Last summer Premier League clubs spent a staggering £1.4billion on players. There were several instances of club records being smashed while all of the top flight’s heavyweights splashed astronomical figures to secure marquee additions.
Some of those signings have been complete successes, while some have been spectacular failures.
Now, with less than a week until the 2017/18 season comes to an end, it’s an appropriate time to evaluate the business done by each club.
Here, Football Whispers picks out the best and worst signings from each Premier League side.
As a note, if a club hasn’t made a bad signing, the ‘worst signing’ section will be considered not-applicable, which we reckoned was a fairer way of going about things.
Right, let’s crack on.
Best signing: Alexandre Lacazette
The Frenchman wasn’t cheap. Signed from Lyon for the hefty club record fee of £46.5million, much was expected from Lacazette. However, the 26-year-old has settled well in north London and his return of 17 goals in 38 games is certainly satisfactory.
Having missed two months of action because of injury, Gunners fans will hope that Lacazette can stay fully fit next year and fire the club to a higher-placed league finish in the post-Wenger era.
Worst signing: N/A
Best signing: Nathan Aké
The centre-half doesn’t really feel like a new signing considering he spent half of last season at the Vitality Stadium but none of Bournemouth’s other summer additions have made as much of an impact as the Dutchman.
The 23-year-old Netherlands international slotted straight back into Eddie Howe’s back-line upon his return having been snared back by Antonio Conte for Chelsea’s title run-in last year.
Aké has been ever-present for the Cherries this term and his impressive performances were recognised by being named the club’s players’ player of the year.
Worst signing: Jermain Defoe
Now 35 years old, Defoe is finally beginning to show his age. He was a free transfer, yes, but Cherries fans can be excused for being underwhelmed by the veteran’s output, especially considering he scored 15 times for a truly awful Sunderland side last season.
He hasn’t been able to reproduce that deadly form on the south coast, finding the net just four times in 23 league appearances, and pocketing a reported weekly wage of £65,000.
Best signing: Pascal Groß
There was no competition here, really. Groß has been a wonderful addition to Chris Hughton’s Brighton with a potent mix of goals, creativity and hard work. In fact, the German has been so impressive that it makes his £2.5million price-tag oddly suspicious. Seagulls fans aren’t complaining, though. Brighton are safe and a lot of that has been down to Groß.
The recruit from Ingolstadt boasts hugely impressive stats, too, including a league-high, for midfielders, 0.5 big chances created per 90. He is also third in open play key passes per 90 with 1.23.
Most importantly, he’s scored seven goals and notched eight assists. Considering he cost buttons in today’s market, that’s an amazing return.
Worst signing: Jürgen Locadia
Brighton have a very good player in Locadia. It’s a shame, then, that he hasn’t had much of a chance to show it. Signed in January for £15million, the 24-year-old forward has spent the majority of the last few months watching from the bench as an unused substitute.
Of course, much of that is owed to Hughton’s preference to play a lone striker coupled with Glenn Murray’s impressive form but, even though Locadia has only had half a season, we have to give it to him considering his lack of impact.
Best signing: Jack Cork
The 28-year-old, signed from Swansea City, has been a remarkably consistent addition to Sean Dyche’s Burnley.
The Clarets have enjoyed their finest Premier League campaign and it is at least partially down to midfielder, whose form earned him an England debut in November.
Cork hasn’t missed a game for Burnley all season and has formed a rock-solid partnership with Ashley Westwood at the heart of midfield in Steven Defour’s absence.
Worst signing: Nahki Wells
Unfortunately, after an impressive campaign with Huddersfield Town last season, scoring ten goals to help the Terriers earn promotion to the top-flight, it hasn’t worked out for Wells at Burnley.
The Bermuda international has fallen out of favour at Turf Moor and is widely expected to be moved on this summer. It’s true that injuries have played a part but the 27-year-old has not been able to break into the team when fit.
Best signing: Olivier Giroud
With Álvaro Morata struggling, Giroud arrived from Arsenal in January and proved to be exactly what Chelsea had been looking for.
