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Werner joined Chelsea from RB Leipzig in 2020 for €53m, scoring 23 goals and getting 21 assists in his 89 games since. Not terrible stats, but something didn’t click and the Blues chose to cut their losses early once again on a big-money signing. Who plays up front now that Romelu Lukaku is also gone?
The Germany striker’s 90 goals and 40 assists from 156 games in Leipzig are more like the kind of stats they will want to see. If any club can reinvigorate his career, it’s Leipzig, and Werner will be delighted to be back. They let him go two years ago, but made around €20m from that decision in the long run. Well done.
Brighton signed Cucurella from Getafe for £15m and moved him on a year later for £56m, plus another potential £7m in add-ons, plus landing Chelsea’s Levi Colwill on loan for the season as a replacement. It’s a pretty great deal for them.
Chelsea finally got one of their targets, though it did feel a bit rushed when it became clear than Man City were backing out of talks with Brighton. The transfer fee is huge for a player who has only had one good season in the Premier League, but his versatility should improve the squad.
One of their top young talents, Villa lose marks for not managing to sign him to a new contract, but they gain some back by landing £15m plus £5m in add-ons for an 18-year-old whose deal expired in 2023.
Chelsea have made a big gamble on youth, and their record of integrating young players into the first team isn’t super, but Chukwuemeka has tons of potential, and this could be a savvy deal if he can fulfill it.
Puig joined Barca’s academy in 2013 and made 60 appearances for the club, but he never really made the breakthrough into the first team and it’s not overly surprising that he was allowed to leave. Barca could have moved him on inside Europe, for a potentially bigger amount, though they have a clause to bring him back, or get 50% of his next transfer fee if he goes elsewhere.
The Galaxy have landed a 22-year-old who will be hungry to prove himself and has bags of talent. If Puig can settle in the U.S. then he can have a massive impact on MLS and should help the side a lot.
Let’s be honest: De Ketelaere was never going to stay in Belgium his whole career, and €35m is a decent amount to land for a 21-year-old. But Brugge will miss him a lot and now have to turn their attention to unearthing another young superstar.
Milan have done well to land the midfielder ahead of rivals in Europe, and De Ketelaere has plenty in his game for fans to get excited about. At 6-foot-4, he cuts an unusual figure up front, but his stylistic similarities to Kaka will both help and hinder him.
When a player takes over the starting goalkeeper role as a 17-year-old, you know he is going to be special. The U.S. youth international has made 34 appearances for the Fire, keeping 14 clean sheets, and he stays on loan until Jan. 1. The MLS side were never going to be able to keep hold of him for long.
Chelsea are putting their faith in Slonina’s potential and there seems to be plenty of that. As a teenager, he will need to develop, but he is a bright talent and the Blues did well to keep him out of the clutches of Real Madrid.
Not that long ago, Sevilla wanted €80m to let Kounde depart and were reported to have had a bid bigger than €55m from Chelsea. However, they allowed him to stay in LaLiga and join one of their rivals for a fee that doesn’t really do his talent justice.
At 24, Kounde has loads of time to develop, and his versatility, ball-playing ability and potential mean that Barca got themselves a great deal. He should settle well at Camp Nou and be a key player for years to come.
Man United: B+
Rather than a success story from their famed academy, Ajax signed Martinez from Argentine club Defensa y Justicia as a 21-year-old and have now made a huge profit by moving him on for €57m. He is versatile and has high potential, but Ajax can replace him easily enough and reinvest once more.
The presence of former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford had a lot to do with this deal. A left-footed defender who can play in multiple positions at the back, Martinez will bring an extra dimension to the squad. However, he has a very large transfer fee to justify and a tough task on his hands.
West Ham: B+
The 23-year-old enjoyed his breakthrough year in Serie A last season, scoring 16 goals in 36 games, and earned himself a place in the Italy national side as well. Sassuolo can do a lot with €42m, so while they will miss him, it was probably the right move.
West Ham have been struggling to find a striker and Scamacca has shown his potential. He may have only had one good season but at 6-foot-5, he should cope well with the physical demands of the Premier League.
Bayern Munich: B-
Having broken into the first team last season, the 17-year-old striker could have stayed for a bit longer to learn his trade, but a reported €28m fee was hard to turn down. He only played 10 times, so he won’t be missed.
