Two weeks ago it was all about Manchester clubs breaking records. Paul Pogba became the most expensive player in football history and John Stones became the costliest defender in British football. Those and the rest of the stories pale in comparison to the fact that Arsène Wenger is about to spend some fackin' money. Transfer Deadline Day (TDD henceforth in this column) is less than a week away, but before then, let's take a cursory glance at what transfers and rumours have contributed to this summer's football fever.
66-Year-Old Man Spends Money.
Arsène Wenger has been the subject of countless questions, fan video inquests from ArsenalFan TV where fans lose their minds or beg Wenger to sign players, and lots of jokes along with plenty of memes. The man can't catch a break. He's one of the few managers who sees this transfer window for what it really is: bloody unbelievable! Players are far too expensive and overvalued. It's madness! Nearly £50 million for John Stones? Why? A world record fee for Paul Pogba? To play in a double pivot with occasional moonlighting in attacking midfield? Sacre bleu!
When Wenger is in negotiations for a world-class player but spots another player for half the price. pic.twitter.com/1nj7asq8N8— Mike Sanz (@mikesanz19) August 25, 2016
Le Professeur is right that transfer fees are really beginning to push reason, but in an inflated transfer market as one of the richest clubs in world football, Arsenal are going to have to spend a little more than he'd like. Alexandre Lacazette won't be coming but Lucas Pérez will. So will Shkodran Mustafi. The pair are set to join Wenger at Arsenal in what could be his last season in North London. Or not. It's up to him really. Guillem Balague thinks Pérez should be considered as "a top signing" based on the 17 goals he scored in La Liga last season. It's clear that Jamie Vardy and Lacazette fit a profile of possessing pace to run in behind that the dashing Olivier Giroud lacked.
As for Mustafi, he will ensure that Arsenal have at least two senior centre backs with experience fit for the months ahead. That's based on the assumption that no injuries will strike the either Mustafi or Laurent Koscielny. Per Mertesacker is out for quite some time with a knee injury, Gabriel Paulista's ankle injury will rule him out until October, and Arsenal needed further depth and quality in the position anyway. Rob Holding has acquitted himself well in Arsenal's opening two games, and although a victory has proven to be elusive, Holding looks promising.
Wenger described it as a "strange and difficult" transfer window. After the deadline has passed, will he have done enough?
Quit Playing Games with My Heart.
Sometimes we all wish we could turn back time, impossible as it may seem. Pep Guardiola wants a new and fresh start away from goalkeeper Joe Hart. Enter Barcelona's Claudio Bravo, whose arrival means that England's number one must go. Deep within his heart, it must feel that nothing is like it used to be. While Guardiola has been respectful and given Hart a send-off in the second leg of Manchester City's Champions League qualifier, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coaching guru was simply willing to sacrifice one player for the sake of his philosophy. We've seen it all before and it happens all the time. Simply put, Pep wants paradise and Hart isn't part of that.
Bravo may be 33 years old, but Manchester City had to part with £15.4 million with another £1.7 million in add-ons to secure him. Barcelona's first-choice goalkeeper for La Liga games for the last two seasons is now at Manchester City. It's quite impressive, but we are witnessing the effect of having the game's most high-profile and respected coach. Barcelona weren't looking to sell Bravo and were happy with him. For Marc-André ter Stegen, though, this is excellent news. No longer will he be a glorified cup goalkeeper, and at 24, his time as undisputed first-choice goalkeeper has come.
Jasper Cillessen was brought in from Ajax for £11.1 million to challenge Ter Stegen in a good bit of transfer business. The German international returned to training on Wednesday after a knee ligament injury that has ruled him out of Barcelona's competitive games so far this season. It's uncertain as to whether the 24-year-old is ready to start this weekend. What about Hart? Almost pulled a Pep and forgot about him. If he wants to stay in England, he probably should go to Everton. The problem is that Ronald Koeman said that his club had no interest in the player. Time's running out for Hart to find where his home is with options thin on the ground if he wants to remain in England.
Taking Back Control.
No European deals here unless they're linked to Premier League deals, sorry. Expect some focus on Europe after we've had our weekend of football in the most expensive league in the world that's in England. Not France. Not Germany. Not Spain. Come back on Monday folks for European deals. We still love you Europe, really.
