Before we get to the business at hand — discussing which three Premier League clubs must spend money in a wild and irresponsible manner during tomorrow’s transfer deadline day proceedings — let’s take a moment to discuss how ludicrous it is that “Christmas Eve shopping” is still a modern-day practice.
[ MORE: All of the latest transfer news ]
In terms of running a football club, we’re talking about billions of dollars at play. Not hoping you’ll get lucky and snag the last Turbo Man action figure to give to your kid the next morning. Billions — with a B — of dollars. If I’m the chairman of a club — say, Everton — and another club — say, Chelsea — wants to buy one of my most-prized possessions — say, a center back named John Stones — there’s no way I’m giving the buying club any sort of cut-rate price just because the transfer window is winding down.
Not only do you have little or no time to reinvest that incoming cash, but an entire preseason of preparation and planning is thrown out the window with four months still to pass before you can do a thing about it.
[ JPW’S PL Playback: It’s time to change the rules of the transfer window ]
With that being said, the cash will be flowing once again tomorrow. Here’s a fair guess at who could be writing most of the checks:
Disclaimer: It was quite difficult to pick a third team that needs to make waves on transfer deadline day, so I ended up with Sunderland. You might look at their transfer activity this summer and think, “They’ve already net spent $24 million,” which yes, is true. But let’s examine the manner in which they did so.
Fabio Borini for $15 million — risky; Jeremain Lens for $12 million — completely unproven in a major European league; Younes Kaboul for $4.5 million — he’ll be out for three months soon enough; Sebastian Coates for $3 million — never played more than 10 games in a Premier League season; Adam Matthews for $3 million — this ain’t the Scottish Premiership.
What I’m saying is, Sunderland finished last season in 16th place, just three points clear of relegation — and that only happened after another “great escape” in the season’s final weeks. There’s still work to be done for Dick Advocaat’s side, which currently sits bottom of the league with 10 goals conceded through four games, or they’ll be praying for yet another miracle.
[ DONE DEALS: Recapping Man United (and others’) very busy Monday ]
2. Aston Villa
In short, I don’t believe Tim Sherwood has been given enough free reign to spend like the second coming of Harry Redknapp that we all know he is. I need from him a net spend greater than $9 million in his first transfer window as a permanent first-team manager. But more importantly, he needs players capable of keeping the Villans in the Premier League.
Let’s have a look at the backline Sherwood trotted out in their most recent league game, a 2-2 draw with Sunderland: Jordan Amavi (21 years old), Ciaran Clark, Micah Richards and Alan Hutton. That’s a defensive unit capable of resigning even the league’s most prolific of attacks — which they don’t have — to a bottom-third finish, as evidenced in that very game.
Let’s count all the areas in which Arsene Wenger should have been strengthening his squad in the 99 days since last season ended: 1) defensive midfield — are we to assume Francis Coquelin can play 38 games without incident? 2) another central midfielder — Jack Wilshere has already missed the season’s first four games; 3) center forward — Olivier Giroud and…who?
If the goal is, as the Gunners said again and again all summer long, to challenge for the title, they don’t just need players to fill those positions. They need genuinely world-class players to do so — the kind of players you don’t acquire in a last-minute deal at a cut-rate price, both of which being characteristics on which Wenger seems intent. Outside of Petr Cech, not a single signing will play a meaningful part in Arsenal’s 2015-16 season.
Not a single one of Karim Benzema, Edinson Cavani or Zlatan Ibrahimovic — all players “linked” to the Gunners this summer — are walking through that door on Tuesday.