(Photo Courtesy of AFP via Getty Images)
By Charlie DeMatteo
Between big-money moves across Europe and the emergence of the Saudi Pro League, the 2023 transfer window was certainly one to remember. With billions of dollars being thrown around in ludicrous moves all summer, it’s easy to get lost in the madness of it all. Fortunately, I’m going to take a look at each individual team in the Premier League and whether they spent foolishly or wisely this summer. Let’s begin.
Off the back of an incredible domestic season which saw them fall just short of the title, Arsenal came into the summer meaning business. They got to that business very quickly when long-time target Declan Rice of West Ham United was signed for over 100 million pounds. This deal was a huge statement of intent from the Gunners as they outbid Man City to get the deal done.
Following Rice, Arsenal signed Chelsea forward Kai Havertz and Ajax defender Jurrien Timber. Timber is a real talent and 40 million pounds is a more than reasonable price for him. However, he will be sidelined until well into 2024 after an ACL injury in the first half of Arsenal’s opening match. Havertz on the other hand is a peculiar one. A serial underperformer at Chelsea, Havertz has not yet lived up to the golden boy reputation he came to England with, Mikel Arteta is hoping to change that but early signs of Havertz taking the next step are not looking great.
Then, Arsenal decided to sign Brentford GK David Raya on loan. An odd decision given the outstanding season England GK Aaron Ramsdale had last season. Arguments can be made for competition being a good thing in the squad, but it is a big risk to possibly destabilize a happy dressing room.
Overall, Arsenal did improve in this window with the signings of Rice and Timber. But, Havertz and Raya are truly bizarre signings and could end up hindering the Gunners in the long term.
Aston Villa: A-
Villa had a brilliant season last year under Unai Emery and arguably an even better transfer window. After qualifying for Europe, reinforcements were needed and reinforcements were indeed brought in.
The headliner is Moussa Diaby. A dynamic French forward whose quality is already showing in his brief stint in the Premier League. At the back, Pau Torres is a defender known well by Emery from his time at Villareal and brings real presence to Villa’s backline.
Clement Lenglet and Nicolo Zaniolo were both brought in on loan to replace the injured Emi Buendia and Tyrone Mings. Buendia and Mings were big parts of Villa’s success last year and these two additions should help Villa out while they recover.
Youri Tielemans was also brought in on a free transfer to provide some quality depth. Overall, a great window for Villa which gives them an opportunity to really kick on domestically and in the Europa Conference League this season.
AFC Bournemouth: A
Eyebrows were raised following the sacking of Gary O’neill and the appointment of Spaniard Andoni Iraola, but Bournemouth look stronger than ever after backing their new manager.
A whopping 130 million pounds were spent by the southern club on over a dozen new players. Highlights include American international Tyler Adams, Dutch forward Justin Kluivert, and English right-back Max Aarons. Bournemouth desperately needed an injection of quality and that is exactly what they got with these additions.
Milos Kerkez is an energetic young left-back signed from AZ Alkmaar and Hamed Traore is an exciting attacking option for the Cherries.
While many may have Bournemouth languishing near the bottom of the table, you can’t fault the ambition shown by the club to take steps forward.
Brentford’s recruitment is usually spot on and the few signings they did make this summer should add to their team. However, they probably needed a few more bodies in the door to really secure their place in the top 10.
Nathan Collins is a useful signing from Wolves and Kevin Schade looks like a real threat up top. Beyond those two though, Neal Maupay is a weird one given his lack of quality shown in the Premier League.
Overall, Brentford will be just fine this season due to the quality of their manager Thomas Frank, but a bit more ambition could have been shown in the summer window.
Brighton are probably the best-run club in the world due to their ability to uncover hidden gems and sell them for massive fees; just look at Moises Caicedo who was sold to Chelsea for a British record fee of 115 million pounds.
Caicedo’s replacement Carlos Baleba looks like a suitable player for the Seagulls. Up front, they added some firepower with Joao Pedro and the shocking signing of Ansu Fati on loan from Barcelona. Fati not too long ago was perhaps the most exciting young player in all of Europe before injuries hampered his rise to the top. If manager Roberto De Zerbi can get him firing, the sky is the limit for Brighton.
