The transfer window still has nearly a month to go before it shuts, but there’s never a bad time to look back and the good, bad and ugly of clubs spending money for the sake of it. So it’s time now to look at the Top 5 best and worst transfers in Europe this summer (thus far).
5. Hakan Calhanoglu (Hamburg to Bayer Leverkusen), €14.5 million
A very young and adept midfielder, Calhanoglu moved from Hamburg to Bayer this summer with lots of room to become of the Bundesliga’s best creative midfielders. He can really hit a set piece or two, has great technique on the ball, and has the ability to truly break out this season with a Champions League club. You’ll be hearing his name linked with Premier League clubs soon… maybe even this winter.
4. Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros to Everton), €5 million
One of the more under the radar Bosnians prior to the World Cup, Everton have uncovered and signed a gem here. He might well have been the best Bosnian at the tournament, and with players like Dzeko, Pjanic and Lulic to overtake, that’s quite an achievement. The 21-year old has an adept range of passing skills, has a great work rate without the ball, and will certainly become a better well-rounded player under Roberto Martinez’s tutelage. With more fixtures to play this season because of the Europa League, Everton need a deeper squad and Besic fits right in to that.
3. Keylor Navas (Levante to Real Madrid). €10 million
Navas, even before the World Cup, was one of the better goalkeepers no one really knew about, but his three weeks in Brazil changed that. Now he’s playing for maybe the biggest club in the world and is charged with bringing stability to a position that had none last season for Los Blancos. It’s hard to replace a legend like Iker Casillas, but with the best years still ahead of Navas, he certainly could be up to the task. In a summer where a goalkeeping shuffle has taken place, Real Madrid has quite clearly come out on top.
2. Ryan Gauld (Dundee United to Sporting CP) €3.8 million
Gauld has long been regarded as one of the brightest prospects in Scottish football, and after a successful run with Dundee United, he now makes a move to Sporting after their 2nd place finish last season. Gauld is a technically gifted attacking midfielder who has said as much that Portugal was a logical next step in his career based on the nature of the league, which is exciting news for Scottish football fans. It’s a good thing David Moyes didn’t get his hands on him last year. He has acres of room to grow, and Sporting is a great place for him to do it. Look out for him on Champions League match days this fall.
1. Stefan De Vrij (Feyenoord to Lazio), €8.5 million
Naturally after a bonanza World Cup, players are expected to make big moves and De Vrij was no exception after his performances put his name on the minds of many. But Lazio? As opposed to bigger clubs in Europe, like Manchester United who was constantly linked? And for that small of a fee when Barca paid Valencia €20million for Jeremy Mathieu? This was a home run for new manager Stefano Pioli and Lazio. While Roma has loaded up quite well for a run at the Scudetto, their cross stadium enemies have quietly had a great window, with De Vrij leading the way.
The Top 5 Worst:
5. Most of what Burnley has done so far
Newly promoted clubs almost never have the financial wherewithal to spend to the level of the established teams in the league and that’s understandable. But Burnley here seem to have forgotten that you have to spend money to stay in the league. Michael Kightly? Matt Gilks? STEVEN REID? These don’t really inspire confidence. No one is going to spend like Cardiff did last summer after just being promoted, but the opposite doesn’t necessarily mean sunshine and roses either. It’s certainly more financially sustainable, but it does mean that Turf Moor could be the sight of some heavy home defeats this season.
4. Bebe (Manchester United to Benfica), £2.2 million
Now of course he failed to live up to expectations at Old Trafford, and the fee is pretty small for someone who did good things the second half of the season for Pacos. Yet… this is more about Benfica’s amazingly bad window of selling and not really replacing. They’ve sold most of the true quality in their squad after once again failing in a European Cup Final, and the man to lead their line is… Bebe? I hope he finally succeeds after all of the hype sort of fell in on him, but Benfica with their financial clout and the transfer fees they have amassed can surely do better.
3. Adam Lallana (Southampton to Liverpool), £25 million
Lallana burst onto the scene last year as almost everyone did at Southampton under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino. Now, Lallana is a full England international, playing for Liverpool, and commanded a massive and somewhat silly transfer fee. It’s likely true that if he weren’t English the fee would be far lower, but even that said he’s not getting any younger and it remains to be seen if his performance last year was an outlier or the example. He’s also already injured and will miss the start of the season, so he will be behind Phillipe Coutinho and Lazar Markovic before he even puts on the kit once.
2. Jeremy Mathieu (Valencia to Barcelona), €20 million
Yes! Finally after 5 years of ignoring the problem like you would ignore a pesky rash on your leg, Barca finally signed a centerback! Wait… they signed a 30 year old when many better ones were on the market? And they paid 20 million Euros? They were so close! Barca finally acknowledged they had a problem… and decided to only sort of fix it. Mathieu was a solid centerback for Valencia, but nothing that screamed the savior of Barca’s back 4. He’s turning 31 in October as well. Hopefully Barca signs one more centerback to offset this, but he’s no Puyol replacement.
1. David Luiz (Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain), £50 million
Yes, the fee is astronomical even for the best defender of this generation, let alone one who had a catastrophic meltdown in a World Cup semifinal. Honestly, his best position is as a defensive midfielder, but there is no way that happens at the Parc de Princes. There is hope that being paired with his Seleccao teammate Thiago Silva will help calm his nerves, but the reputation he brought upon himself with the performance against Germany will chase him for a long time, as will the stupid fee. Just because you have money Qatari oil sheiks doesn’t mean you need to spend it like that.
There are 26 more days until the window slams shut, and there surely will be more amazingly shrewd moves, and ones that would make Captain Picard’s facepalm look subtle. But these are the 5 best and worst… for now.