The new season is here, and so is the hype surrounding fresh signings.
The transfer window is closed and some of the big transfers have already materialised, with the teams slowly shaping into the side they could look like in the 2019/20 season.
We take a look at five of the best signings from each of the top-five leagues, judge them based on compatibility and lay expectations ahead of their debut season.
With the help of transfermarkt.com, age, transfer fee, and value, compatibility and potential are some criteria used in the development of this list.
Here’s Ligue 1…
Pablo Sarabia (Paris-Saint Germain) – Midfielder
Transfer fee: €18 million
Market value: €40m
Purchasing Pablo Sarabia for as little as €18m will be seen as a master-stroke by PSG one year from now.
The Spaniard partnered with Wissam Ben-Yedder to provide his club with a tremendous start to last season. Eventually, his 12 goals and 13 assists did not suffice, with Sevilla failing to qualify for the Champions League due to a terrible collapse that began this January.
PSG’s fiery attack comprising of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Mauro Icardi is likely to grab the headlines. But Sarabia in the No10 position could play a crucial role in their quest for a Champions League title.
The 27-year-old can also function as a striker in a 4-4-2 and a second striker in a 4-4-1-1. His versatility thus opens up a plethora of tactical options and Thomas Tuchel will look to exploit them.
It would not be a surprise if Neymar’s form dropped after the transfer saga. Sarabia – who averaged 2.1 key-passes per 90 minutes last season – will then make it his responsibility to supply the front-line.
Expectation: 15 goals, plus assists.
Numbers aside, Sarabia will need to play a decisive role during the business end of the season with half of PSG’s front-line injured, fatigued or out-of-form. The French champions will hope that he steps up at such a time and leads them to glory.
Kasper Dolberg (Nice) – Forward
Transfer fee: €20.5m
Market value: €18m
Linked with the likes of Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Barcelona at 19, Kasper Dolberg finally left Ajax to join Nice for an amount considered peanuts for young prospects in today’s market. Despite this downward step in his career, Dolberg can still make it to the top with two-three good seasons in Ligue 1.
His season with Ajax was branded as average, but the Denmark international still scored 11 goals and provide two assists in 15 starts and 11 appearances from the bench. The youngster still possesses traits that made him a hot prospect after the 2016/17 Europa League. He needs to wake up those dormant qualities and a moderate profile club in Ligue 1 could be the right path.
Like most modern strikers, Dolberg is great with his movement on and off the ball and likes to be involved in the build-up. His positional awareness is also a huge plus, so is his shot power and ability to have a go at goal from anywhere on the pitch.
Expectation: 15 plus goals. At Ajax, he was one of the many attacking talents while at Nice he is likely to be the face of the front-line.
The pressure will be high as the 21-year-old assumes the responsibility of being the primary source for goals at the French club.
Timothy Weah (Lille) – Forward
Transfer fee: €10m
Market value: €6m
Son of Ballon d’Or winner George Weah, 19-year-old Timothy Weah has been roped in by Lille to make up for goals lost due to the sale of Nicolas Pepe to Arsenal. Positionally a centre-forward, Weah is versatile and competent everywhere across the front-line.
His skill-sets are like that of Pepe, indicating that he could do better out wide than as a striker. Weah’s blitzing pace coupled with incredible acceleration and good ball-control makes him a defender’s worst nightmare in a one-on-one.
The American also has a very good eye for a pass and delivers accurate crosses. He can link up very well and provide many assists.
PSG loaned the player to Celtic last season, and he managed just three goals in 13 appearances. He lacks the striker’s instinct and has a lot to work on his finishing too.
Weah will look to hone these skills at Nice.
Expectation: 15 goals, plus assists. As already established, Weah would function better as a winger than as a lone striker.
Goals alone will not suffice in measuring his impact at his new club. Weah will hence have to manage at least 15 goal-involvements this season. He is likely to get more assists than goals, depending on how manager Patrick Vieira uses him.
Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco) – Forward
Transfer fee: €40m
Market value: €40m
Monaco need a radical change after barely avoiding relegation and France striker Wissam Ben Yedder could be the answer. They made a statement by signing the Sevilla striker for €40m and now it’s up to him to prove his worth.
The 29-year-old is a prolific goal-scorer whose biggest strength is finishing.
Ben Yedder scored 18 goals and provided nine assists for the Seville-based club and recorded 1.3 key-passes per 90 minutes – impressive numbers for a striker. He has displayed his quality at the European level too, scoring eight goals in the Europa League last season and Champions League two seasons ago.
The Sarcelles-born had a fruitful spell at Toulouse during the first half of the decade. He scored 62 goals and provided 17 assists in four full seasons at the club. All numbers point to the fact that Ben Yedder will succeed at Monaco.
Expectation: 30 goals, plus assists. Unlike others on the list, Ben Yedder is not a player in his developmental years and has a high price-tag to justify. The expectations are high but the Frenchman could achieve it, as evidenced by his numbers with Toulouse.
On average, Ben Yedder was involved in 20 goals every season at Toulouse. These numbers are impressive, given it arrived at a very good consistency over four years.
He is now a more mature player and is plying trades for a club of bigger profile. The 29-year-old must achieve the extra 10 goal-involvements.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide (Lyon) – Midfielder
Transfer fee: €25m
Market value: €11m
At 17, Arsenal academy player Jeff Reine-Adelaide warranted enough hype for him to be called the next Robert Pires. But his career did not experience a sudden boost.
The then 19-year-old started his senior career at Angers, before finally being picked up by Lyon as a potential replacement for Nabil Fekir.
Reine-Adelaide is a central midfielder by trade but can also operate on the wing. He is technically gifted, pacey and possesses very good ball-control.
He is also a potent dribbler and likes to cut in and have a go at goal after surging runs into the opposition box.
The Frenchman has big boots to fill at Lyon but his talent and experience in Ligue 1 should aid his quest to prove himself as a top talent. If Lyon’s line-up against Bordeaux is anything to go by, the youngster is likely to start on the right side of midfield.
His vision and ability to get into space and trouble the defenders with his pace and dribbling abilities make him a signing to watch out for this season.
Expectation: Establish himself as an undisputed starter.
Reine-Adelaide is not one to contribute to a goal directly. He managed just three goals and three assists for Angers in 29 starts and six appearances from the bench last season.
However, Lyon winning the midfield battles and transitioning into attack smoothly could be a sign of his mastery.
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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.
The France international missed out on a transfer to Real Madrid before the European window closed, but liked a Bernabeu fan’s comment on one of his Instagram posts in which the fan said “Please come to Madrid”.
The World Cup winner has appeared in all four of the Red Devils’ matches this season but his social media activity late on Monday drew criticism from United fans.
Brighton could swoop for former Manchester City and Swansea striker Wilfried Bony, according to The Sun.
The 30-year-old Ivory Coast international is available on a free transfer after being released by the Swans.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Premier League clubs are likely to vote this autumn to shift their transfer window next summer to match Europe.
The top-flight sides are due to discuss the concern at a meeting of executives on September 12 but a vote might be postponed until November, the paper says.
England’s transfer window closed on August 8, which was significantly earlier than those for European leagues on Monday.
England Women’s manager Phil Neville is reportedly being targeted to take over rivals and World Cup winners USA.
Neville is under contract with the FA until 2021 but the Daily Mail says outgoing US manager Jill Ellis has been impressed with the former Manchester United player.
Provided by Press Association Sport