Gary Neville, a Sky Sports commentator, weighs in on some of the biggest stories from the summer transfer window, including Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United and Saul Niguez’s move to Chelsea, as well as Kylian Mbappe and Harry Kane remaining at their respective clubs.
Ronaldo’s Position in Man United’s Starting XI
I don’t think United will have to make too many adjustments as a result of his coming. They have terrific attacking players, as well as good creative players. With Jadon Sancho out wide, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and Mason Greenwood, they should be able to generate plenty of opportunities for him.
Edinson Cavani is one of my favorite players, so it’s a question of whether they can play either-or or both. Everyone expects him to play as a number nine, including myself, but might he play just to the left of Cavani, with Greenwood or Sancho to the right? That would ensure a certain number of goals.
They’ve struggled in both of their road games so far, but they have a handful of guys who can go out and win a game at any time. He is the most willing and eager to score goals of anyone. The main question is if it will be sufficient to win the championship. I don’t think so; the Premier League is at its greatest level since the mid-2000s.
I think it’s a great addition to Manchester United’s roster; they needed a centre forward, but when you look at him, he’s almost 28, 29, 30, when you look at him. People would look at a young Cristiano and think to themselves, “If Cristiano Ronaldo of today was there eight years ago, he’d still be a world-class player.” His movement in the box, ability to score goals, poise in front of goal, and willingness to take risks still make him a world-class player who is far from done. He used to be able to beat five or six players in vast areas, but now he’s more effective.
James’ transfer to Leeds is beneficial to all parties concerned; Lingard should have followed suit.
For Dan James, it’s perfect. This is an example of a win-win situation. He came to United and gave it his all; he was a huge threat on the counter-attack, but United has many of guys in his position.
Young players need to play, and Leeds has always wanted him. When United got him instead of them the first time around, they wanted him. He’ll be a good fit for their counter-attacking style of play. He’ll like himself there because the audience is large and the club is demanding.
It’s fantastic for United to collect the money they did, and it’s good for Dan to be able to advance his career at such a prestigious club.
Jesse Lingard hasn’t left, and I’m disappointed. He’ll get a few games, but I think he had something going at West Ham that meant he was establishing himself as a pretty excellent player, so it’s unfortunate to see him revert to being a bench guy. It’s okay to leave the nest now and again.
Chelsea is difficult to stop now that Saul has arrived and they are playing well under Tuchel.
Saul is another another outstanding player. He has a wealth of experience at the top of La Liga, in the Champions League, and at the international level. He matches Chelsea’s criteria of bringing in guys who are ready to play. That’s Chelsea’s model, and if you look at what they’ve done in terms of ins and outs this transfer window, it’s been yet another outstanding performance.
They’re a formidable unit. I’ve already seen them play twice this season, once at Arsenal and once at Anfield. That is a fantastic team, one that consistently wins and is eager to do so again. When Liverpool was reduced to ten men at Anfield, I never imagined it would be simple for them to break Chelsea down in the latter half Because that’s the most difficult area to play, you know you’re up against a good team.
And with the arrival of Saul and Romelu Lukaku, they are becoming increasingly powerful. They already have a formidable midfield in Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, and Mateo Kovacic. With the way they play, you only need two in there, but Saul’s presence ensures they can challenge on all fronts. It gives them a huge boost and makes them far more dangerous than they were last Saturday at Anfield.
You might argue that Chelsea is a little short in the back, but they do have a good structure in place with those two players in front of the back three. So, with Thomas Tuchel’s arrival, he’s perhaps realized that they can’t be a back four.
If you looked at them as a couple of centre-backs, you wouldn’t be confident in their ability to win the league, but with the three they have at the back, and the two protecting in front, Chelsea are more than capable.
They’ve developed a style of play that safeguards individuals from becoming isolated, and they’ll be difficult to stop now that they’ve gained the confidence and belief that comes with winning the Champions League last season, as well as the business they’ve done in the transfer window.
Kane will be dissatisfied, but the rest of the world will move on.
He sought to exit the club at the end of the day. I understand why he attempted to go; being offered a role in Man City’s team under Pep Guardiola would have been a life-changing experience for him.
Spurs have enjoyed a fantastic start to the season, but they are unlikely to win the Premier League. Man City have a tremendous opportunity, and if Kane had gone, it would have been a foregone conclusion.
He’ll be disappointed, but he’ll remember that he’s contributed a lot to Tottenham over the years, and that it’ll all be forgotten once he returns from England duty and starts scoring goals again.
At United, I played alongside players who had desires to go at times, but once they settled down and it was clear they weren’t moving, everyone forgot about it.
Cristiano Ronaldo wanted to leave for Real Madrid, but he was forced to stay for another year. This is a common occurrence in football. Take a look at Mbappe at the moment.
Arsenal needs older players to step up, not just new signings.
Mikel Arteta must get those players in shape, together, and in the locker room. He’s had problems with Covid, but there’s mounting pressure at Arsenal due to their bad performances, which have seen them wilt and become flaky.
There are various ways to lose games, and Arsenal has done so in the most egregious manner possible, appearing to have been rolled over. They need to re-establish some momentum after the internationals. There aren’t any signings that excite me, but they do have a group that needs to gel soon and make a cohesive unit.
It’s not always about the new additions at Arsenal; sometimes it’s about the established players who make you wonder, “What are they getting from them?” Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Granit Xhaka… they’ve got to gather themselves together and unified behind the boss in that dressing room.
Before they worry about winning a lot of games, they need to start working for each other on the field and being difficult to beat. So far this season, they’ve been relatively simple to beat, which isn’t a positive trait.
Arsenal’s transfer strategy is a mystery to me. It appears to be all over the place. There could be one, but it’s unclear. You might think you know where a left-field signing comes from when you see one, but Arsenal has a lot of them.
-Gary Neville on Arsenal-
I’m not sure what kind of game they’re planning, but it’ll all be revealed in the coming weeks. Man United is coming out of a rough phase under Sir Alex Ferguson. Arsenal is also suffering from this hangover from the Arsene Wenger era.
You’re trying to carry the club ahead, and I’m reminded of David Moyes’ remark that you’re walking into the house, and the father has gone, and you’re the stepfather. Nearly ten years later, I believe that is starting to leave Manchester United, but there is probably still some of that at Arsenal.
It’s not always inside the squad; sometimes it’s the non-football side of the organization that holds everything back, that sense of dissatisfaction. Something is wrong at Arsenal; I believe there is a lack of certainty at the top; you must first stabilize after the period with Arsene Wenger.
With Mbappe, Neymar, and Messi, PSG is attempting to make history.
It’s an odd one. If you’re able to depart on a free transfer next summer, the majority of that £197 million will go to Mbappe! He’ll have clubs offering him massive sums of money to put in his pocket.
PSG do not surprise me; their goal this season is to establish a history and a legacy at the club, and keeping Messi, Mbappe, and Neymar together is key to that.
Perhaps they believe that if he plays for them, they will be able to persuade him to sign a new deal, and the Real Madrid interest will fade away or something else will happen.
I’m not sure where Real Madrid gets their money, but it’s a significant amount. Any other team in the world would accept that contract with a year left on the clock – but Qatar does not have to.