Premier League clubs: Transfer grades

Posted by Miguel Delaney

ESPN FC writer Miguel Delaney passes judgment on the transfer activity of all the Premier League clubs.

Note: The clubs are ranked in order of whether they've improved or declined relative to their pre-window requirements. Only first-team deals included.

EVERTON

In: Arouna Kone, Joel Robles, Antolin Alcaraz, James McCarthy, Romelu Lukaku (loan), Gerard Deulofeu (loan), Gareth Barry (loan)

Out: Marouane Fellaini, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Jan Mucha, Victor Anichebe, Phil Neville (retired)

Leighton Baines Everton solo
PA PhotosEverton were able to keep hold of Leighton Baines.

The finest window of the lot? Everton held on to one of two high-profile players who seemed set to leave while improving virtually all other areas of the team. Lukaku was a coup, while so many others better suit Roberto Martinez's style.

Grade: B-plus

MANCHESTER CITY

In: Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic, Martin Demichelis

Out: Wayne Bridge, Roque Santa Cruz, Kolo Toure, Carlos Tevez, Maicon, Denis Suarez, Gareth Barry (loan), Scott Sinclair (loan)

Manchester City's new signings Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic and Jesus Navas.
GettyImagesManchester City's new signings Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic and Jesus Navas.

A summer that perhaps represented the calm maturation of the new Manchester City. Rather than any true "stars," City went out and signed players who added variety and vitality -- especially when you consider the movement of Navas and Jovetic. The one issue of concern is perhaps at centre-back, with a Martin Demichelis towards the end of his career perhaps not the primary option.

Grade: B-plus

ASTON VILLA

In: Aleksandar Tonev, Jores Okore, Leandro Bacuna, Nicklas Helenius, Antonio Luna, Jed Steer, Libor Kozak

Out: Richard Dunne, Eric Lichaj, Barry Bannan, Darren Bent (loan), Stephen Ireland (loan), Enda Stevens (loan), Brett Holman

Villa's most vital piece of business came in July and it had nothing to do with buying anyone. It was the decision of Christian Benteke to stay, which was so important it effectively minimised the impact of everything else. Given how emphatically impressive the forward was last season, and how much a young Villa have progressed around him due to Paul Lambert's coaching, it instantly signified progress. The other positive aspect for the side, though, is that they have also made some astute deals, especially in providing Benteke with backup through the likes of Kozak. If there is still a feeling they could have done with a touch more experience, it is a very well-rounded window.

Grade: B-plus

SWANSEA CITY

In: Jose Canas, Jordi Amat, Jonjo Shelvey, Alejandro Pozuelo, Wilfried Bony, Jernade Meade, Alvaro Vazquez, Jonathan De Guzman (loan)

Out: Mark Gower, Alan Tate (loan), Ki Sung-Yueng (loan)

More signs of a club with a defined plan given the way Swansea got virtually all of their main business done early by signing players who fit a type while also improving the side. A continued example to follow for others.

Grade: B

NORWICH CITY

In: Javier Garrido, Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Nathan Redmond, Martin Olsson, Carlo Nash, Leroy Fer, Gary Hooper, Johan Elmander

Out: Marc Tierney, Chris Martin, Elliott Ward, Jed Steer, Grant Holt

One of a few mid-table clubs to make full use of the new broadcasting money by overhauling their squad with notable talent. A previously staid Norwich added a respectable degree of flair and attacking force.

Grade: B

SOUTHAMPTON

In: Dejan Lovren, Victor Wanyama, Pablo Osvaldo

Out: Frazer Richardson, Jason Puncheon (loan)

Southampton increased this concentrated, focused plan to continuously step up with three significant signings -- most notably that of Pablo Osvaldo. Another window of improvement, which also saw them hold on to the likes of Luke Shaw.

Grade: B

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

In: Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Roberto Soldado, Etienne Capoue, Vlad Chiriches, Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela

Out: Gareth Bale, David Bentley, John Bostock, William Gallas, Steven Caulker, Clint Dempsey, Scott Parker, Tom Carroll (loan), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (loan)

Roberto Soldado celebrates after putting Tottenham into the lead.
GettyImagesSpurs' new striker Roberto Soldado scored on his debut.

A lesson, maybe, in how to make the most in the sale of a star. Spurs lost the brilliant Bale, but seem to have given themselves greater variety and vibrancy in terms of tactics and angles of attack while also solving a fair few squad issues -- especially strength in depth. The reason that can’t be said for certain yet is because it remains to be seen how well the players gel and how they evolve. None, after all, are of the “super quality” that Arsene Wenger spoke about, but all suggest quality and improvement.

