The Best Signings Of 2017 Summer Transfer Window
The transfer window is officially closed, the deals are done, and the dust is settling.
The clubs in Europe’s top five leagues – England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France – have now been involved in more than 1,300 transfers this summer, worth more than £3.4bn, and while many of them have been over-priced there are a few good-value deals that should not be overlooked.
At the start of the summer window we launched this transfer interactive, detailing every transfer in those five leagues, day by day and club by club, and now we have been through all of them to find the best deals of the window so far.
🔘 Leonardo Bonucci ▶ Juventus ➡ AC Milan ▶ £42m
“At first I thought it was a joke,” admitted the Milan director Massimiliano Mirabelli recently. “I was talking to the agent about other players and he kept on making jokes about Bonucci. I didn’t even tell our CEO, Marco Fassone, about it.” But it was no joke. Bonucci, who spent seven years at Juve, had fallen out with the Juve manager, Max Allegri, and wanted out.
Milan have signed 11 players this summer, but the most surprising saw Leonardo Bonucci, of bitter rivals Juventus, join the club for €42 million.
No player commands defences quite like Bonucci, who is one of the finest centre-backs in world football, and it remains quite incredible that Milan were able to pull off the deal.
🔘 Cengiz Ünder ▶İstanbul Başakşehir F.K. ➡ AS Roma ▶£11.7m
The 20-year-old, who had also been linked with Manchester City, arrived at the Giallorossi for an initial €13.4m fee, which could eventually rise by an additional €1.5m in add-ons.
Cengiz became Roma’s fifth summer signing under transfer guru Monchi, following Hector Moreno, Rick Karsdorp, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Maxime Gonalons in joining the club.
Under became the most expensive Turkish player to leave the Super Lig but he could yet prove a bargain. He is still only 20 and has enjoyed a rapid rise from playing second-tier football at Altinordu to being the star of the show in a Basaksehir side that defied the odds and finished second in the league last season. Add two goals in two starts for Turkey and it is obvious that Roma have a huge talent on their hands.
🔘 Ruben Neves ▶FC Porto ➡ Wolverhampton Wanderers ▶ £15m
Wolves signed midfielder Ruben Neves from Portuguese club FC Porto for a Championship record fee and there’s a reason behind it.
Coveted by Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, and compared with Andrea Pirlo and Sergio Busquets, Ruben Neves somehow ended up at Championship club Wolves earlier this summer, for a fee in the region of £15 million.
Neves, who has signed a five-year deal, played under Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo at Porto.
Now 20, Neves has risen through the ranks in the Portugal national team, winning two senior caps, and was a trusted lieutenant at FC Porto, appearing just under 100 times for the Liga NOS giants.
🔘 Dani Alves ▶ Juventus ➡ Paris Saint-Germain ▶ FOR FREE
Free ?? The “free” in the transfer is deceptive as PSG are paying the Brazilian a whopping £230,000 a week (almost twice as much as Manchester City offered) but with Dani Alves comes a huge load of experience, which may help the Ligue 1 powerhouse to lift the much coveted European crown.
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Written off after leaving Barcelona at the age of 33, he signed for Juventus and played a big part in the Italian side’s progress to the Champions League final. There’s no need to mention Dani’s achievement as he is one of those player who has won all that football has to offer.
🔘 Terence Kongolo ▶ Feyenoord ➡ AS Monaco ▶ £11.4m
Monaco signed Netherlands defender Terence Kongolo from Feyenoord on a five-year deal. The 23-year-old made 23 Eredivisie appearances last season as Feyenoord claimed the title for the first time in 18 years.
Described by Ronald Koeman as a physically strong defender with a lot of pace, Kongolo established himself in the Feyenoord first team at the tail end of the 2013-14 season. His strong performances earned him a spot as one of the youngest members of Louis van Gaal’s 2014 World Cup squad.
Kongolo is an extremely versatile player, having the ability to play as a left-back as well as a central defender too. Monaco’s smart scouting is likely to lessen the impact of losing Bejamin Mendy to Manchester City.
Kongolo, who came through the academy and youth set-up at Feyenoord, looks up to Sergio Ramos and Pepe, describing them as “destroyers” in an interview with Elf Voetbal. He sees himself as more of “a sniper”. “I put in precisely targeted tackles for the ball; that is what I am best at.”
🔘 Sandro Ramírez ▶ Malaga ➡ Everton ▶ £5.3m
An absolute steal at £5.3m, his ludicrously low buyout clause. Just 12 months ago, it seemed like nobody was willing to take a punt on the Barcelona cast-off but after a sensational season establishing himself in La Liga with Malaga, the 22-year-old striker has become one of the rising stars of European football.