Adnan Januzaj, reported Raheem Sterling usurper, has moved to Sunderland on loan. Remember Fabio and Rafael?The Brazilian fullback twins that were hot prospects at Manchester United? They're now 26. Holy tempus fugit! Fabio has gone to Middlesbrough from Cardiff City for his release clause of around £2 million. Bertrand Traoré shut the door on a potential destination for Mario Balotelli after joining Ajax on loan.
Yannick Bolasie will be hoping to roast Dejan Lovren in a Merseyside derby after moving to Everton in a deal that could rise to £30 million! Marc Wilson has left Stoke City for AFC Bournemouth for a snip at £2 million, a fee that feels like the transfer equivalent of a packet of crisps. Wilson and Bolasie might be nifty choices for discerning Fantasy Premier League bargain hunters. That's all the FPL advice this column is going to bestow upon would-be rivals.
Burnley, conquerors of Liverpool, let central midfielder David Jones join Sheffield Wednesday and replaced him with Steven Defour. Defour was a Football Manager titan a few years back and is a classy player. It's a good move for the promoted side that will add more quality, experience, and composure to Sean Dyche's midfield. Defour cost a club-record £8 million and should be one to watch.
Mile Jedinak is a favourite of this column and a super solid campaigner. Alan Pardew wasn't dancing around when he stripped Jedinak of the captaincy to push the Australian international out of the club. Aston Villa will benefit greatly from Jedinak's presence. A three-year deal for a 32-year-old may seem too generous for the shrewd observers among us, but one should not forget that people who are prepared to muck in often help clean up messes quicker than usual.
Sunderland manager David Moyes surprised not a single soul when he signed Steven Pienaar on a free transfer on a one-year deal. The 34-year-old might create a fruitful partnership down the left with Patrick van Aanholt as he once did with Leighton Baines at Everton. Well, that's what Moyes was dreaming of when he took over at Sunderland.
Remaining in the North-East, two Dutch Newcastle United players have joined Eredivisie clubs on loan. The injury-stricken Siem De Jong has joined PSV Eindhoven on loan to find goals and form, presumably. Tim Krul extended his contract by a season to 2018 before joining Ajax on loan in what's a clever move by Newcastle to secure a transfer fee next summer.
Watford FC made like Will Smith and got jiggy with it by making quite a bit of a statement. No, not poaching Younes Kaboul for £3 million from Sunderland. Neither was it picking up Daryl Janmaat from Newcastle for £7.5 million. Roberto Pereya joined from Juventus for an undisclosed fee that is believed to be around the £15 million mark! The Argentinian international has a bit of the va va voom about him and could be a huge crowd favourite. The question is how will Walter Mazzarri use him? All three will hope to start against Arsenal this weekend.
The promising Nabil Bentaleb fell on the wrong side of Mauricio Pochettino, an extremely bad idea given that the Tottenham manager is famed for frowning upon any sign of foul eggery. Bentaleb is now a Schalke 04 player for the season and will ply his trade in the Bundesliga for 2016/17. One for USA fans! DeAndre Yedlin will receive now tactical instruction from Rafa after making the move to Newcastle from Spurs for £7.5 million. That Janmaat money seems to have been recycled well.
Javier Manquillo will receive David Moyes support and fine Spanish pronunciation after moving to Sunderland on loan from Atlético Madrid. Hopefully he does well enough for Liverpool fans to moan about letting him go, not that Liverpool fans like to moan or anything like that. Ahem. Hull City have put in bids for midfield Ryan Mason (probably a very satisfactory fee for Spurs) and goalkeeper David Marshall (£5 million). Another couple of transfers for keen FPL scouts.
Remember the godly Ragnar Sigurðsson from Euro 2016? Of course you do, pathetic worms. He has graced Fulham with his very existence on a two-year contract. May he continue to vanquish attacks and confound defences as he did against England. That is all. Dismissed.
Will Simone Zaza really join a side that lost to an Astra in Europe two seasons in a row? Will Thierry Henry explain how he plans to help a talented Belgium squad become a force in international football? Will Joe Hart actually join Sunderland as job vacancies are thin at this time of year? Will the electric Sofiane Boufal become a Southampton player for a club record fee? Until Monday.