Transfer Market Analysis : Summer 2021/22
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The 2021 summer transfer window was packed with big-name transfers and one of the busiest in recent memory. It included some big names such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi transferring from one club to another that the other good transfers may be forgotten. Many clubs spent a lot of money revamping their squad after a Corona Virus-filled season in the previous season and make a statement with some major signings. This will delve into the best signing for each position (11 players) in a 4-2-3-1 system plus 3 substitutes in Europe, so a total of 14 players. The way this will be broken down is the need for that player, cost and the value of that player, and the player’s form.


            To start at the back, we have the goalkeepers. While there were some good pieces of business done by clubs to sign some great goalkeepers, only one stands out from the rest of them and that is Gianluigi Donnarumma. The player of the Euro 2020 tournament, Donnarumma refused to sign a contract extension with his previous employer, AC Milan and played until his contract expired this past June. AC Milan was hopeful to sign Donnarumma to an extension and at some point, the Rossoneri youth product looked as if he would sign it only to play out his contract and become a free agent. Admitting defeat, Milan looked elsewhere for their replacement while Donnarumma had agreed to sign with PSG in the summer. The best goalkeeper in the world at the moment signs for free with PSG is a hell of a business by the French giants. And by having a world-class goalkeeper at the back, they’ll hope he can elevate the team and lead them to not only a league title but the Champions League as well. While PSG may feel they have a stellar goalkeeper already with Keylor Navas, bringing in the best goalkeeper on a free was too hard to pass up on.


            Now, we have the defenders. There weren’t that many big-name left-backs that made the switch this summer. However, the player that was the best value for money was Junior Firpo from Barcelona to Leeds United. Costing only €15 million, he’ll slot right in to fill the void that Alioski has left behind. While he is somewhat of an unproven commodity having not had the opportunity to shine at Barcelona due to Jordi Alba, he now has a chance to prove himself in Europe that he belongs. The transfer filled the need and the value was respectable to have him as the left-back.


As for the center-back pairings, one would think Raphael Varane would be included in the best 11 in terms of transfers, but unfortunately, he misses the cut. The starters will be Dayot Upamecano and Cristian Romero. Upamecano joined Bayern Munich from RB Leipzig for €44.54 million. It not only reduces the quality of one of their fiercest competitors in Leipzig, but Bayern also fills their need for a center-back. They had lost David Alaba on a free transfer and replacing him with an up-and-coming center-back in Upamecano who was excellent in the Bundesliga last season is a great piece of business by the Bavarian outfit. Romero makes the starting lineup because while he is on loan from Atalanta to Tottenham, it’s one of the underrated pieces of business that shows how important having a Sporting Director is. Tottenham hired Fabio Paratici as their sporting director. Paratici actually brought Romero to Juventus while he was working for Juventus but was never given a chance to shine. But because of that familiarity, he was able to convince Romero once again to make the move to Tottenham and continue his development at North London. Romero was one of the bright stars for the Atalanta team and it made sense for Tottenham to take a chance on him on loan to fill their need at center-back after losing Toby Alderweireld.


The last player to complete the back-four is Achraf Hakimi. Hakimi is considered one of the best right-backs in the world even at the tender age of 22. He joins PSG from Inter Milan for a fee of €60 million and while it is a steep price to pay for a right-back, Hakimi is well worth that price. Hakimi excelled for Inter Milan scoring 7 goals while providing 11 assists in all competitions. PSG was in need of a proven right back and now they have with Hakimi.


The midfield will be with 2 central midfielders with a number 10 to complete the 4-2-3-1 formation. The first midfielder is Manuel Locatelli who shone during the Euro 2020 and was also impressed for Sassuolo last season. He is on loan to Juventus from Sassuolo with an obligation to buy next season after months of negotiations between the clubs with the terms of the deal being €5m on an initial loan and Sassuolo will receive €30m when the move is permanent. This is a great piece of business by Juventus to not spend big this summer during the pandemic-ridden season and hope that the finances will be next season and be able to pay the team then. And it also fills the need for that position as they only had Arthur, Rabiot, and McKennie as the central midfielders. They weren’t quite as effective while Ramsey failed to impress, and with Locatelli’s signing, he should be able to provide more influence from the midfield. The other midfielder that will pair with Locatelli is Rodrigo de Paul. De Paul was one of the standout stars of Copa America and helped Argentina win the tournament. While Messi and Di Maria were getting all of the headlines for leading the team to a win, de Paul was quietly making his presence known and it did not go unnoticed by Atletico Madrid. Atletico Madrid snatched him up from Udinese for €36.68 million. Considering Saul Niguez was deemed surplus of requirements, Atletico Madrid needed another midfielder who has a great work rate but also can make a difference in the final third. And that is what de Paul can provide for the La Liga champions.


            The number 10 position can only be one player and that is Lionel Messi. Messi was unable to resign with Barcelona after Barcelona ran into a huge financial crisis that forced them to sell many of their star players and reduce wages. Unfortunately, that cost them the chance to resign Messi and he immediately took the opportunity to link up with Neymar again in PSG. With a familiar face in the squad in Neymar and a manager in Mauricio Pochettino who he respects, it was the perfect place for Messi to go. And better yet, PSG was able to obtain his services for free. Opposing defenders will have nightmares when they know they have to deal with Mbappe, Neymar, Di Maria, and now Messi. PSG will hope Messi is the final piece of the jigsaw that’ll allow them to finally lift the illustrious Champions League trophy.


