Who were the shocks and bargains of this summer’s transfer window?
Almost a week on from the transfer window slamming shut and with the dust settling on a summer of financial madness, it’s time to reflect on a window which saw the world record transferred doubled and records broken in multiple countries. Gregor Kerr rounds up the window’s shocks and bargains.
Renato Sanches – FC Bayern > Swansea City (Loan)
Just over a year ago, Sanches found himself with a host of Europe’s finest clubs to pick from on the back of a stellar European Championship for eventual-winners Portugal. Riding on the crest of a wave at the time, the 20-year old superstar would have scarcely believed that he would end up in South Wales just a year later.
The midfielder looked to be a real coup for the Bavarians at the time, but a difficult first season in Germany opened the door for Sanches to gain experience elsewhere. Bayern chief executive Karl Heinz-Rummenigge commented, “’Renato has to play consistently, and that’s just not possible at Bayern at the moment, given the quality we have in our squad”.
With the loss of leading midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson to Everton, Sanches, the 2016 Golden Boy Award winner, along with returning striker Wilfried Bony, can prove to be the perfect big-name signing to give the Swans a boost in the new season, who are hoping to avoid another relegation battle.
Neymar – Barcelona> Paris Saint-Germain (£198 million)
Many eyes were rolled in February when Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho proclaimed that the then world-record transfer of Paul Pogba would “soon become cheap”. After all, no football club in their right mind would surely pay over £100m on a player?
A mere six months on from the Portuguese’s comments, the words now seem to carry truth. Paris Saint-Germain shocked the entire football world, and possibly Barcelona themselves, by activating the £196m release clause of Brazil’s poster boy. The opportunity to step aside from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez and enter his own spotlight proved alluring for the 25-year old; and thus, the most extraordinary transfer in football history occurred.
With three goals from as many games, Neymar’s career in the French capital is off to a magnifique start.
Paulinho – Guangzhou Evergrande > Barcelona (£40 million)
With a £200m transfer kitty at the Catalans disposal following Neymar’s departure, few would have expected one of the reinforcements to come in the shape of his Brazil teammate. In an interesting career path which has seen the midfielder ply his trade in Poland, Brazil and a more than underwhelming spell at Tottenham, before finding some form in the Chinese Super League where he developed into a goalscoring midfielder.
In his last spell in Europe, Paulinho underwhelmed in a Tottenham jersey, lasting just two seasons and making a mere 15 appearances in his final year in North London. While he managed to rebuild his reputation in China as a goal-scoring midfielder, Barca fans are sceptical to say the least, with reports of zero shirt sales in the Brazilian’s name.
Aaron Mooy – Manchester City > Huddersfield (£8 million)
A standout loanee for the Yorkshire club in last season’s historic promotion-winning season, few would have been surprised to see the former St Mirren midfielder stick it out at City and try to win his place in Pep Guardiola’s side. The Terriers bit City’s hand off at the chance to sign him, and parted way with just £8 million to bring the fan favourite back to the John Smith’s Stadium.
Just like last season, the Aussie has already been a huge influence in Town’s midfield, netting the winner against Newcastle and helping the side to keep a clean sheet in all three of their opening games. One of many leaders in David Wagner’s side, Mooy is the focal point throughout the side, in both defending, creating and finishing attacking moves. Despite the step up in level, the Sydney-born midfielder has carried his form from last year and has been at the heart of Huddersfield’s dream start.
Harry Maguire – Hull City > Leicester City (£12 million)
While several colossal fees have been branded about over the summer on defenders throughout the country, The Foxes managed to pull one from under the noses of the league’s big boys. Maguire was arguably the standout player for Hull City last season, nearly pulling off a remarkable escape from relegation.
A strong and commanding defender, Maguire was brought in to shore up the Leicester defence which was left vulnerable so often last season, and has already impressed enough already this campaign to earn his maiden call-up to the England squad this month.
His new manager Craig Shakespeare has been keen to show why he invested in the Sheffield-born defender, branding him as a “future England captain”. With over 250 senior appearances under his belt at just 24, Maguire has a wealth of experience behind him.
Jermaine Defoe – Sunderland > AFC Bournemouth (free)
16 years and 250 goals after last appearing for the Cherries in the old Second Division, Defoe arrived back on the south-coast this summer after a mixed spell at perennial strugglers Sunderland. Despite the Black Cats numerous relegation battles, the England striker found the back of the net on 37 occasions, for a team that isn’t recognised for its creativity.
After Sunderland’s inevitable relegation, Eddie Howe was quick to activate a clause in Defoe’s contract, allowing him to leave on a free transfer, instead of commanding the excessive fee you would expect from a prolific English striker.
The efficiency of Defoe can prove to be the finishing piece to an early well-structured Bournemouth side, and the striker may even harbour hopes of a prestigious spot in England’s World Cup squad, should he provide the goods for his new side.