Winners and losers from the Premier League transfer window

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Jurgen Klopp has every right to look happy after Liverpool kept Mohamed Salah and added to the squad. (AFP)
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Updated 09 August 2018
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Winners and losers from the Premier League transfer window

  • Liverpool look ready to challenge for title after busy summer of spending. No late signings for Manchester United, to leave Mourinho unhappy.
  • No late signings for Manchester United, to leave Mourinho unhappy.

After the transfer deadline for Premier League clubs to strengthen their squads for the upcoming season passed on Thursday, we look at who enjoyed the best and worst of the transfer window:

LIVERPOOL LIKE WHAT THEY SEE
In their quest to end a 29-year wait to win the title, Liverpool were not just the biggest spenders, but got their business done early and improved the key areas of Jurgen Klopp’s squad that needed strengthening.
Two calamitous errors from Loris Karius in losing the Champions League final to Real Madrid in May made it clear an upgrade was needed in goal and $84 million was splashed on Alisson Becker from Roma in a short-lived world-record fee for a goalkeeper.
Fabinho and Naby Keita (below) will add extra dynamism and depth to the midfield, while Xherdan Shaqiri offers better back-up to the prolific front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
Even more importantly, Salah and Firmino also signed extended contracts rather than being lured away as Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho have been in recent seasons.



WOLVES WINNING
Wolves’ connections to Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes were a source of complaint for their competitors as they romped to the Championship title last season.
And the Midlands club appears to have higher ambitions than merely staying up after signing another two high-profile Mendes clients in Euro 2016 winners Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho (below).
A club-record fee of £20 million ($25 million) was also splashed on powerful Spanish winger Adama Traore and versatile Belgian international Leander Dendoncker was snapped up from Anderlecht.



HOPE FOR FULHAM
Another promoted side Fulham have made a mockery of the suggestion it is harder for teams going up via the playoffs to get deals in place as the other 19 Premier League teams have a two-week head start in the market.
Not only have Fulham seen off interest from Spurs in England under-21 international Ryan Sessegnon (below), but have spent over £70 million on some stellar signings.
Jean Michael Seri was a transfer target for Barcelona just 12 months ago, but will now be lining up at Craven Cottage rather than the Non Camp along with former Nice team-mate Maxime Le Marchand, German World Cup winner Andre Schurrle and Alfie Mawson, who earned an England call-up earlier in the year.
Fulham’s promotion was in large part thanks to Aleksandr Mitrovic’s 12 goals and his loan move from Newcastle was also made permanent for a reported £27 million.



WINDOW SHUTS EARLY
The decision to bring the transfer deadline forward to before the start of the season for the first time in England was designed to alleviate disruption.
Last season Alexis Sanchez, Philippe Coutinho and Virgil van Dijk were among those to miss the start of the campaign due to transfer speculation.
Yet, a shortened window allied to the tight turnaround from the final stages of the World Cup just four weeks ago, left English clubs in a rush against time to get deals done and facing inflated fees when buying from Europe’s other top leagues, where the window doesn’t close till later this month.

NEWCASTLE WOE
At a time of the season when all football fans dare to dream, there has again been little to set pulses racing in Newcastle as owner Mike Ashley refuses to join in the Premier League arms race, much to the chagrin of manager Rafael Benitez.
Newcastle have again made a profit from player trading thanks to the sales of Mitrovic and Mikel Merino, with Benitez expressing his concern for the Magpies’ prospects this season after a 4-0 friendly thrashing by Braga earlier this month.



MOROSE MOURINHO
The Manchester United manager consistently cried foul on the club’s pre-season tour of the United States about the state of his squad to try and provoke a reaction from the United hierarchy.
Instead, Mourinho was left empty-handed from the final days of the window despite warning that the Red Devils face a difficult season by not delivering his targets in the transfer market.