Grade: B

ARSENAL

In: Mesut Ozil, Mathieu Flamini, Yaya Sanogo, Emiliano Viviano (loan)

Out: Andrey Arshavin, Sebastien Squillaci, Vito Mannone, Andre Santos, Gervinho, Marouane Chamakh, Jernade Meade, Johan Djourou (loan), Francis Coquelin (loan), Ignasi Miquel (loan)

Mesut Ozil has joined Arsenal.
APMesut Ozil has joined Arsenal.

How things change. A year after losing Robin van Persie, the hugely encouraging question for Arsenal is whether they have signed this season’s version. Mesut Ozil is undeniably the biggest star signed by a Premier League club this summer. OK, Arsene Wenger's side may be still some way off a title challenge -- not least because of the fact they failed to bring in a forward or another defender. In that regard, much like United with van Persie, Arsenal did not truly need Ozil. The point, however, is that he is a player of such quality that he instantly lifts the level of the team and the mood around it. If it was not the striker that Wenger so badly needed, the manager was still shrewd enough to realise the importance of leaping on such an opportunity when it presented itself. That is something he has been guilty of not doing in the past. Arsenal clearly still have related issues -- particularly if Olivier Giroud or any more of their primary defenders get injured -- but they now feel less severe.

Grade: B

LIVERPOOL

In: Mamadou Sakho, Tiago Ilori, Luis Alberto, Kolo Toure, Iago Aspas, Simon Mignolet, Victor Moses (loan), Aly Cissokho (loan)

Out: Danny Wilson, Andy Carroll, Jonjo Shelvey, Dani Pacheco, Stewart Downing, Jamie Carragher (retired), Suso (loan), Pepe Reina (loan), Oussama Assaidi (loan), Fabio Borini (loan)

Kolo Toure Liverpool shirt
GettyImagesLiverpool have been busy in the market, including signing Kolo Toure.

A thoroughly respectable window. Liverpool stood firm over Luis Suarez and made steps in the right direction elsewhere. While a slight feeling might remain that they need one or two more signings closer to the Uruguayan's quality, to properly lift them back up to old levels, it is hard to dispute that the overall level of the squad has risen.

Grade: B

CARDIFF CITY

In: Andreas Cornelius, John Brayford, Simon Moore, Steven Caulker, Gary Medel, Kevin Theophile-Catherine, Peter Odemwingie

Out: none

Cardiff did not just bring in the required Premier League quality, but also a fair few more players from higher up the table than promoted teams generally do. Right at the death, too, they seemed to add the greater forward power that they needed in the signing of Peter Odemwingie.

Grade: B-minus

CHELSEA

In: Samuel Eto'o, Andre Schurrle, Marco van Ginkel, Mark Schwarzer, Willian, Christian Atsu

Out: Paulo Ferreira, Hilario, Florent Malouda, Ross Turnbull, Thibaut Courtois (loan), Oriol Romeu (loan), Christian Atsu (loan), Romelu Lukaku (loan)

Willian has signed a five-year contract at Chelsea.
GettyImagesChelsea beat Spurs to the signature of Brazil international Willian.

If Jose Mourinho is the one figure who would have always positively altered the tone of any transfer business, it is also the one player he wanted above all that illustrates there are still a few slight gaps in this squad. The manager was desperate for Wayne Rooney, who would have pinned together a fine attack in a more forceful way than the aged but still adept Samuel Eto'o. The lack of that kind of power also reflects an overall squad that is still somewhat callow, even if Mourinho is the man to maximise what is there.

Grade: B-minus

FULHAM

In: Maarten Stekelenburg, Fernando Amorebieta, Derek Boateng, Adel Taarabt, Scott Parker, Elsad Zverotic, Darren Bent (loan)

Out: Chris Baird, Simon Davies, Mahamadou Diarra, Mladen Petric, Mark Schwarzer

A very "Fulham" summer in which they look set to keep the club safely in mid-table but with a little more excitement than many of the sides around them. While someone like Parker may have been a thoroughly predictable signing for that level, Taarabt keeps that element of creativity and in circumstances that may suit his particular talent much more than QPR. Bent also adds guaranteed goals.

Grade: B-minus

HULL CITY

In: George Boyd, Maynor Figueroa, Curtis Davies, Ahmed Elmohamady, Allan McGregor, Steve Harper, Yannick Sagbo, Tom Huddlestone, Danny Graham (loan), Jake Livermore (loan), Gedo (loan)

Out: Andy Dawson, Danny East, Sonny Bradley, Corry Evans, Tom Cairney (loan)

Not unlike the 2012-13 Championship table itself, Hull were somewhere in between the other two promoted sides in terms of transfers. If they didn't quite add the higher ability of Cardiff, their signings look to have much more clout than Crystal Palace's.

