When the 2017 summer transfer window slammed shut every Premier League manager breathed a sigh of relief, but in reality there was nothing to be relieved about. As of that moment all the new faces around the various club’s training grounds had to live up to expectations. They had to justify their astronomical price tags, and to do their utmost to keep their new manager, the man who (in most cases) put their reputation, and someone else’s money, on the line to bring them to the club.
Meanwhile the average human being had little else to do but marvel at the fact that 20 football teams managed to spend £1.4 billion on human beings who happened to be good at kicking a ball around. Us average people get our laughs though, and they very much come at the expense of the £20m men who wilt and fail on the harsh floodlight stage of the Premier League. Sure, some might succeed, but deep down everybody loves to see failure.
Best Signing: Mohamed Salah
With Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané leading the line for a Liverpool side that was leaking goals like a colander full of New Year’s resolutions, it was clear that what Jurgen Klopp needed was another forward. Virgil van Dijk was thus left looking longingly through the windows of Anfield as Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah was drafted in from Roma for £37m.
Salah’s arrival turned out to be highly convenient as the aforementioned Philippe Coutinho flirted with a move to Barcelona for the first few games of the season, as well as nursing a mysterious back injury, and by the time the Brazilian returned the Kop had a new favourite. Liverpool’s new winger has seven goals and two assists through 11 Premier League games, and has added a further four goals in the Champions League. It has been a blistering start for the Egyptian, and it is difficult to argue against him being the signing of the summer.
Worst Signing: Renato Sanches
The winner of the 2016 Golden Boy award hasn’t quite rediscovered the form that helped him to the prestigious award, and that isn’t just disappointing for Swansea, but also for everyone who is a fan of young players succeeding. There was a tremendous amount of hype surrounding Sanches following Portugal’s European Championship win, in which he played a significant role, but the midfielder has been uninspiring in Wales. The Bayern Munich loanee has made just five appearances in the Premier League, all of which have been marred by inconsistency and the lack of a spark that many people were expecting.
Best Value for Money: Pascal Groß
Brighton paid just £2.6m for the talented midfielder, and the German has already rewarded Chris Hughton with two goals and five assists in 11 games. Given that the Seagulls have only scored 11 times, Groß has thus been involved in almost two thirds of the goals that have put them eight in the Premier League table. The former Ingolstadt man is statistically outperforming Henrikh Mkhitaryan in this campaign, despite costing less than one tenth of the price of the Armenian. That’s what I call value for money.
2nd Best Value for Money: Richarlison
Everyone loves a good Brazilian winger, and it’s even better when they emerge as a huge talent playing for a smaller Premier League club like Watford. The Hornets bought Richarlison from Fluminense for £11m and he has already dazzled with a mixture of skill, pace and some quick technical dribbling. We saw the darker side of his game when he earned a controversial penalty against Arsenal with what many people considered to be a dive, but there are a lot of things to be excited about with the winger. His four goals and four assists have helped Watford climb to ninth in the Premier League table, as well as making them the highest scoring team outside of the top six.
Worst Value for Money: Davy Klaassen
Signing players from the Eredivisie can be incredibly hit and miss, and unfortunately for Everton they really missed the mark on Davy Klaassen. The former Ajax midfielder cost the Toffees £23.6m, and it only takes a quick look at the state of Holland’s national team to understand why Klaassen was named Dutch Footballer of the Year in 2016. A 14-goal season in Holland is one thing, but the midfielder has featured just four times so far in the Premier League and is yet to register a goal contribution. Everton spent over £100m in the summer, and so many of their signings have struggled, but Klaassen is perhaps the best example of why the Toffees find themselves in 15th place in the table.
2nd Worst Value for Money: Kelechi Iheanacho
Remember when people thought Iheanacho and Rashford were equally talented? Well the former Manchester City striker decided to move to Leicester and that was the last we heard from him. The Foxes paid £25m for a player who has featured just seven times in the Premier League this season and failed to register a single shot on target. In truth this is a fairly depressing entry to the worst signings category because the 21-year old is clearly talented and it seems that Leicester is not the right place for him to succeed. With the talismanic Jamie Vardy forever ahead of him in the pecking order it will likely be difficult for Iheanacho to ever cement himself as a regular starter.