Bayern needed a replacement for Robert Lewandowski, but have turned to youth. The club have taken a big gamble by spending such a large amount on an unproven prospect and it could come back to bite them. Alternatively, it could work out very well indeed.
RB Leipzig: C
Leipzig will very much miss the versatile defender, who made more than 30 appearances for the club in each of the past four seasons. His transfer fee of around the €10m mark was down to his contract expiring in 2023, but it’s not much for a player of his class.
PSG didn’t have to try very hard to persuade the Parisian to return to his home city. At 24, and with plenty of room to develop, Mukiele can help plug plenty of gaps in defence and is a bargain arrival.
Man City: A-
Bringing in £30m for your backup left-back is a pretty good deal, especially as there could be another £2m coming in add-ons. Zinchenko filled in the gaps at City but never going to be first-team regular so if City use the money to replace him then they won’t miss him too much.
Known to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, the Ukraine international is versatile and can play in defence, midfield or as a winger. It’s a lot of money for a player who isn’t guaranteed a starting spot at the Emirates either, but he will definitely improve their depth.
Torino signed Bremer back in 2018 from Atletico Mineiro and he has served them well. It’s always a danger that one of your best players joins a bigger club, but Torino held out for a big transfer fee that will help them a lot.
Juve had €77m from the exit of Matthijs de Ligt, so landing his replacement for €42m, plus another €5m in add-ons, is pretty good business. Bremer has shown himself to be a tough Serie A defender and will only go from strength to strength at Juve.
Juve wanted to keep the Argentina striker but weren’t able to come to an agreement over a new contract. As a result, they were forced to watch him leave on a free transfer and join one of their Serie A rivals.
Dybala has struggled with injury during his career but is still a top-class player, and Jose Mourinho has done brilliantly to land him for nothing. At 28, his best years are approaching, and Roma’s attack will certainly be improved by his arrival.
Bayern Munich: A+
Juve signed De Ligt for only €75m from Ajax in 2019, so they didn’t make much of a profit (though could be due €10m in add-ons), and they couldn’t persuade the 22-year-old that Turin was where his future lies, so the move didn’t work out. Potentially a world-class defender, things obviously did not go as expected and now they have to rebuild.
Having already spent hefty sums to sign Dayot Upamecano and Lucas Hernandez in recent windows, Bayern have gone big again for another centre-back. It didn’t seem like central defence was a key area to improve, but after letting star striker Robert Lewandowski leave, they are planning for the future and had the money to do so. A super move.
Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens debate whether Timo Werner would have a real impact if he returned to RB Leipzig.
Bayern Munich: B
OK, so €45m (plus another €5m in add-ons) is excellent money for a 33-year-old with one year left on his contract. But Bayern didn’t want to lose their star striker at all, so it will feel bittersweet.
Barca needed a striker, so they signed the best one in the world. At 33, he will offer them a couple of good years and is a genuinely world-class addition. Having an experienced player among the club’s talented youth products will also aid the squad.
It’s hard to see what Reims get out of this one. One of their best young players leaves on loan for a small fee, and also strengthens the squad of Ligue 1’s best team. An option to sign him permanently for €35m isn’t an obligation, so they may get him back, but that won’t help them this year.
The France under-20 international scored 11 times in all competitions last season and is a player of huge potential. He will learn from Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, Neymar and others this season, but could he be the long-term replacement for Mbappe? Only time will tell.
Alejandro Moreno debates whether Lisandro Martinez will be a success at Manchester United.
A few years ago, Napoli were asking for a transfer fee of €100m to sign the centre-back, so they’ve been forced to let him go for much less due to the fact that his contract expires in 2023. A rock in defence, they will struggle to find a replacement of the same quality.
Chelsea needed defenders this summer, and Koulibaly is one of Europe’s best. At 31, he has only a few more years left at the top of the game, but he should strengthen the squad a lot, and €40m is a bargain fee.
Leeds United: A
Having signed from Rennes for around €20m, Leeds have made a huge profit in moving the Brazil winger on. They continue to make smart moves in the transfer market and can use the money to sign another young star to develop.
