Nathan Ake

Premier League transfer grades

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The summer transfer window is over. All of the deals are done. Premier League squads are now set until January.

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Wow. That was fun. Given all of the records broken, all of the big names arriving, leaving or staying in the Premier League, which club did the best business this summer?

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Below we dish out grades to all 20 Premier League teams based on their ins and outs.


Arsenal: B+

A very decent window for the Gunners, who added two key defenders in the final hour. Kieran Tierney David Luiz arrived and all of a sudden this looks like a more balanced squad. Nicolas Pepe arrived in a club record-deal to spice up their attack, plus Dani Ceballos oozes quality in midfield. Losing Laurent Koscielny was a blow, but Luiz is better than their current central defenders even if he takes a few risks on the ball. Overall, Unai Emery‘s squad is stronger than they were 12 months ago.


Aston Villa: B+
Where do we start with Villa!? 12 new signings this summer from the newly-promoted team, who are one of the big spenders with over $180 million spent on transfer fees alone. Tom Heaton, Wesley, Trezeguet, Jota and Tyrone Mings all look like being very important signings, and Villa have a very strong squad. Will it be enough to keep them up? We are about to find out. Villa get an A for ambition, but a B+ right now because it is so tough to predict how bringing in so many players at the same time will work out. Ahem, Fulham…


Bournemouth: C
The Cherries did a few pieces of decent business with Harry Wilson arriving on loan, plus Jack Stacey, Lloyd Kelly and Arnaut Danjuma all coming in to strengthen their squad. Bournemouth kept hold of Nathan Ake, Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson, which is huge, but maybe they needed a few more experienced defenders to improve their goals against column.


Brighton & Hove Albion: C+
Graham Potter has been given money to spend and he’s strengthened Brighton’s attacking unit. Trossard arrived from Genk and Neal Maupay from Brentford in club-record deals, but will they settle in quickly in the Premier League? It looks a big gamble for Brighton. Losing Anthony Knockaert was a strange one, but they did keep hold of Lewis Dunk. A decent window for a side who struggled massively in the second half of last season, and needed a little more in midfield and attack. They’ve got that.


Burnley: D
Danny Drinkwater‘s arrival on deadline day was the biggest move for the Clarets, as Sean Dyche‘s side once again kept their wallets in their pockets. Jay Rodriguez arrived from West Brom and the hometown hero will be tasked with scoring goals, but overall it was an underwhelming window for Burnley. After their relegation scrap last season, many would have called for bigger changes. They did keep James Tarkowski though.


Chelsea: C-

Well, we can’t judge Chelsea on incomings due to their transfer ban, but Christian Pulisic did arrive after his loan spell at Dortmund and he looks like a star in the making. Matteo Kovacic is now a permanent Chelsea player too, while the big arrivals for Frank Lampard have been those coming back from loan deals. Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori will all be important players this summer. Losing Eden Hazard was a hammer blow, while the loss of Luiz should not be understated either. As expected, not the best window for the Blues.


Crystal Palace: D
Losing Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Man United was far from ideal, and even though Wilfried Zaha remains at Selhurst Park, is he happy enough to put on a show each week and push the Eagles up the league? Zaha looked set to join Arsenal, Everton, Napoli and others this summer, but the move just didn’t happen. Palace’s asking price of close to $100 million didn’t help out Zaha, and now they have to deal with him not being happy about having to stay in south London. This will be tricky for Roy Hodgson to handle.


Everton: B+
A very good window for the Toffees, led by the acquisition of rising star Moise Kean from Juventus. The deadline day capture of Alex Iwobi is also a very smart buy and they now have so many attacking options behind Kean. Sidibe gives them extra cover at center back, while Andre Gomes is a star in midfield and it was key to make his loan move from Barcelona permanent. Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Fabian Delph are shrewd signings to plug the gap left by Idrissa Gueye and Marco Silva has all the tools to lead this team to a top six finish. Very very decent.


