Soccer-Forest gamble on quantity, City hit jackpot with Haaland

·5-min read

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper said on Thursday he was looking forward to the transfer window shutting, presumably so he could head home to sit in a dark room.

As the clock ticked down on deadline day, centre back Willy Boly became Forest's 19th signing of a head-spinning close season.

Only four of the players that started Forest's promotion playoff final on May 29 started Wednesday's 6-0 hammering at Manchester City and that number will surely drop.

The former European champions, back in the top-flight for the first time since 1998-99, have spent close to 150 million pounds ($173.24 million) basically constructing a new team.

Forest's risky approach has been a curious sub-plot to a summer splurge of Premier League deals kick-started by champions Manchester City signing Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund for an initial 54 million pounds.

Three months later it is fair to say the Norway striker has bounded through the transfer window like a marauding Viking, laying waste to defences up and down the country.

With nine goals in five league games he is already looking great value for City -- a club in the enviable position of slotting marquee signings into a squad oozing with quality.

For some of the other 19 Premier League clubs, the window has been fruitful but for others the complexities of the market kept them on tenterhooks until the window closed on Thursday.

While Forest's business looked like a manic supermarket sweep, Arsenal have been more selective.

Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko -- both jettisoned by Manchester City -- were snapped up early and have contributed to Arsenal's perfect start with Jesus, signed for 48 million pounds, already with three goals and three assists to his name.

Tottenham Hotspur also got their main business done early with the likes of Brazil striker Richarlison (52 million pounds) joining from Everton and Ivan Perisic (free) coming from Inter Milan to beef up Antonio Conte's squad.


For Manchester United, the transfer window initially only heightened a sense of crisis consuming Old Trafford.

A fruitless pursuit of Frenkie de Jong, doubts over 50 million pound centre back signing Lisandro Martinez, Cristiano Ronaldo's uncertain future and successive defeats to start the season had new boss Erik ten Hag looking bemused.

But the window eventually provided some comfort with Casemiro arriving from Real Madrid for 63.5 million pounds to beef up United's flimsy midfield and right winger Antony joining from Ajax Amsterdam for 85 million pounds -- a deadline day record.

However unpopular the Glazer family are as United's owners, they continue to bankroll their managers.

Chelsea have topped the spending list with United not far behind, but West Ham United's business epitomises the TV riches which give all Premier League clubs spending power that only the elite teams in Spain or Germany can dream of.

The Hammers have splashed out more than 150 million pounds, breaking their transfer record to sign Brazil's Lucas Paqueta. Saudi-backed Newcastle United also flexed their financial muscle to sign Sweden forward Alexander Isak for a club record fee.

As ever, fans could be excused for scratching their heads at some of the movements.

Chelsea let Romelu Lukaku go on loan to Inter Milan, a year after paying Inter 115 million pounds for the Belgium striker, and also sold Germany's Timo Werner back to RB Leipzig for 20 million euros ($19.89 million) less than they paid for him.

Then the Blues ended the window with a mad scramble to sign another striker, with 33-year-old former Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang close to arriving from Barcelona as they worked late into the night to complete the deal.

While Haaland's explosive start has instantly justified his fee, other big name signings have made a different impact.

Darwin Nunez, Liverpool's standout purchase signed to fill the hole left by Sadio Mane, head-butted Crystal Palace's Joachim Andersen in his second game to earn a three-game ban.

One thing is for sure, the cost of living crisis facing millions of Britons has not infiltrated the Premier League.

Even before Thursday's frenzy, around 1.7 billion pounds had been spent by the 20 top-flight clubs -- smashing the record 1.43 billion of 2017 and more money than was spent in last season's two windows combined.

Five most expensive Premier League transfers:

1. Antony - Ajax to Man Utd, 85 million pounds

2. Wesley Fofana - Leicester City to Chelsea, 70 million pounds

3. Darwin Nunez - Benfica to Liverpool, 67.5 million pounds

4. Casemiro - Real Madrid to Man Utd, 63.5 million pounds

5. Marc Cucurella - Brighton & Hove Albion to Chelsea, 63 million pounds

Five best value transfers:

1. Erling Haaland - Borussia Dortmund to Manchester City, 54 million pounds

2. Gabriel Jesus - Man City to Arsenal, 48 million pounds

3. Oleksandr Zinchenko - Man City to Arsenal, 30 million pounds

4. Kalidou Koulibaly - Napoli to Chelsea, 32 million pounds

5. Ivan Perisic - Inter Milan to Tottenham, free

Five transfers least likely to work out:

1. Lucas Paqueta at West Ham United

2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at Chelsea

3. Cesare Casadei at Chelsea

4. Christian Eriksen at Manchester United

5. Antony at Manchester United

Five transfers clubs should have made but didn't:

1. Manchester United: selling Cristiano Ronaldo

2. Everton: signing a back-up number nine with Dominic Calvert-Lewin's injury history

3. Chelsea: signing a deep-lying midfielder with N'Golo Kante averaging only 21 starts a season now

4. Leicester City: Buying a new striker to take the load off Jamie Vardy

5. Newcastle Utd: James Maddison from Leicester City

($1 = 0.8659 pounds)

($1 = 1.0056 euros)

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Additioanl reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)