The Week In Transfers: Spurs finally sign a player, City find midfield maestro, Felix leaves Benfica

Analysing the biggest transfers of the week, including Spurs and Man City breaking their transfer records, Joao Felix moving to Atletico Madrid, Southampton doing all the business, and Chelsea somehow make a transfer. 

So many deals were done this week that this column feels like an overwhelming task, but somehow I’ll pull through. Perhaps with pre-season about to get underway clubs are anxious to get deals over the line so they have their squads settled, but surely they have spaced a few of these out, for my sake?

Anyway, let’s just get straight into it: the overall transfer spend has not only broken the £2bn mark, but has risen to £2.47bn. Over £500m spent in a week. One week! The Premier League alone is responsible for just over a quarter of that.

Some interesting deals were completed, such as Gianluigi Buffon’s return to Juventus after his French sojourn to PSG. With some of the ridiculous talent they have picked up this summer, including Adrien Rabiot on a free, alongside what they already have, will next season be the one in which the Italian goalkeeper finally picks up a Champions League winners medal?

We can’t go too in-depth on some of these transfers like we usually do, so we’ll rattle through a few of these:

Tanguy Ndombele – Lyon to Tottenham Hotspur – £55.5m (€61.8m)

Spurs transfers are like buses: you wait 18 months for one, and two come along at once! To be fair, buses are slightly quicker than that, but the north London club have done some good business this week.

Firstly, the big one, 22-year-old Tanguy Ndombele. They couldn’t find another Dembele, so they went and got the next best thing. In all seriousness, the Frenchman is potentially a world class defensive midfielder on the level of Fernandinho. His ability to shield the defence and his range of passing mirror the Man City player’s attributes quite closely, which will make him a key asset for Tottenham.

They also signed 18-year-old Jack Clarke from Leeds United for £10m (€11.1m), before loaning him back to the Championship club. It’s a good deal for all concerned; Leeds get the benefit of having Clarke for their promotion push, Spurs know their asset will get minutes, while the player will continue to develop under a brilliant manager like Marcelo Bielsa who is already familiar with him. Just some of the benefits of loan backs.

Rodrigo Hernandez Rodri – Atlético Madrid to Man City £62.6m (€69.7m)

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Rodri is the prototypical Pep Guardiola player. Built in the Spanish mould, he is a great passer, good in the air, a tenacious ball-winner and possesses eagle-eyed focus. With David Silva leaving at the end of next season and Fernandinho now 34, this is the right signing at the right time.

Danny Ings – Liverpool to Southampton – £18m (€20.1m)

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Danny Ings has had a rough time of it with injury the last few years, barely able to get a good run of games going and looking a shadow of the striker who lit it up for Burnley a few years ago. And yet, Liverpool were still able to shake almost twenty mill out of Southampton for him, making a profit on him while they were at it.

It could turn out to be a bad deal for the Saints, but then again maybe not. Ings played 1632 minutes last season, a lot less than what you’d like out of your main striker. But he did score seven goals from an xG of 10.2, which helped the team stave off relegation. That means he scored every 233 minutes, which is comparable to Raul Jimenez, who played almost twice as many minutes.

If he could keep up and possibly improve that scoring rate next season, it will be money well spent for the south coast outfit. The worry is whether or not he is physically capable of carrying that load.

João Félix – Benfica to Atletico Madrid – £113m (€125m)

João Félix is 19 frickin’ years of age and he’s already one of the most expensive players of all-time. He was just 21 months old when Zinedine Zidane’s move from Juventus to Real Madrid broke the world record transfer fee. Do you feel old yet?

The Portuguese looks like a quality player, providing 15 goals and seven assists in 26 league appearances last season. That’s just part of the reason why Manchester City and Manchester United were so keen on buying him this summer, but Atleti stumped up the cash.

But it feels like a lot of money for a teenager, the kind of money you pay for a guaranteed star, not a young upstart. I hope he’s successful, but there’s so much potential downside in this deal for the Madrid outfit.

Mateo Kovacic – Real Madrid to Chelsea – £40.2m (€44.7m)

“Oh, hey, look! A player we can actually sign!” is probably what Chelsea said to themselves when looking back over their squad options at the end of the last campaign when they came across Mateo Kovacic’s name.

