solid, dependable signings this summer embellished with a couple of less predictable ones.
Bojan Krkic was once regarded as the next great player from Barcelona’s youth academy and it’s a measure of how far his stock has plummeted that he now joins The Potters with a reputation in need of salvaging. Mame Biram Diouf and Victor Moses perpetually lurch between potential match winners and a state of ineptitude.
What they need: Mark Hughes has publicly stated that he doesn’t wish to add any more players to the squad, looking instead to offload the likes of Wilson Palacios and Jack Butland.
Best signing: Jack Rodwell (Man City, £10m)
Notable departure: Jack Colback (Newcastle United, free)
The Mackems’ investment in Manchester City’s want-away midfielder Jack Rodwell has paid instant dividends and given the player a new lease of life, with his point salvaging goal against Manchester United serving as testament to that.
The departure of another Jack – Colback – caused consternation amongst Sunderland fans, with the 24 year-old, cheekily nicknamed ‘ginger Pirlo’, heading to arch rivals Newcastle United on a free transfer.
What they need: A quality central defender, with the club strongly linked to Celtic’s Virgil Van Dijk and Athletico Madrid’s (Southampton bound) Toby Aldreweireld.
Best signing: Bafetimbi Gomis (Lyon, free)
Notable departure: Michu (Napoli, loan)
The high flying Swans have attracted some quality players to the club this summer, including Lyon’s livewire forward Bafe Gomis and returning Gylfi Sigurdsson from Tottenham Hotspur.
Perhaps more crucially, they have so far hung on to star men Wilfried Bony and Jonjo Shelvey, despite intensive transfer speculation. Losing both Ben Davies and Michel Vorm to Spurs was disappointing, albeit unavoidable.
What they need: Jet-heeled Marseille winger Andre Ayew would add a sprinkle of dynamism to the Welsh side.
Best signing: Mauricio Pochettino (Southampton, £6m)
Notable departure: Michael Dawson (Hull City, £4.5m)
Luring new manager Mauricio Pochettino from Southampton seems to have breathed new life into Tottenham and should provide long-term dividends for the club going forward.
After last season’s wild spending spree, it was inevitable that the business would be a tad less hasty this time around. The likes of Ben Davies and Eric Dier are exceptional prospects and snapping up Sevilla defensive rock Federico Fazio is an astute piece of business.
What they need: Morgan Schneiderlin has been linked with Spurs all summer, although Southampton are for once proving reluctant sellers.
Best signing: Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kiev, £10m)
Notable departure: Billy Jones (Sunderland, free)
Eleven new faces should have put plenty of ‘boing’ into the Baggies’ step, only for closer inspection to reveal a dearth of quality among the new faces.
Brown Ideye has all the attributes to be a success in the Premier League, although his mediocre goal scoring feats elsewhere suggest that he might not be one to hang your hat on. Craig Gardner, Chris Baird and the like are solid enough reinforcements. Georgios Samaras lacks the quality to set the division alight.
What they need: Someone with a touch of class in the centre of midfield wouldn’t go amiss. Will Hughes of Derby County has been a long term target of the club.
Best signing: Alex Song (Barcelona, loan)
Notable departure: Joe Cole (Aston Villa, free)
The Hammers pulled off one of the coups of the window 48 hours ago by bringing in Alex Song on loan for a year from Barcelona, although his arrival probably spells the end for Mohamed Diame, who has his sights set on Hull City.
Enner Valencia is another exceptional addition, arriving just in time to cover Andy Carroll’s latest injury setback. Aaron Cresswell and Mauro Zarate are technically gifted players who will hopefully steer ‘big’ Sam away from his usual tactical anti-football.
What they need: Another body at the back. Micah Richards is being strongly linked with a late move to Upton Park from Manchester City, so watch this space.
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