The summer transfer window has been open for a little more than a few weeks in England but for now, it is Arsenal who are assuming center stage in the Premier League. The Gunners finished second in the division last term, losing to Manchester City at the summit despite leading for much of the campaign, but Mikel Arteta wants to go one better next term.
The Gunners have secured the signature of Kai Havertz, and Declan Rice is likely to be the next player to move to the Emirates Stadium in the coming days. Arsenal this week made a club-record bid for the West Ham United captain, with the deal said to be worth around $133m (£105m/€122m), according to ESPN.
The Hammers have accepted the offer, with the 24-year-old midfielder looking set to play under Arteta next season. Rice is an impressive player who has experienced steady evolution over the past few years, but the transfer fee is incredibly high. He will be Arsenal’s most expensive purchase, and by some distance.
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The bold switch almost describes the shades of Liverpool in 2018. Around that time five years ago, Jürgen Klopp delivered a gradual improvement on Merseyside, with the Reds growing with each passing campaign thanks to smart acquisitions made in the market, including signing the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané.
The Anfield outfit is getting better, but Klopp needs to add one or two game-changers to his squad to get over the line. Michael Edwards, then Liverpool’s sporting director, was tasked with getting the necessary ingredients for his manager, and he did so with great success.
In the January window of 2018, the Reds invested in a certain Virgil van Dijk, who was ready to leave Southampton after becoming too good to compete in the middle of the Premier League table. The Dutchman was courted by Manchester City at the time, but Liverpool managed to convince him to move to Merseyside.
Edwards broke the transfer record when he signed Van Dijk, as Liverpool paid around $95m (£75m/€87m) to secure his signature. No defender has ever been signed for that amount, and the Reds have never spent that much on a player, but he was deemed worth every penny.
Van Dijk was labeled ‘transformational’ by Edwards, so he deserved that price, and six months later, another so-called ‘transformer’ arrived for a record-breaking transfer fee , with Alisson Becker moving to English shores from AS Roma.
Like his Dutch teammate, the Brazilian goalkeeper became the world’s most expensive goalkeeper at the time, signing for a similarly hefty $82m (£65m/€75m). It’s a big investment, but it’s a squad void that Edwards just needs to address if Klopp is to compete on a consistent basis at the top of the sport.
The rest is history. Since Van Dijk and Alisson teamed up to transform Liverpool’s defence, Klopp has won every competition he has entered at least once, including the Premier League, Champions League, Club World Cup, FA Cup and everything in between, including Reds truly conquer the game.
The duo have been pillars of strength for Liverpool on the field. It is reasonable to suggest that Klopp would have struggled to deliver an unforgettable golden era had Van Dijk and Alisson not joined his cause some five years ago. Edwards took a huge gamble by allocating a large portion of his budget to two players, but his calculated risk paid dividends and his decisions were justified.
Arsenal are not too different from Liverpool in the sense that transfer records are not often broken by the Gunners. It’s a big deal for a huge fee to be lavished on a player in Rice, with Arteta really hoping he can have a similar transformative effect at the Emirates Stadium.
The north London club are taking a Liverpool-esque gamble on the West Ham United skipper this summer. If he delivers as a transformer he should – with the bar set by Van Dijk and Alisson – then Arsenal should have the Premier League title before too long. If he doesn’t, however, Arteta’s men will struggle to take that final step in their quest to become champions sooner rather than later.
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