Mahmoud Dahoud and James Milner are two quality free transfers that will give Brighton much-needed depth while playing in the Europa League and finished off an overall solid window for the south coast outfit.
Burnley dominated the Championship last season on their way to promotion while playing some beautiful football. Their transfer window, however, has been a little odd. The Clarets spent over 110 million pounds on 18 new players but none of those players cost more than 18 million pounds. Sure, they added quantity, but there is barely any proven Premier League experience in this team.
Taking Sander Berge off of relegation rivals Sheffield United was no doubt smart business, and Aaron Ramsey could add some much-needed quality up front. However, there just are not many known quantities in this team and if Burnley do stay up this year, they will need performances out of players we have never seen do it at the very top level.
With a net spend of over 200 million pounds, Chelsea continue to spend ridiculous amounts of money in the market. However, it has now come to the point where they are seriously overdoing it.
They broke the bank for Moises Caicedo, who yes did have a great season last year, but it was one year. Not to mention every signing is under the age of 23, leading to a vastly inexperienced team. Yes, Nkunku, Disasi, Lavia, Palmer, and Jackson are all exciting young prospects, but none of them have done it at the top level yet.
In deciding to spend like crazy in the market, Chelsea are sacrificing a sense of unity in the dressing room. Every player seems like a mercenary and new manager Mauricio Pochettino is already facing issues with keeping everyone happy.
Could Chelsea have a great season and finish in the top four? Maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it. The moral of the story is it is just too much money. Further, this spending won’t be sustainable if Chelsea at a minimum are not in the Champions League and they do not look likely to qualify anywhere near that at the moment.
Crystal Palace: B-
Palace had a fairly quiet window when it comes to incomings, but they did lose star man Wilfried Zaha. Young Brazilian Matheus Franca was brought in to replace Zaha and while he looks promising, he is far from the finished product.
Rob Holding and Dean Henderson are two known entities in the Premier League that should help them comfortably stay up, but the biggest story of the summer was undoubtedly Michael Olise signing a new contract.
Olise was the subject of a transfer to Chelsea before he himself decided against it and inked a new deal in South London. Olise combined with Eberechi Eze should provide the goals to keep the Eagles in the league this season.
Riddled with financial issues, Everton have found it difficult to do any sort of business this window. Arnaut Danjuma on loan is a smart deal as is Jack Harrison, however, the signing of Beto from Udinese does come with question marks.
Unproven in the Premier League, it will be his job to fill in for the constantly injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin and score the goals to keep the Toffees up.
Ashley Young was brought in to provide some experience, but he is hardly a signing that will bring Goodison Park to its feet. Overall, it could be another rough season for Everton and Sean Dyche will have to work his magic again to keep the Merseyside outfit afloat.
Losing Aleksandar Mitrovic to the Saudi League was the worst thing that could have happened to Fulham. Mitrovic’s goals were invaluable to the team’s success last year and without them, it could be a struggle to replicate last year’s performance.
Alex Iwobi was signed on deadline day to add a bit of quality, and Raul Jimenez is a serviceable if uninspiring Premier League forward.
Holding onto Joao Palhinha was also crucial, as his deadline day move to Bayern Munich fell through at the final stages. Castagne and Bassey are solid additions to the defense and overall Fulham should stay up this year but won’t reach the heights of last season.
Every signing Liverpool made this summer was in the midfield which desperately needed revamping. Jordan Henderson and Fabinho were both sold to the Saudi League and needed replacing. Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister started off a strong window for the Reds before things got interesting.
Liverpool had an agreement with Brighton for Moises Caicedo before he turned them down, as well as an agreement for Romeo Lavia before he also rejected a move. This forced Liverpool’s hand to sign journeyman Endo for cheap, a peculiar signing. Then, Liverpool completed a deal with Bayern Munich to sign young Dutch midfielder Ryan Gravenberch, a far more progressive signing.
Overall, Liverpool have needed a new midfield for a couple of seasons now, and have successfully rebuilt it.
Luton Town: D
Luton and their journey to the Premier League truly is a fairy tale, so expectations are low for them; somehow, though, they got even lower following their window.
The only proven Premier League players signed were Ross Barkley and Marvelous Nakamba, both of whom are most likely past their peak.