Barcelona are getting a versatile winger, who scored 11 goals in 35 games last season, but surely they have bigger issues to solve than in the forward positions. Raphinha can improve the side, though at €58m (with another €10m in potential add-ons) that’s the least the financially stricken Barca would expect.
Don Hutchison explains why Kalidou Koulibaly is an incredible signing for Chelsea.
Man United: B+
The Denmark international has had a tough year after suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch at Euro 2020 last summer and then being released by Inter due to being fitted with a heart-starting device that is banned in Serie A. Brentford gave him a chance in January and he impressed, but they couldn’t compete when Man United showed interest.
United have got themselves a class act who can only improve the depth in their attack. There will always be questions over Eriksen’s fitness, but he deserves his shot to continue his career at the highest level and should thrive under Erik ten Hag.
Man City: B-
You can’t keep unhappy players and, even though Sterling scored 17 goals in 47 games last season, he was still left out for some the biggest games. City are strengthening a rival by letting him go, but £47.5m, rising to £50m in add-ons, is a decent fee for a player whose contract expires in 2023.
Chelsea have done well to land a world-class winger, who is still only 27, from their Premier League rivals. Sterling brings experience and guile up front, while he should be an automatic starter. The Blues struggled with a Romelu Lukaku-style forward, so have doubled down on more versatility.
Rob Dawson explains why Christian Eriksen joining Manchester United is a “good deal” for the club.
Man United: F
Man United have managed to lose Pogba to Juventus twice now, once in 2012 for €1m and now for nothing. United signed the midfielder for a then-world record €105m in 2016, mostly struggled to find a fit for him in the side and then failed to agree terms on a new contract. Pretty dismal.
Juve will have to pay some big wages but they welcome back one of the world’s finest midfielders on his day. Pogba is still only 29, so is at his peak and has years left at the top. A rebirth in Turin is exactly what his career needs.
Di Maria is 34, but he was still one of PSG’s top performers last season with five goals and nine assists in 31 games. Offloading his wages will help PSG sign new players, and they can replace him with some younger talent.
Juventus have done well in recent years with signing older players, and Di Maria has tons of experience in Spain, England and France to help him transition to a new league. He should do a decent job in Turin, and striker Dusan Vlahovic could thrive off his service.
RB Leipzig: B-
Leeds United: B
The USMNT star was coached by Jesse Marsch at the New York Red Bulls and then at RB Leipzig, so it was no surprise to see him move again. He played 35 times for Leipzig last season, so he will be missed. The fee seems a little on the low side, even if it can go up to €23m with add-ons.
Dubbed a replacement for the departed Kalvin Phillips, Adams is a different type of player and will work with Marc Roca to make up for the loss of the England international. He is versatile and puts in a shift in midfield, so he should settle well into the Leeds side.
As Paul Pogba’s time at Manchester United comes to an end, ESPN FC’s journalists dive in to how it went so wrong.
Man United: B
Malacia is an energetic and attack-minded full-back who has now made his mark for Netherlands at the international level, so it’s no surprise to see a big European club come calling. Feyenoord will be sad to lose him, but they can move on and use the money to rebuild.
At 22, the left-back has plenty of time to develop, and his style of play should flourish under Erik ten Hag. While not a world-class addition, Malacia can compete with Luke Shaw and should be a decent signing in the long run if he settles in England.
Man City: A
If you only count the transfer fee, City spent £6.2m to sign Erling Haaland as a result of moving Jesus to Arsenal. Every club in the world would take that deal. Though they are losing a talented player, they will cope without him.
With 95 goals in 236 games for City, the versatile Jesus should bring some threat to the Arsenal attack. The Brazil international is a very different profile of player to Dusan Vlahovic, whom the Gunners wanted in January, and £45m is a lot of money. But he knows Mikel Arteta and is an experienced Premier League performer.
Man City: A
A move like this comes around once in your career, if you’re lucky, so Leeds weren’t going to deny their homegrown star. A fee of £42m, plus £3m in add-ons, will go a long way to rebuilding, but a player like Phillips is impossible to replace.
City needed to replace Fernandinho in central midfield and have signed one of the best around. Phillips is still only 26 and has had an incredible rise over the past few seasons. The England international should slot in nicely at the Etihad.