With a one in two strike rate last season (16 goals in 31 matches), a player of Sandro’s age would be worth far more in an open market than the fee that the Blues have paid for him.
He scored his first goal for the club within a minute in the friendly against Sevilla and could be one of Steve Walsh’s best coups yet.
🔘 Blaise Matuidi ▶ Paris Saint-Germain ➡ Juventus ▶ £18.2m
At £18.2 million, Juventus’ signing of Blaise Matuidi from PSG may represent the bargain of the summer.
Described as a “fierce and strong tackler,” Matuidi began his football career playing for amateur clubs in the Île-de-France region, such as US Fontenay-sous-Bois and CO Vincennois.
Now a world-class central midfielder, Matuidi’s fee looks like peanuts in a transfer market that has been heavily inflated by the dealings of PSG and Manchester United, among others.
The France international may be 30, but he has honed his craft and is one of the very best ball winners in European competition.
🔘 Velère Germain ▶ AS Monaco ➡ Marseille ▶ £7m
Germain – son of the former France striker Bruno – played second fiddle to Radamel Falcao and teenage-sensation Kylian Mbappe over the course of the 2016-17 campaign and will likely be hoping the move leads to more first-choice opportunities at Marseille.
With all the attention on the multimillion-euro deals that have seen Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy and Tiémoué Bakayoko leave Monaco, the departure of Germain to Marseille went under the radar somewhat.
Germain scored 10 goals in Ligue 1 last season to help Leonardo Jardim’s side beat PSG to the title and establish himself as a reputable back-up striker for Monaco.
However, with only one year left on his contract and an ambitious Marseille keen to make him a fulcrum of the side, Germain opted for a switch to OM, scoring a hat-trick on his home debut in the Europa League qualifier against the Belgian club Oostende.
In joining the club, he follows in the footsteps of his father Bruno, who enjoyed two spells in the late 80s and early 90s at Marseille during his playing career.
🔘 Dani Ceballos ▶ Real Betis ➡ Real Madrid ▶£16m
If Real Madrid president Perez is ready to meet a player’s buy-out clause, then believe us, the player is absolutely worth it. After a series of brilliant performances at the European U-21 Championship – in which he was voted as the player of the tournament – the prodigiously gifted Spain midfielder moved the Bernabéu for more than his release clause.
However, Ceballos has been attracting attention for some time now, just not always for the right reasons.
When both Barcelona and Athletic Club supporters whistled the Spanish national anthem before the 2015 Copa del Rey final at Camp Nou, the Andalusian expressed his hope that a bomb be dropped “on the stands and kill those Catalan and Basque dogs”.
He had previous too, having labelled Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique “shameless” for celebrating Spain’s Euro 2012 success with the Semeyra flag before then adding: “Get out of the country, Catalans!”
There has also been a pro-Franco tweet, as well as dreadfully derogatory comments about Iker Casillas and his wife Sara Carbonero.
Even aside from his crude and offensive contributions to social media as a teenager, Dani had also come across as a petulant, dislikeable personality on the pitch. When Betis relegated Getafe on the final day of the 2015-16 season with a 2-1 victory at the Benito Villamarin, he allegedly told crestfallen centre-back Cala, “I hope you go rot in the second division and the club disappears.”
It was a shame that what Dani was saying was overshadowing what he was doing. And what he had done.
This was a talented playmaker who had been let go by Sevilla as a 13-year-old because he was understandably struggling with the effects of bronchitis. Then, after making a name for himself with hometown club Utrera, he signed for Sevilla’s city rivals Betis and went from the Juvenil straight into the first team, at the age of 17.
By August 2015, Arsenal and Liverpool were vying for his signature. The following year, Atletico Madrid and Napoli entered the race. However, Real Madrid have now acquired another potential superstar, a man already being touted as Luka Modric’s heir, for just €18 million.
🔘 Youri Tielemans ▶R.S.C. Anderlecht ➡ AS Monaco ▶£21.6m
After making big-name signings of established stars like Radamel Falcao and Ricardo Carvalho when they returned to the top flight in 2013, Monaco have since developed a strategy based on signed fledgling talents with a view to selling them on for a significant profit while reaping the benefit of their ability in the interim.
The signing of Tielemans, who has been capped three times by Belgium and was voted the Jupiler League’s Player of the Year last season, fits snugly with that ethos, as the Ligue title-winner’s vice-president Vadim Vasilyev highlighted.
Tielemans, already a full Belgium international, was reportedly a target for both Manchester United and their rivals City among other European giants, but Champions League semifinalists Monaco won the race for his signature.
