Transfer deadline day: Premier League round-up
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Premier League clubs reportedly spent over £1.2billion on transfers during the summer transfer window, defying predictions for a quiet period of business following the coronavirus pandemic. Manchester City topped the pile with the most expensive signing of all, breaking their transfer record to bring in £100m winger Jack Grealish from Aston Villa.
There were clubs who were more frugal with their pursestrings, with Newcastle making just one signing — Joe Willock from Arsenal for £25m — despite Steve Bruce’s calls to improve the squad.
The reality is that for clubs with lower incomes and the threat of relegation from the Premier League hanging over them, big-spending transfer windows are a huge risk.
Fulham found that out the hard way, plunging back down to the Championship in 2018-19 despite shelling out £100m.
Managers, perhaps now more than ever, are tasked with finding cheap signings to improve their squad — and nothing says “bargain” quite like a free transfer, especially when they can be registered outside of the window.
Express Sport picks out five free agents who could be snapped up by Premier League clubs in the coming weeks…
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It was a real surprise that Tottenham decided to cut ties with Serge Aurier four years after signing the full-back for £23m.
The Ivorian had made a number of high-profile mistakes in his career at Spurs but was still adequate as a squad member and had 110 appearances under his belt.
But with a year left on his contract and Aurier refusing to extend his deal beyond 2022, it was decided it was in the best interests of both parties to tear up the remaining 10 months of his deal.
It gives the 28-year-old some freedom to pick his new club and collect a lucrative wage in the process as there is no transfer fee involved.
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There would certainly be a number of top-flight clubs who would consider taking on Aurier, with Newcastle’s short numbers in defence making the Magpies likely candidates to make an offer.
But it remains to be seen whether the right-back would stay in England as opposed to moving back to France to be closer to his family, following the tragic death of his brother last year.
Rewind back to 2011 and there were a queue of clubs vying to sign Javier Pastore after emerging as a star for tomorrow at Palermo.
Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City had all been keen to sign the Argentinian playmaker, but he eventually chose a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
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After seven seasons in Paris and another three at Roma, Pastore is now looking for his next club at the age of 32 with very few offers to choose from.
He once turned down a move to Liverpool back in 2018 when the Reds sold Philippe Coutinho. But now, approaching the last few years of his career, Pastore may think twice about rejecting advances from interested parties.
It is not out of the question that Leeds United could be one of the clubs who decides to move for Pastore due to the positive standing Marcelo Bielsa has in the eyes of the Argentinian midfielder.
Watford also have a large Latin American contingent in their squad and may fancy giving a short-term deal to the player capped 29 times by Argentina.
It seems like a match made in heaven. West Ham need a striker to back up Michail Antonio due to his injury history and failed to sign one during the transfer window.
Sturridge, without a club since leaving Turkish outfit Trabzonspor in 2019-20, is desperate for a chance to prove himself after for serving a four-month ban for breaching The FA’s betting rules.
The 32-year-old is a proven goalscorer with 68 goals in the top flight and has shown his attacking prowess for Chelsea and Liverpool before. What’s more, the striker believes he has “unfinished business” with the Premier League following his controversial suspension.
“We have options around the world but I’m an English player and I’ve always loved playing in the Premier League,” he told Sky Sports in December 2020.
“I believe I’ve got a lot to give to the Premier League and I would say that’s my first choice. I do feel I have unfinished business so I would like to go back and play there.”
Jurgen Klopp would have been cursing his luck at not being able to sign a centre-back of Nkoulou’s experience last year in the midst of his defensive injury crisis.
The Cameroon international is searching for a new club after failing to agree terms on a new deal with the Serie A outfit.
His CV is impressive, having played in Ligue 1 for Marseille, Monaco and Lyon before joining Torino in 2017.
The 31-year-old was released at the end of last season despite making 135 appearances for the Italian outfit across four seasons.
Given Arsenal’s inability to keep the goals out, shipping nine in their last three games, it would not be unwise for Mikel Arteta to give serious consideration to an experienced head like Nkoulou.
The Spaniard may have to move quickly, however, after Leeds were linked with the defender back in May when he was under contract according to a report from Tuttomercatoweb.
For one reason or another, it did not work out for Nabil Bentley during his brief loan stint at Newcastle United in January 2020.
The Algerian made his return to the Premier League after leaving troubled German outfit Schalke, who were relegated to the second tier last season, but failed to impress in his 15 appearances for the Magpies.
He has since become a free agent and, while he did not earn a permanent deal on that occasion, he is only 26 and has room to improve.
Bentaleb was reportedly close to a move to Italian side Genoa earlier in the summer but the move failed to get off the ground.
The Sun reported that Burnley were also linked with the box-to-box midfielder in April and Sean Dyche could be tempted to recruit him on a short-term as he looks to strengthen his squad.
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