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EPL Summer Transfer Window Highlights 2021: Some hits and a few misses

PL TransfersRonaldo’s return guarantees goals and leadership. (Photo credit: Twitter/Manchester United; Twitter/Chelsea; Twitter/Manchester City)

EPL Transfer Window Highlights 2021: The summer transfer window got off to a lukewarm start as clubs burdened by the loss of income due to Covid-19 tread carefully, looking for bargain deals, free transfers, or players on loan. But once it got going, the transfer window blew up as arguably the two biggest ticket players switched sides — Lionel Messi departing Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Juventus for Manchester United.

Now that the curtain has fallen on an eventful transfer window, here is a look at how the English Premier League (EPL) clubs fared.

Manchester City
Incomings: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa, £100 million)
Outgoings: Sergio Aguero (Barcelona, free), Eric Garcia (Barcelona, free), Jack Harrison (Leeds United, undisclosed)

The marquee signing of Grealish for a British-record fee adds further strength and versatility to an already-stacked City midfield, but the failure to land a striker to fill the Sergio Aguero-shaped hole could come back to haunt Pep Guardiola. Having missed out on primary target Harry Kane, who chose to stay put at Tottenham Hotspur, and Cristiano Ronaldo to crosstown rivals Manchester United leaves Guardiola with Gabriel Jesus as the lone senior striker.

Manchester United
Incomings: Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund, £73 million), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid, £41 million), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus, £19.8 million), Tom Heaton (Aston Villa, free)
Outgoings: Daniel James (Leeds United, £25 million), Sergio Romero (released), Joel Perreira (released)

United had their most successful transfer window since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, signing long-term target Sancho to solve its winger crisis, while Varane adds title-winning pedigree to the defence. Ronaldo’s return guarantees goals and leadership, but the lack of a marquee defensive midfielder could prove to be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s undoing as he chases the club’s first league title since 2013.

Incomings: Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan, £97.5 million), Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid, loan) Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham, free)
Outgoings: Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan, £25 million), Tammy Abraham (AS Roma, £34 million), Kurt Zouma (West Ham United, £29.8 million), Davide Zappacosta (Atalanta, £8.5 million), Victor Moses (Spartak Moscow, £4.3 million), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan, £2 million), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace £18m), Dynel Simeu (Southampton, £1.5m), Valentino Livramento (Southampton, £5m)

The European champions will undoubtedly be among the favourites for the title, having landed a proven goalscorer like Lukaku and a midfield lynchpin in Niguez. The club also moved on several fringe players for significant profit but the failure to land defender Jules Kounde from Sevilla could leave Thomas Tuchel short of reliable options for a gruelling season.

Incomings: Ibrahima Konate (RB Leipzig, £36 million)
Outgoings: Xherdan Shaqiri (Lyon, £9.5 million), Harry Wilson (Fulham, £12 million), Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin, £6.5 million), Georginio Wijnaldum (Paris Saint-Germain, free), Marko Grujic (Porto, £10 million)

Konate’s signing adds depth to Jurgen Klopp’s defence, having been left short of options last season following injuries to Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez as their bid to retain the title spectacularly collapsed. But the German manager will nonetheless be irked following the club’s failure to land any of its other targets, including in defensive midfield, as he bids to unseat Manchester City once again.

Incomings: Ben White (Brighton and Hove Albion, £50 million), Nuno Tavares (Benfica, £8 million), Albert Sambi Lokonga (Anderlecht, £15 million), Martin Odegaard (Real Madrid, undisclosed), Aaron Ramsdale (Bournemouth, £30 million), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Bologna, £17.2 million)
Outgoings: Willian (Corinthians, free), Joe Willock (Newcastle United, £25 million), Reiss Nelson (Feyenoord, loan), Lucas Torreira (Fiorentina, loan), David Luiz (released), Matteo Guendouzi, (Marseille, loan), William Saliba (Marseille, loan), Daniel Oyegoke (Brentford, £7 million), Hector Bellerin (Real Betis, loan)

Having finished eighth last season, the Premier League’s biggest spenders will hope the huge outlay sparks some life back into the side. Mikel Arteta spent heavily on young, hungry players and, with no European football, he will have enough time to gel them into a well-oiled unit as he aims to return the club to the glory days of the early noughties.

Tottenham Hotspur
Incomings: Pierluigi Gollini (Atalanta, loan), Bryan Gil (Sevilla, £21.6 million plus Erik Lamela), Cristian Romero (Atalanta, £42 million), Pape Matar Sarr (Metz, undisclosed), Emerson Royal (Barcelona, £25 million)
Outgoings: Paulo Gazzaniga (released), Danny Rose (Watford, free), Juan Foyth (Villareal, undisclosed), Erik Lamela (Sevilla, swap for Bryan Gil), Joe Hart (Celtic, £1 million), Moussa Sissoko (Watford, £3 million), Serge Aurier (released)

Chairman Daniel Levy handed incoming manager Nuno Espirito Santo the biggest boost by retaining Harry Kane, who had all but made up his mind about quitting the club for Manchester City. The additions of Gil, Romero, and Emerson infuse youthful energy into a side that, for much of Jose Mourinho’s run last season, seemed to be running on empty.

Leicester City
The Foxes finished most of their transfer business early, giving manager Brendan Rodgers enough time to get the team ready for another tilt at Europe. It’s surely exciting times for the FA Cup champions, who will hope new signings Patson Daka (RB Salzburg, £23 million), Boubakary Soumare (Lille, £17 million), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton, free), Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton, £15 million), and Ademola Lookman (RB Leipzig, loan) can emulate the Class of 2015.

Leeds United
Marcelo Bielsa’s entertainers were the talk of the Premier League last season as their attacking brand of football made the Lilywhites everyone’s second-favourite team. Having finished a surprise ninth in their first top flight season in nearly 20 years, the club have brought in Jack Harrison (Manchester City, undisclosed), Junior Firpo (Barcelona, £13.5 million), Kristoffer Klaesson (Valerenga, £1.6 million), and Daniel James (Manchester United, £25 million) to now mount a challenge for European qualification.

Aston Villa
Jack Grealish may have left huge boots to fill following his departure to Manchester City, but the Villans quickly moved to spend the £100 million from the England man’s sale. Dean Smith signed Emiliano Buendia (Norwich City, £38 million), Danny Ings (Southampton, £25 million), and Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen, £30 million) and will hope to improve on last season’s 11th-place finish.

The club never really recovered from Carlo Ancelotti’s shock departure for Real Madrid at the end of last season, and their haphazard approach to the transfer window is sure to leave new manager Rafa Benitez wanting for more. The Spanish boss will have his fingers crossed in the hope new signings Demarai Gray (Bayer Leverkusen, £1.7 million), Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace, free), and Saloman Rondon (Dalian Professional, free) can turn the club’s fortunes around.

Newcastle United
The Magpies made only one first-team signing — converting Matt Willock’s (Arsenal, £25 million) loan into a permanent one, leaving manager Steve Bruce with a mountain to climb. With a wantaway owner refusing to spend on transfers, the St. James’ Park club could fall into yet another crisis, which has become a byword for the Magpies.

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