The start of the new Premier League campaign is still over six weeks away, but last season’s top two Manchester City and Liverpool already look set to dominate again after quickly wrapping up some big early deals.
The pair finished on 93 and 92 points respectively last season – well clear of third-place Chelsea on 74 – and have gone about reaffirming their superiority with some swift activity in the transfer market.
Liverpool are believed to have finished their business, having smashed their transfer record to sign Darwin Nunez for £ 85million in between confirming the arrivals of exciting teenagers Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay.
Liverpool have broken their transfer record to sign Darwin Nunez for £ 85million from Benfica
Pep Guardiola has only made one addition to his already talented squad, but it is a hugely significant one. Erling Haaland has arrived at the Etihad Stadium for £ 51m.
In contrast, clubs such as Manchester United and Chelsea are yet to dip into the market and risk falling even further behind in their pursuit of the top two.
But how important is it to get your business done quickly? Sportsmail takes a look at when early arrivals have worked out – and when they haven’t quite hit the mark.
Premier League champions make vital early signings
Over the last 10 years, the majority of title-winning teams have got their most important transfer business done early in the window.
In 2013, Manchester City were looking to regain the trophy from rivals United and had spent £ 87m by the time they traveled to Hong Kong for the Premier League Asia Trophy in the pre-season. Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic all arrived at the Etihad and helped Manuel Pellegrini’s side win the league.
A year later, Chelsea raided LaLiga to sign Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Filipe Luis for a combined £ 75m by mid-July. Fabregas would go on to top the Premier League assist chart with 18 and Costa was named in the PFA Team of the Year as the Blues won the title at a canter by eight points.
Diego Costa’s goals fired Chelsea to the Premier League title after he was signed in July 2014
Leicester’s 5000/1 title win in 2015-16 was built on a squad of players with a point to prove. While the Foxes’ most important addition N’Golo Kante was not made until August 3, three unsung heroes – Robert Huth, Christian Fuchs and Shinji Okazaki – had all agreed deals by the end of June.
Kante had been snapped up by mid-July by Chelsea the following summer though and proved a vital early signing as the Blues regained the title. It’s worth noting that they also made two deadline day signings that season too – David Luiz and Marcos Alonso – so last-minute business is not always a recipe for disaster.
Pep Guardiola led Manchester City to a third-place finish in his first season in England, but he quickly set about molding the squad in his image in the summer after to ensure they went on to lift the title with 100 points. Bernardo Silva, Ederson and Kyle Walker were through the door by mid-July.
Robert Huth and Christian Fuchs were early arrivals at Leicester before the Foxes’ title win
Manchester City’s only major signing in the summer of 2018 was £ 60million star Riyad Mahrez
City won the league again in 2018-19 with much the same group of players plus one pivotal addition. Riyad Mahrez signed for £ 60m from Leicester on July 10.
Early business hasn’t been as significant for Premier League champions in recent years, though. Liverpool made no major additions before they won the title in 2019-20, while the following season and transfer window started late due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last summer, Manchester City £ 100m signing of Jack Grealish was confirmed just 10 days before Pep Guardiola’s side’s first league fixture.
Klopp is the king of getting business done
Jurgen Klopp has transformed Liverpool since his appointment as manager nearly seven years ago, with the club’s transfer business particularly impressive under the German.
Not only have the majority of Klopp’s additions been successful, most of them have been signed early in the transfer window – with Nunez, Carvalho and Ramsay being the latest examples.
Jurgen Klopp has been an expert at getting transfer business done early at Liverpool
Since 2016, Liverpool have agreed deals before the start of July for Sadio Mane, Joel Matip, Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita, Fabinho and Ibrahima Konate. All have played key roles as the club’s fortunes have soared.
In fact, excluding the summer of 2020, the Reds have only paid money in August for one player under Klopp – the £ 35m deadline day signing of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in 2017.
They are also swift with their business in January. Virgil van Dijk and Takumi Minamino have both agreed deals before the start of recent winter windows.
Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah both joined Liverpool in deals agreed before the end of June
But it does not always work out … just ask Manchester United
Getting your transfer business done quickly is not a guaranteed golden ticket to success.
The most glaring example is, unsurprisingly, Manchester United. The Red Devils’ transfer policy has been heavily scrutinized in recent years because, well, there is not much of a policy.
United have spent huge sums of money in an attempt to return to their former glories and they’ve made signings both early and late in windows.
In Jose Mourinho’s first summer at the club in 2016, they made a statement of intent by bringing in Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan by the end of the first week of July.
Manchester United signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic in July 2016 but only finished sixth in the league
With the addition of Paul Pogba a week before the start of the season, United actually got off to a strong start and won their first three league games. But they would win just two of their next 11 and eventually finished sixth in the table.
Meanwhile, in Liverpool’s last summer before Klopp’s arrival at the club, early business at Anfield did not prove to be a success.
In a bid to improve upon a sixth-place finish the season before, Brendan Rodgers acted quickly in the transfer market and signed a staggering six players before the end of June – Joe Gomez, James Milner, Danny Ings, Adam Bogdan, Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne.
Although Milner, Firmino and Gomez have gone on to win the Champions League and Premier League, none of them made instant impacts and could not prevent Rodgers being sacked in October 2015 with the Reds 10th in the table.
Danny Ings was an early addition for Liverpool in the summer of 2015 but struggled at Anfield