Leicester City: B
Yes, they lost Harry Maguire, but they did so on their own terms and got close to $100 million for him. Adding Youri Tielemans was a must after his superb spell on loan from Monaco in the second half of last season. The Belgian midfielder oozes class and was worth breaking their transfer record for. Ayoze Perez will be a great understudy to Jamie Vardy up top and although it would have been nice to add another center back to replace Maguire, it was a smart move to not pay over the odds for James Tarkowski or Lewis Dunk. Dennis Praet’s arrival on deadline day strengthens their midfield further and this young, exciting team will push for the top six. Brendan Rodgers will be content with this summer. Nothing more. Nothing less.


Liverpool: C

Just $6 million spent by Jurgen Klopp on two youngsters, and the German coach is very comfortable with that. With Rhian Brewster, Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returning from injury and Divock Origi back in the frame, they have options outside of their best starting lineup. That said, is this Liverpool squad deep enough for a PL and Champions League push? If they suffer a few injuries to attacking players, you would be right to worry about Liverpool’s staying power. Having got Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno, Simon Mignolet and Danny Ings off the wage bill, maybe Liverpool will spend money in January. This is a bit of a gamble for the reigning European champions.


Manchester City: B

Joao Cancelo and Rodri give Man City cover in two key areas, right back and central midfield. Rodri is the long-term replacement for Fernandinho in the hooding midfield role and it will take him a little while to get used to the pace of the Premier League. Elsewhere they tried to sign Maguire but didn’t want to pay what Man United did, so there is a sizeable gap at center back after legend Vincent Kompany departed over the summer.


Manchester United: B+
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted young, quick, hungry players this summer and he got them. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire arrived for huge fees and Daniel James looks a huge talent out wide. Paul Pogba has remained at United, for now, and Romelu Lukaku departed for $90 million to balance the books. United’s back four of Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire and Shaw is very solid, but they are still a little tough to figure out in midfield. Going forward they are now led by Rashford, James and Mason Greenwood should emerge. All in all, a very positive window. Linked with approximately 8,992 players over the summer, the three they did sign are all quality additions.


Newcastle United: C
After losing Ayoze Perez and failing to sign Salomon Rondon permanently, the start of the window wasn’t looking great for the Magpies. Add in the fact that Rafael Benitez walked out as a manager and journeyman boss Steve Bruce replaced him, and there was almost a riot in Newcastle as much-maligned owner Mike Ashley once again failed to sell the club. There were the additions of Joelinton, Andy Carroll and Allan Saint-Maximin to boost their attacking options but Newcastle’s fans won’t be overjoyed with this summer.


Norwich City: D
Daniel Farke has kept faith in the team which got the Canaries promoted last season as the champions of the Championship spent very little. Teemu Pukki is their main threat up top, and it will stay that way, while they kept hold of young full back Max Aarons. Norwich’s squad is really interesting but they probably should have showed a little more ambition this summer. That said, we’ve seen newly-promoted teams spend big and fail to integrate all of their new signings successfully, so it is a fine line.


Sheffield United: C+
Ollie McBurnie and Lys Mousset arrived in club-record deals as Chris Wilder kept his defensive unit together but strengthened the attack. Bringing Dean Henderson back in on loan from Manchester United was brilliant business and the Blades have gone right in the middle of fellow new boys Villa and Norwich. Villa have spent big, Norwich have spent nothing and Sheffield United have spent a little on some young, quality lower-tier players.


Southampton: C+
Saints needed to strengthen their defense and they look to have done that right at the end of the window with the addition of Kevin Danso. That was much needed for Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side. In attack they upgraded the team massively with Moussa Djenepo and Che Adams arriving for big money, so they look like they will be more dangerous. Moving on players has been tough but they managed to sell Charlie Austin, Matt Targett and a couple of others to balance the books. Steady summer.


Tottenham Hotspur: A-

Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele are two superstars, while youngsters Jack Clarke and Ryan Sessegnon have arrived too. What a good summer for Spurs. They also kept Toby Alderweireld and Christian Eriksen, for now, and they will try and get both to sign new deals. In the case of Eriksen it seems like a lost cause as he could still leave for Real Madrid or elsewhere in the final weeks of the European window. If he does, and Danny Rose joins him in moving to a club outside the PL, Spurs are set with their additions this summer. Lo Celso is initially a loan deal but is expected to sign permanently and the fact they were linked with Dybala and Coutinho shows the caliber of players Spurs are now going for.