            The wingers are pretty set with Jadon Sancho on the right-wing while Jack Grealish occupies the left. Sancho finally made his move to Manchester United for a fee of €85 million after a failed transfer last summer with Dortmund adamant they weren’t selling their star player. Now that he’s made the move, he’ll be eager to impress his new employers being back home and show what the cross-town rivals, Manchester City are missing. While he did not have the best season last season and even failed to impress in Euros, he is still considered one of the best young wingers at the moment. United was in dire need of a true right-winger opposite of Marcus Rashford. Daniel James failed to impress on the right side and ultimately couldn’t find a player to solidify that position. Sancho immediately fills that void and makes United even more potent in attack.


            Grealish, on the other hand, made his move to Manchester City from Aston Villa for a fee of £100 million. He steadily improved each season for Aston Villa and felt the need to finally move to a big club to win trophies. And with Manchester City calling, he could not pass up on the opportunity to impress the league champions. While he may not fill the positional void with Raheem Sterling currently occupying the left-winger spot, he does, however, provide the extra creativity that is badly needed in the squad. With only Kevin De Bruyne the only creative spark in the squad, it’ll lift some of the burdens with Grealish in the fold. He may also not be able to produce his very best as he did with Aston Villa, but he’ll still be influential and make a difference if needed because that’s the type of player he is. He is a difference-maker who is capable of making something out of nothing and Manchester City will be delighted to have brought him in even with a steep price. It’s only natural that his value will be higher than his actual market value because he is being sold to an English player. But if he is to make a difference at City, then the price tag will be long forgotten.


            At the striker position, it will be Romelu Lukaku. Unfortunately, it will not be Cristiano Ronaldo as he will be one of the substitutes. While Lukaku was bought for a fee of £103.50 million from Inter Milan to Chelsea, it is only natural the price for a world-class striker would be that high and Chelsea is able to afford it. He was stellar during his time at Inter Milan and even helped Inter win the Serie A. He was the focal point of the attack and made his presence known inside the box. Chelsea will be badly needing his finishing skills as that was the missing piece last season for Timo Werner. Werner’s finishing ability was left to be desired as he missed chance after chance. With Lukaku, he is very clinical and will also be able to link up with his teammates better than Werner. Thus, Lukaku will be the difference-maker for Chelsea this upcoming season and will make them even deadlier than before.


            The three substitutes that will be coming in are Cristiano Ronaldo, David Alaba, and Emiliano Buendia. Ronaldo comes back to Manchester United as a finished product. He’s now more of a striker than a winger, but he’ll provide that finishing ability that he still possesses to a United team that badly needs a goal scorer. Ronaldo wasn’t happy with the situation in Juventus and Juventus was more than happy to oblige his request to leave. United brought him in for a nominal fee of £13.5 million. This is a perfect marriage for both club and the player even if he's at 36 years old. He’s still producing better than the players United have currently and will add an extra level of confidence to the team that’ll help with their domestic and Champions League campaigns.


            Alaba is the second substitute that is worth a mention. While he is not the Alaba of old where he was once considered the best left-back in the world, his versatility and his ability to adequately play center-back make him one of the best transfers this past summer. Real Madrid was able to scoop him up on a free after he refused to sign a contract extension with Bayern Munich and decided to sign with Real Madrid instead. And considering Real Madrid is also going through financial struggles at the moment, bringing in Alaba on a free is a huge advantage. Plus, he also fills the void that Real Madrid has at the moment. With the loss of Varane and Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid was without their two-starting center-backs. With Alaba, they were able to fill one and the other will be filled within the squad. Alaba will bring experience and the veteran presence in the backline and will hope to have the same success in Spain as he did in Germany.


            The last player might be a surprise, but he is definitely one of the most underrated transfers this past summer. Buendia joins Aston Villa from Norwich for a fee of £34.56 million. He was the standout performer for Norwich last season in the championships and helped secure automatic promotion back into the Premier League for Norwich. With his standout performances, it caught the eye of Aston Villa who was in need of finding a replacement for Grealish who was bound to leave. Buendia will bring creativity and goals to the side and while filling the shoes of Grealish will be tough, Aston Villa won’t be missing any creativity. He’s the perfect player to replace Grealish in the side and immediately will be the creative spark for the team. He not only fills the void of Grealish’s impending departure, but his standout performances merit his price tag.


            While there are other high-profile names that were not mentioned in this article, that’s how crazy this summer transfer window has been. So many high-profile players were on the move this summer that it’s hard to name all of them. Some were overpriced, while others were a good piece of business. Only time will tell, however, if these transfers were the right ones for the club and won’t regret the price they paid to acquire them. For now, the summer transfer window is now shut. There won’t be any piece of business done until January. And even then, it’ll be hard to tell if those summer transfers panned out. But, those clubs will be hoping the cost to acquire their players will benefit in the short and the long-term in the end.


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