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Summer 2020 Transfer Window – Top European Club Grades

The Summer 2020 transfer window has been a busy one, especially given that clubs are hurting for money this year due to the impact of COVID-19. We’ve seen some of Europe’s top clubs, the one’s with the biggest budgets, be the most active. Today we break down several of the biggest clubs’ activity thus far. It’s worth noting, there’s still one month left on the transfer market as it was extended due to the pandemic. One future move could change these grades. 

Spain – FC Barcelona – Grade: C-

Barca has made only one notable move and that was swapping 24-year-old midfielder Arthur Melo with Juventus for 30 year old, Miralem Pjanic. Melo is a youngster with a world of talent and they lose him for a 30 year old steady option, netting only $12 million in the exchange. It doesn’t make sense. The club needs to rebuild, yet they are swapping young talent for veteran talent. Pjanic can come in and contribute right away, but Melo’s upside was too good to lose. Especially since Suarez is likely on the way out, as is Messi. What a mess Barca has become over the last 18 months. 

Spain – Real Madrid – Grade: D

To date, Madrid has not been active in this transfer window. They’ve only seen one of their most promising prospects depart for Italy in Achraf Hakimi. The speedy Moroccan full-back has impressed on his two year loan spell at Borussia Dortmund. It is kind of mind blowing that Los Blancos didn’t see him as a part of its long term plan. He’s only 21-years-old and is playing top football. Inter gets a great deal here at $45 million for one of Europe’s best right wing backs. 

England – Arsenal – Grade: B-

Since Mikel Arteta has arrived, Arsenal finally has an identity again and they’ve won two trophies. That is two more trophies than Man City have won since Arteta left for Arsenal. Not bad. With plenty of attacking prowess, and an above average midfield, Arsenal needed to sure up its squad by addressing the center back position. They signed Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille for $35 million and Pablo Mari from Flamengo (Brazil) for $16.5 million. 

Both players are Brazilian and young. They can come in right away and compete for starting spots, with another fellow Brazilian David Luiz there to help show them the ropes in England. Both players will take some time to adjust to the new physical league, but if one of them pans out, it’s money well spent. Arsenal also signed Cedric Soares on a free transfer from Southampton. He provides right wing back depth on a club friendly deal. 

Completing the Brazil / Portuguese overall, Arsenal also signed Willian on a free transfer from Chelsea. Willian’s best days are behind him, but he can still play at a high level, especially as a rotational starrer. He brings a nice veteran presence to a group of wingers that are young, raw and hungry. 

England – Chelsea – Grade: A

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea has made the biggest boom in the transfer market. Coming off a transfer ban, the rich club was prepared to spend big to reload a young team that showed a lot of promise last season. In Lampard’s first year, they finished in the top 4, top 16 in Champions League, and made two cup finals. 

Their biggest issue was on defense, and they have made some good moves to improve it. Tihago Silva comes over from PSG on a free transfer. He is 35, and his fading pace will be tested, but the veteran presence and experience will give Chelsea, at least for this year, a nice option week in and week out. They also signed Ben Chillwell from Leisciester for $65 million. Great price for Leicester and a great left back for Chelsea. Chilwell has emerged as one of the best left backs in Europe and has yet to reach 25 years old. A position of weakness just became a strength for the blues. 

To sure up an already strong attacking unit they got Timo Werner ($60 Million) from RB Leipzig and Hakim Ziyech ($45 million). Werner is the class signing of the two finishing second in goals in the Bundesliga. He’s speed is a big threat through the middle or out on the wing. His versatility, and poaching ability around the goal add value. Ziyech is a poor man’s Riyad Marhez and Chelsea may have overpaid a bit. However, he is only 27, played well in the Champions League last year, and gives them depth at winger. He adds much more punch in a season in which Chelsea will play a lot of high level games. Chelsea still needs an upgrade at goalkeeper to fully revamp the team. 