Given he has been a key player at Anderlecht for around four years now, it is strange to think Youri Tielemans only recently turned 20 – and that there was not more competition for him.
The teenager has been tipped for greatness from an early age and became the youngest Belgian to play in the Champions League when he made his debut aged just 16 and 148 days.
Tielemans established himself as a key cog in Anderlecht’s midfield since making his debut against Lokeren in 2013 – becoming the fourth-youngest player in Belgian ProLeague history.
It did not take long for the Belgian to introduce himself in France with a sensationally weighted first-time pass to find Djibril Sidibé’s run in the Trophée des Champions against Paris Saint-Germain, putting the Frenchman straight through on goal. Monaco will expect more of that this season and the Belgian will look to add goals and assists as well after playing in a more advanced role for Anderlecht last season.
He got 18 goals and 12 assists in all competitions but even those numbers sell Tielemans somewhat short: the box-to-box midfielder is incredibly intelligent off the ball and unusually complete for his age.
Capable of playing in front of the back four or as a No10, Tielemans’ best position is a playmaker in an orthodox central midfield role.
With a good range of passing and creativity, Tielemans could be the perfect replacement for Bernardo Silva, bringing creativity and attacking threat to Monaco’s midfield.
🔘 Marco Benassi ▶ Torino ➡ Fiorentina ▶ £10m
Benassi, 23, a former Italy under-21 international, has joined the Viola on a five-year contract for a reported fee of €10 million. He has been roped in by Fiorentina to fill the void left by the departures of midfielders Borja Valero and Matias Vecino to Serie A rivals Inter.
After a very difficult summer transfer window, Fiorentina’s sporting director, Pantaleo Corvino, pulled off a remarkable deal by signing Marco Benassi for £9m, an absolute bargain in today’s market.
The Viola had already lost arguably their biggest star in Federico Bernardeschi to Juventus and also saw two of their starting midfielders, Borja Valero and Matías Vecino, join Internazionale.
Benassi – who captained the Italy U-21 side as well as Torino, despite being a mere 22 years of age – began his career playing with the youth teams of his city, before he moved to Inter Milan in 2011. After spending two years with the Primavera under the leadership of the former Panathinaikos coach Andrea Stramaccioni, Benassi joined the first team at the age of 18. During his first season with the Nerazzurri he played 13 games scoring a goal (his first as a professional), but with the opening of the summer window he was sent to Livorno on loan.
Then came the move to Torino the following year, as Gianpiero Ventura was building the basic structure in order to create a green and Italian roster which developed during the following year. He instantly became important for his coach despite his young age, and spent two seasons with him reaching 69 appearances and scoring 7 goals.
At the end of the 2015/16 season Ventura left Torino to accept the managerial role offered by the FIGC: he replaced Antonio Conte after Euro 2016, and the Granata’s president Urbano Cairo therefore appointed Sinisa Mihajlovic as his successor. The Serbian changed the previous style of play, as he has imposed his 4-3-3 rather than stick to Ventura’s 3-5-2: Benassi became a key player in the new tactical shape.
Reflecting on his great experience with the youth teams, it is strange that he hasn’t made his debut with Italy’s first team. Anyway, also considering that both Conte and Ventura called him up for some recent stages, it will arrive soon.
Benassi is a modern midfielder who has a complete set of skills; he is dynamic, a good passer and has a good shot from distance. He should be an excellent complement to Fiorentina’s up-and-coming star Federico Chiesa and could form a strong Italian core in the midfield with Riccardo.
🔘 Sead Kolasinac ▶ Schalke ➡ Arsenal ▶ FOR FREE
Arsenal’s transfer window was dominated by outgoings. Arsene Wenger has seen the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs, Wojciech Szczesny and Gabriel Paulista leave the club, while Alexis Sanchez continually flirted with a move to Manchester City, only for the deal to eventually collapse.
The club’s move for Sead Kolasinac, then, has flown under the radar, the Gunners signing the left-back from FC Schalke on a free transfer.
Kolasinac was voted into the Bundesliga Team of the Season last term, and boasts incredible strength and seemingly iron lungs.
There was a moment during Arsenal’s first Premier League game of the season when Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez picked up the ball. His path towards the Arsenal goal was blocked by the enormous Kolasinac, however, and it did not matter how much the Algerian twisted or turned, there was no way forward. Instead, like a rugby scrum, Mahrez was pushed backwards and in the end conceded a throw-in. Theo Walcott has already labelled Kolasinac “an absolute tank” and “an animal” and how Schalke let the 24-year-old’s contract run out is a mystery.
