Winners and losers from the Premier League transfer window

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Jurgen Klopp has every right to look happy after Liverpool kept Mohamed Salah and added to the squad. (AFP)
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Updated 09 August 2018
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Winners and losers from the Premier League transfer window

  • Liverpool look ready to challenge for title after busy summer of spending. No late signings for Manchester United, to leave Mourinho unhappy.
  • No late signings for Manchester United, to leave Mourinho unhappy.

After the transfer deadline for Premier League clubs to strengthen their squads for the upcoming season passed on Thursday, we look at who enjoyed the best and worst of the transfer window:

LIVERPOOL LIKE WHAT THEY SEE
In their quest to end a 29-year wait to win the title, Liverpool were not just the biggest spenders, but got their business done early and improved the key areas of Jurgen Klopp’s squad that needed strengthening.
Two calamitous errors from Loris Karius in losing the Champions League final to Real Madrid in May made it clear an upgrade was needed in goal and $84 million was splashed on Alisson Becker from Roma in a short-lived world-record fee for a goalkeeper.
Fabinho and Naby Keita (below) will add extra dynamism and depth to the midfield, while Xherdan Shaqiri offers better back-up to the prolific front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
Even more importantly, Salah and Firmino also signed extended contracts rather than being lured away as Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho have been in recent seasons.



WOLVES WINNING
Wolves’ connections to Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes were a source of complaint for their competitors as they romped to the Championship title last season.
And the Midlands club appears to have higher ambitions than merely staying up after signing another two high-profile Mendes clients in Euro 2016 winners Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho (below).
A club-record fee of £20 million ($25 million) was also splashed on powerful Spanish winger Adama Traore and versatile Belgian international Leander Dendoncker was snapped up from Anderlecht.



HOPE FOR FULHAM
Another promoted side Fulham have made a mockery of the suggestion it is harder for teams going up via the playoffs to get deals in place as the other 19 Premier League teams have a two-week head start in the market.
Not only have Fulham seen off interest from Spurs in England under-21 international Ryan Sessegnon (below), but have spent over £70 million on some stellar signings.
Jean Michael Seri was a transfer target for Barcelona just 12 months ago, but will now be lining up at Craven Cottage rather than the Non Camp along with former Nice team-mate Maxime Le Marchand, German World Cup winner Andre Schurrle and Alfie Mawson, who earned an England call-up earlier in the year.
Fulham’s promotion was in large part thanks to Aleksandr Mitrovic’s 12 goals and his loan move from Newcastle was also made permanent for a reported £27 million.



WINDOW SHUTS EARLY
The decision to bring the transfer deadline forward to before the start of the season for the first time in England was designed to alleviate disruption.
Last season Alexis Sanchez, Philippe Coutinho and Virgil van Dijk were among those to miss the start of the campaign due to transfer speculation.
Yet, a shortened window allied to the tight turnaround from the final stages of the World Cup just four weeks ago, left English clubs in a rush against time to get deals done and facing inflated fees when buying from Europe’s other top leagues, where the window doesn’t close till later this month.

NEWCASTLE WOE
At a time of the season when all football fans dare to dream, there has again been little to set pulses racing in Newcastle as owner Mike Ashley refuses to join in the Premier League arms race, much to the chagrin of manager Rafael Benitez.
Newcastle have again made a profit from player trading thanks to the sales of Mitrovic and Mikel Merino, with Benitez expressing his concern for the Magpies’ prospects this season after a 4-0 friendly thrashing by Braga earlier this month.



MOROSE MOURINHO
The Manchester United manager consistently cried foul on the club’s pre-season tour of the United States about the state of his squad to try and provoke a reaction from the United hierarchy.
Instead, Mourinho was left empty-handed from the final days of the window despite warning that the Red Devils face a difficult season by not delivering his targets in the transfer market.

 


Saudi Arabia hopeful ahead of opening Asian Games opening clash against Iran

Updated 14 August 2018
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Saudi Arabia hopeful ahead of opening Asian Games opening clash against Iran

  • Young Falcons hopeful of a semifinal spot.
  • Under-23 players keen on making a name for themselves in Indonesia.

JAKARTA: There is a widely held belief that to succeed in sport, you must start early.
Officials from the Saudi Arabia National Olympic Committee will be hoping it rings true this month as the Kingdom’s Under-23 football team prepares to prematurely kick-off its Asian Games campaign this afternoon in Jakarta, three days before the continent’s largest multi-sport competition officially begins.
Similar to the Olympics, the football tournament starts before the opening ceremony and finishes on the competition’s final day, Sept. 2. The fledgling Young Falcons face Iran today at the 28,000-capacity Wibawa Mukti Stadium in the Indonesian capital.
The Saudi NOC have brought a delegation of 169 athletes, including eight females, and will compete across 22 disciplines, including athletics, shooting, taekwondo and volleyball. The three-week Asian Games operate both as a continental precursor and, at times, a qualifying tournament for 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The Young Falcons made their football debut at the Asian Games in South Korea four years ago, reaching the quarterfinals in Incheon, before losing to Iraq. Their regional neighbors were inspired by legendary striker Younes Mahmoud, who had been included as one of Iraq’s three over-age players and scored twice in a 3-0 win.
Yet the impact of Mahmoud in Korea has not influenced the team’s selection. With the Saudi Pro League starting next week, coach Saad Al-Shehri has opted to forego athletes older than 23, instead selecting a squad consisting primarily of Al-Ahli development players and a smattering of Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, Al-Ittihad and Al-Ettifaq-based youths.
“We haven’t brought any overage players because we are playing here as preparation for the U23 Asian Cup, which will offer qualification for Tokyo 2020,” said Faisal Almarashdi, a spokesman for the team.
“We have brought to Indonesia only players who are 21 or under as they will all be eligible for Tokyo. Many have already played at the Under-20 World Cup under coach Saad, so there was never any discussion to use the three allocated over-age slots.”
Abdullah Otayf is the model example of how Asian Games experience can help a young career. Four years ago, the deep-lying midfielder was part of the squad that traveled to Korea. This summer he was an integral part of the Green Falcons side that played at the World Cup in Russia. 
With national team coach Juan Antonio Pizzi following the competition from afar, there will be chances to catch the eye for the likes of striker Haroune Camara and midfielders Abdullah Yahya Magrshi and Ali Hassan Al-Asmari ahead of January’s Asian Cup. Both midfielders have already made their full debuts for Ahli and featured in the Jeddah club’s Champions League campaign last season, while Al-Qadisiyah’s Camara was included in Pizzi’s provisional World Cup squad before being cut from the final 23.
“These Asian Games are very important for the young players involved,” Almarashdi added.
“They are the future of the senior team so if they play well here and at the U23 Asian Cup then, we hope, they will go to Tokyo 2020. From then on the pathway to the senior team is already very clear.”  
Much like the seniors, the U23 side is both short and slight, with only two of the 10 midfielders and forwards standing above 5 foot 8 (172m). Today’s opponents Iran are not only taller and more physical, they also have, in Croatian coach Zlatko Kranjčar, a manager who knows West Asian football after short spells in Qatar and the UAE. In their most recent preparation match, Iran lost 3-2 to China. 
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, beat the UAE last week in Malaysia following a pair of friendlies against local sides. Today’s match will kick-off at 4 p.m. local time, midday in Saudi Arabia.