The story of the Premier League's record-breaking transfer window as the Big Six go big and middleweights aim high – Sky Sports

  • September 18, 2022


Premier League clubs spent a record-breaking total of over £2.1bn in a thrilling summer transfer window; Man Utd, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal were among the biggest spenders, but they weren’t the only ones to splash the cash on new signings
Comment and Analysis
Friday 2 September 2022 14:05, UK
Premier League spending passed the £2bn mark on Deadline Day as clubs up and down the division raced to make last-minute additions to their squads.
Here, Sky Sports reflects on an extraordinary, record-breaking transfer window, including the standout stories and the signings expected to make the biggest impact.
From champions Manchester City to sixth-placed finishers Manchester United, every one of the Premier League’s Big Six surpassed the £100m mark for money spent.
In fact, Chelsea and United managed it twice over, investing £278m and £227m respectively.
Their spending continued right up until Deadline Day, with Manchester United’s £87m move for Antony to be followed, eventually, by Chelsea’s part-exchange deal to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona.
The signings are intended to close the gap to last season’s title-winners but it won’t be easy.
Not with Erling Haaland, Manchester City’s £51m goal machine from Borussia Dortmund, in place at the Etihad Stadium since June, already running riot against Premier League defences.
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Liverpool brought in a superstar striker of their own in the £85m Darwin Nunez and Haaland’s arrival at City proved an opportunity for Arsenal, whose £45m deal for Gabriel Jesus, deemed surplus to requirements at the Etihad, looks increasingly like a bargain.
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Tottenham also brought in more firepower in the form of the £60m Richarlison. His showboating start to life at Spurs may have split opinion but he looks tailor-made for Antonio Conte.
From Haaland and Nunez to Jesus and Richarlison, many of those attacking additions are already thrilling supporters, but there were other areas for the Big Six to strengthen and strengthen they did.
At Chelsea, a new-look defence in Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella and Wesley Fofana worth a combined £172m.
At Liverpool, a long-awaited midfield addition in the shape of the Brazil international Arthur from Juventus.
At United, where the need for midfield reinforcements was even greater, a deal worth £70m for a five-time Champions League-winner, and good pal of Cristiano Ronaldo (who is staying put, in case you haven’t heard), in Casemiro from Real Madrid.
If the Big Six were not already pulling clear of the rest, they surely will do now.
The Big Six were united in spending extravagantly but their approaches to the window differed hugely.
At times, Manchester United’s summer appeared to be descending into chaos.
Ronaldo’s future provided a months-long distraction and there was just as much uncertainty over incomings as a string of mooted signings fell through, that of Frenkie de Jong chief among them.
Their hunt for a new midfielder, from De Jong to Adrien Rabiot to Casemiro, all fine players but all of whom offer very different qualities, summed up the ever-changing parameters of their recruitment and the same was true in attack.
If a 33-year-old Marko Arnautovic was at one point deemed to be the answer, what exactly was the question?
Chelsea’s approach, with new owner Todd Boehly acting as ‘interim sporting director’, appeared similarly chaotic at times.
“Scattergun and unsustainable,” was how Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville described it on Twitter, accusing Boehly of “wandering around like a kid in a sweet shop” as he tried to strengthen Chelsea’s squad.
Perhaps that was harsh, but what’s certain is that other members of the Big Six, Manchester City and Arsenal in particular, gave off an altogether different impression, wrapping up their biggest signings swiftly and efficiently, and reaping the rewards of acting early when the season got under way.
It was a busy summer for the Premier League’s mid-ranking clubs too.
West Ham started the season slowly on the pitch, losing their first three games and finding themselves bottom of the table, but there was plenty of excitement off it as the side who finished seventh last season geared up for another crack at the top six.
The Hammers have high hopes for Gianluca Scamacca, their £35.5m striker from Sassuolo, but it’s the £51m Lucas Paqueta, previously linked with Arsenal and Liverpool, who looks most likely to get the home fans at the London Stadium off their feet.