AC Milan: C
Tough for Milan, as Kessie wouldn’t sign a new contract, but you can’t get away from the fact that they let one of their best players depart on a free transfer. His impact in Milan has been massive and he will leave a significant hole.
An incredible addition on a free transfer, Kessie will bring a lot of energy and class to an already impressive midfield at Camp Nou. The Ivory Coast international still has potential to improve and can offer Xavi plenty of options in the XI.
The Denmark international has been pretty consistent for Chelsea since impressing on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach between 2015-17. However, he has never cemented his place in the first XI and is replaceable.
At 26, he has yet to reach his peak and the Spanish league should suit his style. He may not be first choice at Camp Nou, but his versatility and reading of the game will ensure good depth in the Barcelona defence.
Mark Ogden hopes that Man United aren’t just focusing on bringing players in from the Dutch Eredivisie given that many have struggled to adapt to the Premier League before.
Real Madrid: A
Given that just a year ago, Tchouameni was being linked with a €40m move, Monaco have done extremely well to double his transfer fee and potentially get another €20m in add-ons. They only paid €17.5m to sign him from Bordeaux in 2020, so while they lose one of their best players, it’s an excellent piece of business.
Madrid’s midfield of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro is still one of the best around, but age is catching up with them and the 22-year-old Tchouameni joins the 19-year-old Eduardo Camavinga in ensuring it will continue to thrive in the future. Tchouameni is one of the top young midfielders in Europe so Madrid have done very well to land him ahead of rivals.
Benfica paid around €24m to sign the Uruguay international from Almeria in 2020 and he has gone from strength to strength. His breakout season saw him net 34 goals in 41 appearances in all competitions and he finished as the top scorer in Portugal’s top flight, so it was no surprise to see a big club come calling with an offer Benfica couldn’t refuse.
If Nunez is half as successful as the last Uruguayan striker to star at Anfield, Luis Suarez, then he will have done well. Liverpool could spend another €25m in add-ons, but they have signed one of the world’s top young strikers and, at 22, he has plenty of time to develop.
Julien Laurens says Aurelien Tchouameni’s desire to move to Real Madrid over other European clubs is what ultimately got his transfer from Monaco over the line.
Borussia Dortmund: C
Man City: A+
There’s not much Dortmund could have done to keep one of the world’s best young strikers, given they agreed to a release clause when they signed him from FC Salzburg in 2020. But €60m is less than the €75m originally reported, and significantly less than his €180m valuation if there had been no clause. Luckily they already had his replacement lined up for €38m (see below).
This could work out to be one of the best moves City have ever made. Haaland is top class and is still only 21. He’s an all-round superstar and should bed in well under Pep Guardiola. City needed a central striker and they beat their rivals to land the best around.
A huge statement signing. Landing the most attractive young player in the world — and possibly the defining centre-forward of the next decade — is a massive coup for City. Technically he might be slightly different from the classic Pep Guardiola type of forward, but it’s hard to imagine Haaland not fitting into (and scoring goals in) a team that generates so many chances in and around the box. — Tor-Kristian Karlsen
Struggling Everton were never going to be able to keep the Brazil international happy this summer, so they did the right thing by taking the money. £50m can rebuild their squad nicely.
It’s a lot of money, especially for Spurs, but Richarlison has 43 goals in 135 games in the Premier League and his versatility should see him able to slot in across the front line. The club have been looking for a backup to Harry Kane, and they have a very reliable one now.
Sporting CP: B-
It was always a possibility that Mendes would be signed on a permanent deal after his loan move expired, and Sporting knew the risks given the €40m clause in the deal. The 19-year-old has outgrown the Portuguese league already and the club can move on and focus on unearthing the next superstar.
PSG moved to land the teenage left-back permanently after he impressed this season across 40 appearances. A player who could cement his place in the side for the next decade, his transfer fee seems on the low side and the French champions did very well to land him ahead of plenty of other interested sides.
FC Porto: B
A release clause is a tricky thing, because as soon as another club pays it, then you are stuck. Porto got what they wanted, sort of, but they’ve lost another young talented player in the same summer as Fabio Vieira (see below).
PSG needed a dynamic central midfielder to improve their depth in the middle of the pitch, and the 22-year-old comes highly rated. Vitinha should settle well in Paris and will be expected to make an immediate impact.
