After having all summer to strengthen their squads, Arsenal and Manchester United managed to rush through just two significant signings in a US$100 million spree as the transfer window was closing.
Arsenal signed playmaker Mesut Ozil for a club record 50 million euros (US$66 million) from Real Madrid on Monday, while United bought midfielder Marouane Fellaini from Everton for ￡27.5 million (US$43 million).
The transfers pushed spending by Premier League clubs to more than ￡600 million this summer, a record amount on the back of new lucrative television deals.
Arsenal’s recruitment of Ozil on a five-year deal was a coup and the 24-year-old German’s arrival is an emphatic response by American owner Stan Kroenke to supporters who have demanded big spending.
Fans had watched in frustration throughout the summer as north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur spent more than US$150 million on seven players, while Arsenal’s only permanent recruits were the free signings of Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini.
However, after manager Arsene Wenger missed out on Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez and Yohan Cabaye, the Gunners have pulled off the big-name signing promised in June when they said there would be an “escalation in our financial firepower.”
The fee for Ozil easily outstrips Arsenal’s previous largest transfer — ￡15 million for Andrey Arshavin in 2009 — and the club hopes he will help to produce its first trophy since 2005.
“We have signed a world-class player who is one of Europe’s brightest young talents,” chief executive Ivan Gazidis said. “Mr Kroenke ... has always fully supported Arsene and the club in making significant investments to strengthen our squad and to bring in talented players, who fit our style and ambitions.”
United, though, has been frustrated in their bid to spend before transfer activity was halted until January.
Fellaini is the only notable signing since David Moyes replaced Sir Alex Ferguson as manager at the end of last season.
Moyes turned to former club Everton, after being unable to mark the start of his reign with a marquee signing. Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas was pursued for several weeks and the champions failed in a high-profile attempt on Monday to bring Real Madrid defender Fabio Coentrao to Old Trafford.
“When I was given the opportunity to work with [Moyes[ again, I jumped at the chance,” Fellaini said.
The biggest Premier League spenders of the summer were Tottenham, who splurged more than ￡110 million on seven players in their bid to break back into the top four and qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
The spending spree was largely funded by Gareth Bale being sold to Real Madrid for a world-record 100 million euros, but to subsidize that signing, Madrid had to offload players and Tottenham’s north London rivals were a beneficiary with the capture of Ozil.
It was double blow for Tottenham, having lost the derby to Arsenal on Sunday.
Unbeaten league leaders Liverpool were also active on deadline day, building on a strong start to the season that has seen the team open the Premier League with three straight wins for the first time since 1993-1994.
Their defensive options were enhanced with France international Mamadou Sakho signed from Paris Saint-Germain and Tiago Ilori, who has represented Portugal at youth level, arriving from Portugal’s Sporting.