The experienced Frenchman has five goals in 15 appearances, but they have been important, including four in his last five to both boost the Blues’ top four hopes and fire them into the FA Cup final.
In a difficult, sometimes turbulent campaign for Chelsea, Giroud has provided the late-season spark which has given Conte’s men a shot at silverware.
Worst signing: Tiémoué Bakayoko
Danny Drinkwater and Ross Barkley haven’t exactly lit up Stamford Bridge but, in a season of disappointing transfers for the club, Bakayoko, brought in as a replacement for Nemanja Matić, is the stand-out flop.
At 23 years old the Frenchman has time to reverse his fortunes in England but, having shone in Monaco’s Ligue 1-clinching side last season, he has been a huge disappointment following his £40million capture.
Chelsea fans can be quietly optimistic, however, that Bakayoko has steadily regained some semblance of form after an utterly catastrophic 30-minute display in the 4-1 defeat at Watford in February, in which he lumbered clumsily around Vicarage Road before receiving two bookings in the space of five minutes to complete his short nightmare.
Best signing: Mamadou Sakho
An expensive recruit at £26million, the Liverpool reject has been outstanding during Palace’s surge from the depths of relegation despair to 11th.
Although he was signed on loan by Sam Allardyce last season, the 28-year-old has proved equally indispensable to Roy Hodgson, forming a formidable partnership with James Tomkins which remains unbeaten after 14 matches together.
Worst signing: Jaïro Riedewald
A victim of circumstance, the young Dutchman followed Frank de Boer to Selhurst Park only to be left in limbo by the former Ajax manager’s swift departure.
After a difficult debut in the 3-0 defeat at home to Huddersfield, Riedewald was dropped and has started only three league games since.
Still only 21, Riedewald may be shipped out on loan to get minutes under his belt but there is no question his maiden season in England has been a forgettable one.
Best signing: Jordan Pickford
With lofty expectations bestowed upon him courtesy of being made the most-expensive British goalkeeper of all time, Pickford has delivered. The 24-year-old has been a bright spark in an otherwise gloomy season at Goodison Park.
Not only did Pickford’s assured displays between the sticks earn him three awards at the Toffees’ end-of-season ceremony – player of the season, players’ player of the season and young player of the season – they have strengthened his claim to be Gareth Southgate’s No.1 at the World Cup in Russia.
Worst signing: Davy Klaassen
Like Chelsea, Everton had a few contenders for ‘worst signing.’ Gylfi Sigurdsson hasn’t hit the heights he achieved at Swansea while Michael Keane hasn’t been the portrait of consistency he was at Burnley but, considering that Klaassen was extremely poor under Ronald Koeman before being completely frozen out by Sam Allardyce, our mind was made up.
The Dutch playmaker’s eye-catching form last year with Ajax meant he cost £23.6million but that seems a ludicrous valuation in retrospect given he has started just three Premier League games this season.
A January move to Napoli collapsed and, if Allardyce remains Toffees boss, expect Klaassen to be on the move once again this summer.
Best signing: Aaron Mooy
Christopher Schindler scooped the club’s player of the season but many feel it should have been Mooy.
The Australian midfield, who spent last season on loan at the John Smith’s Stadium, has been highly influential for David Wagner’s men, completing more crosses, tackles and passes than any of his teammates.
Worst signing: N/A
Best signing: Harry Maguire
An astute signing from Hull City, Maguire has been ever-present in Claude Puel’s side, fulfilling his defensive duties while also chipping in with two goals and four assists.
The 25-year-old, a willing runner with the ball, has given the Foxes some much-needed legs at the back and, if the England international continues to play at such a high standard, it will become increasingly difficult to keep him at the King Power Stadium.
Worst signing: Kelechi Iheanacho
Whereas Wilfred Ndidi has thrived at Leicester, his Nigeria teammate has flopped. Iheanacho cost Leicester an eyebrow-raising £25million to prise away from Manchester City and it has not been money well-spent. Not by a long shot.
The 21-year-old has managed only one goal in 15 league appearances this season and, while he could still have a bright future in the Premier League, the forward has a long way to go before he full rediscovers his confidence and threatens Jamie Vardy’s place in the team.
