On my final trip around the Premier League ‘done deals’, the focus here is clubs that start with ‘N’ to the letter ‘W’. From an Arsenal perspective, West Ham look to be the team that will cause the Gunners more problems than last season, but more about that later.
Newcastle’s transfer activity seems to have picked up a head of steam of late. Initially, many pundits were largely unimpressed by the permanent signings of Slovakia international keeper Martin Dubravka from Sparta Prague and South Korea’s midfield skipper Ki Sung-yueng on a free from Swansea. However, Chelsea’s Kenedy remains on loan, and that appears to be a good piece of business, and the same could apply to Salomon Rondon, who may not be prolific, but still can add something to the attack. Another new signing, Yoshinori Muto may be expected to find the net more frequently, although the £9.5m purchase from Mainz generally only scores once every three games. Meanwhile, in defence, Switzerland international Fabian Schar may make the team a little more solid. Under the guidance of boss Rafa Benitez, you’d have to expect this team to over-achieve, so a decent season could be in store.
Compared to Newcastle, Southampton have been big spenders, splashing out £7m on Celtic’s Stuart Armstrong, £16m for Mohamed Elyounoussi, £18m for Jannik Vestergaard and an undisclosed amount for Angus Gunn. Perhaps more focus will be on the new boss, Mark Hughes, who is now in his seventh managerial post. Most of his tenures have been rather short, aside from the time he spent at Blackburn and Stoke, so Saints fans will be wondering if he will make the grade at St Mary’s.
Spurs, meanwhile, are the epitome of stability, with no incoming players and no change of manager. Mauricio Pochettino seems to be able to be able make silk purses out of sow’s ears and his magic touch will no doubt continue into the next campaign. Some people say you need a few new faces every season to freshen the team up, but if the manager promotes a few youth players he can get around that. Once again, Spurs will be hard to beat.
On the playing front up the road at Watford, the team looks as if it will be significantly strengthened by the arrivals of Ben Foster and Gerard Deulofeu, in particular. Other arrivals include Ben Wilmot from Stevenage, Marc Navarro, Ken Sema and Adam Masina. You wonder how they will cope without Richarlison, who has joined Everton for £40m, so the Hornets could be in for a tough season.
By contrast, West Ham look like they are on the crest of a wave. They will be forever ‘blowing bubbles’ if their new arrivals click. Felipe Anderson arrived from Lazio for £35m, Andriy Yarmolenko cost half that from Borussia Dortmund, Issa Diop a cool £22m from Toulouse, while Swansea sold the Hammers Lukasz Fabianski for £7m. As long as the ex-Arsenal keeper doesn’t go all ‘flappy’ again, now he’s back in London, West Ham may have got themselves a good deal. The same applies to the free signings of Ryan Fredericks and Jack Wilshere. Xande Silva has arrived from Portugal for an undisclosed fee, so the big question is how is the manager Manuel Pellegrini going to get them all to gel. In all probability, a good season lies ahead for the Hammers. Hopefully, for Gunners fans, they won’t have gelled by the time Arsenal play them in August.
Last, but not least, Wolves have had a productive off-season, signing Adama Traore from Middlesbrough for £18m, Wily Boly from Porto for £10m, and Diogo Jota from Atletico Madrid for £12.6m. The other arrivals, Raul Jimenez, Jonny Castro and Roderick Miranda arrive on loan, while ‘free kick specialist’ Joao Moutinho, Ruben Vinagre and Leo Bonatini arrive for undisclosed fees. It could be a steep learning curve for manager Nuno Santo in the Premier League, particularly as the incoming players may need time to adjust to football in England.