The summer transfer window has now officially slammed shut with clubs having finalised their squads until the winter at least, with each Premier League side hopeful their new additions can inspire them to success this season.
After the months of speculation and a rumour mill that has gone into overdrive throughout the summer, its time for results to do the talking as managers hope their recruitment proves to be successful.
We’ve decided to look at five sides who may just feel frustrated following the deadline’s passing, here are the five Premier League clubs who have had the worst summer transfer window:
5. West Bromwich Albion
The three newly-promoted sides often start amongst the favourites for the drop and this summer’s transfer activity is unlikely to alter West Brom’s odds of an instant return to the Championship, the club having done little to improve their promotion-winning squad.
Perhaps sensibly, much of their focus was on securing permanent deals for a host of loanees with Mattheus Pereira, Grady Diangana, Callum Robinson and Filip Krovinovic all returning to The Hawthorns.
Whilst welcome additions, it fails to disguise that this squad is largely the same players who stuttered over the finish line to secure promotion, winning just three of their final 11 Championship fixtures and proceeding to concede a huge 13 goals in just three Premier League games.
There remains huge issues for the Baggies at both ends of the pitch with their defence leaking and a lack of a reliable goalscorer, rumours persisting of a move for Huddersfield forward Karlan Grant before the closure of the domestic window.
The additions of Conor Gallagher on a season-long loan from Chelsea and the veteran Branislav Ivanovic have added some depth to Slaven Bilic’s squad, but there are few who will be viewing West Brom as much more than relegation contenders following their summer spending.
Another side who have opted for minimal activity, Brighton’s recruitment has been quietly conducted a world away from the lavish spending of many Premier League rivals.
The free transfer signing of Adam Lallana from Liverpool was viewed by many as a coup provided the midfielder can overcome the injury problems of recent seasons, whilst Joel Veltman has arrived with pedigree after a trophy-laden spell at Ajax.
The club did invest in the future late in the window with the signings of Polish duo Jakub Moder and Michal Karbownik for a combined £9m, though the pair will remain on loan with Lech Poznan and Legia Warsaw respectively to continue their development.
Brighton’s squad has been trimmed with the departures of players including Dale Stephens, Shane Duffy, Aaron Mooy and Glenn Murray, and it remains to be seen whether Graham Potter can guide the Seagulls away from a relegation dogfight.
Potter’s faith in his current options is admirable and a Brighton side possessing a defence including captain Lewis Dunk and rising stars Tariq Lamptey and Ben White will be confident of progress this season, though the club’s fans will hope their lack of signings does not undo the recent good work at the Amex Stadium.
3. West Ham
A club where the fans’ frustrations have been heard loud and clear in recent months, West Ham’s lack of backing for manager David Moyes has sparked an angry reaction from the Hammers’ faithful.
The club’s ownership had made promises of challenging the Premier League’s top six after moving into the London Stadium, but four years after leaving Upton Park the capital club have failed to progress significantly and seen their identity blurred.
That identity was brought into question following an angry reaction to the sale of Grady Diangana this summer, the promising academy graduate allowed to depart with fans hugely critical of the decision to let one of their own leave.
Diangana’s departure was justified by the hierarchy on the basis his £18m fee would be reinvested into the Hammers’ defence, but reported moves for the likes of James Tarkowski and Wesley Fonfana proved futile.
The only arrivals of the summer were the signings of Tomas Soucek – impressive during a loan spell at the London Stadium last season – and Vladimir Coufal from Slavia Prague, and whilst the early indications are that both are sensible acquisitions it is less than expected for a side who flirted with relegation last season.
Decisions to release Jack Wilshere and loan out Felipe Anderson – expected to complete a move to Porto – were bizarrely left late in the window despite neither featuring in Moyes’ plans, and fans will be frustrated that the manager was unable to splash the cash given his sensible recent recruitment.
Rumours persist that West Ham could look to the domestic market as they finally look to add a new centre-back, though it is unlikely that late second tier shopping will appease their disgruntled supporters.
2. Manchester United
It’s proven yet another summer of frustration and failings for Manchester United and their much-maligned managerial structure, a flurry of deadline day activity failing to paper over the cracks of a stuttering summer in the transfer market.
After guiding the club into the top four and securing Champions League qualification, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke of how the financial strength of his side could ‘exploit’ a pandemic-impacted market as the Red Devils sought to close the gap to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City.
Oh, how he was wrong.
The transfer window was largely spent fluttering their eyelashes in the direction of Jadon Sancho, all whilst forgetting that the simplest way to secure the winger was to actually meet Borussia Dortmund’s well-documented demands.
United’s decision to maintain their interest despite an obvious refusal to meet either Sancho’s valuation or Dortmund’s deadline for a deal was both arrogant and naive, their lack of conviction in securing his signing resulting in a summer-long saga that only ended in embarrassment for Ed Woodward and company.
It means the window has now closed without a long-term solution to their problem position on the right-wing, whilst their failure to capture Sancho – despite a clean run at the England international – is likely to prove costly with Europe’s leading clubs set to provide competition for his services next summer.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 6, 2020
Donny van de Beek’s arrival adds quality but perhaps in an area that was down the list of priorities, the Netherlands international having failed to start any of the club’s three league fixtures to date and facing competition for a first-team place from the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba.
The fans’ frustrations at seeing rivals strengthen significantly is more than justified, with a deadline day splurge looking more like desperation than any form of calculated recruitment.
Alex Telles and an ageing Edinson Cavani arrive with pedigree, though it is difficult to envisage either were high on the club’s list of priorities given their late arrivals, the latter having been a free agent throughout the summer after leaving Paris Saint-Germain.
Much of the club’s problems in the market has also centred around an inability to shift players deemed surplus to requirements, the extraordinary wages previously handed to out-of-favour players such as Phil Jones, Jesse Lingard and Marcos Rojo making each difficult to offload.
A humiliating start to the season and underwhelming summer of recruitment for the Red Devils, who will need results to turn quickly if they are to avoid a toxic atmosphere increasing around Old Trafford.
Burnley have continued to punch above their weight for several seasons with manager Sean Dyche having worked on a comparatively shoe-string budget to many of his Premier League contemporaries, though there are many who feel the coming campaign could see a lack of investment finally catch up with the Clarets.
Burnley head into the season with a perilously thin squad that could be exposed should they suffer a succession of injuries, their depth depleted by the losses of experienced professionals in Jeff Hendrick, Joe Hart, Aaron Lennon and Ben Gibson.
The club’s only first-team acquisitions are the £1m signing of a 31-year-old Dale Stephens from Brighton and squad goalkeeper Will Norris, far from inspiring purchases given the investment across the rest of the division.
Keeping James Tarkowski out of the clutches of Leicester and West Ham was arguably Burnley’s best business but it is difficult to look beyond a season of struggle at Turf Moor, three consecutive defeats to open the season only increasing the concern.
Dyche has previously looked to the Championship for talent and recruited well with signings such Ashley Westwood and Chris Wood, and the domestic market could yet offer a second chance to bolster his squad.
Premier League clubs can sign players from EFL sides until October 16, but it remains to be seen whether he will be handed any funds.
Burnley have worked tirelessly to become an established Premier League club over the past four seasons and look in serious danger of missing an opportunity to move forward once more.