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Salah, Mane and Mahrez show that early summer signings pay off, but it failed to work for Man United

The start of the new Premier League season is still more than six weeks away, but last season’s top two, Manchester City and Liverpool, already seem to be dominating again after quickly closing some big early deals.

Finishing last season at 93 and 92 points respectively – well short of Chelsea in third place at 74 – the pair have reaffirmed their superiority with some rapid activity in the transfer market.

Liverpool are said to have ended their business after breaking their transfer record by signing Darwin Nunez for £85 million, in between confirming the arrival of exciting teenagers Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay.

Liverpool have broken their transfer record by signing Darwin Nunez from Benfica for £85 million

Liverpool have broken their transfer record by signing Darwin Nunez from Benfica for £85 million

Pep Guardiola has only made one addition to his already talented squad, but it’s a hugely important one. Erling Haaland has arrived at the Etihad Stadium for £51 million.

By contrast, clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea have yet to dive into the market and risk falling even further behind in their pursuit of the top two.

But how important is it to get your cases done quickly? sports post looks at when early arrivals are successful – and when they are not quite right.

Premier League champions make crucial early signings

Over the past 10 years, most title-winning teams have done their most important transfer business early in the window.

In 2013, Manchester City wanted to win the trophy back from rivals United and had spent £87 million by the time they traveled to Hong Kong in preparation for the Premier League Asia Trophy. Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic all arrived at the Etihad and helped Manuel Pellegrini’s side win the competition.

A year later, Chelsea invaded LaLiga to sign Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Filipe Luis by mid-July for a total of £75million. Fabregas would go up to the Premier League first ranking 18th and Costa was named in the PFA Team of the Year as the Blues won the title in an eight-point canter.

Diego Costa's goals helped Chelsea win the Premier League title after being signed in July 2014

Diego Costa’s goals helped Chelsea win the Premier League title after being signed in July 2014

Leicester’s 5000/1 title win in 2015-16 was based on a squad of players with a point to prove. Although the Foxes’ main addition, N’Golo Kante, wasn’t made until August 3, three unsung heroes — Robert Huth, Christian Fuchs, and Shinji Okazaki — had all come to an agreement by the end of June.

However, Kante had been taken over by Chelsea in mid-July the following summer and proved a crucial early signing as the Blues recaptured the title. It’s worth noting that they also put two signatures on the deadline that season – David Luiz and Marcos Alonso – so last minute business is not always a recipe for disaster.

Pep Guardiola led Manchester City to third place in his first season in England, but he quickly started molding the squad in his image the following summer to ensure they won the title by 100 points. Bernardo Silva, Ederson and Kyle Walker were in mid-July.

Robert Huth and Christian Fuchs had arrived early at Leicester before the Foxes won the title

Robert Huth and Christian Fuchs had arrived early at Leicester before the Foxes won the title

Manchester City's only major signing in the summer of 2018 was star Riyad Mahrez.  from £60 million

Manchester City’s only major signing in the summer of 2018 was star Riyad Mahrez. from £60 million

City won the league again in 2018-19 with much the same group of players plus one crucial addition. Riyad Mahrez signed on July 10 for 60 million pounds from Leicester.

However, early business has not been so important to Premier League champions in recent years. Liverpool made no major additions before winning the title in 2019-20, while the following season and transfer window started late due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last summer, the signing of Jack Grealish for £100million by Manchester City was confirmed just 10 days before Pep Guardiola’s first league game.

Klopp is the king of getting things done

Jurgen Klopp has transformed Liverpool since his appointment as manager nearly seven years ago, with the club’s transfer activity being particularly impressive under the German.

Not only have most of Klopp’s additions been successful, most have been signed early in the transfer window – with Nunez, Carvalho and Ramsay being the latest examples.

Jurgen Klopp was an expert at getting transfer matters done at Liverpool early

Jurgen Klopp was an expert at getting transfer matters done at Liverpool early

Since 2016, Liverpool have signed deals for Sadio Mane, Joel Matip, Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita, Fabinho and Ibrahima Konate before early July. They have all played a key role as the club’s fortunes soared.

In fact, with the exception of the summer of 2020, the Reds only paid money for one player under Klopp in August – the £35million deadline signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in 2017.

Also in January they are fast with their business. Virgil van Dijk and Takumi Minamino have both signed a deal for the start of the recent winter windows.

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah both joined Liverpool in deals closed before the end of June

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah both joined Liverpool in deals closed before the end of June

But it doesn’t always work… just ask Manchester United

Handling your transfer matters quickly is not a guaranteed golden ticket to success.

The most glaring example is, unsurprisingly, Manchester United. The transfer policy of the Red Devils has been heavily scrutinized in recent years because there is not much policy.

United have spent huge sums of money in an effort to return to their former glory and they have signed both early and late.

During Jose Mourinho’s first summer at the club in 2016, they made a letter of intent by bringing in Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan at the end of the first week of July.

Manchester United signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic in July 2016, but only finished sixth in the league

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 started strong, winning their first three league games. But they would only win two of their next 11, eventually finishing sixth in the table.

Meanwhile, with Liverpool last summer before Klopp’s arrival at the club, early business at Anfield proved unsuccessful.

In a bid to improve on sixth place from the previous season, Brendan Rodgers acted quickly in the transfer market, signing a whopping six players – Joe Gomez, James Milner, Danny Ings, Adam Bogdan, Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne – before the end of June.

While Milner, Firmino and Gomez have won the Champions League and Premier League, none of them made an immediate impression and failed to avoid Rodgers being sacked in October 2015 with the Reds 10th in the standings.

Danny Ings was an early addition to Liverpool in the summer of 2015, but struggled at Anfield

Danny Ings was an early addition to Liverpool in the summer of 2015, but struggled at Anfield

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