November 15, 2018, 12:06

Paul Merson’s transfer grades: Liverpool top of the class, Spurs expelled

Paul Merson’s transfer grades: Liverpool top of the class, Spurs expelled

Paul Merson grades the transfer window for each Premier League club with Liverpool, West Ham and new boys Fulham top of the class.

But which Premier League clubs did best and which clubs fell foul of the Soccer Saturday expert Merson? Read on for his team-by-team grades…

Arsenal: B

Major ins: Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen, undisclosed), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus, free), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund, undisclosed), Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria, undisclosed), Matteo Guendouzi (Lorient, £8m)

Major outs: Santi Cazorla (Villareal, free), Calum Chambers (Fulham, loan), Per Mertesacker (retired), Lucas Perez (West Ham, £4m) Jack Wilshere (West Ham, free)

MERSE SAYS: They needed a defender. Lichtsteiner is 35 and has been a very good player, but how many 35-year-olds are playing at the back in the Premier League? But he’s had to buy experience, we’re not in a position where Arsene Wenger can buy 17 or 18-year-old talent and hope they’re good in five years. I think Umai Emery has bought well, but it is going to take time. You have to give this manager time but I think he’ll be alright.

He couldn’t have a worse start with Man City at home and Chelsea away so for me, you just have to give him time but it’ll be different, even on Super Sunday, you’ll see the way they’ll set up and you know there will be a plan. It won’t be like the old days.

Bournemouth: C

Major ins: David Brooks (Sheffield United, undisclosed), Diego Rico (Leganes, £10.7m), Jefferson Lerma (Levante, £25m)

Major outs: Benik Afobe (Wolves, £12.5m), Adam Federici (Stoke, undisclosed), Max Gradel (Toulouse, undisclosed), Lewis Grabban (Nottingham Forest, undisclosed), Harry Arter (Cardiff, loan)

MERSE SAYS: I worry for Bournemouth a bit. I think they’ll be alright, I just look at them and think that defensively, they let in too many goals. Eddie Howe hasn’t gone out and bought centre-halves and he’s been very loyal to players that have always been there. I do worry for them a bit, but they do score goals. I think they’ll just stay up but they need a centre-half in my opinion.

I like Charlie Daniels, I didn’t think they needed a left-back. No disrespect to the centre-halves, but they’ve been there for a long time and they leak goals for fun unless he’s looking to play a three at the back and play the new lad at wing-back and bring Daniels in as a back three, I don’t know, but I think Daniels will be hard done by if he’s left out.

Brighton: B+

Major ins: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar, undisclosed), Leon Balogun (Mainz, free), Florin Andone (Deportivo La Coruna, undisclosed), Jason Steele (Sunderland, undisclosed), Bernardo Fernandes da Silva Junior (RB Leipzig, undisclosed), David Button (Fulham, undisclosed), Yves Bissouma (Lille, undisclosed), Percy Tau (Mamelodi Sundowns, undisclosed), Billy Arce (Independiente del Valle, undisclosed), Dan Burn (Wigan, undisclosed), Brighton – Martin Montoya (Valencia, undisclosed)

Major outs: Sam Baldock (Reading, £5m), Conor Goldson (Rangers, undisclosed), Uwe Huenemeier (SC Paderborn, free), Tim Krul (released), Jamie Murphy (Rangers, undisclosed), Liam Rosenior (retired), Steve Sidwell (released), Jiri Skalak (Millwall, undisclosed), Dan Burn (Wigan, loan-back)

MERSE SAYS: I like Brighton, but you never know with Brighton’s business. If I’m being honest, there’s a lot of players coming in that I don’t know, but I didn’t know Pascal Gross and he was the star last season. I always think they’ve got good scouting down there and they have to go looking for the unusual players. For them, it’s a B+ and wait and see.

Burnley: B+

Major ins: Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough, £15m), Joe Hart (Man City, £3.5m), Matej Vydra (Derby, undisclosed)

Major outs: Scott Arfield (Rangers, free), Dean Marney (released)

MERSE SAYS: I worry for Burnley. Matej Vydra has scored goals in the Sky Bet Championship, but I don’t know if he can do it in the Premier League. They’ve had to go and buy Joe Hart with two goalkeepers injured. Ben Gibson is a good centre-half.