Watford: B+
A wonderful end to the window for Watford, who brought in Danny Welbeck and Ismaila Sarr in the final 24 hours. Sarr is a club-record signing and a hugely talented winger, while Welbeck will compete with Gray and Deeney for minutes up top. If Welbeck can stay fit, that is a great buy. Craig Dawson is a steady head in defense and Watford do need to shore things up at the back a little. Javi Gracia has done well to add to his squad which did so well last season.


West Ham United: B+
Sebastian Haller and Pablo Fornals strengthen West Ham’s already strong attack and they managed to move on Marko Arnautovic who finally sealed his move to China. Manuel Pellegrini‘s squad is a little top-heavy but keeping hold of Diop and Rice was crucial to their defensive unit. The Hammers are primed for a European push, with plenty of attacking options the envy of their rivals.


Wolverhampton Wanderers: C
Probably should have done a little more to add to their squad given their European campaign. Patrick Cutrone will challenge Raul Jimenez in attack and allow Nuno Espirito Santo to rest the Mexican star from time to time. That is crucial. But apart from that they’ve only brought in youngsters after signing Leander Dendoncker and Jimenez permanently. A solid enough window, but their lack of signings could impact their PL form after a Thursday-Sunday slog due to the Europa League.

Top 10 Premier League players at each position

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There are 25 players in each Premier League squad, but who will not only star for their respective clubs but also elevate themselves to the upper echelons of the league this season? With the Premier League campaign officially set to begin this week, we continue our look ahead to the upcoming campaign with an overview of the top players at each position across the league.

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Sure to incite debate, these rankings are based on player performance over the past few years for both club and country, with numerical production combined with the eye test.

Below is a look at our complete list of the top 10 players in each position coming into the 2019-20 Premier League season.


Goalkeeper

  1. Ederson
  2. Alisson
  3. David De Gea
  4. Hugo Lloris
  5. Jordan Pickford
  6. Kasper Schmeichel
  7. Kepa Arrizabalaga
  8. Rui Patricio
  9. Lukasz Fabianski
  10. Ben Foster

Joel Matip partnered brilliantly with Virgil Van Dijk for much of last season to lead Liverpool at the back (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images).

Center-back

  1. Virgil van Dijk
  2. Aymeric Laporte
  3. Toby Alderweireld
  4. Jan Vertonghen
  5. Harry Maguire
  6. Joe Gomez
  7. Antonio Rudiger
  8. Joel Matip
  9. Conor Coady
  10. Nathan Ake

Right-back

  1. Trent Alexander-Arnold
  2. Kyle Walker
  3. Aaron Wan-Bissaka
  4. Ricardo Pereira
  5. Matt Doherty
  6. Cesar Azpilicueta
  7. Serge Aurier
  8. Kiko Femenia
  9. Max Aarons
  10. Seamus Coleman

Left-back

  1. Andrew Robertson
  2. Lucas Digne
  3. Ben Chilwell
  4. Nacho Monreal
  5. Luke Shaw
  6. Matt Ritchie
  7. Jonny Otto
  8. Patrick Van Aanholt
  9. Benjamin Mendy
  10. Marcos Alonso

It remains to be seen what N’Golo Kante’s role will be under Frank Lampard, but at his best he’s near the top of the game (Photo by Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images).

Central midfield

  1. Fernandinho
  2. Jordan Henderson
  3. N’Golo Kante
  4. Etienne Capoue
  5. Moussa Sissoko
  6. Luka Milivojevic
  7. Rodri
  8. Ruben Neves
  9. Paul Pogba
  10. Abdoulaye Doucoure

Attacking midfield

  1. Kevin De Bruyne
  2. Christian Eriksen
  3. David Silva
  4. Gylfi Sigurdsson
  5. Diogo Jota
  6. Mesut Ozil
  7. Gerard Deulofeu
  8. James Maddison
  9. Dele Alli
  10. David Brooks

Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva provide a deadly one-two punch on the flanks for Manchester City (Photo by Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images).

