With the summer transfer window slamming shut on Monday, it’s fair to say some teams missed the mark in their efforts to add reinforcements.
While it’s still early and there’s a chance that some of these players will turn out to be adequate – if not great – signings, theScore breaks down the worst transfers during a summer window unlike any other.
11. Rafinha ➡️ Paris Saint-Germain
Details: Reported €3M fee from Barcelona
Barcelona’s underwhelming market concluded with the departure of Rafinha. The paltry fee sums up the Catalan club’s desperation and poor planning during a transfer window that almost included a stunning departure for superstar Lionel Messi.
Paris Saint-Germain took advantage of Barcelona’s precarious financial situation by picking up a player who’s shown flashes of brilliance. The only risk associated with this deal is that the Brazilian has been plagued by several serious injuries throughout his career.
10. Takefusa Kubo ➡️ Villarreal
Details: Season-long loan from Real Madrid
Japanese teenage winger Takefusa Kubo impressed last season while on loan at Mallorca from Real Madrid, bagging four goals in 35 La Liga outings for Los Bermellones. Like fellow Los Blancos loanee Martin Odegaard – who shined at Real Sociedad – Kubo showed enough promise to suggest he has a future in the Real first team.
Zinedine Zidane again shipped Kubo out on loan, this time to Villarreal, and if the early signs are any indication, the 19-year-old’s development is being stunted by manager Unai Emery. Kubo has played a scant 55 minutes across their opening five matches, and according to Cadena Ser, Real are none too pleased. Early days, but still – would you trust Emery with anything of value?
9. Thiago Silva ➡️ Chelsea
Details: Free transfer from PSG
Thiago Silva arrived at Chelsea on a free transfer, but his shaky start to life in the Premier League has proved costly. In his debut, the Brazilian center-back’s egregious mistake led to a West Bromwich Albion goal before Chelsea ultimately staged an epic comeback.
It was the type of error that rarely occurred during Silva’s illustrious Paris Saint-Germain career. Now 36-years-old, it seems his days of impressively anchoring backlines are over.
8. Nelson Semedo ➡️ Wolverhampton
Details: €30M transfer from Barcelona
Barcelona’s trash is Wolverhampton’s treasure, apparently, as the Premier League club added to its stable of Portuguese talent by signing right-back Nelson Semedo. The move illustrated Barcelona’s need to raise funds and yielded a surprising return.
Barca recouped just about all the money they paid to buy Semedo from Benfica in 2017, while Wolves picked up a player whose stock has never been lower after he was humiliated in his last appearance for the Blaugrana.
7. Alvaro Morata ➡️ Juventus
Details: Initial loan from Atletico Madrid with reported €45M option
Juventus’ shock decision to reunite with Alvaro Morata could be just what the forward needs to revive his career. The 27-year-old returns to a club that he found plenty of success playing for before Real Madrid dragged him back to Spain in 2016.
But things aren’t the same as they were during Morata’s first spell in Turin, and he doesn’t offer the same ceiling he once did. Manager Andrea Pirlo will hope to rely on his new striker to take minutes away from his stars, but Morata has developed a reputation for failing to live up to expectations.
6. Moise Kean ➡️ Paris Saint-Germain
Details: Season-long loan from Everton
Paris Saint-Germain probably aren’t the best team for a young player in desperate need of minutes and a fresh start. After a tumultuous tenure at Everton, Moise Kean now finds himself at a club where regular minutes will be hard to come by behind star attackers Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Mauro Icardi.
PSG’s interest is understandable, as Kean was regarded as one of football’s hottest prospects while with Juventus. But perhaps he would have been better served to join a club that could offer him more than just a role off the bench.
5. Alexander Sorloth ➡️ RB Leipzig
Details: Reported £20M fee from Crystal Palace
Alexander Sorloth wasn’t officially declared Timo Werner’s successor, but RB Leipzig’s lack of signings seem to indicate that they think the 24-year-old forward can fill the massive void left by the German star’s move to Chelsea.
After less than a year at Crystal Palace, the Norwegian was shipped out on loan numerous times and carved out a successful 2019-2020 season in Turkey with Trabzonspor, scoring 24 goals in 34 league appearances. But the task in Germany is much more difficult, and few expect Leipzig to close the gap on Bayern Munich with the unproven Sorloth leading their attack.
4. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting ➡️ Bayern Munich
Details: Free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain
Bayern’s surprise signing of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting certainly won’t result in Robert Lewandowski taking a back seat. But the Bavarians will still be low on legitimate alternatives if the Polish striker is ever forced to miss an extended period of time.
It’s an unusual signing for a team known for its shrewd business in the transfer market and feels almost as random as Barcelona’s addition of Martin Braithwaite last season.
3. Rodrigo ➡️ Leeds United
Details: Reported €30M fee from Valencia
It’s been an eventful start to life in England for Leeds United’s club-record signing, Rodrigo. After the Spanish forward introduced himself to fans by giving away a daft penalty and spoiling an inspiring performance against Liverpool on opening day, he played the hero in Leeds’ draw against Manchester City.
The early consensus, however, is that Leeds likely overpaid for a striker who’s struggled with consistency. Despite finishing in the top 10 in scoring in Spain three years ago (16 goals), Rodrigo has only managed to find the back of the net 14 times over the last two years combined.
2. Gonzalo Higuain ➡️ Inter Miami
Details: Free transfer from Juventus
Inter Miami’s pursuit of Juventus outcasts perhaps should have ended with the signing of Blaise Matuidi. But David Beckham and Co. rolled the dice on Gonzalo Higuain, whose arrival at the Major League Soccer club could produce mixed results. Skying a penalty and subsequently clashing with opposing players certainly wasn’t a positive start.
Higuain insists his move to the expansion side doesn’t signal the beginning of the end to his career, but Inter Miami are getting a player whose best days are clearly behind him. The goals will come, but the 32-year-old’s arrival is a short-term solution for a team that would have benefitted more from recruiting a player with a brighter future.
1. Miralem Pjanic ➡️ Barcelona
Details: €60M fee from Juventus
Transforming an aging squad seems like an easy fix. That is unless you’re Barcelona, who sold 24-year-old Arthur Melo to Juventus for a €72-million fee and then spent €60 million for 30-year-old Miralem Pjanic in a corresponding move. Anybody privy to Pjanic’s 2019-20 campaign can attest to the midfielder’s decline.
It wasn’t a football deal but a financial one. Barca’s €12-million profit seems modest at first glance, but with the cost of signing the Bosnian spread over the term of his contract, there’s an immediate – and hugely necessary – boon to the bottom line, as Arthur’s sale is directly credited on this year’s books. Financial Fair Play compliance through amortization valued over squad upgrades – where football meets Business 101. More than a club, indeed.