Best signing: Mohamed Salah
Obviously. In a thrilling act of Premier League redemption, Salah arrived from Roma for the now modest price of £32million and has taken Anfield by storm in one of the most magnificent debut seasons in recent memory.
With 31 goals in 35 league games, the Egyptian winger rightly scooped the PFA Player of the Year award and will be a critical part of Jürgen Klopp’s plan to bring an end to Real Madrid’s Champions League domination.
The question now will be how well Salah can live up to such silly numbers next season. Nobody is expecting him to continue banging in goals with such freakish regularity, but it will be interesting to see if the Kop favourite can avoid the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’ that has befallen so many before him.
Worst signing: N/A
Best signing: Ederson
It’s testament to Ederson’s brilliance this season that he has earned so many plaudits when his teammates have played some of the finest football English football has ever seen.
Claudio Bravo proved to be an error-prone liability for Pep Guardiola last year so signing a dependable goalkeeper was imperative last summer. Luckily, in Ederson, City found the perfect man to occupy the goal at the Etihad long-term.
Kyle Walker came under serious consideration – the right-back has been a brilliant upgrade at right-back.
Worst signing: N/A
Best signing: Nemanja Matić
One of the biggest tactical issues José Mourinho faced in his first season as United manager was getting the best out of Paul Pogba. It didn’t always work. The Frenchman begrudgingly had to accept some defensive responsibilities but the arrival of Matić has largely changed that.
A classic ‘Mourinho player,’ the Serbian has been thoroughly impressive.
His positional discipline and long-striding runs have been a positive feature of United’s play this season and it’s not a stretch to say that signing the 29-year-old Serbia international was the most astute and important piece of business United have conducted under Mourinho.
Worst signing: Victor Lindelöf
Unlike Matić, the Swedish centre-back has not slotted seamlessly into Mourinho’s system.
Having impressed at Benfica last year, Lindelöf has struggled to settle at Old Trafford but, after an extremely shaky start, the 23-year-old has shown tentative signs of improvement, suggesting that he may yet become a mainstay in the United defence.
Best signing: Kenedy
It hasn’t been a season filled with exciting new recruits at St James’ Park but Kenedy’s arrival at the end of January really injected some unpredictability and flair into the Newcastle attack.
The 22-year-old Brazilian was out of favour at Chelsea but his enterprising displays have endeared him to the Geordie faithful. Rafael Benítez is now expected to pursue sealing Kenedy on a permanent basis.
Worst signing: Islam Slimani
Joselu hasn’t exactly got the pulses racing but Slimani has been an ineffective January acquisition. Once one of the most devastating forwards in the Portuguese league, the Algerian’s Premier League experience has gone from bad to worse, being out of favour at Leicester before failing to impress in the North East.
Slimani’s season is now over after being banned for violent conduct following a kick on West Bromwich Albion’s Craig Dawson. An ignominious end to a failed experiment.
Best signing: Mario Lemina
The £18million import from Juventus has struggled with consistency but there have been moments of genuine quality from the 24-year-old, including his smashing goal against West Brom.
Southampton fans will demand a step-up next year but a look at his stats suggests that the Gabon international has a lot of natural talent; 88 per cent of his dribbles have been completed and he’s managed 2.5 successful tackles per 90.
If Lemina can add consistency to his raw talent, he could prove to be a key player at St Mary’s next season.
Worst signing: Guido Carrillo
Lemina has been nowhere near as consistent as Saints had been expecting but Carrillo’s arrival from Monaco for £19.2million now seems like a mini-disaster, seeing that he hasn’t scored. Enough said.
Southampton’s search to find a reliable, prolific goal-getter continues. Charlie Austin is a clinical finisher but he can’t be relied upon to stay fit for a full season.
Best signing: Badou Ndiaye
In a harrowing season for the Potters, with several signings flopping, if anyone has stood out, it’s been the Senegalese midfielder.
However, having only arrived in January, Ndiaye joins the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Jack Butland in players almost certain to leave Stoke following their relegation to the Championship.
