With a bumper new broadcasting deal on the way, English Premier League clubs set a new spending record in the summer transfer window. Much of that came from the new financial power gained by clubs lower down the Premier League table, and it may well be that some of the top clubs are left disappointed with their business.
Here’s how the five teams with their eyes on the top of the table fared this summer.
In: Petr Chech (Chelsea, 10.2 million)
Out: Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray, 1.8m), Abou Diaby (Marseille, free), Ryo Miyachi (FC St. Pauli, free), Semi Ajayi (Cardiff, free),Wojciech Szczesny (Roma, loan), Serge Gnabry (West Brom, loan), Isaac Hayden (Hull City, loan), Gedion Zelalem (Rangers, loan), Carl Jenkinson (West Ham, loan), Yaya Sanogo (Ajax, loan), Jon Toral ( Birmingham, loan), Chuba Akpom (Hull City, loan), Emiliano Martinez (Wolves, loan)
Net spend: £8.4m
How they did: Arsenal finally secured the commanding top-class goalkeeper they have been lacking since the exit of Jens Lehman seven years ago. Yet Petr Cech was Arsenal’s solitary arrival, leaving Arsenal as the only club in Europe’s top five leagues not to sign a single outfield player. And that could be something that they look back ruefully on come the end of season, given that a talented squad is still so obviously short of a world-class striker and depth in the crucial defensive midfield position.
In: Pedro (Barcelona, £21 million), Abdul Rahman Baba (Augsburg, 14.6m), Asmir Begovic (Stoke City, 8m), Kenedy (Fluminense, 6.3m), Michael Hector (Reading £4m), Nathan ( Atlético Paranaense, 3.3m), Papy Djilobodji (Nantes, £2.6m) Cristian Manea (FC Viitorul, 2.2m), Danilo Pantic (Partizan Belgrade, free), Radamel Falcao (Monaco, loan)
Out: Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid, 16m), Petr Cech (Arsenal, 10.2m), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach, 5.9m), Oriol Romeu (Southampton, 5m), Gael Kakuta (Sevilla, 4.4m), Josh McEachran (Brentford, 0.8m), Didier Drogba (Montreal Impact, free) Mohamed Salah (Roma, loan), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus, loan), Marko Marin (Trabzonspor, loan), Patrick Bamford (Crystal Palace, loan), Christian Atsu (Bournemouth, loan), Andreas Christensen (Borussia Monchengladbach, loan), Danilo Pantic (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Nathan (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Dominic Solanke (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Marco van Ginkel (Stoke City, loan), Nathan Ake (Watford, loan), Tomas Kalas (Middlesbrough, loan), Crstian Manea (Mouscron, loan), Wallace (Carpi, loan), Nathaniel Chalobah (Napoli, loan), Mario Pasalic (Monaco, loan), Matej Delac (FK Sarajevo, loan), Cristian Cuevas (Sint-Trudien, loan), Lucas Piazon (Reading, loan), Ulises Davila (Vitoria Setubal, loan), Michael Hector (Reading, loan)
Net spend: £20m
How they did: The signings of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa last summer propelled Chelsea to the title, but on this occasion Jose Mourinho has largely been left to try and extract yet more out of the same group of players who grinded their way over the line to the title last season. Pedro is the only arrival likely to be a regular starter this season, meaning the club has failed to land the all-round midfield player that is needed to add balance and steel alongside Nemanja Matic. Having also failed with a succession of bids for John Stones, Chelsea arranged a hasty last-minute deal for unheralded Senegal international Djilobodji to bolster what has become a problematic center-back area.
