The financial chasm between Europe’s behemoths and those traditionally gazing upward in their respective leagues means only a handful of clubs can compete for football’s biggest names. Considering fees, the urgency to fill the position, and the player’s potential for influence, here’s a grading of the summer’s marquee transfers thus far:
Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)
Belgian whiz Hazard’s switch to Real Madrid on June 7 opened the floodgates for an arms race among Spain’s big three. Hazard’s introduction amid his peak years transforms a Los Blancos attack dotted by an aging duo and desperate for a spark. He’s probably worth twice the fee.
Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)
Portuguese teen Felix’s move from Benfica to the Spanish capital is the summer’s costliest move and third-most expensive ever. A future cornerstone of Atletico’s rebuild, it will be interesting to see how the sparkling forward adapts to the tempo of Diego Simeone’s unflagging approach.
Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)
Juventus edged out suitors Barcelona, Paris-Saint Germain, and Manchester United to secure Dutch prodigy De Ligt. Even with an extra €10.5 million in fees to fund super-agent Mino Raiola’s new helipad, the Old Lady has secured one of football’s best young defenders. A no-brainer.
Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona)
Barcelona got their man, and for a price that’s almost reasonable compared to some nine-digit fees. De Jong will slot in with Arthur and Sergio Busquets in a three-man midfield, and the Catalan colossus will likely win its fifth La Liga title in six years with the help of the club’s 20th Dutchman.
Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham)
After three prior dormant transaction periods, Spurs have finally dipped their toes in the transfer waters, signing former Lyon do-everything midfielder Ndombele in a relatively pricey move. The French international’s arrival represents a new level of ambition at Tottenham.
Aaron Ramsey (Juventus)
Juventus refreshed a midfield short on dynamism with a free move for box-to-box Welshman Ramsey. The move will bulge the club’s wages, but the hope is the former Arsenal star and another freebie (see below) will help end a 24-year wait for Europe’s biggest prize. Everybody wins, except Arsenal.
Rodri (Manchester City)
With the indispensable Fernandinho eyeing the denouement of a brilliant career at the Etihad, Manchester City’s stacked squad had one glaring need. Pep Guardiola and Co. addressed that by triggering Atletico’s release clause for the deep-lying creative midfield fulcrum Rodri.
Luka Jovic (Real Madrid)
Lost in the Hazard hoopla are a slew of costly moves like Ferland Mendy, Eder Militao, and Jovic. The Serbian poacher has drawn comparisons to the man he’ll likely replace, Karim Benzema, and would merit five-star status with a sample size greater than last season’s breakthrough at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Adrien Rabiot (Juventus)
As with Ramsey, Juventus got a steal in former Paris Saint-Germain outcast Rabiot. Playing on substantial wages, there are worries Rabiot has burned two bridges (PSG, France national team) and chatter that his agent and mother Veronique is a pain. Still, he’s an elite talent who’s yet to scratch the surface of a diverse skill set.
Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich)
David Alaba is presumably no longer a top left-back, and with Rafinha and his four league starts gone, Bayern Munich smashed a club record for Hernandez, who leaves Atleti to form a full-back tandem with France mate Benjamin Pavard. He’s the most expensive full-back ever – by a €22-million margin.
Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona)
“If you have second thoughts on playing for Barcelona, you are no longer of service to us,” Johan Cruyff once said. Despite Griezmann’s self-indulgent “La Decision” video that made fools of Barca last summer, the Frenchman has changed his tune, and apparently so have the La Liga holders.