Top 5 Most Important Transfers of the 2019 Summer Transfer Window
The summer transfer window is now closed in all the top leagues across Europe so I thought this would be an appropriate time to look at the most important transfers from this summer. The criteria I used to arrive to my choices was a combination of several factors: transfer fee, importance of the player to his new team, player’s ability and the media hype surrounding the transfer.
5. Harry Maguire (Leicester City to Manchester United)
We will begin the list with a transfer that I am personally skeptical about. Maguire was United’s headline summer signing in what I considered a somewhat underwhelming transfer window for United considering all the problems they had last season and the number of players they let go in the summer. Although I don’t consider Maguire a bad defender, his transfer fee of £80 million is nothing short of outrageous. This transfer fee makes Maguire the most expensive defender in football history. Maguire’s fee slightly surpasses what Liverpool paid for Van Dijk, however, I don’t think anyone would dare argue that Maguire’s defensive abilities and leadership are on par with that of Van Dijk. United seem to have certainly paid the so called ‘English premium’ to sign the England international. For this price I believe there were better options across Europe that United could have pursued, such as Koulibaly. Putting his transfer fee aside I do think Maguire was a good addition as he is certainly an improvement on the defensive options United had last season. It goes without saying that Maguire’s inclusion on this list was in large part because of his astronomical transfer fee and the enormous amount of media attention around this transfer.
4. Matthijs De Ligt (Ajax to Juventus)
At just 20 years of age De Ligt has already captained Ajax and made 19 international appearances for the Netherlands. He was one of the most important pieces to Ajax’s incredibly successful 2018/2019 season in which they won both the league and the cup in the Netherlands and reached the semifinals of the Champions League. De Ligt has demonstrated maturity and leadership far beyond his years and has everything necessary to become the best central defender of the next generation. With the Chiellini, Bonucci and Barzagli era at Juventus approaching its end, De Ligt was a brilliant signing for Juventus. He appears to have everything it takes to become a captain and legend at Juventus in the future.
3. Joao Felix (Benfica to Atletico Madrid)
Although Felix is recognized as one of the top emerging young talents in Europe, eyebrows were raised when Atletico Madrid paid €126 million to sign him. Even in today’s market the €126 million transfer fee is enormous for a 19-year-old that has not yet proved himself at the top level. He is a significant gamble for Atletico, a club that does not normally spend outrageous amounts on transfer fees. Enormous pressure will be placed on his young shoulders as he will be tasked with replacing the departed Griezmann and questions will continually be asked regarding if he is living up to his transfer fee. Felix has shown promising signs during Atletico’s preseason, scoring goals and displaying some nice pieces of skill, but we will have to wait several years before we can give a final verdict on whether or not he develops into a player that justifies the price Atletico paid.
2. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid to FC Barcelona)
In recent years Griezmann has proved to be one of the best strikers in the world. He has scored an impressive 133 goals in 257 appearances during his 5 seasons at Atletico Madrid. He was also an important part of France’s squad that won the 2018 World Cup. The addition of Griezmann gives Barcelona yet another world class attacking option alongside Messi and Suarez. If Valverde is able to get all of them firing on all cylinders Barcelona will unquestionably have the strongest attacking trio in world football and be one of the leading favorites to win the Champions League. Barcelona will also hope that the addition Griezmann will help lessen the overreliance on Messi they have experienced last season.
1. Eden Hazard (Chelsea to Real Madrid)
Last season was an absolute disaster for Real Madrid. A major contributing factor to their poor season was their failure to sign a top quality attacker to compensate for some of the goal output lost due to Ronaldo’s departure. As a result, it was no surprise to see Real Madrid going out and signing one of the best wingers in the world this summer. Hazard is coming off an excellent season for Chelsea in which he had 16 goals and 15 assists in 37 Premier League appearances. He also helped Chelsea win the Europa League and scored 2 goals in the final. At 28 years of age Hazard is in his prime and Real Madrid will need him to be at his best in order to bounce back from last season.