I always weigh up football teams with how the tennis rankings work. If you’re in the semi-finals of Wimbledon one year and Flushing Meadow, you’ve got to do that again next year. Will Burnley be able to beat who they did last year with the big teams? Will they win at Chelsea – I don’t think so, take three points away from there. Will they get points at places like Tottenham? They’ve bought players in Vydra and Gibson who are not proven in the Premier League, in my opinion, but they are decent enough players. Vydra did well in the Championship, I like Gibson and let’s be honest, two years ago, Hart was England’s No 1 by a distance. I still worry for them though, not because of those players, but after what they did last year, I just don’t see them winning those games.

Cardiff: C

Major ins: Victor Camarasa (Real Betis, loan), Greg Cunningham (Preston, undisclosed), Josh Murphy (Norwich, undisclosed), Bobby Reid (Bristol City, undisclosed), Alex Smithies (QPR, undisclosed), Harry Arter (Bournemouth, loan)

Major outs: Omar Bogle (Birmingham City, loan), Lee Camp (Birmingham, free)

MERSE SAYS: They’ve got Harry Arter on loan, who turned down Watford, which was a surprise for me. Again, he has brought players in that have performed in the Sky Bet Championship, but are not proven at all in the Premier League. It’s a big gap in my opinion, but he has brought players in who are hard-working, enthusiastic, have a point to prove and will work their socks off and that’s what Neil Warnock wants. There’s no Premier League experience there but there’s a lot of hunger there and a lot of people who will be in the Premier League and want to be there.

Chelsea: B+

Major ins: Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao, £71.6m), Rob Green (Huddersfield, free), Jorginho (Napoli, undisclosed), Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid, loan)

Major outs: Trevor Chalobah (Ipswich, loan), Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid, £35m), Kenedy (Newcastle, loan)

MERSE SAYS: I don’t know what’s going to happen at Chelsea, if I’m honest. You have to remember, the Spanish window hasn’t finished yet. If Luka Modric does go and Real Madrid have all that money to play with, they go for Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante and then suddenly, Chelsea are a mid-table team. I like Jorginho, he’s top drawer. Mateo Kovacic from Real Madrid could be anything, but the goalkeeper is only 23 – you tell me how many world class goalies there are at 23, if any.

In time, it could be a good transfer, but not now. This is going to be hard for Kepa, he will probably turn out to be great, but that is a lot of money for a kid and in goalkeeping terms, he is a kid. It’s very rare you get goalies that young going for that much. It’s a lot of money.

Crystal Palace: B

Major ins: Vicente Guaita (Getafe, free), Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham, undisclosed), Max Meyer (Free), Jordan Ayew (Swansea, loan)

Major outs: Yohan Cabaye (Al-Nasr, free), Lee Chung-yong (Released), Damien Delaney (Cork, free), Bakary Sako (released)

MERSE SAYS: I thought Cheikhou Kouyate was a very good signing, but the one for them is Wilfried Zaha staying. For me, they never won a football match when he was injured so he’s a must for them. By keeping him, they stay in the Premier League again and that’s what it’s all about.

But I do like Kouyate, I thought for £9m, that was cheap as chips.

Everton: B+

Major ins: Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk, free), Lucas Digne (Barcelona, £18m), Richarlison (Watford, £40m), Joel Robles (Real Betis, free), Yerry Mina (Barcelona, £28.5m), Andre Gomes (Barcelona, loan)

Major outs: Ramiro Funes Mori (Villarreal, undisclosed), Kevin Mirallas (Fiorentina, loan), Wayne Rooney (DC United, free), Ashley Williams (Stoke, loan)

MERSE SAYS: It’s a lot of money for Richarlison. I watched him in a few games last season and after the first six games, you would’ve paid that for him, but the next 32, you wouldn’t have bought him for that. Goalies will win you as many games as Richarlison will. You go through football in time with World Cups, Premier Leagues and Champions Leagues, those big tournaments that you win, no one does it without a good goalkeeper. I’ve got no problem with people paying £60m for a goalkeeper.

