Talking Soccer: Two teams stand above the rest in the Premier League

France's Paul Pogba, right, heads the ball with Belarus' Ivan Maevski during their World Cup Group A qualifying match between France and Belarus at the Borisov-Arena stadium in Borisov, Belarus, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. (Sergei Grits/AP)

The summer transfer window for the top European soccer leagues just closed at the start of September and many teams made key additions through expensive transfers, while others offloaded wasted talent to lower leagues. Looking at all the big signings of this summer, it is hard to pinpoint the team that made the best moves and had the most successful offseason.

In the Premier League, two teams stand above the rest in terms of big cash spent on star players. Manchester United and Manchester City both replaced their past manager with incredibly experienced and commanding names in the soccer world, namely Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. With huge names like that, the two teams have opened the checkbook for the new managers to spend on any players they want to make their systems work.

For Manchester United, the names of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have come to grace the squad at Old Trafford. After obtaining Ibrahimovic on a free transfer early in the window, United showed it wasn’t afraid to drop a buck on world-class players. Targeting one of the most talked-about and skilled players coming up in the world right now only seemed fitting for the massive club and Mourinho, as the club dropped a reported 89 million pounds to bring in French international Paul Pogba. Spending 32 million euros for centerback Eric Bailly and 42 million for Borussia Dortmund winger Mkhitaryan, further showed the club was ready to take the next steps to be in the title race.

On the other side of Manchester, Guardiola has worked to mold the team to his system, ridding the team of dead weight while also beefing up his squad. Increasing the attacking power to supplement Kun Aguero, wingers Nolito and Leroy Sane were brought in to allow additional options in the periods that the top striker is not fit, a common occurrence in past seasons. Ilkay Gundogan is a prime addition to City’s already impressive midfield and, after adding John Stones and Bravo at the back, the team has shown it is incredibly well-prepared defensively.

Across Europe, one other team showed its hand to increase its squad for the upcoming season. Although Juventus already looked like a top team in international competition, they have managed to add impressive players to strengthen their team. Dani Alves, leaving Barcelona to join Juventus on a free transfer, would have been their most notable signing had they not made huge moves elsewhere. Going after Gonzalo Higuain and actually succeeding in getting him to leave Napoli is a feat that shows they are not afraid to go after the talent they want and need, also showing they are hungry for European silverware. With the addition of Miralem Pjanic from Roma, it is easy to say they have one of the most impressive resumes in the transfer window.

Aside from big spending, Southampton continued to show its impressive track record of making profits on developed players, making a net gain of 20.4 million pounds over the course of the window. The club managed to sell Sadio Mane for over 40 million euros to Liverpool and offloaded Graziano Pelle to the Chinese league for another 10 million euro, allowing them to make key additions for cheap from other leagues. Examples of foreign additions include Sofiana Boufal, coming from Lille, for approximately 18 million euros and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, from Bayern, for about 15 million euros.

This was talking soccer.


Joe Burns is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via joseph.burns@uconn.edu.