We’ve reached the point of the summer transfer season where many of the biggest moves have taken place and the rosters for Europe’s top teams are beginning to take shape. If history is any indication, the remainder of the transfer season should be rife with drama, unexpected acquisitions, and head-scratching rumors. However, given the moves that have occurred, let’s take a look at who has changed uniforms and how that may affect the upcoming season.
It would not be right to start this conversation without mentioning the biggest signing of the summer – Barcelona’s completion of their multi-year courtship of Neymar, the recent Golden Ball winner at the Confederations Cup who captured the hearts of the host nation and inspired the collective belief that Brazil can win the World Cup next summer. It will be a sight to behold when Neymar lines up with Barcelona and teams up with Messi to terrorize each and every opponent. Thiago Silva is still rumored to be joining the Catalan giants, but his signing has not yet been finalized.
Never one to rest on their laurels, Real Madrid flexed their financial muscle in signing Isco, the skillful winger who turned heads this past season in La Liga and for his native Spain, winner’s of U-21 European Championship. While Isco does not arrive at the Bernabeu with the same acclaim as Neymar, he is a serious talent and adds another weapon to Madrid’s already potent arsenal (Angel Di Maria is likely to lose his spot to Isco sooner rather than later). Madrid is one of the team’s still chasing some of the bigger names rumored to be available (e.g. Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani).
As of today, it appears that the other team in Madrid, Atletico, have completed a coup of mercurial Barcelona striker, David Villa. Villa fell out of favor at Barcelona ever since his gruesome leg injury. With Neymar in the fold, Villa became the odd man out so the move should not take any by surprise. I do expect Villa to regain his form and expect him to excel in Madrid.
English Premier League
While La Liga lays claim to the two most talented signings of the transfer season, the English Premier League has dominated much of the conversation and made a number of significant signings. Chief among these signings is Chelsea’s acquisition of Jose Mourinho to finalize one of the world’s worst-kept secrets. Coupled with the addition of Andre Schurrle from Bayer Leverkusen and the return of Romelu Lukaku from loan at West Bromwich Albion, Mourinho takes charge of a team replete with talent and depth who should be favored to win the league this season.
From one billionaire-owned team to another. Manchester City opened the transfer season with a bang with their signings of Jesus Navas and Fernandinho. While these may not be the two sexiest signings of the summer, make no mistake about their importance or abilities. Both players have been mainstays at strong clubs (Sevilla and Shakhtar Donetsk) just outside of the scope of the casual soccer fan and will add diversity to an already immensely talented team.
Before discussing Manchester United, it should be noted the Tottenham have quietly made one of the best signings of the summer in acquiring Paulinho, the recent Bronze Ball winner at the Confederations Cup. The 24-year old Brazilian should solidify the central midfield and will be an imposing force for Tottenham. If ‘Spurs can retain Gareth Bale, I believe they have all the tools to finish in the top four and earn a spot in the Champions League.
While Manchester United have yet to make a major signing they are stacked with talent at nearly every position with the exception being a gifted, world-class central midfielder. However, the Red Devils are on the verge of securing the signature of Thiago Alcantara, the supremely skillful Barcelona player and son of Brazilian World Cup Winner, Mazinho. Thiago recently won man of the match at the U-21 European Championship match scoring a hat-trick with goals coming from his head, left foot, and right foot. If United can finalize the Thiago signing, they will be much more confident in their ability to defend their title, though Chelsea and Manchester City will be snipping at their heels.
Other European Leagues
I would be remiss if I neglected to mention AS Monaco who made a serious splash this transfer window with five signings. Monaco broke the bank to acquire the talented trio of Radamel Falcao, Joao Moutinho, nnd James Rodriquez. Furthermore, Monaco added Ricardo Carvalho and Eric Abdial on free transfers. It will be interesting to see how Monaco performs with all of these new, talented players so keep an eye on them.
Moving on to Germany, Bayern Munich made the earliest signing when they snatched Mario Gotze, the young German starlet, from Borrusia Dortmund before their clash in the Champions League final. Also, it goes without saying that, like Mourinho above, the appointment of Pep Guardiola to manager is an extremely important move. Guardiola will have his work cut out for him, as Bayern is coming off a historic, treble-winning season, but if there is any manager that could possibly elevate Baryen’s level of play it is Guardiola.
In Italy, Fiorentina and Juventus have been the most active teams in the transfer market. Fiorentina has added Bayern’s Mario Gomez who should form a formidale duo with Giuseppe Rossi once he recovers from his rash of knee injuries. It appears that Stevan Jovetic, the current Fiorentina frontman, is on his way to Juventus. Juventus has also signed Carlos Tevez who has fleed the city of Manchester for greener pastures for the second time.
Who Still May Move?
Although much of the summer transfer season dust has settled, there is still time for players and teams to make moves. As many big fish players remain on the transfer block and many top teams remain unsatisfied with their squads, there will undoubtedly be some major signings with teams looking to reload and compete for titles. The following lists high-profile players who have been rumored to be transferring and their potential suitors:
Edinson Cavani – PSG, Chelsea, Man City
Luis Suarez – Arsenal, Real Madrid
Gonzalo Higuan – PSG, Monaco
Robert Lewandowski – Bayern Munich
Stephen El Shaarawy – Chelsea, Man City
Christian Benteke – Tottenham, Chelsea