Luton don’t have the appeal most other Premier League teams have so that definitely hindered them, but after the business they did this summer, it will be a miracle if they avoid the drop this year.
Manchester City: A
Not that they needed to get any better after winning the treble last year, City somehow did. Josko Gvardiol is a young dynamic defender and Jeremy Doku is a lightning rod in attack. Not to mention Mateo Kovacic who suits Pep Guardiola’s system perfectly.
City are a juggernaut and there may be no team in the world capable of stopping them. With that being said, they will be without star man Kevin De Bruyne for a few months so they went and signed young talent Matheus Nunes from Wolves. While Nunes won’t produce as De Bruyne did, it is unlikely City will be hindered because of it.
Manchester United: B+
Mason Mount, Andre Onana, and Rasmus Hojlund headlined a solid window for United, and the deadline-day acquisition of Sofyan Amrabat strengthens their midfield.
United did turn down the opportunity to cash in on two bench players in McTominay and Maguire, but injuries are already starting to show how important depth will be this season.
Whether these signings can propel United any closer to Arsenal and Man City remains to be seen, but on paper they did good business.
Newcastle United: A-
Now in the Champions League, Newcastle have more money to spend on quality players. Italian midfield maestro Sandro Tonali was a statement signing that transformed their midfield.
In addition, the trio of English talents; Harvey Barnes, Tino Livramento, and Lewis Hall all provide youth and quality to the squad.
Perhaps a new winger to replace Almiron or a backup center-back could have been added, but Newcastle have strengthened again in the market under Saudi Arabian ownership.
Nottingham Forest: B
Busy as ever trying to establish themselves as a legitimate Premier League team, signings like Ibrahim Sangaré and Anthony Elanga are a good start.
USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner has been a solid addition so far and Andrew Omobamidele from Norwish is a massive talent in defense.
Overall, Forest have added a ton of new players again, but it looks like Steve Cooper has everything under control for the Midlands club.
Sheffield United: F
Somehow, despite getting promoted to the Premier League Sheffield United have gone backwards in the market. After selling their two best players Sander Berge and Iliman Ndiaye, serious questions need to be asked of the club’s ambition.
Cameron Archer does look like a promising goal threat for the Blades, but ultimately it doesn’t look like they will have enough quality in every department to stay in the league this time around.
Tottenham Hotspur: A
The appointment of Ange Postecoglu looks like a masterstroke thus far and he is being properly backed in the market.
James Maddison at 40 million looks like a bargain. Mickey Van de Ven has finally come to replace an aging defense and Manor Solomon on a free is also a great addition for squad depth.
The pick of the bunch though has to be Brennan Johnson who was signed on deadline day from Nottingham Forest. Johnson was a top target of Postecoglu’s and fits his system perfectly.
Overall, Spurs have made the switch to a more attacking philosophy and made the necessary signings to do so this window.
West Ham United: A-
Losing star player and captain Declan Rice was a tough scene for the Hammers; replacing him, even harder. However, it looks as though the East London club have spent the 105 million pounds quite well.
Edson Alvarez and James Ward-Prowse coming in for a combined 64 million pounds is great business; both have already shown their quality in just a few games. While losing Rice was big, the players brought in seem to have made West Ham a better outfit overall.
Towards the end of the window West Ham made a huge splash, signing Ghanaian star Mohammed Kudus from Ajax. Excellent with the ball, it looks like Kudus will suit manager David Moyes’ counter-attacking style and be a real asset.
Overall, the Declan Rice transfer highlighted a new chapter for West Ham, and they are off to a great start through four league games.
Struggling with financial fair play, Wolves were hardly able to spend this summer and their manager Julien Lopetegui resigned because of it.
Wolves lost star player Ruben Neves, as well as experienced players like Raul Jimenez and Joao Moutinho. Losing Matheus Nunes was also a big loss for the Midlands club.
Wolves didn’t really sign anyone with Premier League experience and could be headed for a disaster of a season after such a lackluster transfer window.
Winners of the Window: Man City
City did everything they could to retain their excellent squad this summer and then some. It will be a miracle if they don’t win the league again as the Pep Guardiola dynasty continues.