Worst signing: Kevin Wimmer
The Austrian centre-back was brought in from Tottenham Hotspur to help shore things up at the back.
Sadly, he’s done anything but. After a string of sub-par performances, the 25-year-old was demoted to the Under-23s by Paul Lambert.
Suffice to say, that isn’t what the club had envisaged when they forked up £18million to take Wimmer from Spurs.
Best signing: Sam Clucas
Again, like Stoke, it’s difficult to pick out an outstanding new face, but Clucas has unquestionably been one of the more positive aspects in an otherwise grim campaign for the Swans.
The hard-working midfielder arrived at the Liberty Stadium on the back of an impressive campaign with Hull and, if Swansea go down, you feel the 27-year-old will be one of the key men in a bid to earn immediate promotion back to the big time.
When Swansea secured the Portuguese youngster on loan, it was hailed as a significant coup. Sanches featured regularly earlier in the season, his performances ranging from strangely subdued to downright comically inept.
He has not appeared in a Premier League game since January and will almost certainly be heading back to Bayern Munich when the season ends.
Best signing: Davinson Sánchez
It didn’t take long for Sànchez to show why Spurs decided to splash a club-record £42million to sign him from Ajax.
The 21-year-old Colombian slid gracefully into Mauricio Pochettino’s back three at the start of the season and, while there has been the odd hiccup here and there, Sánchez’s debut season has provided compelling evidence that he has the potential to become genuinely world-class.
A shrewd piece of business indeed.
Studying a past master. Davinson Sánchez was 354 days old when the inimitable Franco Baresi, whom he idolises, brought an end to his illustrious playing career pic.twitter.com/xeTyCEtnPt
— Mohamed Moallim (@iammoallim) May 8, 2018
Worst signing: Serge Aurier
Lucas Moura has had little impact on the squad and Fernando Llorente hasn’t quite been a dependable alternative, but it has not been a debut season to remember for Aurier.
The French right-back was brought in to replace Kyle Walker but has spent the majority of the season behind the impressive Kieran Trippier in the pecking order.
Best signing: Will Hughes
Richarlison started the season impressively but has struggled for consistency in the second half of the season so, despite missing a considerable portion through injury, Hughes takes it on the basis that he hasn’t really had any ‘bad’ games.
Now fully fit and brimming with confidence, the 23-year-old’s creativity and craft in the Hornets’ midfield has led to many calls for an England call-up.
Provided he stays healthy, Hughes will be one of the main attractions at Vicarage Road next season.
Worst signing: Molla Wagué
The Mali centre-back has been plagued by injuries, making only one appearance on loan for the Hornets all season.
After the arrivals of Gerard Deulofeu and Didier Ndong in January, Wagué was left out of the revised Premier League squad and hasn’t been seen since.
The 27-year-old will head back to Udinese in the summer and it’s doubtful he’ll be missed in the Premier League.
Best signing: Jay Rodriguez
The former Southampton striker has been to hell and back again. Considering that the 28-year-old missed the best part of two years when he was in the depths of his injury woes, it’s been refreshing to see him back doing what he does best: hasseling defenders.
He’s been far from flawless but, as the club’s joint top-scorer, it was difficult to look past him.
Worst signing: Daniel Sturridge
Although it’s widely expected that Sturridge is no longer the clinical forward that partnered Luis Suarez so beautifully under Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, he has failed to make any sort of impression since arriving at the Hawthorns on loan in January.
His progress has once again been blighted but injuries but the 28-year-old hasn’t shone when given the chance.
Best signing: Marko Arnautović
Wayward and low on confidence under Slaven Bilić, the Austrian has been transformed under David Moyes, playing a crucial role in securing the Hammers’ Premier League status.
With ten goals and five assists, Arnautović has gone from enigmatic to excellent, blossoming into West Ham’s most influential player and thriving as some of his teammates have struggled. Keeping him this summer is essential.
Worst signing: Javier Hernández
Joe Hart has made several mistakes but Hernández, who cost the club £16million, has failed to remind everyone why he was such a popular figure at Manchester United.
The Mexican will turn 30 in June and it won’t be all that surprising if he is employed by someone else come the start of next season.