February is upon us and we say good bye to the January transfer market. Clubs from Europe’s top 5 leagues made a total of 533 deals at a cost of £802.8m. These figures don’t include other big spending leagues such as the championship and the Bundesliga 2 which also spend a considerable amount of money. With such high amounts of money flowing around the world, I ask the question: is it an efficient market?
Let’s start with a statement that looks pretty obvious: Liverpool have an awful defense.
While it may look like their bad defense is down to the incompetence of Liverpool’s individual defenders, it’s largely down to the high-pressing system favored by Jurgen Klopp that’s gone awry this season. When the first line of press is broken (which has happened many times this season), the ball gets into dangerous areas because of the vacant spaces left behind. This leads to tricky situations for the Liverpool backline.
There is something about Brazil and great full-backs, isn’t there? Recent World Cup outings of Brazil often featured the greatest full-backs in the world, such as Carlos Alberto, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Maicon, and Dani Alves. They practically redefined the position, making it more attacking-oriented and creative. Even now, the full-back position is ruled by brilliant Brazilians. Marcelo, an aging Dani Alves, Danilo, and Alex Sandro are some well-known full-backs.
This year, Leicester City decided to soldier on with the strategy they used last year that won them the title. They bought players from peripheral or lower leagues, which means I can’t say whether Islam Slimani, their most expensive signing this year, was any good. Incredibly annoying. Anyway, for the players I can evaluate, here are their stats.
At the very end of the 2015-16 season, Roberto Martínez was fired from Everton and was replaced by former Southampton manager Ronald Koeman. Since taking charge, Koeman has been sensible and hasn’t spent too much in the transfer market; Everton ended the transfer window with a positive net spend of €1.4 million. However, some would argue that a positive net spend would have been all that Everton could afford, given they finished in the bottom half for two straight seasons. The fact that all the players Everton bought played in the Premier League last year shows Everton adopted a risk-free approach this summer.
As Summer 2016 was Antonio Conte’s first transfer window as Chelsea manager, I was expecting a huge negative net spend. But Conte was more than happy to let the same team that won the Premier League and crumbled soon afterwards carry on. He did bring in a few players, but not as many as I thought.
The summer of 2016. Premier League clubs spent a colossal £1 billion on transfers. Established players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Luiz, Ilkay Gundogan, and Henrikh Mkhitharyan moved to England. Young stars like Leroy Sané, Gabriel Jesus, and Eric Bailly were also acquired by Premier League clubs. The most expensive transfer yet – Paul Pogba for €105 million – was made by Manchester United.