 


Giorgio Chiellini confident Juventus can buck recent trend of Supercoppa defeats

Though upbeat, Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini admitted that it will be a “difficult match.” (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 16 January 2019
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Giorgio Chiellini confident Juventus can buck recent trend of Supercoppa defeats

  • Skipper also happy the match is being played in Jeddah, and sees it as a ‘step forward’ for Saudi Arabia
  • AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso sidesteps questions about Gonzalo Higuain’s rumored move to English Premier League

JEDDAH: Juventus have been experiencing a worrying trend in cup finals of late. Despite securing the Serie A and Coppa Italia double for three seasons running, they have lost back-to-back Supercoppas and seven out of nine European cup finals. It’s a trend, however, that captain Giorgio Chiellini believes can be halted on January 16 when his side takes on AC Milan in the Supercoppa Italiana final at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
“We want to change that trend that has seen us lose the last two Supercoppa finals, and this is the ideal opportunity,” said the defender. “We have changed a great deal in two years, but we’ve got to prove ourselves with actions rather than words because we let a few too many of these trophies slip through our fingers and it’s a shame.
“It’s going to be a difficult match but the objective is to start 2019 lifting a trophy above our heads.”
Chiellini also defended the choice of Jeddah as the venue for the game against a backdrop of criticism by some. He said that it was “right” to give the Saudi port city the chance to host the showpiece match.
“I am happy this game is being played here and can be seen as a further reason for progress in this country, and I see it as a step forward and not a problem,” he said. “We (soccer players) cannot change the world but initiatives such as this can provide a new start.
“We have been given a warm welcome and I hope tomorrow can be remembered by the Saudi people as a wonderful celebration. We have to provide a spectacle of Italian football and know that all fans will be happy with our performances.”
As the rival teams faced the media on the eve of the match, both were confident about their chances of lifting the first silverware of the Italian soccer season. This year marks the 31st Supercoppa, a match contested by the previous season’s Serie A domestic league champions and the winners of the Coppa Italia. When a single team wins both honors, as was the case last season, they take on the Coppa Italia runners-up.
This year’s game, the tickets for which reportedly sold out in two days, might also mark a farewell to Italian football for striker Gonzalo Higuain, who is currently on loan to AC Milan from Juventus but is widely rumored to be on the verge of a move to Chelsea in the English Premier League. If the Argentine international is indeed on his way out, he will be hoping to end his stay with the Rossoneri with some silverware while also, perhaps, sticking it to his parent club.

Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso (center) said Higuain has never told him he wants to leave the club. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)

Asked about the status of any transfer talks, AC Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso was careful to avoid feeding the rumor mill.
“At this moment, I have to repeat the same words: there are many rumors but Higuain is training well and working with everyone just fine and is at our disposal,” he said. “I base my decisions on how players train during the week and how they work with the staff and their teammates. We’ll see tomorrow whether he plays or not.
“I want to reiterate that Higuain has never told me he wants to leave. I am waiting for that. He has to decide what to do, how to resolve this issue, but right now he is training with great professionalism. We’ll see.”
Gattuso then nipped this line of questioning in the bud by adding: “I want to be honest; I don’t even want to talk about Higuain as we’re here for the Supercoppa.”
Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri, meanwhile, is well aware that while they are undefeated in Serie A this season after 19 games, with 17 wins and two draws, league form counts for little in a cup final, as evidenced by their recent results in such games. As such, he is keen to avoid any complacency among his players.
“One of the great strengths of this team is our respect for the opposition, otherwise you don’t win as many games as we have,” he said. “There are 22 points separating our teams in Serie A but those don’t matter here. If we do not have great humility and respect for Milan tomorrow, then it’s unlikely we will win the game.”
The prematch press conference inevitably included questions about Cristiano Ronaldo. Since his 112 million euro ($128 million) move to Juventus from Real Madrid last summer, the Portuguese star has netted 15 goals in 25 appearances. On Wednesday, the five-time winner of the Ballon d'Or — an award presented each year by France Football magazine to the player judged to be the best in the world — will aim to lift his maiden trophy with his new club, after having bagged 15 titles during his nine years with the Spanish giants.
While Ronaldo did not appear at the press conference, Allegri was asked whether the striker had arrived in Italy with a stronger and hungrier desire to win.
“He would have to win something first to prove that,” the coach said. “Cristiano is accustomed to winning; he has won four of the past five Champions Leagues and many more titles. Ronaldo is the best player in the world and clearly an added bonus for us. Our situation has certainly improved with his presence.”
Wednesday night’s match is sure to be hotly contested, as Juventus and AC Milan currently share the record for Supercoppa titles, with seven each. While Juventus are making their seventh successive Supercoppa appearance, it is perhaps AC Milan who can lay claim to bragging rights, given that the last time these two teams met in the Supercoppa, in 2016, the Rossoneri ended up on top following a penalty shoot-out after the game ended in a 1-1 draw after extra time. With all the talking officially done, all that remains is a historic night of top quality soccer at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium.