After weeks of much bluster and little movement on the Premier League transfer front, summer kicked into gear with the second-biggest move of the post-season so far, while a few of the top flight’s lesser lights began to show their hands.
Here’s our rundown of this week’s deals, from the most valuable down:
Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim to Liverpool, £29m)
The Reds’ ability to mix it with the best during the transfer window has been questioned by many, due to Brendan Rodgers’ series of summer failures since signing on as Anfield gaffer three years ago, but few will argue that this Brazil international’s purchase is anything but good news for Liverpool.
Firmino followed up a 16-goal Bundesliga season in 2013/14 with only seven last term, but his assist haul (10) was down just two on the previous campaign and Hoffenheim improved a place, from ninth to eighth.
Selecao coach Dunga has turned to Firmino at Copa America and the 23-year-old has duly obliged, notching their all-important second goal against Venezuela to send them through to the quarter-finals in Chile as group winners.
Just shy of £30 million is a lot of money for a man who is yet to even play Europa League football, never mind Champions League, but the transfer pool that Liverpool are fishing in doesn’t have many better catches. They are [3.85] to deliver a top-four finish.
Dimitri Payet (Marseille to West Ham, £10.7m)
Though Andorran side Lusitanos aren’t expected to pose the most fiendish of challenges, West Ham want to get their 2015/16 squad in place as swiftly as possible ahead of their Europa League kick-off on Thursday, and the most expensive piece of the jigsaw has now been added.
Payet is a French international attacking midfielder and was the outstanding player for Marseille as they narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification in 2014/15, scoring seven Ligue 1 goals and contributing 17 assists.
Giddy co-chairman David Sullivan enthused that “we have signed a world-class player; if he was 22 he would be £30m plus, but he’s still in his prime”. Even so, many will claim that giving a high-earning 28-year-old a five-year contract with the option of a sixth is pretty punchy.
Tyrone Mings (Ipswich to Bournemouth, £8m)
Bournemouth completed by far the costliest transfer to date of the promoted clubs, and one that has raised eyebrows too, with the Cherries splashing out £8 million on a 22-year-old who has never played higher than at Championship level.
However, the youngster did a grand job at left back for the Tractor Boys in 2014/15, ensuring that Aaron Cresswell wasn’t missed following his £2 million move to West Ham.
Cresswell went on to be named Hammer of the Year and be linked with an eight-figure Manchester City switch, so if Mings manages a similar impact, it could yet emerge that they struck a shrewd deal.
Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona to Everton, £4.3m)
Roberto Martinez already knows all about this 21-year-old winger from his loan spell at Goodison Park in 2013/14, when Deulofeu’s quick, jinking runs from the wing frightened the lives out of many a Premier League full back.
He would have been waiting a long time to break into Luis Enrique’s Barcelona first team given the calibre of players in front of him, so Everton will feel they’ve picked up a bona fide bargain.
At less than £5 million, Deulofeu looks extremely cheap after already proving himself a handful in England, and five assists in 17 La Liga games on loan at Seviila last term – only ten of them starts – suggest that he remains in fine fettle.
Robert Huth (Stoke to Leicester, £3m)
Nigel Pearson’s men won more Premier League matches with the former Germany centre-half in the starting line up than without him last season, which is quite the feat considering Huth made his Foxes debut midway through February.
To give that point some extra context, Leicester triumphed in just 21 per cent of their 2014/15 fixtures minus the 30-year-old, compared with exactly half the 14 matches that Huth made Pearson’s teamsheet for.
He’s not cheap for his age, with the fee reported to rise to £4 million by the Leicester Mercury, but keeping a team in the top flight costs big money, and Leicester will feel that they have done a tidy bit of business with the Potters. If you disagree, the Foxes are [5.2] to be relegated.
James McClean (Wigan to West Brom, £1.5m)
It is difficult to get too enthused by McClean’s return to the Premier League, as it’s hard to know which version of the controversial Irishman is in transit.
Will it be the McClean who helped drag Sunderland to safety under Martin O’Neill in 2011/12, and usually gives a good account of himself for his old boss on Republic of Ireland duty?
Or will it be the McClean who languished in the Championship for the past two seasons, eventually relegated to League One with Wigan last term, having been dumped from the Stadium of Light by Paolo Di Canio in 2013? It’s not a big risk for West Brom at £1.5 million, but McClean has plenty to prove.
Maarten Stekelenburg (Fulham to Southampton, Loan)
Following Artur Boruc’s permanent move to Bournemouth, Saints boss Ronald Koeman needed a new goalkeeper to cover for injured number one Fraser Forster, with club captain Kelvin Davis and Paulo Gazzaniga apparently not up to the job.
It’s a tough balance for Koeman to strike, as Forster will be welcomed back as number one upon recovery, but Stekelenburg only turned out once across Ligue 1 and the Champions League on loan at Monaco last term, and the 2010 World Cup finalist hasn’t played for Netherlands since 2012.
The St Mary’s faithful will be hopeful of a swift return from Forster, with Stekelenburg sure to be rusty.