Winger

  1. Mohamed Salah
  2. Raheem Sterling
  3. Bernardo Silva
  4. Sadio Mane
  5. Heung-Min Son
  6. Wilfried Zaha
  7. Nicolas Pepe
  8. Jesse Lingard
  9. Richarlison
  10. Christian Pulisic

Striker

  1. Sergio Aguero
  2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
  3. Roberto Firmino
  4. Harry Kane
  5. Raul Jimenez
  6. Jamie Vardy
  7. Alexandre Lacazette
  8. Marcus Rashford
  9. Moise Kean
  10. Sebastian Haller

Transfer rumor roundup: Man City, Leicester look to Ake

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With Harry Maguire en route to Old Trafford, the long-anticipated knock-on effect will be felt through the Premier League.

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Leicester City is being linked with a trio of players, including one from manager Brendan Rodgers‘ old club Celtic.

Burnley’s James Tarkowski, Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake, and Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer are being noted as targets to replace Maguire.

Both of the PL center backs have been outstanding on their respective sides, with Tarkowski attached to a rumored $49 million price tag following another strong season in which he hoofed 6.7 clearances per match and scored three Premier League goals.

While Burnley may be preparing for life without the 26-year-old Tarkowski, it’s difficult to believe Bournemouth would sanction the sale of Ake.

The 24-year-old Dutchman has played in all 76 matches for Eddie Howe over the course of the last two seasons, starting 75 and scoring six goals while completing a sterling 85 percent of his passes.

Ajer, however, has a low $18 million price tag attached by reports, which may be due to his league more than his quality as Arsenal has taken a while to stump up Celtic’s asking price for Kieran Tierney.

Back to Ake, a report says $49 million is the fee as well. But Man City is also being linked with the player, and he absolutely fits the bill of what Pep Guardiola seeks in a defender.

It would be a suave bit of business for Guardiola, as Chelsea has a reported $49 million buyback clause on Ake it cannot activate while under transfer ban.

Ajax is going to look very different next season following its outstanding run to the Champions League semifinals.

The Dutch side has already sold Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus) and Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), and now could move on from Donny van de Beek and David Neres.

Van de Beek could be “hours away” from a $60 million move to Real Madrid, according to Marca, while Neres has earned a reported $54 million bid from Manchester United.

Van de Beek had a goal and an assist in Ajax’s season-opening draw at Vitesse on Saturday, while Neres played just eight minutes. American fullback Sergino Dest was an unused sub.

Pochettino: ‘We have two finals’

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Mauricio Pochettino spoke defiantly after his nine-man Tottenham side lost 1-0 at Bournemouth on Saturday to set up a nervous finish to the season.

Heung-Min Son and Juan Foyth were both shown straight red cards in the space of five minutes and Spurs had to play close to 45 minutes with just nine men.

Despite their unbelievable lack of discipline Tottenham almost held on for a crucial point in their top four battle, but Nathan Ake‘s 91st minute header sealed their sixth-straight PL away defeat.

“It is painful to play without two players. We need to move on. We cannot change the decisions. We have ahead two finals. It is in our hands,” Pochettino told the BBC. “If it does not happen we will be proud because nobody expected Tottenham to be in the position they are today.”

That “not one believed in us” theme continued in Pochettino’s post-game comments, as he must now pick up his players for a huge UEFA Champions League semifinal second leg at Ajax on Wednesday.

Spurs head to Amsterdam trailing 1-0 from the first leg, and with injuries piling up and Tottenham winning just four of their last 15 games in all competitions, yet another fine season is threatening to end on a sour note.

“No one believed in Tottenham to be in this position in the last week of the competition. What happens will happen and I will feel proud,” Pochettino said. “We are fighting six teams, it is impossible for all six to get the top four, whatever happens I will feel proud and whatever happens in the semifinal I will be proud.”

Pochettino is probably right, but it wouldn’t make it hurt any less if Spurs somehow finished outside of the top four and lost to Ajax in the UCL semifinal on Wednesday.

