With some of the best players in the world packing their bags for a new home this summer, who is the number one transfer of the past two months. By Max Holm.
Our top ten summer transfers can best be described as young, talented, and expensive. One of the best young midfielders leaves one German giant for another, and quickly his former club brings in his replacement. A top striker leaves Real Madrid as los blancos bring in one of the best young players in football. Spurs make a bold move and Monaco’s revolution looks fierce, just as their counterparts cough up 60+ million on one player. And finally a future Ballon d’Or joins a Spanish giant. Check out 30-21 and 20-11.
10. Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich to Fiorentina)
Fiorentina was not going to let Stevan Jovetic leave before they found a replacement, and ‘Super Mario’ is just the right guy for the job. The deal was for just under 16 million euros but it only requires Fiorentina to pay three million this year, and the rest in increments over the next four years. This financial flexibility enhances the impact of this buy, and its value in the rankings. Gomez had become the forgotten man in Munich, but being a part of the treble winning European champions, makes him a quality addition. Gomez is still only 28 years old so he is just entering his prime. From 2010 to 2012 Gomez played in just under 100 games for Bayern, scoring 80 goals. And while he only played 32 games this past year, he still scored 19 goals. A move from the fast paced Bundesliga, to the slower, more technical Serie A should mean more chances for Gomez to score, and with the right service he should be one of the top goal scorers in Italy. He’s joining a team that will be in the Europa league, finishing fourth in Serie A, just short of Champions League qualification. Gomez is a perfect fit alongside Giuseppe Rossi ,and at Fiorentina ambitions are strong and high for Mario, who will be motivated after being dumped by his old club.
9. Paulinho (Corinthians to Tottenham Hotspur)
The box-to-box midfielder who starred for Brazil at the Confederations Cup will go down as one of the buys of the summer. A physical presence in the midfield with an eye for goal, five goals in 17 games for Brazil, Paulinho is the complete package. Bale has carried all of the weight the past few years, and now Paulinho will take on some of that as someone who can create chances for others and himself. He will provide much needed grit and toughness to a team that dropped too many easy points last year. And at the age of 25, Paulinho still has his best years ahead of him. For 17 million pounds he is a bargain. A midfield pairing of Dembele and Paulinho will not only intimidate, but will provide substantial defensive coverage for the wing backs allowing them to move forward. Obviously like most foreign players it may take him some time to adjust, and he’ll need to prove himself, but this midfield maestro significantly improves Spurs’ top four.
8. Henrikh Mhkitarayan (Shakhtar Dontesk to Borussia Dortmund)
Wait, so who is this guy?And why is he higher than superstars in Tevez and Thiago? Well, don’t worry; Dortmund’s club record transfer signing might even deserve to be higher on the list. They got a good look at him in their round of 16 victory in Champions League over Shakhtar Donetsk. He plays Mario Gotze’s position and took his number 10. He is a prolific goalsocrer from the midfield, notching 25 goals in 29 league games; those are striker-esque numbers. He is a tricky dribbler, has a tremendous work rate, and is as good at setting up teammates as he is at creating chances for himself. People may worry that 25 goals in Ukraine may not translate to 25 goals in the Bundesliga, but Gotze never scored more than 10 goals in a Bundesliga season. Shakhtar won the league in all three of his seasons there and enjoyed some good runs in Europe. He is a very experienced player, even at the young age of 24. He has been compared to Frank Lampard because of his ability to push forward and score from the midfield. He picked up an injury in the pre-season, but when he gets back, if he stays fit, Dortmund fans won’t miss Mario Gotze.
7. Isco (Malaga to Real Madrid)
Despite Thiago captaining Spain and scoring a hat trick in the final, Isco was one of the best players of the U-21 Euros, and he made the right decision choosing Madrid over Manchester City. Isco played a huge role in Malaga’s resurgence in both Spain and Europe, scoring against Porto in the round of 16. A true playmaker and number 10, scored 12 goals in his last campaign for Malaga, a total that should go up as he improves and matures. He’ll have a lot of competition in Madrid from Modric, Khedira, Ozil, and Xabi Alonso, but the 30 million euro man will see time under Carlo Ancelotti. He is the future of Spain and the future of Madrid; the sky really is the limit with this kid. He has incredible technical ability, vision, and strength. His physical toughness is mirrored by his mental toughness. I’d watch for Isco to take the spot of seasoned veterans in big games for Madrid, and truly emerge as one of Europe’s treasures.
6. James Rodriguez (FC Porto to Monaco)
Falcao’s former teammate at Porto joined the French revolution at Monaco with a deal for roughly 45 million euros. Only Falcao cost the club more, making James the second highest transfer for a Colombian player ever, also behind Falcao. In his three years at Porto, they won the league every year and he collected a total of eight trophies. This is very important to Monaco as that is their main goal: win silverware. Only 22 years old, his best years are ahead of him, and the fact that Monaco gave him the iconic number 10 jersey indicates not only how important he is to their future, but how much is expected of him to find the goal and his countryman. Rodriguez scored 23 goals in the past two seasons showing he can contribute from the midfield, something they’ll need to challenge PSG. Rodriguez can play off the striker or on either wing. He’s a once in a generation player and this man will be amongst FIFA Teams of the Year, for years to come. Watch out for Monaco and Colombia because with Falcao, Rodriguez will be lethal.
5. Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid to Napoli)
Higuain will only be 26 in December; most footballers reach their prime in their late 20’s or early 30’s. So naturally, the best is yet to come. Somewhat of an undervalued man at Real Madrid, he has scored over 100 goals in La Liga for Los Blancos. Higuain can play as the sole striker, link up with another forward, or play out wide. This versatility will suit him well on a very talented Napoli team. But don’t be mistaken, he is the scoring replacement for Edinson Cavani and it’s vital that he lives up to his expectations. Every year that Higuain has played 30 games in La Liga he has scored at least 20 goals and Napoli will be expecting exactly that, maybe even more. For 37 million euros, he did not come cheap. But given his pedigree, if he stays fit, he’ll be worth every cent. He joins an ambitious team that finished second in Serie A, six points ahead of third place AC Milan, but far behind the league winners, Juventus. Higuain will be highly motivated in a new scenery, while still playing Champions League football with talented players in Hamsik, Pandev, and Inler. He is also joined by Real Madrid teammates Jose Callejon and Raul Albiol, and former PSV man Dries Mertens. Players have had great success after Madrid like Sneijder and Robben.
4. Edinson Cavani (Napoli to PSG)
Over the past two seasons Falcao scored 70 goals. Edinson Cavani has scored 71, and that’s why Falcao is arguably the best goal scorer behind Messi and Ronaldo. The 26 year-old Uruguayan was admired by many of Europe’s top clubs and now makes up the most lethal striking partnership with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. In his three years at Napoli Cavani scored at least 33 goals every season, and 38 in this past year, 29 of which came in the Serie A, where he was the top goal scorer. His goal was to record helped push an ambitious Napoli team to 2nd place and automatic qualification for the Champions League group stage. Cavani’s goal scoring abilities are about as incredible as his hair. The 64 million euro signing sends a message to Ligue 1, especially Monaco, and the top clubs in Europe that Paris means business. Some believe Cavani and Ibra are too similar and PSG is better off with a five man midfield for more creativity. The two egos may struggle to work together for the greater good of the team. But Ibra and Cavani could combine for 50 goals in France alone and in total with all of their competitions we could be talking 70+ goals from the newest dynamic duo.
3. Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich)
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. They’ll scream German profanity at Mario Gotze when he comes home to Dortmund with title rivals Bayern Munich. Sure Dortmund fell behind Bayern in all three major competitions, but they still have a great team and had a great season. Clearly a move to the European champions was impossible to turn down. At the slender age of 21, he is one of the best young players in not only Europe, but the world. A player with great vision, speed, and versatility in the midfield, Gotze is a perfect match for Bayern Munich. He also makes Bayern’s biggest rivals weaker. However, Gotze has sustained injuries each of the last two seasons. He was instrumental to Dortmund’s run to the Champions League final, playing in a high central midfield role behind Robert Lewandowski. With 22 caps for Germany he is a gem, and he’s shown he has an eye for goal and for setting up his teammates. Bayern didn’t truly have a number 10, as Muller and Kroos had filled that role in recent years, but Gotze gives them that real number 10 they’ve been looking for. 21 year-old Gotze joins 22 year-old Thiago at Bayern, as Guardiola’s men get deeper, faster, younger, and simply, better.
2. Radamel Falcao (Athletico Madrid to Monaco)
It doesn’t matter whether he’s 27 or 29; he’s one of the best strikers in the world. Arguably the third best goal scorer in the past two seasons behind Messi and Ronaldo, Falcao has netted 70 goals. To put that in perspective in 55 matches last year Ronaldo scored 55 goals. Yeah, Falcao is that good. He cost Monaco 60 million euros but a team with that kind of ambition needs a prolific goal scorer. You can’t win games without scoring goals, plain and simple. Falcao is tremendously strong, possesses great speed, and can finish almost any ball put into the box. He’s the real deal and if Monaco is going to be making a push to join the European giants, he’ll need to produce a ton of goals.
1. Neymar Jr. (Santos to Barcelona)
For anyone, including myself, who ever doubted Neymar, he pretty much shut everyone up at the Confederations Cup. This kid is the real deal: a free kick specialist with flair, quick feet, and swagger. He cost Barcelona 57 million euros but if his career goes half as well as Messi’s, the fee will be worth every penny. Now, with two goal scoring threats, beating Barcelona will not be as simple as stopping Messi and retaining the ball from the Camp Nou boys. Surely if Martino can get the two working in tandem, they will only make each other better and be the most dangerous attack in the world. We’re looking at one of the best players in the world for the next decade to come, joining an all-time great; if that doesn’t make for the best transfer of the summer, I don’t know what does.