In truth, the Netherlands international defender had probably done everything he could at Lille. Helping the club to win a surprise Ligue 1 title in 2020-21, Botman’s development has improved year-on-year, and he deserves a shot at the Premier League.
Newcastle reportedly held off competition from AC Milan to land Botman, which is impressive. The 6-foot-4 centre-back is a dominant presence at the back, strong in the air and on the ground, and should suit the English style of play.
FC Salzburg: B
Borussia Dortmund: A-
Salzburg are well versed in bringing young talent through and then moving them on for a significant profit. Adeyemi has been a star, but the Austrian club will have another waiting to take his place, and €38m is a good fee to get for a 20-year-old with no experience in a “Big Five” league.
Dortmund have been tracking the Germany international since it became obvious that Haaland would move on this summer. The club has made a series of canny moves already and Adeyemi is highly rated, with all the skills needed to shine in the German Bundesliga.
Adeyemi hasn’t quite managed to follow up on his explosive start to the season. After the turn of the year he was restricted to a few good streaks and his performances have generally dropped too (he also struggles to score away from home, in the comparatively modest Austrian league.) However, while it’s impossible to replace Haaland like-for-like, Adeyemi’s dribbling skills, pace and avid pressing game will clearly become assets for Dortmund. — TKK
FC Porto: B
One of the stars of the Porto academy, Vieira rose to prominence quickly over the past season as he took his chance to impress. A €35m fee, plus another €5m in add-ons, is a decent amount for a club who know how to make the best of the transfer market.
Arsenal fans may query the addition of another diminutive attacking midfielder, but the 22-year-old Vieira has class and should be an exciting signing. It’s unlikely he’ll have the impact of his namesake, Patrick, but he will add some depth to their attacking options.
Gab and Juls discuss Sadio Mane’s proposed move from Liverpool to Bayern Munich.
On the one hand, Liverpool are losing a world-class player, but on the other they have moved on a 30-year-old in the final year of his contract for €32m, with the potential for the fee to rise to €41m in add-ons. And they’ve already signed his replacement in Darwin Nunez. Not bad.
Mane is a quality addition, and Bayern have shown how much they value older players. He has signed a three-year deal, which should see him win plenty of silverware, and he should thrive in the Bundesliga.
Bissouma has been one of the best midfielders in the Premier League over recent years, so Brighton will miss his presence in the middle of the pitch. The fee seems on the low side for a player who is still only 25, but he only had one year left on his contract, which explains why the club were forced into a move.
On paper, the Mali international should slot in well into the Tottenham midfield and seems the perfect type of player to succeed under Antonio Conte. However, Bissouma was arrested in October under suspicion of sexual assault and released under police investigation, with the outcome still pending. Some fans may question why the club signed him with the case ongoing.
FC Salzburg: B
Leeds United B+
The United States midfielder, who can play as a No. 10 or as an inverted winger, is regarded as one of the top prospects in the country and had outgrown life at Salzburg. The club signed him for €6m in January 2021 and he helped them to two Austrian Bundesliga titles, so they weren’t going to stand in his way. A €21m transfer fee profit will go a long way for reshaping their squad.
At Leeds, Aaronson will reunite with American coach Jesse Marsch, who managed him at Salzburg in the 2020-21 season, and that should help the youngster score more goals and get more assists. The midfielder has a high ceiling, and if he can fulfil his potential then Leeds will have landed a bargain.
One of the most fascinating moves of the summer. Will the talented American manage to make an impact in a league in which some of his signature qualities — pressing, finding quick practical actions, incisive off-the-ball running, agility, defensive contribution — are already such an integral part of the game? Likely to be greatly appreciated by the Elland Road crowd. — TKK
Borussia Dortmund: B+
Freiburg will be disappointed that after sending him on loan to Union Berlin in 2020-21 and giving him plenty of first-team action this season, he has chosen to move on with his contract ending in 2023. Still, €25m is a decent transfer fee return for a 22-year-old.
Another young Germany international who should grow into a fine player at Dortmund, the club landed a bit of a bargain. Schlotterbeck carries similar playing traits to Mats Hummels, so Dortmund will be delighted if he reaches his full potential.