Yerry Mina is a 6ft 5in centre-half and I think he suits Everton. Goodison Park has a nice, tight pitch and Man Utd were talking about getting him but they play on the halfway line and he’s not going to want to be chasing back. Everton play deeper, he’s decent at set-players and Everton are good at set-plays.

Fulham: A

Major ins: Calum Chambers (Arsenal, loan), Fabri (Besiktas, undisclosed), Maxime le Marchand (Nice, undisclosed), Alfie Mawson (Swansea, £15m), Andre Schurrle (Borussia Dortmund, loan), Jean Michael Seri (Nice, undisclosed), Sergio Rico (Sevilla, loan), Joe Bryan (Bristol City, £6m), Luciano Vietto (Atletico Madrid, loan), Timothy Fosu-Mensah (Manchester United, loan), Andre-Frank Anguissa (Marseille, £22.3m)

Major outs: David Button (Brighton, undisclosed), Ryan Fredericks (West Ham, free)

MERSE SAYS: They’ve put their money where their mouth is. Aleksandar Mitrovic, Alfie Mawson, Calum Chambers and Andre Schurrle have all played in the Premier League and you look at the Cardiff situation and very few of those have played in the Premier League, so that’s a big advantage. A lot of people were after Mawson and Schurrle could be anything. I like Fulham and I like their business.

Huddersfield: B+

Major ins: Juninho Bacuna (FC Groningen, undisclosed), Adama Diakhaby (Monaco, undisclosed), Erik Durm (Dortmund, undisclosed), Florent Hadergjonaj (Ingolstadt, £4.5m), Ben Hamer (Leicester, free), Terence Kongolo (Monaco, £17.5m), Jonas Lossl (Mainz, undisclosed), Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke, undisclosed)

Major outs: Rob Green (Chelsea, free), Tom Ince (Stoke, £12m), Dean Whitehead (retired), Michael Hefele (Nottingham Forest, undisclosed)

MERSE SAYS: I’ll be honest, I don’t know a lot of the players they’ve bought in. £12m for Tom Ince is good business but you always have that thing when you’re bringing in players from other countries about how quickly they’ll settle. Again, Huddersfield have had a go, it could catch up with them, but then again, who knows. Like I said, I don’t know too many of the players but one of them could be a gem and a player of the season for them so the manager knows what he’s doing and he knows these players.

Leicester: B+

Major ins: Filip Benkovic (Dinamo Zagreb, £13m), Jonny Evans (West Brom, undisclosed), Rachid Ghezzal (Monaco, undisclosed), James Maddison (Norwich, £22m), Ricardo Pereira (Porto, undisclosed), Danny Ward (Liverpool, £12.5m), Caglar Soyuncu (Freiburg, £19m)

Major outs: Ben Hamer (Huddersfield, free), Robert Huth (released), Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City, £60m), Ahmed Musa (Al-Nassr, undisclosed)

MERSE SAYS: I think James Maddison and Jonny Evans are good players, Danny Ward is decent. They’ve done good business but Riyad Mahrez was always going to go, although he went early, which is good. They would have got a bit for Ahmed Musa and it’s a shame Robert Huth had to retire. I like their business.

It’s the pace on the break with Leicester, they are not going to dominate football matches – they won the league with 30-odd per cent of play. Mahrez is going to be a big miss for them but I like Maddison, he’s a good young player and he’ll get better as the years go on, so it will be interesting watching him play. Evans is a good player, I thought Arsenal should have gone for him, to be honest, but they’ve done good business.

Liverpool: A+

Major ins: Alisson Becker (Roma, £67m), Fabinho (Monaco, £43.7m), Naby Keita (Leipzig, £52.75m), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke, £13.5m)

Major outs: Emre Can (Juventus, free), Ryan Kent (Rangers, loan), Danny Ward (Leicester, £12.5m), Harry Wilson (Derby, loan)

MERSE SAYS: They’ve made unbelievable signings. Xherdan Shaqiri could be one of the signings of the window, he could be worth £35m now and the season hasn’t even started. This team will close the gap. Win the Premier League? No, but they can beat Man City in a one-off game. They did it enough times last season, but 25 points is a lot to make up in one season. It won’t be trhough a lack of good buys, though, because they are really good buys. Their Achilles heel for me will be against the lesser teams and if they can break them down but I’m all over Liverpool, I think they’re the team who will come second.