West Ham’s spending reached £179m in total and others went for it too. At cash-flushed Newcastle, a new £63m striker in Alexander Isak, part of a £123m total spend. At Wolves, another influx of Portuguese talent in the shape of Matheus Nunes from Sporting Lisbon and Goncalo Guedes from Valencia.
Super-agent Jorge Mendes is always a central figure when it comes to Wolves’ recruitment and another certainty is that Southampton will put the emphasis on youth.
Romeo Lavia, Armel Bella Kotchap and Gavin Bazunu, aged 18, 20 and 20 respectively, already look to have increased in value while Saints have similarly high expectations of the 20-year-old Sekou Mara, plus Deadline Day additions Juan Larios, 18, and Sam Edozie, 19.
There was an overhaul at Leeds, too, where Jesse Marsch, like Erik ten Hag at Manchester United, was given licence to re-shape the squad in his image. In Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson and Rasmus Kristensen, he brought in three players who have worked with him before.
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How Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers would have loved the same kind of backing.
The Foxes finally ended their long wait to sign an outfield player when they completed a £15m deal for Riems defender Wout Faes on Deadline Day but their business ended there.
It started with a £17.5m deal for Union Berlin striker Taiwo Awoniyi, less than a month after they sealed their promotion at Wembley in May, and it ended, finally, with a string of Deadline Day arrivals in Willy Boly, Josh Bowler and Loic Bade.
Those deals will take their total spent over the £150m mark – and a remarkable total of 21 new players through the door. Nottingham Forest’s extraordinary summer has left them with an almost entirely new squad and they wanted even more, with late moves for Michy Batshuayi and Serge Aurier failing to materialise.
“I think that’s a real fear for other clubs,” said Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher ahead of their recent meeting with Tottenham.
“I think they will be scaring clubs who have been floating around the Premier League for two or three years.”
Carragher was quick to add that “spending doesn’t guarantee anything” and certainly all the money invested did little to help them in their 6-0 hammering by Manchester City on Wednesday.
But it has dramatically altered expectations of newly-promoted clubs in the transfer window and their frenzied activity contrasts sharply with what’s gone on at Bournemouth, who sacked Scott Parker after he voiced his frustrations at a perceived lack of business, and Fulham, whose slow progress in the market caused Marco Silva to air his concerns too.
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Fulham’s bright start to the season ensured that slow progress was not too costly. The Deadline Day arrivals of Layvin Kurzawa, Willian, Carlos Vinicius and Dan James mean their squad is now in better shape for what lies ahead. But what becomes of Bournemouth remains to be seen.
The club are determined to live within their means, with Jack Stephens, a loan signing from Southampton, the only new recruit to follow the likes of Marcos Senesi, Marcus Tavernier and goalkeeper Neto to the Vitality Stadium following Parker’s abrupt exit.
It will now be left to someone else to fight to preserve their newly-acquired Premier League status. It is a testament to the quality of the division, though, that even Forest are far from guaranteed survival either.
In an alternate universe, Raphinha is terrorising defences at Stamford Bridge, Frenkie de Jong is pulling the strings in Manchester United’s midfield and Kylian Mbappe is wearing the white shirt of Real Madrid.
Amid the frenzied spending of Premier League clubs, this was a summer of near misses too.
At Chelsea, in particular, the list of deals that failed to materialise is a long one, with Jules Kounde, like Raphinha, opting for Barcelona, Anthony Gordon remaining at Everton and Ajax rejecting their late efforts to sign Edson Alvarez.
Others felt their fair share of frustration too.
Arsenal spent the final days of the window trying to recruit a midfielder but Aston Villa resisted their attempts to sign Douglas Luiz and they opted against pursuing long-term target Youri Tielemans.
Spare a thought for Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani, too, who posted a tweet welcoming Bamba Dieng to the club having missed out on PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo, only for the Marseille youngster to apparently change his mind and decide he wanted to join Nice instead.
This remarkable transfer window retained its capacity to surprise right until the end.
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