An outstanding performer for Freiburg this season. As excellent in the air as he is winning the ball high up the pitch, Schlotterbeck is a fairly complete centre-back who’s also good at finding solutions in midfield when playing the ball out from the back. Will have to deal with more one-vs.one situations at Dortmund than was the case at Freiburg. — TKK
Aston Villa: A-
Coutinho signed for Barcelona for €160m from Liverpool in 2018 and has been sent out on loan twice over the past four years. It just hasn’t worked out at Camp Nou, and with his contract expiring in 2023, and Barca struggling financially, the Catalan club accepted half of the €40m clause required for a permanent deal with Aston Villa.
After five goals and three assists in 19 games back in the Premier League, Coutinho thrived under his former teammate Steven Gerrard after joining on loan in January. Villa have landed a class act for a minimal fee, and if they can get him near the form he once showed at Liverpool then it will be one of the deals of the year.
Bayern Munich: B+
One of the stars of the Ajax academy, Gravenberch made his senior debut in 2018 and has since confirmed his status as one of the most exciting young midfielders in Europe. With his contract expiring in 2023, Ajax couldn’t do much when he expressed a desire to leave, so they will regret not managing to bring in a bigger transfer fee.
Bayern could be a superb place for the 20-year-old to develop, if he can break into the first XI quickly. The German champions’ midfield is pretty well stacked already, but he can be a valuable addition and may cost a reported €5m extra in add-ons if he performs well.
New England Revolution: B
Turner took over the starting spot with the Revs in 2018 and hasn’t looked back since. He was named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2021 and helped the USMNT to the Gold Cup title, winning the Golden Glove award as the tournament’s best keeper. The Revs will miss him, but they couldn’t deny him a move to Europe.
The Gunners needed a backup to Aaron Ramsdale given that Bernd Leno is likely to depart this summer. Ramsdale is the undoubted No. 1, but Turner should prove competition for him, and his international experience and a strong will to succeed make it a good move.
With 10 goals and eight assists in the Championship for Fulham this season, Carvalho helped the club to promotion. The young attacker was in demand so, once it was clear he wasn’t going to sign a new contract, Fulham agreed an £8.4m move in January only for it to fall through at the last minute. That has cost them around £3.4m.
Liverpool swooped early to avoid the transfer fee going to a tribunal, as it could have been a fair bit higher than £5m. Having been forced to pay a record compensation fee for a 16-year-old when signing Harvey Elliott from the Cottagers in 2019, the Reds hope that the 19-year-old Carvalho will follow a similar developmental path.
Inter Milan: A
You can’t sign a player for €115m then decide he’s not good enough and loan him out the next season. It goes down as one of the worst transfer deals in history. Keeping an unhappy player isn’t worth it, but this got out of hand quickly.
Inter banked that €115m transfer fee and now have Lukaku back again on loan (albeit for a €12m loan fee, plus his €350,000-a-week wages.) If they can get him back to the form he showed last year on the way to the Scudetto, it will be a great deal.
Real Madrid: A
Rudiger has become one of Europe’s most highly-rated central defenders at Chelsea, having signed for €35m from Roma in 2017. The Blues will be upset they could not agree new terms and had to let him leave for nothing, but the 29-year-old reportedly wanted a lot more than he was on at Stamford Bridge.
Madrid have made great use of the free agency market recently, landing David Alaba from Bayern Munich last season, and they have struck another great deal. Rudiger is in the prime of his career and will bring stability and experience to the defence.
Steve Nicol explains why Gareth Bale’s move to LAFC makes sense for the forward.
Real Madrid: B-
Bale’s career at Real Madrid has been up and down since his €100m move from Tottenham in 2013. It has had lots of trophies (including 5 Champions Leagues) so you have to consider it a success, but the negativity around his injury history and perceived lack of commitment to the team has soured things. No surprise he was allowed to leave on a free transfer, which will free up the wage space significantly.
LAFC already landed veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini, but Bale is still 32 and could make a huge impact in MLS. His pace, dribbling and direct running will be a serious test for his opponents. If he stays free of injury, he’ll be a star.
Whenever you lose your captain, who has made over 400 appearances for the club, on a free transfer, you have to ask questions why. Insigne wasn’t able to agree a new contract and opted to leave, but Napoli will miss the Italy international a lot.
