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Flashbulbs aside, the English Premier League’s star-studded, 2022 summer transfer window has seen more glitz and glam than a season of MTV Cribs, and with an obscene $1.65 billion spent at the time of publishing, just imagine the swanky digs awaiting those star footballers. Premier League teams who sought splashy upgrades all seemed to be on the hunt for speed, hoping to propel match cadence into something a bit more dynamic while also adding new dimensions to their squad’s identity and culture. From Erling Haaland to Gianluca Scamacca and everyone in between, we’re breaking down the most noteworthy and perplexing transfers that caught our eye while grading the squads who acquired them.
Darwin Nunez | Liverpool A-
One word comes to mind to describe Liverpool’s latest acquisition: jackpot. Approved by Anfield legend Pepe Reina, Nunez possesses an arsenal of skills, weaponized to wreak havoc on the opposition’s defense like he did in his debut against Fulham where he scored one goal off the bench and set up another.
At the tender age of 23, he’s got agility, killer instinct and finishing potential reminiscent of Neymar, but that’s only half of his bag of tricks. He works just as easily off the ball as he does holding it, biding his time for the opportune moment to strike, but what could make him a truly transcendent force is his speed. Last season, the Uruguayan striker reached a max speed of a mind-blowing 36.5 km/hr in the Champion’s League. Astoundingly, that’s nearly 3 km/hr better than his new partner-in-crime Mohamed Salah – the same Salah who’s vying for his fourth Golden Boot this season. Let that sink in. Though nearly $78 million plus bonuses might seem like a steep fee, it’s a paltry sum in comparison to the dividends coach Jügen Klopp hopes Nunez will yield. The addition of Nunez signals the Reds’ desire to reinvigorate their vibrant and aggressive style of play, and considering their new dynamic duo the likes of which hasn’t been seen since MIB’s Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, Liverpool just put the entire EPL universe on notice.
Erling Haaland | Manchester City A+
The only thing that would’ve made the Norwegian man-child’s Premier League debut more enthralling is if, after he scored his second goal to lead Man City to a 2-0 win over West Ham, he donned a horned Viking helmet and gave thanks to the Norse gods. The 22-year-old put on an absolute clinic, displaying bouts of his superb finishing capability without ever appearing winded. Though his brand of athleticism is still raw and needs time to develop, the thought of what he already can do is brutally demoralizing for the rest of the league and tantalizingly delicious for The Citizens. Keep your eye on how his on-field chemistry with Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish evolves over the next few games. As consummate pros and field generals, they’ll look to utilize every iota of his talent and unleash the beast at every chance. If Haaland can replicate his scoring prowess he had at Dortmund, where he notched 86 goals in 89 matches, his fee of more than $100 million will be a distant memory. Watch out Thor, Odin might soon be crowning a new, favorite son.
Lisandro Martinez | Manchester United B
There’s no denying that Martinez did well during his time with Ajax, but nearly $70 million, Manchester United chucked a mountain of cash to win the services of the 24-year-old Argentine whose new task of locking down United’s defense will be tough to say the least. While many are already pointing fingers at former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag, who now leads United, for a potential transfer folly, Martinez is a left-footed defender whose speed and versatility to play multiple positions could add some much needed depth to The Red Devils’ struggling defense. Still, that’s yet to be seen as he had an abysmal debut in United’s 2-1 home defeat against Brighton. In a cringeworthy play, he chased down Danny Welbeck and blatantly fouled him in the box for what should’ve amounted to a penalty. Considering all the drama around Ronaldo and ten Hag’s future with the squad, United needs something to go right, and it's no guarantee Martinez is the answer.
Raheem Sterling | Chelsea A+
Spend big to win big, and at nearly $58 million (including add-ons), the Blues seriously shelled out to acquire the 27-year-old Englishman. It’s a hefty sum, but after a rough and public departure from Man City, Sterling’s got ice in his veins and is motivated like hell to prove why his former coach Pep Guardiola was wrong for not playing him more over the last couple of seasons. Sterling’s a highly skilled attacker who can light a fire at moment’s notice. As a cunning winger, expect to see him on deep ball runs, and if he gets behind the defense, his lethal spontaneity makes him a nightmare for one-on-one matchups. With coach Thomas Tuchel vowing to make him an integral piece, locking in the same intensity he showed in Chelsea’s 1-0 win against Everton could propel Sterling to have an exceptional season.
Gabriel Jesus | Arsenal A-
Though the Brazilian rolls with a more fluid style of play than Arsenal have been known for in recent seasons, this might be exactly what The Gunners need. His high-octane play will provide a much-needed burst to Mikel Arteta’s squad who, at times, seems to lack the requisite amount of aggression to be victorious. Captain Martin Odegaard is already singing the Brazilian’s praises for his "winning mentality," and considering how well he jives with William Saliba, Jesus’ $55 million fee was money well spent.
Marc Cucurella | Chelsea C+
Forget his $68 million fee (plus the potential for another $8.5 million in add-ons). To be blunt, this was just weird. The Spaniard’s had only one viable season in the Premier League, and now he’s joining a crowded workplace. Chelsea already has a superb left fullback in Ben Chilwell, leading some like Arsenal legend Martin Keown to call his signing "nonsensical" while others, like Manchester United paladin Gary Neville, admit being "stunned" by the acquisition. Though Chilwell is coming back after rehabbing a serious ACL injury, the Blues signing Cucurella has got to get under his skin, and if that happens, expect the ripple effects on the squad to look more like a surging squall. That said, if life at Stamford Bridge becomes too tumultuous, surely Vidal Sassoon’s creative directors would love to get their hands on a head of lettuce like Cucurella's.
Gianluca Scamacca | West Ham B+
Scamacca had an admirable year last season in Serie A, earning a roster spot on the Italian national squad after scoring 16 goals in 36 matches. Clocking in at a formidable 6-foot-5, the striker will undoubtedly command the respect of any backline … when he’s healthy. The 23-year-old has been sidelined with an injury, obliterating any chance of him returning to fitness in the preseason, but that’s not affecting how West Ham views the future of its $43 million acquisition. Despite his lack of game preparation, Scamacca’s performance marked a bright spot for The Hammers in their 2-0 loss to Man City. He won a handful of headers that made City think twice about giving him any daylight, and at times, he appeared to galvanize West Ham’s attack with a noticeable rhythm. Scamacca will only continue to be a bright spot on the pitch for West Ham, and when – not if – he does finally achieve game shape, watch out Premier League. The real Italian Stallion uses his feet, not his fists.
Oleksandr Zinchenko | Arsenal A
On paper, Arsenal’s $39 million acquisition might appear a little odd, considering Kieran Tierney is a strong player at left back, and though he’s coming off an injury and still finding his form, the Scotsman played admirably in manager Mikel Arteta’s backfield. That’s how badly The Gunners wanted Zinchenko. Between his tenacity and strategic style, the Ukrainian is a stud on the pitch and has the type of dauntless spirit that’ll push his mates to be better. He’s someone that coaches can build around long term while players will respect him immediately. Even Tierney says that he’s "buzzing" Zinchenko is joining Arsenal. That’s a lot of optimism to heap onto the guy who may end up stealing your job, but if his debut against Crystal Palace where he notched an assist is any sign of things to come, we’ll gladly co-sign on the Scotsman’s enthusiasm.
Christian Eriksen | Manchester United B-
United is literally throwing everything but the kitchen sink in an attempt to avoid a sixth consecutive season without hoisting a trophy, but sadly Eriksen isn’t the one to deliver the club’s much needed salvation. The Dane has enjoyed an illustrious career to date, impacting match play for every club he played for – Ajax, Tottenham, Inter Milan and Brentford – but it’s fair to say that at 30-years-old with a cardiac issue, he’s on the back nine of his career. Despite coming over in a free transfer from Brentford, United seems like the last place he’d want to sing his swan song. The vet’s a tactician on the field, but United’s festering in a pool of self-created drama. Simply put, Old Trafford’s a mess, and as a club always looking to deflect blame, an aging star with a documented, fitness-affecting health issue seems like the perfect scapegoat for ten Hag to hang his hat on. Say that three times fast.
What do you think of our list? What transfers caught your eye?
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