Transfer window: How the Premier League top six are shaping up


The busiest of the big clubs over the summer, with Unai Emery's appointment and the end of Arsene Wenger's reign heralding change. Laurent Koscielny has been named captain, although a deputy will be needed as he is injured. Of four major signings, Stephan Lichtsteiner may seem a back-up but Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lucas Torreira and Bernd Leno will surely start, with the £22 million (Dh105m) German bearing the look of the first-choice goalkeeper, even though Petr Cech has been given the No 1 shirt. Implementing different tactics, with the Uruguayan Torreira feeling the defensive midfielder Arsenal have long lacked, will be a priority for Emery. So will be persuading Aaron Ramsey to sign a new deal.


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After months in limbo, Chelsea belatedly sacked Antonio Conte and appointed Maurizio Sarri. The former Napoli manager now has to make up for lost time; replacing one Italian's 3-4-3 formation with another's 4-3-3 seems a priority. One of Sarri's former Napoli charges, midfielder Jorginho, has arrived and another, striker Gonzalo Higuain could be targeted. Chelsea have to determine the futures of Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Willian, who could all end up in Spain, with Aleksandr Golovin a possible replacement for the No 10 role, as well as players who were out of favour under Conte, such as David Luiz and Ross Barkley, and the returning loanees, such as Ruben Loftus-Cheek.


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The midfield makeover began soon, with Naby Keita's arrival already agreed and Fabinho soon tied up. Yet the breakdown of the move for Nabil Fekir prompts questions if it can be resurrected and, if not, Liverpool will look for another replacement for Philippe Coutinho. The most pressing concern is whether Loris Karius can recover from his traumatic Uefa Champions League final, and pre-season errors, to remain the first-choice goalkeeper. A deal for Brazil's Alisson looks imminent. With Xherdan Shaqiri joining, Jurgen Klopp has got a back-up winger. He now has to dispose of some of the surplus strikers, such as Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge, while Danny Ings also wants to go.


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Pep Guardiola's biggest issue may be that, with 16 players going to the World Cup and many of them involved in the latter stages, City could be struggling to find a side to put out at the start of the season. Riyad Mahrez's club-record move from Leicester City has brought another option in the forward line and the extra winger Guardiola wanted. Yet with Jorginho opting to go to Chelsea, Fred going to Manchester United and Jean-Michel Seri joining Fulham, Guardiola may struggle to find the holding midfielder he had wanted, unless Real Madrid will accept an offer for Mateo Kovacic.


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Jose Mourinho made a swift start to the summer with the recruitment of Fred, as Michael Carrick’s successor in the midfield, and Diogo Dalot, earmarked as Antonio Valencia’s long-term replacement at right-back. Yet, besides the arrival of third-choice goalkeeper Lee Grant, things have gone quiet since then. United’s normal policy has been to look for a flagship signing. Ivan Perisic, wanted by Mourinho last year and so impressive in the World Cup, may tick some boxes. The impasse, meanwhile, also means a seemingly disenchanted Anthony Martial remains on the books. His sale could free up funds.


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It is not the first time Spurs have entered the final weeks of the window without making a signing. At least there is some optimism this time after Mauricio Pochettino and Harry Kane signed new contracts. Yet other things remain uncertain: Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose had seemed likely to leave, not least because this could be the last summer to bring in a huge fee for the Belgian, and so far both remain. The World Cup may have put their plans on hold, but also Spurs'.


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Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”





Louis Tomlinson

3 out of 5 stars

(Syco Music/Arista Records)


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