1. Real Madrid
Angel di Maria-£59.7million
Diego Lopez-Free Transfer
It seems rather difficult to say a team who have just signed James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos are losers in the transfer market but bear with me. Carlo Ancelotti moulded a side perfectly last season, the arrival of Gareth Bale saw Angel di Maria move into central midfield, a role within which he excelled, and Madrid went onto lift their tenth European Cup.
This summer Madrid have once again embarked on their policy of signing stars. James Rodriguez arrived at the Bernabeu, following an outstanding World Cup where he led Colombia admirably in Radamel Falcao’s absence.
However with Financial Fair Play a real worry for all clubs Madrid could not sit back and admire their purchase. The books, in one way or another, had to be balanced. The answer was to sell di Maria – the engine of the team.
Despite players and management pleading with Florentino Perez not to sell Di Maria, the president had his mind made up despite having offered the Argentine star a new contract earlier in the summer. It is believed that this was a deal we believe was on such poorly improved terms it may well have been designed to push ‘El Fideo’ even further out of the door.
Madrid have brought in outstanding individuals but I just can’t help but get the feeling that the club has taken a number of steps back with their sales, losing di Maria will leave Madrid with very little energy and incisiveness in the middle of midfield. That was something which characterised their expansive play last term and with the club already having endured a shaky start to the season, there is a feeling that this could be a window the club end up regretting.
2. SL Benfica
Julio Cesar-Free Transfer
Daniel Candeias-Free Transfer
If ever there was a case of having to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear then this is it. Jorge Jesus, after a season where Benfica came within a penalty shoot-out of a quadruple of trophies has seen the majority of Benfica’s star players leave the club whilst the replacements have not been of the same ilk.