One of the best transfers that Major League Soccer has ever pulled off. Insigne is 30, still at the top of his game and will provide the touch of star quality to the Toronto side that it missed when Sebastian Giovinco left in 2019. The 5-foot-4 superstar is reportedly set to become the highest-paid player in MLS history, and a lot is expected of him.
Toronto may have pulled of the coup of the year by signing Insigne in his prime. Not only is he going to lift the sporting standards on the pitch with his creativity, flamboyant style and goal threat, but he’ll also attract a new crowd to MLS. Still a top player with a lot to give. — TKK
Atletico Madrid: C
Houston Dynamo: B
Herrera played a key role in Atletico’s 2020-21 LaLiga title win but made only 27 appearances this season as his impact waned. Atletico had been looking to move him on for a while, but were resigned to letting him leave on a free transfer in the end.
One of Mexico’s top stars, Herrera has played at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games and has the most Champions League appearances for a Mexican (at FC Porto and Atletico). At 32, his best years might be behind him, but he’s still a game-changer and his signing will certainly help the Dynamo.
Inter Milan: C
The versatile 33-year-old, who can play as a wing-back and a forward, was a major player for Inter this season with 10 goals and nine assists in his 49 games. His impact and experience will be missed, while Inter may be ruing the fact they lost one of their best performers for nothing.
The Antonio Conte factor was clearly huge in landing Perisic, with the pair linking up well at Inter a few years back. The Croatia international has been linked with a move to the Premier League for many years, so it will be interesting to see how he settles. He’s heading towards the end of his career but it’s still a canny deal for Spurs.
Aston Villa: A
Marseille really dropped the ball here as they allowed one of their best young players to leave on a free transfer. Kamara helped the club finish second in Ligue 1 to secure qualification for the Champions League and his exit will leave a gaping hole, while Marseille will miss his versatility in defence and midfield as well.
Villa managed to agree a deal ahead of their rivals for one of the most highly rated young players in Europe and should reap the rewards in the future. Despite being only 22, Kamara has lit up Ligue 1 with his performances and, honestly, with the elite clubs that were linked with him (he was tipped to sign for Atletico) it was something of a surprise that Villa got their man.
All credit to Villa. Signing a player of Kamara’s quality and reputation should normally be impossible without offering Champions League football. The dynamic defensive midfielder — who can also play centre-back — covers a lot of ground, links well in possession with his teammates and reads the game expertly. — TKK
Ajax Amsterdam: C
Bayern Munich: B
Mazraoui caught the eye in the Champions League in recent years and his quality is assured as he came through the youth academy at Ajax. The 24-year-old right-back can also play in midfield and was linked with Barcelona when it became clear he wouldn’t sign a new contract. Ajax will miss him but could have perhaps let him leave in January for a fee.
Bayern have struggled with budget options at full-back in recent years — namely Bouna Sarr and Omar Richards — but Mazraoui should add a touch of class. The Morocco international could well become Bayern’s first-choice right-back if Benjamin Pavard moves into the centre of defence to replace Niklas Sule.
With his proactive style — always supporting the attack on overlaps — and quality on the ball, Mazraoui should be a good fit for the German champions. While he is mostly recognised for his attacking one-vs.-one abilities, he’s a better defender than credited and still has margins for improvement too. — TKK
Bayern Munich: D
Borussia Dortmund: A
Usually Bayern are the ones signing players from Dortmund in their prime, but Sule has turned the tables. At 26, the Germany international is just reaching his best years, and he played 36 times this season for the Bundesliga champions so they will need to replace him. Another to leave on a free transfer, he rejected contract extensions and reportedly felt unloved over the offers which came from the club.
It may not be a signing which will change the destination of the league title, but Dortmund will be pleased to have a PR boost over their rivals and can pair Sule with fellow countryman Schlotterbeck in the future. It’s a good move for Dortmund and he should blossom as a leader.
After two outstanding seasons at Bayern, Sule’s career took a slight plunge this season as he appeared a bit non-reactive and on the back foot when being challenged defensively. Yet he remains among the most composed and precise passers of the ball in Europe and should, at least on paper, work well in tandem with Schlotterbeck — TKK.