For obvious reasons, football’s transfer window was very different, only coming to an end on October 6. The change in schedule and strained finances of many clubs led to some strange deals and some difficult negotiations, but here is a look at the top 10 moves of the transfer window.
10. Gareth Bale (Tottenham)
One of a number of emotional returns during the summer, Gareth Bale has gone back to Spurs. Seven years have passed since the Welshman’s €100 million move to Real Madrid and he helped bring 2 La Liga titles and a staggering 4 Champions League trophies to the Bernabeu.
Yet he had clearly outstayed his welcome, spending far more time working on his golf game than actually playing football, moving almost permanently onto the bench following Zinedine Zidane’s return as Coach. Joining Tottenham on loan, Bale will be seeking to reignite his career and if he can rediscover anything approaching his best form, the acquisition will prove to be a major coup for Spurs.
9. Thomas Partey (Arsenal)
Somehow this was only the second biggest story at Arsenal as the transfer window closed, news they had sacked Gunnersaurus as part of 55 redundancies garnering almost as much attention. They identified Atleti midfielder Thomas Partey as a target at the end of last season, then wasted time negotiating with the Spanish club before eventually paying the full €50 million to activate his release clause.
While completing the deal was made overly complicated, the truth is Arsenal have signed a top quality player at a very reasonable price. The 27-year-old brings his skills to a team that was sorely lacking them last season and they will hope the Ghana international proves a better long-term solution than Lucas Torreira.
8. Edinson Cavani (Man Utd)
Clearly not the first choice for a club who balked at paying Jadon Sancho’s release clause and then stumbled around for alternatives, but Man Utd have unquestionably signed a devastating striker in Edinson Cavani.
The 33-year-old has an impressive track record, scoring 104 goals in 138 games for Napoli and then adding 200 in 301 appearances for PSG. He was quickly pushed to the fringes by the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the French capital yet still found the net at an impressive rate, and United supporters will hope he can have a similar impact to his former team-mate at Old Trafford.
7. Arthur Melo (Juventus) & Miralem Pjanic (Barcelona)
Perhaps the highest profile example of a trend we saw throughout the transfer window as clubs inflated the value of players they effectively swapped. Barca sold Arthur Melo to Juventus for €78 million, but the Bianconeri offset that by “selling” Miralem Pjanic to the Catalan giants for €60 million.
Whatever the maths, there is little doubt that Juve got the better of this deal, signing a 24-year-old with immense potential while Barca have acquired a 30-year-old midfielder that they didn’t really need. With his blend of excellent passing and attacking guile, Arthur could be a vital part of a completely new-look Juventus under new boss Andrea Pirlo.
6. Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)
Another major part of Barca’s cost-cutting was the release of Luis Suarez, much to the annoyance of Lionel Messi who took to social media to criticise the club’s treatment of his “best friend.” To make matters worse, after being strongly linked with a move to Juventus, the 33-year-old – who could undoubtedly have still helped the Catalan side in a reserve role – is staying close enough to haunt the Camp Nou management.
Instead of going to Italy, he has instead signed with Atletico Madrid, forming a partnership no defence will want to face alongside Diego Costa. A top class forward who will undoubtedly get important goals for Diego Simeone’s side this season, this is a move Barcelona might come to regret very soon.
5. Achraf Hakimi (Inter)
Some signings seem almost too perfect and seeing one of the world’s best attacking full-backs slot into Antonio Conte’s 3-5-2 formation at Inter is certainly one of them. Achraf Hakimi spent two years on loan at Borussia Dortmund and proved his quality, yet Real Madrid opted to cash in rather than recall him, selling him to the Milan club for €40 million.
The 21-year-old could’ve undoubtedly competed with Dani Carvajal for the starting berth at the Bernabeu, but instead he will battle with Ashley Young for a place at San Siro. That might sound like a joke, but Hakimi will need to prove he can handle the defensive responsibilities Conte gives him before he is trusted over the former Man Utd veteran.
His proven quality at the highest level earn him a place on this list over both Federico Chiesa’s move to Juve and Sandro Tonali’s arrival at AC Milan.
4. Kai Havertz & Timo Werner (Chelsea)
Bayer Leverkusen made a huge profit on Kai Havertz as their youth team product cost Chelsea €79.4 million, but he provides a versatile attacking weapon for Frank Lampard who has yet to figure out where best to deploy the 21-year-old.
There are no such questions over Timo Werner, the former RB Leipzig striker slotting straight in as the focal point of the side. It is a superb piece of business too, the German international’s €53 million release clause covered by the €50 million sale of Alvaro Morata which was only made official this summer.
3. Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich)
How do you improve on perfection? Bayern Munich were simply unstoppable last season as they claimed every trophy open to them and did so playing a devastating style that swept aside every opponent they faced.
They have added Leroy Sane to the team in a deal that is an ideal solution for all parties. Man City had too many attacking players to keep them all happy and they’ve sold a player with just one year left on his contract, while Bayern have signed a player who is far more reliable than the oft-injured Kingsley Coman for €49 million.
2. James Rodriguez (Everton)
The star of the 2014 World Cup, his performances in that tournament saw James Rodriguez join Real Madrid for €78 million, but he never showed his best form for Los Merengues. A two-year loan spell to Bayern saw him reunited with Carlo Ancelotti, but still never allowed the Colombian to truly showcase his talent.
The two men are now together for the third time, and early indications show this time they’re going to make it work. Everton surprisingly sit top of the Premier League and James has been pulling the strings, with 3 goals and 2 assists to his name in the first 4 matches of 2020/21.
1.Thiago Alcantara (Liverpool)
This one just simply isn’t fair. Liverpool were devastating last season as they won the Premier League title their fans so desperately craved, and arguably the only thing they lacked was a midfielder who could unlock packed defences when teams sat deep and defended in numbers.
Not only have they subsequently added the best player in Europe at doing exactly that, they got him for just €20 million as Thiago Alcantara’s contract with Bayern Munich had just a year left to run. We discussed this transfer in detail here, but it is safe to say we consider this to unquestionably be the no.1 deal completed anywhere in Europe over the recent transfer window.