England – Manchester United – Grade: C

United hasn’t been as active as everyone thought they would be. The Jadon Sancho move has stalled, and it is really 50/50 whether or not Dortmund lets him go. In the meantime, United signed a young talented midfielder from Ajax, Donny van de Beek. Van de Beek is 23, and has all the makings of becoming a world class maestro in England. He can play as a #8 or as a #10 in a midfield that now has great depth with Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay. 

United did let Alexis Sanchez go for free to Inter Milan, which is a bit embarrassing considering how much they paid for him two years ago. The Chilean was a total bust for United who recoup none of their losses for the aging winger. They still need to address center back, wingback depth, and if they don’t land Sancho, add one more attacking option. Jesse Lingard is likely to depart as is Chris Smalling. 

England – Manchester City – Grade: B+

City has had a quietly solid transfer window, that could absolutely explode if they are able to land Lionel Messi. The only downside thus far was losing talented winger Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich. They did get a great price of $55 million, but Sane is a world class talent and only 24-years-old. He just wasn’t a fit with Pep in England. 

City has signed centerback Nathan Ake from Bournemouth for $53 million and Ferran Torres from Valencia for $27 million. Ake was a staple at Bournemouth which were relegated this past season, so they did well to cash in on a player they couldn’t keep. At 25, he has plenty of time to develop under Pep and has all the qualities to do it. Pace, size, technical ability, it will take a little time, but Ake could become a huge part of City’s future success. 

As for Torres, what a bargain. He had a $100 million release clause that City managed to avoid, and is just 20 years old. He fits in line with Pep’s strategy of only signing young players and has all the potential in the world. Given his age, and an adjustment period to a new league, he won’t get a lot of time early on. However, in time, he has all the qualities to emerge as the next big winger under Guardiola in Manchester. 

France – Paris SG – Grade: B-

PSG completed a transfer for Mauro Icardi after loan season in Paris from Inter Milan. They bought him out right for $55 million, after he scored 20 goals in 31 games. He had all sorts of issues in Italy, but found his form again with PSG who have a permanent replacement for Edison Cavani in place. PSG did manage to lose Thomas Meunier to Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer, which was kind of bad business. They should have pulled the trigger earlier, moving the Belgian before losing him on a free transfer. He will have a nice impact in Dortmund’s 3-5-2 system. 

Germany – Bayern Munich – Grade: B+

As we wrote about, Bayern added Sane, who brings a world of talent to an already loaded front line in Germany. It is scary to think that a player of his quality enters into a team that is just coming off winning the treble. They will lose Coutinho who was on loan from Barca, and it is rumored that Thiago is on his way out as well, which is a blow to their midfield. 

Germany – Borussia Dortmund – Grade B

Thus far, Dortmund has managed to keep Jadon Sancho, while adding Thomas Meunier to a squad that is already quite strong. Sometimes less is more, and that is true in Dortmund’s case. A young cohesive squad that plays very well together didn’t need many blockbuster moves. If they are able to retain Sancho, the window will have been a great success. 

Italy – Juventus – Grade A-

The aforementioned Arthur Melo comes in to replace an aging Pjannic, which is a total steal for Juventus. Melo brings elite play bringing ability to a midfield that lacked it at times last season. And he helps them get younger in the process. Juventus also added American Weston McKennie on loan from Schalke, which was not only a great move for their depth, but a great move for McKennie’s development. 

Italy – Inter Milan – Grade B+

Inter add Hakimi and keep Sanchez for free. Sanchez was a low risk, high reward move as the aging winger showed signs of his former self last year under Conte. Hakimi, as we discussed, is one of the emerging elite wing backs in Europe and to sign him for $22 million less than Chelsea signed Ben Chilwell, is just superb business. In selling Icardi, who they didn’t need, and buying Hakimi, who they did need, Inter netted $10 million. Job well done for Conte. The boys look poised for a big run in the Serie A and Europe in 2020/2021.