Now, I’m not saying the Kroat is bad player, per se. Just, well, he’s kind of just there. Defensively, meh. Offensively, okay. But he exists, and they can buy him in spite of the transfer embargo thanks to the way the loan system works, so sure, why not?

Over 40 million though? That is a hell of a premium to pay for a player they would otherwise not be interested in on a permanent deal.

Ayoze Perez – Newcastle United to Leicester City – £30m (€33.4m)

Two conclusions from this transfer: first, Newcastle as a club sincerely has no ambition other than finishing by a minimum of one point above the dropzone every season. To Mike Ashley, it’s almost considered inefficient to do to any better than that.

Second, Leicester City are really going for a top-six push this season. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be splashing out this much on Ayoze Perez. But is overspending on the Spanish forward really the way to make that breakthrough? I’m sceptical.

Che Adams – Birmingham to Southampton – £15m (€16.7m)

I cannot attest to having seeing a huge amount of Che Adams, but what I can say is: he’s speedy, has a hell of a right foot on him from outside the box, but is also a bit of a poacher. I can see why Ralph Hasenhuttl wants him in the squad.

Oh, and the reveal video (above) pretty much confirmed Southampton as the Premier League kings of social media. Bravo, gents.

Matt Targett – Southampton to Aston Villa – £14m (€15.6m)

A smart bit of business by Aston Villa, who have secured a really solid full-back without having to break the bank. He’s still a young player, so there’s room for him to grow into a quality player, but he also has top-flight experience.

It’s a bit of a strange one for Southampton though. Two seasons ago Targett spent the second half of the campaign on loan to Fulham, where he impressed during their run to playoff glory. The Cottagers wanted to get him on a permanent deal, but Saints wanted £20m for him, which his suitors baulked at and bought Joe Bryan instead.

The Englishman then proceeded to remain on the bench the following season under Mark Hughes. After Ralph Hasenhuttl took over, he ended up having his best season, statistically speaking, in red and white so far. Targett played the most amount of minutes he’s ever gotten in one campaign (1185) and contributed to more goals than he has previously (one goal and three assists).

The club have ended up selling him for slightly less than what Fulham were willing to pay for him this time last year, so it’s a bit odd they’ve decided to cash in now just as his Southampton career was taking off. In any case it’s a good move for a player who should be a Premier League regular at this point in his career.

Jack Harper – Malaga to Getafe – £1.3m (€1.45m)

Not exactly a box office transfer, but Jack Harper’s should not go by without recognition. The young Scot was on the books at Real Madrid as a teenager, before being released to join Brighton in 2015. He signed for Malaga, his hometown club, in 2017 and scored four goals in 26 appearances in the second tier last season.

Harper’s new club Getafe finished fifth in LaLiga last season, their best ever performance in the Spanish top flight, and just missed out on Champions League qualification by a whisker. A relatively small club in Madrid, this signing will help bulk up a squad that will need the extra ammunition to compete on both domestic and European fronts.

The 23-year-old forward was born in Spain, but has been capped at youth level for Scotland and will surely be banging on the door for the senior squad in the near future.


Other notable transfers:

  • Frenkie de Jong – Ajax to Barcelona – £65.3m (€72.8m)
  • Gianluigi Buffon – PSG to Juventus – free
  • Leander Dendoncker – Anderlecht to Wolves – £12m (€13.4m)
  • Angelino – PSG to Man City – £5.3m (€5.9m)
  • Adrien Rabiot – PSG to Juventus – free
  • Kostas Manolas – AS Roma to Napoli – £32.2m (€35.8m)
  • Denis Suarez – Barcelona to Celta Vigo – £13.5m (€15m)
  • Thomas Vermaelen – Released by Barcelona
  • Diego Godin – Atletico Madrid to Internazionale – free
  • Simone Zaza – Valencia to Torino – £14m (€15.5m)
  • Marko GrujicLiverpool to Hertha Berlin – loan
  • Craig Dawson – West Brom to Watford – £5.5m (€6.1m)
  • Gary Cahill – Released by Chelsea
  • Amadou Diawara – Napoli to AS Roma – £18.8m (€20.9m)
  • Gelson Martins – Atletico Madrid to Monaco – £19.6m (€21.8m)
  • Luuk de Jong – PSV Eindhoven to Sevilla – £11.2m (€12.4m)
  • Tomas Kalas – