We’ve seen some enormous moves in the pre-season transfer market amongst the five clubs considered to be in with a realistic chance of winning the Premier League 2014-15 title. So who do you think has made the best moves of them all – and who will prove have the stamina to land the title come next May?
Let’s start with the club that will probably require the least stamina as – for the first time in two decades – they don’t have a Champions League campaign to add into the mix; Manchester United.
The absence of the European campaign coupled with a new manager with a proven record at the helm in the shape of Louis van Gaal – means United fans are full of optimism. The club has made only a couple of big moves in the market so far; bringing in Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao and Luke Shaw from Southampton, whilst Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Alexander Buttner all leave Old Trafford.
There’ll surely be more moves at Old Trafford by the end of August. As things stand, United are 4-1 third favourites with bookmaker 32 Red to be atop the table by the end of the season. This may be good value if you think Van Gaal has what it takes and that the Champions League season off will make a difference. United fans will care only about the league title this year – or at least coming very close to it – and you can bet van Gaal will have been well-briefed to this effect by the Old Trafford Board.
With bookmakers like 32 Red, Gala, SkyVegas and several others, who run both sports books and casinos, a good tactic is to take the casino welcome bonuses and play through a few rounds – transferring whatever you have left to the sports book to have a punt on the Premier League (or anything else for that matter). The 32Red online roulette bonus, for example, runs to a maximum £250 free via £32 for each £10 deposited, so you have a good chance of winding up with a decent-sized free bet.
If that’s going on the Premier League winners, though, and United don’t quite cut it for you, then how about current marginal favourites Chelsea? The Mourinho magic has been at work on the market as the Stamford Bridge club are currently 9/5 favourites with 32 Red to land the title.
And the “special one” has certainly been busy in the market already, bringing in Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid, Cesc Fabregas Barcelona, Filipe Luis Atletico Madrid and old favourite Didier Drogba from Galatasaray on a free transfer.
Leaving Stamford Bridge are David Luiz in the summer’s biggest money deal at the club who leaves for Paris St-Germain, Chelsea stalwart Frank Lampard who joins New York City FC, Demba Ba to Besiktas, Ashley Cole to Roma and Thorgan Hazard to Borussia Monchengladbach on loan. These are some pretty wholesale changes and the market clearly likes them. And it obviously likes them marginally more than the changes in the blue half of Manchester where the champions, City, have made relatively small moves. Manager Manuel Pellegrini has brought in Fernando from Porto, along with Bacary Sagna from Arsenal on a free transfer – whilst keeper Willy Caballero joins the squad from Malaga. Going the other way is Joleon Lescott who joins to West Brom.
Clearly, Pellegrini either hasn’t made his really big moves just yet or feels he has a sufficiently strong squad already.
Arsenal have made their biggest signing for a long time in the shape of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona along with Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle. And Liverpool have made their biggest sale ever as disgraced Uruguayan star Luis Suarez joins Barcelona. Coming into Anfield, however, are Lazar Markovic from Benfica, Emre Can from Bayer Leverkusen and Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert from Southampton.
So there we have it. The market so far seems to think José Mourinho has the best abilities in this game – but only just. And it doesn’t quite seem to know what to make of the first Dutchman in a big English managerial role. Whatever happens – it will be a fascinating season to come – beginning on July 19th – so who’s your money on?