The Premier League’s anticipated summer of record-breaking spending has finally caught fire after a flurry of deals saw more than £150m spent by top-flight clubs within 48 hours.
Contrary to projections, spending by the end of July was down £40m on the £515m invested at the same time last year, significantly short of a predicted £1bn gross outlay during the transfer window.
But that all has all changed with a steady stream of moderately priced transfers giving way to a number of blockbuster deals, spearheaded by the world-record £89m Manchester United splashed out to lure midfielder Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford.
The Pogba deal, which could rise to £93m through various add-ons, was confirmed in the early hours of Tuesday morning
“I think it’s destiny, I would say it’s destiny [to return to United],” said ex-Juventus midfielder Pogba. “It’s a big challenge. I didn’t finish what I started here so I think came here to finish it.”
Former England captain and United centre-half Rio Ferdinand, meanwhile, insists Pogba has all the hallmarks of assuming the status of the world’s greatest player and doubts whether the hefty transfer fee will prove a burden.
“Paul told me before he left that he wanted to be the best player in the world,” said Ferdinand. “He’s on the right track to achieving that.
“Paul’s character means he will deal with being such a big investment, so that won’t be a problem. As well as that, he will relish the responsibility on his shoulders of bringing medals and trophies to the club. That won’t faze him at all.”
United’s signing of Pogba was closely followed by Manchester City’s £47.5m capture of Everton and England defender John Stones, a record transfer fee for a British defender.
City’s deal for Stones was announced this morning, but only after the 22-year-old’s name appeared in City’s Champions League squad list on governing body Uefa’s website.
“I just rang my mum and all of my family and said ‘I can’t believe that I’m here, playing for such a big club, the best manager in the world’. It just all seems so surreal,” said Stones.
Everton have moved quickly to source a replacement for Stones, having agreed a £12m fee for Swansea City captain Ashley Williams, who is expected to sign a two-year deal at Goodison Park.
Swansea, meanwhile, have not been shy in reinvesting part of the £20.5m they received from West Ham for forward Andre Ayew and have agreed a club record £15m fee with Atletico Madrid for attacker Borja Baston.
Spending could soar further with Crystal Palace returning to the negotiating table with Liverpool for striker Christian Benteke. The Eagles had a £25m bid for the Belgium hitman, who the Reds value at £32m, rejected last month.