Pep Guardiola did all his business early when he came in last year like Jurgen Klopp has done this window. He bought very good full-backs for a lot of money and Klopp has done the same. He needed a couple of midfielders, a player who can come in if one of the front three get injured and play with guile because that’s their problem – breaking teams down. Clubs go there and put 10 behind the ball and you need to break them down and Shaqiri has got that in the locker. Naby Keita runs off the ball so I’m definitely looking forward to watching Liverpool.

Manchester City: C

Major ins: Claudio Gomes (PSG, free), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester, £60m)

Major outs: Angus Gunn (Southampton, undisclosed), Joe Hart (Burnley, £3.5m), Yaya Toure (released)

MERSE SAYS: I think they’ll win the league by double digits, but they’ve only bought in Mahrez who won’t play a lot. You talk about goalkeepers going for £60m-£70m and they’re going to play every game, but how many games will he play? It’s another body and another player with all the games that are coming up. We see it every year with teams, though, they win the league and they just stick with what they have. You’ve got to move forward. McDonald’s sell more burgers and chips than anyone but they still do adverts. That’s the thing I always think about Premier League winners – you’ve got to go out and kick on again. For me, they’re probably a player or two short with all the games they’ve got, but they do go for everything.

Manchester United: C

Major ins: Diogo Dalot (Porto, undisclosed), Lee Grant (Stoke, undisclosed), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk, undisclosed)

Major outs: Daley Blind (Ajax, £14.1m), Michael Carrick (Retired)

MERSE SAYS: They’ve not done anything. Fred didn’t play for Brazil, Lee Grant is going to be third choice goalkeeper and they’ve lost a great midfield player in Michael Carrick, Daley Blind’s gone – just nothing has happened.

I don’t think Jose Mourinho’s outbursts are him, I think it’s at the Ed Woodward situation. I don’t think he’s helping the cause and he’s the one who has to get these deals over the line. When Sir Alex Ferguson was there, they got them over the line but when David Moyes went, he couldn’t get players over the line and in the end, he got Everton players because he knew them and could sign them.

This is not Man United. There is something going on behind the scenes and I don’t think Woodward is helping Mourinho as much as we really think.

Newcastle: B+

Major ins: Martin Dubravka (Sparta Prague, undisclosed), Kenedy (Chelsea, loan), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz, undisclosed), Salomon Rondon (West Brom, loan), Fabian Schar (Deportivo, £3m), Ki Sung-yueng (Swansea, free), Federico Fernandez (Swansea, £6m)

Major outs: Adam Armstrong (Blackburn, £1.75m), Jack Colback (Nottingham Forest, loan), Chancel Mbemba (Schalke, undisclosed), Mikel Merino (Real Sociedad, undisclosed), Matz Sels (Strasbourg, £3.5m)

MERSE SAYS: I like Kenedy, I thought he did really well last year. I don’t mind Salomon Rondon, I know they let Dwight Gayle and Mitrovic go, but if they can get him going, he’s a handful. I don’t know much about a couple of the other players, but keeping Kenedy on loan is a big deal for them, he was one of their best players last season. People are worried about Newcastle, but I’m not worried about them. I think they’ll be alright.

Southampton: B+

Major ins: Stuart Armstrong (Celtic, £7m), Mohamed Elyounoussi (Basel, £16m), Angus Gunn (Manchester City, undisclosed), Jannik Vestergaard (Borussia Monchengladbach – £18m), Danny Ings (Liverpool, loan)

Major outs: Sofiane Boufal (Celta Vigo, loan), Guido Carrillo (Leganes, loan), Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord, loan), Dusan Tadic (Ajax, £15m)

MERSE SAYS: Mohamed Elyounoussi from Basel is a good player, he’s going to be a nightmare for me to pronounce, but he’s a good player. I think Southampton are looking to not be back in a relegation battle, it frightened them last year, and I think the fans have got into a reality now. I think Southampton will be alright, they’ve done OK business and if Elyounoussi can play like he did at Basel, he’ll be a star. Stuart Armstrong is a good player too so I’ll go B+ on the potential of the signings.