🔘 Mattia De Sciglio ▶ AC Milan ➡ Juventus ▶ €12m
The 24-year-old right-back, who came through the academy and youth set-up at AC Milan, penned a 5-year deal with Serie A rivals Juventus.
The 24-year-old will replace Dani Alves as Juve’s new right full-back, reuniting himself with Massimiliano Allegri, who handed him his Milan debut in 2012.
Di Sciglio went on to make 110 Serie A appearances and feature 31 times for Italy, where he was first choice under Antonio Conte at Euro 2016.
He still had a year left to run on his contract with the Rossoneri, but was been deemed surplus to requirements following the arrivals of Mateo Musacchio and Ricardo Rodriguez.
His relationship with Milan’s fans frayed towards the end of last season, when he was made one of the scapegoats for their inconsistent performances. He was already being linked with a summer switch to Juve then and was being accused by a large section of Milan fans of being distracted by the Bianconeri’s interest.
🔘 Nemanja Matic ▶ Chelsea FC ➡ Manchester United ▶ £40m
There was a passage of play in the build-up to Romelu Lukaku’s opening goal during Manchester United’s 4-0 victory over West Ham on Sunday which emphasised just why midfielder Nemanja Matic can make such a difference to Jose Mourinho’s team this season.
Matic, a £40 million summer arrival from Chelsea, began the move with an interception just inside the United half before laying the ball off for Marcus Rashford, who in turn released Lukaku to score his first Premier League since for the club since his £75m move from Everton.
As Lukaku struck the shot which went in off Joe Hart’s right-hand post, Matic was over-lapping on the left, creating space for the Belgian to shoot at goal.
In the space of 10 seconds, Matic had shown how he can be a transformative player in this United team, offering Mourinho a presence in midfield that no United manager has had for over a decade — arguably since Roy Keane was at his pomp more than 15 years ago.
Though Chelsea boss Conte openly and publicly questioned the sale of the Serbia international who has played a pivotal role in two Chelsea title-winning campaigns, but the Telegraph claimed the former Juventus boss was not opposed to the 29-year-old’s sale.
Whatever the reason be, Matic is now a United player and his performances in the first 3 matches has already proved how crucial is Matic going to be in United’s Premier League challenge this season.
This is no coincidence, with Paul Pogba suddenly free to roam and create, safe in the knowledge that Matic will mop up any loose balls or lost transitions. He may well be the final piece in Mourinho’s title-winning puzzle at Old Trafford.
🔘 Serge Aurier ▶ Paris Saint-Germain ➡ Tottenham Hotspur ▶ £23m
Tottenham Hotspur completed a deal for PSG fullback Serge Aurier on deadline day, dishing out a reported £23 million for the 24-year-old.
Considering the inflated prices this summer, not least – according to some – with Kyle Walker leaving the north Londoners for Manchester City for as much as £50 million, it looks like a smart piece of business by Daniel Levy.
Despite handing Kieran Trippier the No.2 shirt and giving him a new contract, Mauricio Pochettino was keen to sign a right back following Kyle Walker’s departure and swooped for PSG’s Serge Aurier on deadline day.
Aurier is three years younger than Walker, considerably more experienced in the Champions League and cost Spurs under half the fee that City spent on the Englishman.
What the stats prove is that Tottenham’s new fullback is much more like the departed Walker than the man who has inherited the former Sheffield United defender’s number two shirt.
Aurier is an outstanding replacement for Walker, and should leave Tottenham as well stocked this season as they were last year – if the two time Ligue 1 winner settles in the Premier League of course.
🔘 Franck Kessié ▶ Atlanta ➡ AC Milan ▶ Loan Deal
AC Milan made Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessie their second signing of the summer. The 20-year-old moved to San Siro from Atalanta, who he helped to a surprise fourth-placed finish in Serie A this past season.
He arrived on an initial two-year loan deal, while Milan also announced on their official website they have an obligation to buy him outright.
Kessie followed Argentinian defender Mateo Musacchio in signing for the Rossoneri as they began a major squad overhaul under new Chinese owners having laboured to sixth in the table in 2016-17.
Kessie joined Atalanta in January 2015, after playing in the youth sector of Stella Adjamé, in his home country. On 18 April 2015, he was called up for the first time with the senior team, while in August he moved to Cesena, on loan.
The following season, in Serie B, he played 37 games – 36 in the league and one in the playoffs – scoring 4 goals. In 2016-17 he was back with Atalanta and made his debut in Serie A with Gasperini’s boys on 21 August, scoring a brace in the 3-4 home defeat to Lazio and went on to be one of Atalanta key players in the incredible season that saw the Bergamo side ending fourth in the league.