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Premier League transfer clock is ticking: Where are all the big deals?

Manchester United posted a reminder on Instagram early on Monday morning, telling their supporters that the preseason tour of the United States is just seven days away.

In other words, on the day that several members of Jose Mourinho's squad could be contesting the World Cup final in Moscow, those who didn't make it to Russia will be jetting off to Los Angeles to begin their preparations for the 2018-19 season.

Domestic football seems to be on another planet right now, with the world still focused on the culmination of one of the most exciting World Cups in history, so the thought of United flying to the USA, or of Liverpool beginning their warm-up fixtures against Chester last Saturday, just feels slightly out of tune with the drama being played out in Russia.

But United's Instagram post was not only a reminder of their five-game trip to the U.S., it was also a reality check that the Premier League season kicks off in just over four weeks and that the transfer window closes even sooner.

Following last season's decision by the Premier League to close its transfer window on Aug. 9, a day before United play Leicester in the first game of the season, the 20 top-flight clubs were always going to face a mad scramble to get their business done in good time this summer.

Premier League clubs can still sell players after Aug. 9, with overseas clubs able to sign unwanted players at English clubs until their own deadline falls (some of which come at the end of the month as usual), but all incoming deals in England must be done a day before the season begins.

July 9 is a key date. Premier League clubs now have just 31 days to get all of their signings made, otherwise they must wait until January and, by that stage, it could be too late.

ESPN FC reported in mid-May that people within the game expected a quiet summer during the World Cup, with few deals being struck while Russia 2018 was in progress. That has proven to be the case, and spectacularly so.

Perhaps England's prolonged involvement has contributed to the lack of major deals being done, with clubs not having to endure supporter-led social media campaigns demanding that players to be signed because everyone is focused on the progress of Gareth Southgate's team.

But as we enter the final month of the transfer window, champions Manchester City have yet to make a summer signing, with Chelsea and Tottenham also still to add to their squads.

Burnley, who start their Europa League campaign against Aberdeen on July 26, have released five players, with none so far coming in.

Arsenal have done considerably more than their top six rivals, with new manager Unai Emery already adding Stephan Lichtsteiner, Bernd Leno and Sokratis Papastathopoulos to the squad inherited from Arsene Wenger. And Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria, as well as 19-year-old France Under-20 midfielder Matteo Guendouzi from Lorient, to come.

But those arrivals were needed as the likes of Per Mertesacker, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere were all released by the club.

Wilshere, who publicly questioned his omission from Southgate's England squad, has yet to find a new club, despite being a free agent, which perhaps sums up how slowly the wheels are turning this summer. Though he is closing on a move to West Ham.

Liverpool were quickest out of the blocks when they snapped up Fabinho from Monaco back at the end of May, to add to the previously agreed deal for RB Leipzig's Naby Keita. The Anfield outfit, who failed to sign Lyon midfielder Nabil Fekir, have also taken the significant step of tying Mohamed Salah to a new long-term contract at the club, therefore ending any prospect of the Egyptian being sold this summer.

United, meanwhile, will travel to California this weekend having signed Brazil midfielder Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk, Porto full-back Diogo Dalot and back-up goalkeeper Lee Grant from Stoke.

None of the big six have made the kind of box office signings they would usually have hoped to make by now, though.

The majority of the business in the Premier League has been done by clubs further down the table, with Brighton and Huddersfield already making five signings apiece. Promoted clubs Cardiff and Wolves have also been busy, with those teams signing four and six new players respectively. Watford have also made six new signings, including former Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu and West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster.

But we are still waiting for this transfer window to kick into gear and deliver the kind of deals that the Premier League has now come to expect. One month is left: the clock is ticking.

Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_


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