Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Transfer Window Update: The Rich Get Richer

The transfer window for Premier League clubs opened on June 10th and the league’s top clubs surged from the starting line.

Manchester City officially confirmed their signing of Erling Haaland. The 21-year-old terrorized the Bundesliga over the last three seasons, scoring 62 goals in 67 league appearances for Borussia Dortmund. The German side was the beneficiary of 86 goals from the young phenom across all competitions. Haaland is interchangeably mentioned with Kylian Mbappe as the world’s top young forward.

Manchester City won the league title this past season without a true Number 9 in its line-up. That void is now filled by the Norwegian center forward and the Haaland addition could put further distance between the Citizens and the rest of the league with the possible exception of Liverpool.

The Haaland addition is not without its questions, however. League followers will be interested to see how City Manager Pep Guardiola will integrate Haaland into his high-speed passing style of play which has utilized attacking midfielders as the focal point for his attack. Midfielders Kevin de Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan led Manchester City in goals scored in the 2021/22 and 2020/21 Premier League seasons, respectively. Eight different players scored seven or more goals in Manchester City’s recently completed title winning season. Haaland’s need for service and notable ego will require adjustment by both club and player.

Haaland will also be expected to end a recent trend of Bundesliga attacking players who have had difficulty transitioning their talents to the Premier League. Both Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have underwhelmed at Chelsea after impressive Bundesliga stints. Christian Pulisic has shown flashes for Chelsea but is too often injured to be counted on. Manchester United’s Jadon Sancho has been the greatest disappointment. The former teammate of Haaland at Borussia Dortmund, and a highly priced transfer last season, was terrible in his maiden season at Manchester United where he scored just three goals in his 29 league appearances for the Red Devils. Manchester City expects Haaland to make a much bigger splash and hopefully position the club to finally capture a first ever Champions League title.

Liverpool, meanwhile, has also been busy. The league’s runner-up and winner of both English domestic cup competitions (EFL and FA) has reportedly reached agreement to sign Benfica striker Darwin Nunez. Nunez is expected to undergo his medical this week before a formal announcement of the signing is made.

The center forward found the net 26 times in 28 Portuguese Primeira Liga appearances and scored against Liverpool in each leg of Benfica’s Champions League quarterfinal with the Reds this past season. Nunez, as a traditional Number 9, provides a different dimension to a Liverpool attack which has been dominated by wing players Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in recent years. Previous transfer additions Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz also play on the wing. Mane had taken a turn at the central position in the latter half last season and the anticipated departure of the Senegalese international makes Nunez an even more welcome addition. Nunez enjoyed a breakout season with Benfica this past season, scoring 20 more goals across all competitions than he had in his first season with Benfica. Liverpool is counting on the 22-year-old continuing and improving on last year’s success.

Chelsea has been understandably slow to get its transfer dealings underway due to its government mandated change in ownership. That will need to change quickly in coming weeks.

Tottenham Hotspur has been focused on strengthening its midfield. The club is expected to sign Yves Bissouma from Brighton this week after having already secured 33-year-old Ivan Perisic from Inter Milan. Bissouma was coveted by several Premier League clubs including rival Arsenal.

Arsenal and Manchester United have yet to make a meaningful signing despite being associated with numerous players. Mikel Arteta has been reported to be frustrated with the Gunners’ lack of progress. Rumored interest by the Gunners in Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus and Everton’s Richarlison has failed to come to fruition. New Manchester United Manger Eric ten Hag has been reportedly focused on a reunion with his former Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong. Barcelona, however, has been unimpressed by Manchester United’s proposed valuation of the Dutch international and the Red Devils may need to focus their midfield rebuilding efforts elsewhere. 

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