We’ve combined the two to bring both our views on what was a Deadline Day that promised so much, but never truly delivered. Here’s James’ views on the deals that went through, and those that didn’t.
Sanchez, Mustafi, Chambers ALL Stay
James: I think Arsenal fans will be pleased to see Alexis stay on for at least another 5 months, but I’m not sure this will help Wenger in his quest to rebuild a title-winning side. Sanchez wanted to leave, and whilst he’s regularly praised for his professionalism, I can’t say I’m convinced we’ll get a 10/10 Sanchez at Arsenal. He’s been irritated for months now, and whatever people say or think, he’s not been at the levels we know he’s capable of. However, if they do get the best out of him, I still believe by retaining Chambers and Mustafi they’ve got a great first XI. People question their character but I think they’ve shown on occasion that the quality is there and so is the heart – Wenger just needs to steady the ship and get the side playing the football we know they’re capable of. Back to Sanchez though – would I have taken the £60m? Not without a good replacement. Would I sell for £20m in January? Yes I would.
Sam: I don’t think Arsenal fans would have been too gutted to see Alexis Sanchez leave if they signed a replacement for him, but it looks like the Gunners weren’t able to find a player of that calibre, so they’ve played it safe and must hope that Alexis is committed enough to the cause to get one more good season out of him. It’ll be hard to do that though, as it’ll be a completely new ball game for Alexis during this campaign, in that he’ll be trying to play well to attract more interest instead of playing for the team, so that could cause some issues. Mustafi apparently wanted to move because he wanted to move his family after the birth of his first daughter, which is understandable, but he must remember that he signed a long-term deal last summer when he arrived in North London and must respect that, especially if Inter Milan couldn’t match Arsenal’s asking price. The uncertainty over Mustafi meant that the Gunners were reluctant to accept a bid for Chambers, hence why he’s stayed. With regards to Arsenal, I’m glad they weren’t pressured into spending £100 million on Deadline Day as their problems lie a lot deeper than that. They have the quality to challenge for the title, but it’s at the training ground where the Gunners will improve overall, not in the transfer market.
Lemar Stays As Liverpool & Arsenal Miss Out
James: I think Thomas Lemar is one of the brightest prospects in world football. Not just because he had ‘one good season’, but because he’s proven to be such an all-rounded talented player. He’s powerful with a huge work ethic to go with the skill and intelligence. He’s adaptable, doing a job in several positions for Monaco and France. I think he’s a quality player and a big club should waste no time in getting him through the door. A year more at Monaco could be the comfort he needs to continue to develop.
Sam: He’s a great talent, and he showed that with his two goals last night for France against the Netherlands, but £92 million? Really? He’s only really come into the spotlight over the last 12 months or so, and maybe one more season at Monaco will help him develop, and give the footballing world a real idea whether he can be a world class player or not. He’s doing all the right things at this present moment in time, but a large price tag would’ve put a lot of pressure on him, and would have also run the risk of him being a one-season-wonder.
Virgil Van Dijk Stays
James: Considering how many teams needed defenders, this is a really strange one for me. I’m sure Lindelof will come good, but van Dijk seemed a perfect fit for Jose Mourinho. Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City all needed defenders this window, but arguably the best one in the Premier League has stayed at Southampton. Maybe that says a lot about how good he really is. In reality, £60m for a defender is perhaps a bridge too far for some clubs who won’t spend big unless they’re getting exciting attacking talents. But, their loss is the Saints’ gain!
Sam: I really couldn’t understand Southampton’s stance on this. They’re acting in the same way a Champions League club would over their star player, when they’re so far from that level. The Saints are a selling club for a reason, and that’s simply because they haven’t progressed enough over the last three of four years to attract the best players. They also slapped a £70 million price tag on him, a price that no club was going to bid, which leaves them with an unhappy and unsettled player who’ll spread negativity all over the place, and could even be demoted to the reserves, which defeats the point of keeping him in the first place.
Riyad Mahrez Stays
James: This one puzzles me the most. Tottenham, Everton and Arsenal needed a player of this calibre. Someone who can drop the shoulder and beat two players, causing defenders havoc. He’s part of a dying breed leaving a void filled by your Eriksen’s, Alli’s, Sanchez’s who have the skill and ability but love to come short too. I think many clubs missed out on what could have been a really top quality addition at a reasonable price. Again, Leicester benefit!
Sam: It’s clear that there’s been a miscommunication here over Mahrez. He wouldn’t have left the Algeria squad ahead of important international matches unless he truly believed he was on the move, so his agent must’ve heard something on the grapevine and now Mahrez and his representatives look a bit silly. He’s a great player, but didn’t do enough last season to warrant a move and prove that he’s better than the rest of the Leicester squad. Like Lemar, maybe one more year for the Foxes under Craig Shakespeare can help him develop into the player that he wants to be.
Drinkwater In, But Barkley Gets Cold Feet
James: I’m not sure about this one from Chelsea. For squad depth I understand, but I don’t see Drinkwater adding much to the XI, having said that I don’t expect him to have problems settling in. Him and Kante know each other and maybe that partnership may blossom again. I think Barkley’s made a big mistake here. We forget these people are human, and making a career decision like that on the last day can be really hard, so I sympathise with Barkley. Having said that, he’s blown a big opportunity and may really regret it. He’s a good talent and many clubs will be back in for him at some point.
Sam: It’s not a coincidence that Chelsea made moves for three English players in the last few days of the transfer window, and that’s because they haven’t got enough home-grown players to meet UEFA’s regulations for the Champions League. Drinkwater and Kanté worked so well two years ago, but is the former better than Bakayoko and Fabregas? Not for me, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he asked for a move away from Stamford Bridge this time next year due to a lack of playing time. I’ve become a bit disappointed with Ross Barkley over the last few months. He made such a fuss with regards to trying to leave Everton and as soon as he’s given the opportunity to leave Goodison Park, he stops the transfer from happening. He’s acting like a spoilt child; he was given his ‘fresh new challenge’ that he so desperately wanted by Antonio Conte, but pulled the plug on the deal for some reason. As for Chelsea, I’m not surprised they failed to sign so many of their targets. It’s obvious that Conte has his preferred system and personnel to fit that system, but players like Llorente and Barkley aren’t stupid; it’s obvious that they were being brought in to be squad players.
Chamberlain Joins The Kop
James: I respect why Chamberlain wanted to move, but I think he may be in for a shock this season. Whilst Liverpool will play a style that suits Chamberlain perfectly, I think he may struggle to come across the sort of game time he’d like. The pressure is high for these managers, which makes it harder to rotate than ever before. Will he get into the midfield three currently occupied by Lallana, Can, Henderson, Coutinho, Wijnaldum? Or can he break into the front three held by Mane, Firmino, Salah, Sturridge or even Coutinho there too? It seems a strange move that will excite him and add real depth to the Liverpool squad, but I’m not sure it will bring him more game-time or real development, especially as Keita is set to join next summer to add to the competition.
Sam: I think the Ox had made a big mistake here. I remember watching him playing for England in a CM role against France in June, and he was awful, as well as completely out of his depth in that position. Furthermore, Liverpool have a midfield combination that works very well at the moment in Wijnaldum, Henderson and Can, so where can he fit in Jurgen Klopp’s team? He may even go further down the pecking order when Naby Keita joins next year. So he won’t play week in week out at Anfield, which begs the question, why didn’t he accept the offer to join Chelsea? He’s a big upgrade on Victor Moses in the right wing back role, and Chelsea are also the champions. I fear he decided to go up north as his Little Mix girlfriend is also from the north of the country, which is a very big risk to take.