Tottenham: Expelled

Major ins: None

Major outs: None

MERSE SAYS: Tottenham are expelled. There’s no one. There’s a saying ‘keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll get the same results’ so that means they’ll come third or fourth at best. Their best XI when they get them out is a very good team, but it is getting them out week in, week out. They’ve just moved into that new stadium and they need to stay in the top four, that’s their fault. It’s a shame because two years ago, they were trying to win the league and now, they’re looking at top four football.

Jack Grealish is a decent player, but he isn’t going to win you the league. It’s one of them, he’s a young player, he’s English so let’s bring him in, but he’s not going to play so, for me, they’re right to stick their heels in saying ‘we rate him at this much’ but he won’t be a loss to Tottenham.

Watford: C

Major ins: Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona, £11.5m), Ben Foster (West Brom, undisclosed), Adam Masina (Bologna, £3.5m), Marc Navarro (Espanyol, undisclosed), Ken Sema (Ostersunds, undisclosed), Ben Wilmot (Stevenage, undisclosed), Domingos Quina (West Ham, undisclosed)

Major outs: Nordin Amrabat (Al-Nassr, undisclosed), Costel Pantilimon (Nottingham Forest, undisclosed), Richarlison (Everton, £40m), Mauro Zarate (Boca Juniors, undisclosed)

MERSE SAYS: I like Ben Foster, he’s a top goalkeeper, but I really worry for Watford. Gerard Deulofeu, one minute he’s great and the next, he’s not. He’s a five or a nine – you never get that consistent seven every week. Foster will save them points, there’s no question, but I think they’re in a relegation battle.

West Ham: A

Major ins: Felipe Anderson (Lazio, £35m), Fabian Balbuena (Corinthians, undisclosed), Issa Diop (Toulouse, £21.9m), Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City, £7m), Ryan Fredericks (Fulham, free), Lucas Perez (Arsenal, £4m), Xande Silva (Vitoria de Guimaraes, undisclosed), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal, free), Andriy Yarmolenko (Borussia Dortmund, £17.5m), Carlos Sanchez (Fiorentina, undisclosed)

Major outs: Reece Burke (Hull City, undisclosed), James Collins (released), Patrice Evra (released), Sead Haksabanovic (Malaga, loan), Jordan Hugill (Middlesbrough, loan), Cheikhou Kouyate (Crystal Palace, undisclosed)

MERSE SAYS: They’ve had a go. They’ve got Jack Wilshere on a free and people are wondering if he’ll stay fit but you’ll be surprised by how many games he plays. I like their business, they’ve put their money where their mouth is this time around and brought in a better quality of player. There are a couple of players who will need time to settle, they’re coming from places where the football is a lot different. Lukasz Fabianski was great last season and I like their business.

Wolves: B+ with potential

Major ins: Benik Afobe (Bournemouth, £12.5m), Willy Boly (Porto, £10m), Leo Bonatini (Al-Hilal, undisclosed), Jonny Castro (Atletico Madrid, loan), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht, loan), Raul Jimenez (Benfica, loan), Diogo Jota (Atletico Madrid, £12.6m), Roderick Miranda (Olympiakos, loan), Joao Moutinho (Monaco, undisclosed), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon, undisclosed), Adama Traore (Middlesbrough, £18m), Ruben Vinagre (Monaco, undisclosed), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht, loan)

Major outs: Benik Afobe (Stoke, loan), Barry Douglas (Leeds, undisclosed), Carl Ikeme (retired), Prince Oniangue (Caen, undisclosed)

MERSE SAYS: Again, I don’t know a lot of the players but they are buying players for big money. Even without those players, I thought they’d be alright this season because they were outstanding last season. They played some great football and if they come in and play like they did last season, they’ll cause problems to a lot of football teams. I’m looking forward to seeing Wolves because they were so far ahead of everyone in the Sky Bet Championship, it’ll be interesting and they could have some real scalps this season.

Sourse: skysports.com

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