In the PL they are four points ahead of fifth-place Arsenal, with the Gunners having a game in hand. If they win that against Brighton on Sunday, they will be one point behind Spurs going into the final game and Arsenal have to travel to Burnley. Man United aren’t out of the equation now too, as two wins in their final two games and a Spurs defeat would see them finish above Tottenham.

All of a sudden the tension levels at Spurs have been cranked up a few notches.

Pochettino is right. They have two finals. But the main problem is, they will be without Harry Kane and Harry Winks for both of those games, while Son can’t play in the PL season finale against Everton and the status of Jan Vertonghen is unknown.

This poor run of form to finish the season points to one thing: Tottenham’s squad is not big enough and their key players have run out of steam.

Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura looked shattered in the final moments of their defeat at Bournemouth and the last thing they needed was to play close to a half down two men.

But the equation is clear for Spurs. Beat in-form Everton at home on the final day and they will finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League. After no new signings, their stadium delay and injuries to Kane and others throughout this campaign, making the top four would be a huge achievement, whatever happens at Ajax next week.

Nine-man Spurs lose late on at Bournemouth (video)

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  • Son, Foyth sent off for Spurs
  • Ake scores 91st minute winner 
  • Tottenham’s top 4 hopes up in air
  • Six-straight away defeats for Spurs

Bournemouth beat nine-man Tottenham 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday, as Spurs almost held on for a heroic point on the South Coast of England.

Heung-Min Son and Juan Foyth were both sent off in a five-minute spell either side of half time as Spurs totally lost their heads, but almost held on for a crucial point in the top four battle. But Nathan Ake headed home from a corner in the 91st minute to finally break through for Bournemouth, as they secured a first-ever league win against Tottenham.

With the win the Cherries moved up to 12th in the table on 45 points, while Spurs are now only four points ahead of Arsenal in fifth with one game to go, as the Gunners have a game in hand on them too. Spurs’ final game of the season sees them host Everton and if they win that, they will finish in the top four.

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The game started evenly but almost saw Spurs go ahead in stunning fashion. Lucas Moura spotted Bournemouth debutant goalkeeper, 19-year-old Mark Travers, off his line and the Brazilian’s shot from inside his own half flew just wide.

Tottenham pushed hard for the opener and Travers pushed away Dele Alli‘s powerful shot well, as Bournemouth rarely threatened on the break. Travers then made a superb stop to deny Moura who was clean through on goal after a great ball from Moussa Sissoko, but the young Irish goalkeeper pushed the shot over as he enjoyed a fantastic first 45 minutes as a Premier League goalkeeper.

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Moura was denied again before the break as he latched onto a long ball over the top but Travers stuck out a leg to make the stop. Eric Dier was lucky to not be sent off for two yellow cards, Son fired over after a typically incisive run and Travers saved Alli’s header with Josh King and Callum Wilson going down at the other end in the box as penalty kicks could have been given. Then a huge moment in the game arrived.

After Jefferson Lerma appeared to step on Son’s foot after he fouled Fraser, the South Korean forward reacted and pushed Lerma over and received a straight red card from Craig Pawson to reduce Spurs to 10 men for the second half. Soon it got even worse…

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Juan Foyth and Victor Wanyama both came on at half time for Spurs as Pochettino tweaked his lineup, but Foyth was shown a straight red card just two minutes after coming on. The Argentine lunged into a tackle with his boot high and caught Jack Simpson, and Pawson decided that was enough for a straight red card.

Spurs switched to a 4-3-1 formation after the second sending off, as they stayed compact and battled to try and keep hold of the ball whenever they could.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Bournemouth’s Wilson glanced a header wide, Nathaniel Clyne came close and Lloris had to make saves from distance as the home side failed to carve out too many clear-cut opportunities, with Fraser’s late corner causing mayhem but somehow Spurs cleared.

However, from the following corner Ake headed home to break Tottenham’s hearts in the 91st minute, as Bournemouth secured a first win against Spurs in all competitions since 1957.

But there was time for one more moment of drama in the 96th minute, as a corner saw Alli go down and it looked like Wilson pushed him to the ground, but no penalty kick was given.