It’s that time again – with the Premier League season due to kick off tomorrow evening on Merseyside, clubs have their last chance to make additions to their squad before January. Recently-promoted sides look to make the final touches to a group they hope can keep the relegation wolf from the door, title hopefuls consider adding the last piece of the puzzle, and some mid-table side goes on a panic-signing spree that results in them selling half of those same players this time next year. Also, Jim White wears a yellow tie and half the internet goes wild.
In truth, the hype around transfer deadline day is often, like the fee of any player signed today, grossly inflated. Last year, the biggest signing made on the day was Chelsea’s acquisition of Athletic Bilbao’s goalkeeper Kepa, who by March was refusing to be substituted at the Carabao Cup final. Clubs who are still looking to complete deals at this point have, by definition, not got those same deals over the line weeks ago, bedded the relevant players in, and avoided being held to ransom by a selling club insisting on an elevated price. Whisper it quietly, but Transfer Deadline Day is a monument to terrible planning. Nonetheless, it is also a market on which bets can be placed, so let’s have a look at the best wagers available today.
Who’s bringing in the most players?
As we’ve already pointed out, doing your business ahead of deadline day is the best way to ensure value. Manchester City and Liverpool, in particular, seem to be very quiet ahead of the transfer window ceremonially slamming shut at 5pm. Of course, having won the domestic treble and Champions League between them last season, they had less surgery to carry out, but what signings they have made were concluded in advance of today. The clubs seeking to make deals today are, by definition, those whose squads are a work in progress. It’s not ideal to try and do all of your business before evening falls on the last day of the window, but that’s exactly what several teams are doing.
William Hill have a special market for the team to conclude most signings on deadline day, and leading the way, on 7/4, are Tottenham. The only Premier League club not to make a single signing during the 2018 window, they’ve already brought in Tanguy N’Dombele from Lyon, and are linked with Giovanni Lo Celso, Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon and potentially a high-value striker. Juventus have apparently called off a deal to sell Paulo Dybala, which may stymy Spurs’ hopes in that regard and open the way for their north London rivals Arsenal to top this particular market. They’ve agreed fees with Chelsea for David Luiz and Celtic for Kieran Tierney. With rumours of at least one more player to come in, their 3/1 odds are attractive.
Who’ll be furiously pushing F5 at 5pm?
If leaving your transfer business to the final day is hazardous, then spare a thought for fans of any club who, by 4pm, still haven’t concluded their mooted incoming business. Think of Leicester City in 2017, who paid a transfer fee and locked in personal terms with Adrien Silva, only to find that the paperwork for the deal had been filed at fourteen seconds past midnight. This left them unable to complete Silva’s registration until the 1st of January 2018, a particularly unpleasant state of affairs given that they had just sold Danny Drinkwater to Chelsea. Silva was given the squad number 14 by the Foxes as a dark in-joke.
Clubs will be keen to avoid such brinksmanship today but, with a number of deals potentially hinging on a selling club’s ability to source replacements, there are sure to be some furrowed brows as the clock ticks past 4.55pm. Paddy Power have a market on which club will conclude the final deal of the window, with Everton priced as 11/2 favourites. The Toffees are hoping to secure a centre-back to complete a pretty decent summer of business, but appear to still be working through a list of options. They may well still be active by teatime, but what about Leicester? They have the bulk of the £85million they got from Manchester United for Harry Maguire to spend, and are yet to nail down a replacement. Their price? 14/1 – which can’t help but feel a little like an omen given the Silva story.
Zaha on the move?
One of the most talked-about players during this window has been Crystal Palace’s talismanic winger Wilfried Zaha. The Cote d’Ivoire international has requested a move, feeling that another season of battling against relegation is one too many. He’s attracted plenty of interest, with Arsenal having had bids of around £45million rejected before they went on to sign Lille’s Nicolas Pepe. The Gunners are highly unlikely to go back in for him. However, Everton are another side who could do with pace on the flanks and, having been rebuffed from a £30million offer for Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, may revisit their early interest in Zaha.
The Eagles man is one of a number of players for whom Betfair have dedicated markets on where they will move today. Everton are, indeed, the club ranked as most likely to part Palace from their most prized asset, with a price of 11/10. Having said that, the south London side value their man at £100million and have shown little inclination to budge on that. A nine-figure fee, or anything close to it, seems to be beyond the Merseyside club’s range at more than twice the amount they paid for record signing Gylfi Sigurdsson last summer. The bookmaker has a price of Evens on Zaha staying put for now and – with the “Teams who need Wilfried Zaha” and “Teams who have £100million lying around” Venn diagram being two completely separate circles, that seems like the smartest bet.
Bets of the Day
Wilfried Zaha to stay at Crystal Palace today (Betfair, Evens); Leicester to make the final transfer before the deadline (Paddy Power, 14/1); Arsenal to make most transfers on deadline day (William Hill, 3/1)