Hello there, and welcome to Thursday. It’s the second last day of our Premier League previews. We’re onto Spurs and Watford, before we finish it off tomorrow with West Ham and Wolves. We’ll have a news round-up at the end too.
As I write this, just before 7am on deadline day, Spurs are yet to sign a player this summer. It looked like they would secure the services of Jack Grealish at one stage, but Aston Villa have told them he’s now not for sale. I wouldn’t be hugely surprised if they managed to get that one over the line, but that would take a lot of work. They may do a late deal or two, because we know that Daniel Levy likes to get his deals done late in the day. He mist feel that he can get the players for a bit cheaper if the selling club are desperate to get rid of the player and there’s only hours left.
If Spurs don’t get some deals over the line, I worry about them. I’m not sure signing Grealish would have made the world of difference anyway, because I’m not even convinced he would be a starter, but he would have been somebody. They’re the only team in the Premier League to not invest in their squad. Most of the top six have invested heavily in their squads and will be much improved next season. I think there’s a real danger of Spurs dropping out of the top four next season.
They could be looking at their squad and thinking that it’s good enough to finish in the top four again. They could be right, but a signing can make a big difference and can give everybody a boost. They’ll be trying to battle on all fronts again this season, and finishing in the top four will surely be their goal once again. That may be difficult though, as they may also have to adapt to their new stadium.
I can’t predict just how much better Chelsea and Arsenal will be with their new head coaches – Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery – but they’re both aiming for a spot in the top four next season. If they do manage to do that, two teams will have to drop out. I think Spurs may be the most likely candidate at this stage. Not adding to their squad could be a huge issue for them. But then again, it might not.
We all know how good of a manager Mauricio Pochettino is. We know he’ll get the best out of all his players. He has a really strong and settled squad at Spurs, and will be hoping to get the very best out of them again. They could come out and be even better than they were last season. I don’t think Dele Alli was anywhere near as good last season as he was the season before. If he gets back to his best, he’ll make a huge difference.
It’s undoubtedly worrying for Spurs though. I find it confusing that Pochettino said he would have to be backed in the transfer market or he wouldn’t sign a new deal, and then he went and signed a new deal. That made me, and everybody else, I’m sure, think that he had been promised money to spend. That doesn’t seem to be the case, which I think is a bit odd. Maybe he was told they would be quiet this year, but busy again next season. I really have no idea, and I’m just guessing.
It must be a little bit disappointing for Spurs fans though. They have such a strong team, and they genuinely could be two or three big signings away from really challenging for the major honours. It doesn’t seem like that’ll happen, and they now have a battle on their hands if they’re going to finish in the top four next season.
Watford are a side that will be looking to have a better season than last year. They’re generally a mid-table side, and haven’t had much trouble with relegation over the last few seasons, but they’ll be a little bit disappointed with their 14th placed finish last season. That’s not entirely their fault, of course. They started brilliantly, and were right up there with the top six at one stage. They can blame Everton for their disappointing season after they tried to come in and take their manager away. Marco Silva’s head was turned and their results suffered. He ended up being sacked.
Javi Gracia was brought in to replace him, but I’m still yet to be convinced by him. I’m not sure what the general feeling about him is around the club, but he deserves to be given a chance to get things right. Coming in mid-season and trying to sort out a bunch of players that are on a bad run is always hard, but he managed to do that. It wasn’t a spectacular turnaround, but they got there in the end.
Their transfer business has been a bit underwhelming though, I think. They have lost their bright young star, Richarlison, to Everton for £40m. The likes of Nordin Amrabat and Mauro Zarate have also been moved on. They have brought in a few, such as winger Gerard Deulofeu from Barcelona, left-back Adam Masina from Bologna, midfielder Ken Sema from Ostersund, defender Ben Wilmot from Stevenage and ‘keeper Ben Foster from West Brom. Transfermarkt estimates that they have brought in €50m and spent €23.95m. They’re in a good bit of profit.
Fans don’t want profit though; they want signings. The signings they have brought it might be really good, and maybe they’ve done some great business. I do think the loss of Richarlison is a big blow though. He’s a really good player who does things differently. He’s an exciting player that can do the unexpected. They’ve lost that now, but I don’t blame them for taking the money either.
Watford also managed to sign Abdoulaye Doucoure down to a new contract. He signed a new five-year deal, which is great news for them. The 25-year-old central midfielder was really good last season, and was linked with a move away at times. That won’t happen now, and they’ll be delighted they have tied him down.
For the season ahead, I think they’re looking at another mid-table finish. That seems to be where they finish every year, and I don’t think this year will be any different. It depends on how Gracia does, but their squad should be good enough to keep them away from danger at the bottom of the table. I’d say they’ll be fine.
Onto the news now, and it’s set to be a busy one today because it’s transfer deadline day in England. The window closes at 5pm today, but that’s just for English clubs signing players. They’ll still be able to sell abroad right up until the end of the month. I’m not going to lie: I actually find it quite hard to keep up with all the transfer news at times. Trying to get it all up on Twitter can be quite hard when I’m in work, and when I get a chance to catch up on what I’ve missed, there’s usually quite a lot to catch up on. I’ll get there in the end, I suppose.
Chelsea got their deals done in the end. Thibaut Courtois has moved on, and they have signed 23-year-old Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao to replace him. They’ve paid a new world record fee for a goalkeeper to get him out of his contract. His release clause was £71.6m, so they paid that. They did get around £32m for Courtois, so some of the big fee is offset by him leaving. As part of the Courtois deal, they’ve signed Mateo Kovacic on loan from Real Madrid. That’s a good signing, and I’ll look forward to seeing him next season.
A report just now from Sky Sports says that Leicester have agreed a fee with Freiburg to sign defender Caglar Soyuncu. The report says the fee could rise to £19m.
Cardiff have reportedly inquired about taking Harry Arter on loan from Bournemouth.
Wolves have reportedly agreed a fee with Man City for Oleksandr Zinchenko. This was reported first weeks ago though, so I’m not sure why there was no progress at the time but it’s now come back to life.
Leander Dendoncker is off at Wolves having a medical, and the Belgian midfielder should be announced as a Wolves player today. The 23-year-old was part of the Belgium squad that went to the World Cup.
Staying with Wolves, they announced yesterday that they have signed Adama Traore from Middlesbrough. They’re putting some squad together there; I can’t wait to see them next season.
That’s that for this morning. I don’t think I missed much, but if I did, I’m sorry. There’s a lot to be keeping up with.
Your news will be on Twitter throughout the day, and I’ll be back tomorrow with the last of the previews and any news that’s doing the rounds. The Premier League starts back tomorrow, of course! Can’t wait!