For a team to improve over the course of a few transfer windows, they often must bring in key players who greatly improve the team while also letting the right players leave in order to make way for upgrades. Tottenham is a key example of a team that didn’t handle the transfer window well.
Here’s a look at the teams that capitalized on the most recent transfer windows in order to improve.
In an attempt to expand on two straight Serie A titles, the Bianconeri brought in the striking help they desperately needed. Over the summer they acquired former Manchester United and Manchester City star Carlos Tevez. So far El Apache has performed admirably; contributing 18 domestic goals as Juve once again look to take home the scudetto.
Another summer striker arrival was Fernando Llorente, who continues to provide a massive target in the box for Juve during set pieces. The team also brought in Angelo Ogbonna, a center back for the future, from cross-town rivals Torino. Antonio Conte’s squad made one addition during the winter, the signing of striker Dani Osvaldo on loan from English side Southampton.
Tevez, Llorente and Osvaldo filled a massive striker need for the Italian giants. However, some of their transfer window savvy also occurred in the sale of numerous other players. Young players such as Fausto Rossi and Richmond Boakye were able to find first-team opportunities on loan in La Liga, while the team also sold forward Alessandro Matri. Getting 11 million euros for Matri from Milan was a win in and of itself.
Roberto Martinez has lead Everton on a strong campaign so far. While not as high in the standings as Merseyside rivals Liverpool, the Toffees are in a position to potentially qualify for Champions League football.
The Spaniard brought in a contingent of players he previously had experience with at Wigan. These included the likes of defender Antolin Alcaraz, midfielder James McCarthy, goalkeeper Joel Robles and striker Arouna Kone. Martinez also brought in Irish winger Aiden McGeady to further strengthen his attacking options.
What’s most fascinating about Everton’s success is that they have brought in key contributors on loan. Gareth Barry, Gerard Deulofeu and Romelu Lukaku all joined up on a temporary basis. All three have been superb in their roles, with Barry providing a steady presence in the midfield, Deulofeu playing the role of spark-plug and Lukaku scoring a bevy of goals.
There was quite a bit of change at AS Roma last offseason. Out went established first-teamers like Marquinhos, Bojan, Erik Lamela, Dani Osvaldo, Erik Lamela, Maarten Stekelenburg and (in the winter) Michael Bradley.
Ironically, Lamela’s former team Roma has perfectly executed a team overhaul, while his current club, Tottenham, has failed miserably at the task.
Roma and new coach Rudi Garcia went for a veteran approach to building their team. In came former Inter defender Maicon, as well as Mehdi Benatia to reinforce a defense that was weakened after the departure of PSG-bound Marquinhos. Other new additions included highly-rated/sought after midfield general Kevin Strootman, ex-Arsenal forward Gervinho, former Fiorentina attacker Adem Ljajic and Italian keeper Morgan De Sanctis.
The Roman club further strengthened their squad when they added Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan and Brazilian wide player Michel Bastos, on shrewd loan deals in the winter window.
Yet another Italian team that did well during the recent transfer windows, Napoli invested a significant amount of money in their squad with funds partly received from the sale of star striker Edinson Cavani to PSG.
The Naples-based club was extremely active, bringing in former Real Madrid trio Jose Callejon, Raul Albiol and Gonzalo Higuain. In addition to the three, they brought in former PSV attacker Dries Mertens, Liverpool loanee Pepe Reina and winter-signing Jorginho, among others.
The new additions, Higuain in particular, have helped soften the blow of losing their star player and goal scorer in Cavani.
Adding Higuain, Jorginho, Callejon and Mertens to an attack that includes Lorenzo Insigne and Marek Hamsik has propelled Napoli into a Champions League place. Whether they catch Roma for second place in Serie A remains to be seen, but Napoli definitely made the most of losing Cavani with a strong pair of transfer windows.
Amidst the threat of talismanic Luis Suarez leaving, Liverpool made a bevy of quality moves that has so far propelled them into pole position in the Premier League. Brendan Rodgers retooled his defensive unit by bringing in Kolo Toure, Mamadou Sakho and Aly Cissokho to help make up for the loss of the retired Jamie Carragher. Rodgers made the right move by swapping out Pepe Reina for Simon Mignolet, and selling players who didn’t fit his system for a profit, i.e., Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll.
Liverpool’s greatest achievement during the recent transfer windows may have been hanging on to Luis Suarez. The combination of the Uruguayan and Daniel Sturridge has been lethal. Their combined goal total will be bordering on absurd (if it isn’t there already) by the end of the season.
This year’s Champions League darling, Atletico faced a similar dilemma as Liverpool with their own star man, striker Radamel Falcao. Unlike Liverpool, they sold their key man, offloading him to Ligue 1 side Monaco.
Similar to Fernando Torres and Sergio Aguero, Atleti already had a replacement ready to take over, Diego Costa. And similar to Torres and Aguero, that replacement could also head out the door. Madrid may have found its’ next striker to replace Costa, as they brought in Brazilian forward Leo Baptistao in the summer window. Baptistao is currently on loan at Real Betis and will likely find himself in the Rojiblancos first team if the team sells Costa.
The Spanish team also pulled off two of the more shrewd signings in the past two windows when they signed David Villa for a paltry, relative to his worth, 5.1 million euros and signed Martin Demichelis for free. But wait, doesn’t Demichelis play for Manchester City? Yes. He does. He signed with Atletico Madrid for free, trained for a couple months and then was promptly sold for four million pounds to City. If you happen to be an expert in money conversion you would know that four million pounds totals out nearlys five million euros.
So just to wrap up, Atletico basically (in almost a straight swap) got Villa for the price of hosting Demichelis for a few months. The numbers aren’t exactly lined up, but in today’s economy, that’s some tidy business.
Did I miss any teams that had a strong window(s)? Who do you think had the best transfer activity in Europe over the past two windows? Tell me in the comments.
Ben Rosener is the editor and founder of Kingdome of Seattle Sports and Know Hitter. In addition to those sites, he contributes to Bleacher Report. Ben is in the process of starting a soccer-themed Youtube channel called Sports on Terms. You can follow his criminally under-followed Twitter account here. He is also a massive sports fan and is a keen supporter of Juventus and the Italian National team. He only refers to himself in the third person for bios.