The summer transfer window is well underway and fans across the Premier League are demanding that their clubs sign some players. From the reigning champions down to the newly-promoted sides, every supporter feels their team is just a few canny acquisitions away from glory. They felt the same way last year too, and their clubs obliged. But how did the players who excited fans upon their arrival last season get on?
The Sportsman have taken a look at the most expensive signings each Premier League team made last season. Some of these will perhaps encourage you to manage your expectations, or at least react more cautiously when your club posts a video of your glossy new forward playing the piano.
Pep Guardiola’s side spent a British record £100 million to snare Jack Grealish from Aston Villa last summer. The winger managed just three goals and three assists across 26 league games. The England man can now call himself a Premier League champion, but most City fans feel more is needed from him.
The initial £37 million Liverpool splashed out on Luis Diaz in January already looks like a bargain. The Porto winger was a vital factor in Jurgen Klopp’s team competing right down to the wire on four fronts. His signing also significantly softens the blow of Sadio Mane’s departure this summer.
In the balance of outlay to performance, no 2021-22 transfer failed more conclusively than Romelu Lukaku’s £97.5 million return to Stamford Bridge. A high-profile fallout with manager Thomas Tuchel, tactical incompatibility and just eight Premier League goals says it all.
Emerson Royal joined Nuno Espirito Santo’s Spurs for £26 million last summer. However, he spent most of the season playing under the ex-Wolves boss’ replacement, Antonio Conte. As is the Italian’s way, he deployed Royal in a number of different positions. None really stuck and Royal is currently the subject of a transfer bid from Atletico Madrid.
When the time came to strengthen Arsenal’s defence, Mikel Arteta went big. £50 million was spent on Brighton & Hove Albion’s Ben White. The 24-year-old has largely been worth it. An ever-present in the starting eleven already, expect White to be a fixture of the Emirates back-line for years to come.
While Cristiano Ronaldo was the most high-profile transfer United made last season, Jadon Sancho was the club’s most expensive signing. After a slow start, the ex-Borussia Dortmund winger steadily improved. Look for him to kick on under Erik ten Hag.
West Ham United
Kurt Zouma arrived at the London Stadium for just under £30 million. On the pitch he has been influential, helping the Hammers to a fruitful season at home and in Europe. Off the pitch his conviction for animal cruelty brought unwanted attention.
£23 million man Patson Daka had his moments, such as a four-goal demolition job against Spartak Moscow. But the former Red Bull Salzburg man only scored seven further goals across all competitions, and will need to do better this campaign.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Zambian midfielder Enock Mwepu joined Graham Potter’s south coast revolution from Red Bull Salzburg for a £20 million fee. While injuries restricted him to just 18 league appearances, he showed plenty of promise. Mwepu took home Brighton's Goal of the Season award for his at Anfield in October.
Rayan Ait-Nouri is a little different from most of the signings on this list, as Wolves had seen plenty of him first hand. The left back had spent the previous season on-loan at Molineux, before making his permanent move from Angers for £9.8 million in the summer of 2021.
The Premier League club whose fortunes changed the most dramatically during the course of the season. The Magpies’ takeover saw them go from relegation fodder to a club able to tempt gifted Lyon midfielder Bruno Guimaraes into joining. The Brazilian proved transformative, helping Newcastle to finish 11th.
Previous Eagles boss Roy Hodgson was known for buying old warhorses whose experience he could lean on. New boss Patrick Vieira took a different tack. His most expensive buy was the £18 million he spent on promising Chelsea defender Marc Guehi. The 21-year-old played all but two league games for Palace, and ended the season in the England squad.
The Bees are renowned for their ‘Moneyball’ approach to transfers. Despite costing a club record £13.5 million, Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer fit the bill for this approach. At the age of 23, he sat right in the post-prospect, pre-prime bracket favoured by ‘Moneyball’. While he struggled for regular game time, he has the time and potential to excel.
The Villans paid a club-record £33 million to secure Emiliano Buendia’s signature. 10 goal involvements in his 34 Premier League games was a decent return, but he ended up being overshadowed by superstar loan capture Philippe Coutinho. The ex-Barcelona and Liverpool man has now signed permanently, which could limit Buendia’s influence.
28 goals in 40 Championship games for Blackburn Rovers in 2020-21 led Southampton to splash out £15 million on Adam Armstrong. He could only manage two Premier League strikes in a season that saw him in-and-out of the team. One wonders if the Premier League is a step too far for the 25-year-old.
Everton were in crisis mode when they signed Vitaliy Mykolenko for a fee believed to be around £17 million in January. The Dynamo Kyiv full back not only helped The Toffees to Premier League survival, but did so while his country of Ukraine was being invaded by Russia. Mykolenko has been outspoken in support of his countrymen, and a real asset to his club.
Marcelo Bielsa finally got his man. After missing out on Daniel James when the winger joined Manchester United in 2019, he secured the Welshman’s signature for £25 million last summer. At Old Trafford, James showed the pace needed to tie defenders in knots, but lacked quality end product. At Leeds he fared slightly better, racking up nine goal involvements in 33 league games.
After selling Chris Wood to Newcastle in January, Burnley desperately needed a striker. They turned to Wolfsburg’s Wout Weghorst for an initial £12 million fee. He mustered just two goals in his 20 appearances as his team were relegated to the Championship.
23-year-old Morocco midfielder Imran Louza looked like a snip at £8 million. Despite The Hornets’ relegation, Louza shone at times in a dark season for the club. The Championship should offer him a platform to further showcase his talent.
The £8.8 million Norwich spent on Christos Tzolis looked to be an investment in the future, considering the player was 19 at the time. But despite only featuring sparingly, he managed to make headlines for the wrong reasons. Tzolis took the ball from designated penalty taker Adam Idah against Liverpool, before having the resulting spot kick saved. Norwich are currently in talks with Club Brugge about loaning them the ex-PAOK starlet.
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