Manchester City and Everton blink first as Premier League spending starts early
This summer promises to be one of the most intriguing in recent years, with every Premier League team likely to splash the cash in an effort to strengthen their chances of success ahead of the 2017/2018 season. There is every chance that the staggering £1.1 billion spent last year across the board will be eclipsed, with ever-increasing television revenue just one of a number of factors behind why every club will be armed with a huge transfer budget. Thirteen clubs broke their transfer record in 2016, and given that Everton and newly-promoted Brighton have already smashed theirs, it certainly provides an indication that every Premier League club will look to spend big. The big guns are likely to pay whatever it takes to prevent Chelsea, who were hugely impressive under Antonio Conte as they ran out deserved champions, from establishing a dominant hold at the Premier League summit. Meanwhile, the others will try to enhance their chances of competing for a top half finish or avoiding relegation.
It is perhaps unsurprising that Manchester City have been installed as the 2017/2018 title favourite after Pep Guardiola made his intentions perfectly clear by starting a major shake-up of his squad that could go on throughout the summer. Enduring the first trophy-less season of his managerial career will only make the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager hungrier and more determined to succeed. He may have found English football a much tougher nut to crack than many first predicted, but Guardiola now knows what he needs to do. It is believed that Sheikh Mansour has given the green light for his manager to utilise a remarkable £300 million summer transfer budget however he see fit , and Guardiola has wasted no time in flexing the financial muscle available to him. Spending nearly £80 million on hugely talented 22-year-old midfielder Bernardo Silva and 23-year-old goalkeeper Ederson is a clear indication that Manchester City are more than willing to put their faith on young players with a great future in the game. The latter became the most expensive goalkeeper in world football after arriving from Benfica for £34.7 million, with Ederson likely to put Claudio Bravo under considerable pressure next season.
They are not the only Premier League club to have splashed the cash, with Everton also making big moves in the transfer market that certainly improve their chances of competing for a top four finish next season. Ronald Koeman has wasted no time in improving his squad by not only signing talented Dutchman Davy Klaassen from Ajax for £23.6 million, but also forking out £30 million to bring 23-year-old Jordan Pickford in from Sunderland. They are also poised to sign Malaga striker Sandro Ramirez in a bargain £5.2 million deal that will undoubtedly provide Everton with more fire-power upfront, but Koeman may not be done there. Gylfi Sigurdsson, Calum Chambers and Michael Keane have all been strongly linked with a move to Goodison Park, with all three standing out as excellent acquisitions if Everton were to bring them in. This, along with keeping Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku at the club, would be a sign that Everton mean business and have big aspirations to move up to the next level.
Other Premier League clubs have yet to show the same level of ambition and intent as Manchester City and Everton have, but there is plenty of time for all that to change. Manchester United have already made one signing in Swedish defender Victor Lindelof from Benfica for £30.7 million, with the spending unlikely to stop there. Growing rumours that Cristiano Ronaldo could be on his way back to Old Trafford stands out as the best piece of business that Jose Mourinho could pull off in order to enhance their title chances.
At the other end of the scale where clubs cannot afford to get it wrong in the transfer market, top flight newcomers Brighton and Newcastle have both been busy. The former have brought in Pascal Gross and Mathew Ryan (the latter arriving for £5.1 million, breaking their previous transfer record fee), while the latter have turned Christian Atsu’s loan deal from Chelsea into a permanent one. Huddersfield are also reported on the verge of signing last season’s loan star Aaron Mooy on a permanent basis from Manchester City, with David Wagner once again proving he is a shrewd operator in the transfer market. It may enable the Terriers to surprise many next season and survive against expectations in the Premier League.