Grade: C-plus

STOKE CITY

In: Erik Pieters, Marc Muniesa, Marko Arnautovic, Stephen Ireland (loan), Oussama Assaidi (loan)

Out: Rory Delap, Carlo Nash, Matthew Upson, Mamady Sidibe, Dean Whitehead, Ryan Shotton (loan), Cameron Jerome (loan) Michael Owen (retired)

The type of players Mark Hughes has brought in signal what will likely be a continued and concerted change in direction, particularly the capture of a Barcelona defender in Marc Muniesa. Stoke have added more nuance across the board, if not exactly anything too noteworthy in terms of ability.

Grade: C-plus

WEST BROM

In: Nicolas Anelka, Diego Lugano, Stephane Sessegnon, Victor Anichebe, Morgan Amalfitano (loan), Goran Popov (loan), Matej Vydra (loan)

Out: Marc-Antoine Fortune, Gonzalo Jara, Jerome Thomas, Peter Odemwingie

Some shrewd signings rather than anything earth-shattering, as West Brom have bolstered across the board. Players like Stephane Sessegnon or Victor Anichebe sum up business that has potential but is far from anything persuasive.

Grade: C-plus

West Ham United

In: Adrian, Razvan Rat, Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing

Out: Carlton Cole, Gary O'Neil

Possibly a more mixed window than anyone else. West Ham made some fine initial early signings only to then leave themselves short in certain positions. Thoroughly mid-table then?

Grade: C

Crystal Palace

In: Jack Hunt, Jimmy Kebe, Adrian Mariappa, Stephen Dobbie, Dwight Gayle, Jose Campana, Elliot Grandin, Neil Alexander, Marouane Chamakh, Jerome Thomas, Barry Bannan, Jason Puncheon (loan), Cameron Jerome (loan)

Out: none

The departure of Wilfried Zaha skews things, since it has taken until the last few days to take the overall quality of the side above the level of that which finished fifth in the championship. Mariappa, Campana and Chamakh do add greater ability in key areas and, if the squad still feels somewhat light, they will put in a weightier challenge in their attempt to stay up.

Grade: C

Sunderland

In: Valentin Roberge, Cabral, Modibo Diakite, Duncan Watmore, David Moberg Karlsson, Vito Mannone, El-Hadji Ba, Jozy Altidore, Emanuele Giaccherini, Andrea Dossena, Ondrej Celustka (loan), Ki Sung-Yueng (loan), Fabio Borini (loan)

Out: Titus Bramble, Matt Kilgallon, Simon Mignolet, Ahmed Elmohamady, Stephane Sessegnon, Alfred N'Diaye (loan), Danny Graham (loan)

A summer that reflected the personality of Sunderland's manager -- curious but also quite extreme. And, much like Paolo Di Canio, it's genuinely difficult to know which way this is going to go. Wholesale changes have been made but, aside from the length of time it will take them to gel, there's the issue of whether many were worth replacing. Of the new arrivals, only Giaccherini, Altidore and Ki really stand out.

Grade: C-minus

Manchester United

In: Marouane Fellaini, Guillermo Varela

Out: Scott Wootton, Paul Scholes (retired), Nick Powell (loan)

Marouane Fellaini
PA PhotosIt took until the eleventh hour, but United finally secured Marouane Fellaini.

This is one we're going to hear a lot more about, which effectively sums it all up. Three key facts sum up what was essentially one of the most important summers in the club's entire history after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. First of all, United badly wanted a marquee name to alter the tone after that seismic event; they got none. Secondly, Moyes was desperate for at least two midfielders to improve an area he was increasingly concerned about; he got one. Finally, even in order to get Fellaini, United had to overpay after a summer of trying to underpay. That further reflects the apparent absence of any kind of clear plan, which also saw the club sway from not just different target to different target, but even different styles of targets. After all that, keeping Wayne Rooney seems even more important and may end up proving their best piece of business. The United team is ultimately still competitive and Fellaini fits into what Moyes wants while also filling a gap. United, though, wanted to do more than fill a gap. They wanted to make a statement and a response. Instead, their image has been damaged and questions about their direction raised. It has been a PR disaster, and one that may have an on-pitch effect.

Grade: D

Newcastle United

In: Loic Remy (loan), Olivier Kemen

Out: Steve Harper, Yven Moyo, Danny Simpson, James Perch, Shane Ferguson

It started with a lot of words and statements in that controversial interview, but ended with utter silence. A club that had earned a lot of respect for their navigation of the French market seemed to almost lose it all with the appointment of one director of football in Joe Kinnear. They at least kept Yohan Cabaye and brought in a striker, but even those came with caveats.

Grade: D-minus

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