When the window slams shut, it stays shut. There’s no prying it open until January and there’s certainly no returning of receipts.
While one often wonders why on earth clubs waste squillions of pounds, euros and dollars on players, on the other side of the table there are those who simply do not charge enough for their assets – or should never have even let them go in the first place.
Here, we examine five of the potentially biggest mistakes by selling clubs over the summer.
Talk about depreciation. Having been on the verge of selling Nabil Fekir to Liverpool last season – the player had filmed a promotional video and posed for a few photos for his ‘new’ club – for €60m, Lyon settled for a third of that fee 12 months later.
The last-second U-turn, of course, weakened Lyon’s bargaining position for future negotiations, particularly given that Liverpool’s reluctance hinged upon their fears that the attacking midfielder could reinjure an already reconstructed knee.
But the 26-year-old enjoyed a full season with Lyon last term, chipping in with 12 goals and nine assists – not at his 2017/18 level but certainly a few tiers better than a €20m price tag would suggest. The France international has already scored twice for Betis which will have left Lyon’s outspoken president, Jean-Michel Aulas, rattling through the expletives.
Real Madrid -> LOAN -> Arsenal
By all accounts, Dani Ceballos has not enjoyed the cosiest of relationships with Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid. If Zizou wants to make his second stint a success, however, he should have swallowed his pride rather than exiling Ceballos for a year.
Los Blancos are crying out for a locksmith from midfield now the passing of years have blunted the tools of Luka Modric. Not only that, Real’s depth is embarrassingly poor for a club of their stature. Deprived of the banned Modric for the draw against Villarreal – not to mention the injured James and Isco – Zidane was forced into a 4-4-2 with only Fede Valverde for back-up on the bench.
This is not an up-and-comer we’re talking about, either – Ceballos is already very good. Why send him to Arsenal, where he immediately supplied both assists in the 2-1 victory over Burnley, instead of giving the 23-year-old a sustained shot in a rebuilding, aging side?
Real Madrid -> €15m -> PSG
A second stinker in the Spanish capital. The face never fit with Keylor Navas, but his abilities certainly did.
The Costa Rican never lost a Champions League knockout tie, an incredible statistic as the first-choice keeper in three of the five seasons he spent in Madrid. Who can forget the eight saves he made in the second leg of the 2017/18 semi-final against Bayern Munich? Gareth Bale and Loris Karius wouldn’t have happened if not for him.
Alas, the following summer, Madrid finally did to him what they would have done several seasons before with David De Gea if not for a dodgy fax machine. Thibaut Courtois swiped Navas’ jersey for no other reason than reputation, as the Belgian has been at best sub-par since moving from Chelsea last season.
Then to strengthen a Champions League rival in PSG for what amounts to chump change … it beggars belief.
Bayern Munich -> €30.5m -> Borussia Dortmund
Yes, Lucas Hernandez and Sebastian Pavard are both fine, young additions to a defence that needed remodelling from the ground up. And yes, €30m is an adequate fee for a 30-year-old Mats Hummels. No problems there.
However, to strengthen a direct rival, who would like nothing more than to wipe the perennial Bundesliga-winning grins from your faces, is a mind-boggler.
The move was likely borne out of desire on Hummels’ side to return to Borussia Dortmund following three years in Bavaria, but could you imagine Napoli selling a centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly to Juventus? Liverpool letting Virgil van Dijk go to Manchester City?
Hummels, of course, is not in their class – at least not any more. But you’d expect Bayern to be a little savvier than selling a first-teamer to a direct rival, especially when the position was a Dortmund weakness.
Spurs -> €22m -> Atletico Madrid
Make no mistakes, Kieran Trippier’s 2018/19 campaign was a shambles. From the toast of England to being roasted by Premier League forwards week on week, the World Cup hero quickly became the butt of a joke.
It was only a season, though, and the 28-year-old certainly wasn’t the first player in history, or the only player last season, to experience a World Cup comedown.
The sale itself isn’t the biggest problem. It’s Tottenham’s lack of a succession plan at right-back. Kyle Walker-Peters has not so far shown to be more than anything but a handy option on the right, and his injury has forced Mauricio Pochettino to play the erratic Moussa Sissoko out of position. Centre-back Juan Foyth is another makeshift alternative, but he too is out of action.
All the while, Trippier has been experiencing a new lease of life under Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid.
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