In: Christian Benteke (Aston Villa, £32.5), Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim, £30m), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton, £13m), Joe Gomez (Charlton, £3.5m), Taiwo Awoniyi (Imperial Academy, £0.8m), Allan (Internacional, £0.5m), James Milner (Manchester City, free), Danny Ings (Burnley, free), Adam Bogdab (Bolton, free)
Out: Raheem Sterling (Manchester City, £49m), Fabio Borini (Sunderland, £8m), Iago Aspas (Sevilla, £4.4m), Rickie Lambert (West Brom, £3m), Sebastian Coates (Sunderland, £2m), Steven Gerrard (LA Galaxy, free), Glen Johnson (Stoke City, free), Brad Jones (Bradford City, free), Lazar Markovic (Fenerbahce, loan), Mario Balotelli (Milan, loan) Andre Wisdom (Norwich, loan), Luis Alberto (Deportivo la Coruna, loan)
Net spend: £14m
How they did: Clyne and Gomez look to be strong additions and Milner will be a reliable presence in midfield, but it is difficult to see how Liverpool have made the necessary improvements to secure a top-four finish. Crucially, the club has bizarrely failed to address the long-standing weakness at center-back. The signing of a striker with Benteke’s more physical attributes also raises questions about just what the playing philosophy is at the club, or whether there is one.
In: Kevin de Bruyne (Wolfsburg, £54m), Raheem Sterling (£49m, Liverpool), Nicolas Otamendi (33m, Valencia), Patrick Roberts (Fulham, £11m), Fabian Delph (Aston Villa, £8m), Enes Ünal (Bursaspor, £2.2m)
Out: Alvaro Negredo (Valencia, £24m), Rony Lopes (Monaco, £9m), Matija Nastasic (Schalke, £7m), Karim Rekik (Marseille, £3.7m), Scott Sinclair (Aston Villa, £2.5m), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic, £1.5m), José Pozo (Almeria, £0.4m), Micah Richards (Aston Villa, free), James Milner (Liverpool, free), John Guidetti (Celta Vigo, free), Stevan Jovetic (Inter Milan, loan), Edin Dzeko (Roma, loan), Enes Ünal (Genk, loan)
Net spend: £109m
How they did: After a poor defense of their title last season, it appeared City needed a major overhaul this season. And, in a signal that Financial Fair Play may now be effectively dead, they have spent huge money in an effort to get back to the top. While they have perhaps left themselves short up front, it would be hard to argue that City have not had by far the most impressive window of any of the Premier League title challengers. Sterling and De Bruyne, though costing huge fees, will add vibrancy, pace and creativity to the attacking positions and Otamendi should bring solidity alongside a seemingly rejuvenated Vincent Kompany.
In: Anthony Martial (Monaco, £36m), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton, £26m), Memphis Depay (£25m), Matteo Darmian (Torino, £13m), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich, 6.6m), Sergio Romero (Sampdoria, free)
Out: Ángel di María (Paris Saint-Germain, £46.5m), Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (Bayer Leverkusen, £8m), Jonny Evans (West Brom, £6m), Robin van Persie (Fenerbahce, £5m), Nani (Fenerbahce, £4.5m), Rafael (Lyon, £2.2m), Angelo Henriquez (Dinamo Zagreb, £1.2m), Tom Cleverley (Everton, free), Reece James (Wigan, free), Anders Lindegaard (West Brom, free), Ben Amos (Bolton, free), Tom Thorpe (Rotherham, free), Adnan Januzaj (Borussia Dortmund, loan), Tyler Blackett (Celtic, loan), Will Keane (Preston, loan)
Net spend: £34m
How they did: The transfer window started hugely encouragingly for Manchester United. Depay brings an unpredictable element to the attack and Darmian adds solidity at right-back. Perhaps most impressively, the central midfield area -- a problem position for so long at Old Trafford -- has finally be addressed with the arrivals of Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger. But then it all went spectacularly wrong for the 20-time champions. Huge questions must be asked about the transfer nous of executive vice chairman Ed Woodward after the club embarked on naïve pursuits of global superstars, only to leave themselves with problems up front, in the center of defense and, following the farce of David de Gea’s failed move to Real Madrid, in goal. In the end, United have ended up paying a world record fee for a teenager. And, while Martial may one day prove to be worth the money, the French forward is unlikely to provide Louis van Gaal with the immediate contribution he needs up front.