Premier League Transfer Window
2020 Premier League Transfer Window: The Losers (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

2020 Premier League Transfer Window: The Losers

The Premier League’s truncated transfer window has slammed shut.

We took a look at the winners here, but who didn’t come out of this window with their heads held high?

Ed Woodward

(and by extension Manchester United)

Woodward is now seven years into his job. It still seems that the concept of a professional transfer negotiation escapes him. Without delving into his torrid history of poor player deals (balanced out by an array of ‘Global Partners’), this window has cemented Woodward as perhaps the primary cause of United’s continued malaise.

Front and center is the ridiculous chase for Jadon Sancho. The young England international is a perfect fit for United, though Blind Freddy and his deaf dog could tell you that. Borussia Dortmund – Sancho’s current employer – have made it clear that they want $120 million from United to for their young star.

Sancho is on a long term contract and appears to be perfectly happy in Germany, so Dortmund has precisely zero motivation to lower their price. Yet Woodward continues to try to low-ball them and then gets the English Press Machine whirring to say how close they are to a deal. If you believe what you read in the English papers, this deal has been imminent since the start if August. The shutting of the window finally gives us sweet release from that ridiculous story.

Sancho aside, the team desperately needed cover at center half and holding midfield – they got nothing. Donny van de Beek is undoubtedly a great signing, but putting him into a midfield three of Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes means an attacking square peg will have to fit into a defensive round hole. Right now, Pogba is that unfortunate peg, and it’s not working.

As covered in our Winners column, the addition of Edinson Cavani reeks of a desperation signing. The BIG NAME that Woodward can pose for a photo op, the type that will undoubtedly sell shirts and increase United’s global reach. It’s the sort of signing that reaches for the stars but is more than likely to fall meekly to earth.

This sort of signing is Woodward’s speciality.

Manchester City

Defensive deficiencies scuppered City’s bid to protect their league title, last campaign. The loss of inspirational skipper Vincent Kompany and, even more importantly, the lack of a replacement, left City’s defensive depth shockingly shallow. A knee injury to Aymeric Laporte dealt a fatal blow to City’s season (though thankfully not to Laporte!). With that knowledge in mind, you might have thought that City would have a plan in place to rebuild that defense, in the way that Everton have rebuilt their midfield, or Tottenham has rebuilt their left-hand side.

You would have been wrong.

Though Nathan Ake is not exactly a commanding presence in the heart of the defense, signs have been made. To that end, the late addition of Ruben Dias for $61 million is an expensive gamble. Dias is considered a leader of men, in a similar mold to Kompany. Manager Pep Guardiola must be hoping that the new man can inspire resilience in his defense that is sorely missed.

Ferran Torres is an excellent economic signing, but given City’s strength on the wings, it is probably superfluous.

With legends of the club in Fernandinho and Sergio Aguerooooooooo on their last legs (35 and 32 years old, respectfully), the City faithful will surely be hoping for a better succession plan than they saw with Kompany.

Fulham

The last time Fulham was promoted to the Premier League, their scatter-gun transfer policy quickly and comprehensively sent them back down, with close to the worst points haul in league history.

This promotion was supposed to be different…wasn’t it?

Fulham’s deadline day dealing seems familiar to the disaster of 2018, with plenty of players coming in – including a few big names – but not an awful lot of clear quality, Ruben Loftus-Cheek (loan from Chelsea) aside.

Ademola Lookman, Tosin Adarabioyo, Kenny Tete, Harrison Reed, and Joachim Anderson are all upgrades on what Scott Parker had at his disposal, though none look the type that can drag a team in a relegation battle to safety. Outside of striker Aleksander Mitrovic, keeper Marek Rodak was Fulham’s best player last season, so the loan signing of former PSG shot-stopper Alphonse Areola doesn’t make immediate sense, either.

Oh, and remember in our winner’s column, how was lauded Brighton for somehow getting $10.5 million for Anthony Knockaert? Step forward, Fulham Football Club.

West Brom

Slaven Bilic pulled a rabbit out of the hat in getting an understaffed West Brom team promoted from the Championship. Four of his best six players were loanees, so getting in quality was paramount to West Brom’s survival. They did re-sign all of those loanees to their credit, but that took a reasonable chunk out of a modest transfer kitty. The signings of two excellent wide forwards took the rest.

Grady Diangana and Matheus Pereira are undoubtedly fine players. They’ve already struck quite a chemistry with David Connolly upfront. But without the money to strengthen an already creaky defense, West Brom was likely doomed. They’ve brought in Cedric Kipre for a minimal outlay, and 36year old Branislav Ivanovic on a free, though neither inspire all that much confidence.

Would West Brom have been better served by spreading out their transfer budget a little more evenly? Time will tell.

West Ham

Now that Everton is good again, West Ham is the Premier League’s Perennial Crisis Club.

Whatever can go wrong seems to go wrong in East London. Even when they play well, there’s controversy – their recent league wins were played with manager David Moyes coaching the team from his lounge room (I’m serious!) as he recovers from COVID. You couldn’t script the things that West Ham do.

On the transfer front, West Ham has made substantial moves: Tomas Soucek’s loan was made permanent for $20 million, and he’s been joined by compatriot Vladimir Coufal. The issue is around what didn’t happen.

Despite screaming for reinforcements at the back, the club failed in bids for James Tarkowski, Fikayo Tomori, and Antonio Rudiger. An ill-timed injury or two will leave West Ham painfully thin in defense. Further up the pitch, recent signings like Jarrod Bowen have looked excellent, but that leaves expensively signed wage bill cloggers like Manuel Lanzini, Felipe Anderson, and Andriy Yarmolenko warming the bench, clearly not a part of Moyes’ long term plans. The failure to move those players on was baffling.

Sean Dyche

Poor Sean Dyche. The gravel-voiced worm eater doesn’t deserve this.

He’s worked miracles keeping Burnley not only in the top flight but in and around European places over the past few years. How do his board – admittedly working on a relatively small budget – reward him? They let six first-team members leave the club and signed only a backup keeper in Will Norris, a 31-year-old journeyman midfielder in Dale Stephens, and a 19-year-old in Anthony Gomez Mancini.

Dyche is, without a doubt, the primary reason Burnley made it to the Premier League, survived, and thrived. If he decided enough is enough and walked out, you couldn’t blame him.

And Burnley would be stuffed.