Harry Fitzpatrick > Every autumn we hear fans boast how their club has made the best signing of the window. Whether it be Man City fans bragging about another £50 million full back or Chelsea signing yet another striker for north of £60 million, every fan claims their club came out on top. Unfortunately, it is rare for any of the smaller clubs to get the attention of the media. It is not until they have performed well above expectations that the broadcasters will recognise what a shrewd signing it was.
Pundits scoffed at the signing of Vladimir Coufal when he first joined. After all, what can someone from Slavia Prague do? Not only had he won multiple Czech titles, he was part of the squad that reached the quarter finals of the Europa League in the 17/18 season and also played in the Czech Republic side that ended England’s decade long unbeaten run-in major tournament qualifiers. I think every Spurs fan would swap Coufal for their ‘bargain’ of Doherty for £15 million, three times what we paid for Coufal.
Ollie Watkins was a striker who was not sniffed at by any big team. Aston Villa won the race to the former Exeter man’s signature and he is well on his way to paying off the £28 million fee they shelled out for him. With 10 goals in 27 League appearances, including a hat-trick against Liverpool, he has completely outshone Timo Werner at Chelsea. Werner was the big name in Chelsea’s huge spending spree last summer, costing them £50 million, but has been a complete flop, at one point going 14 League games without a goal. In total he has managed 8 goals in 36 Premier and Champions League games combined. Watkins looks a bargain when you compare the players side by side yet only one transfer got the airtime by Jim White and co.
Even West Ham fans were disappointed by the loan signing of Craig Dawson in the transfer window. After bidding tens of millions for James Tarkowski and being rejected, it looked like Gold and Sullivan panicked when they brought the Watford man in. Whether by luck or research, it has proven to be an incredible signing. Since he was brought into the line-up against Southampton after Christmas, he has kept six clean sheets in his 13 appearances whilst scoring four goals. This is despite losing his first-choice centre back partner in Ogbonna to injury in early February. Meanwhile the blue half of Manchester saw something in Nathan Ake and brought in the Bournemouth man for £41 million. That is over 16 times what we can sign Dawson for permanently. Whilst Dawson is not of Pep’s standards, Ake has hardly shown his worth with 6 league appearances since his move.
Callum Wilson’s transfer from Bournemouth to Newcastle went under the radar but at £20 million he’s one of the most important signings of the season. His 10 goals in 21 apps could be the goals that secure them Premier League status for another season. Pretty impressive considering how he’s been injured for the last few weeks. They’d be dead and buried if it was Joelinton leading the line all season. Fabio Silva joined Wolves for £35 million despite just scoring 1 goal in 12 for Porto. He was destined to be the next wonderkid on the block but has bagged just 2 in 23 games. Considering their striking woes, Wilson could have been gold dust in that Wolves side filling in for the injured Jimenez.
Overall, Coufal is my pound for pound signing of the season. Villa would most likely have stayed up without Watkins but he has relieved some of the pressure on Grealish. Newcastle could very easily be relegated even with Wilson due to his injury issues. Meanwhile West Ham have been defensively solid whatever partnership has played in front of Fabianski. Coufal has been a constant in the line-up since he joined and held down the right-hand side impressively whilst providing an attacking threat. To get him so cheaply despite his reputation in domestic, continental and international football is a major steal that we will hopefully benefit from for years to come.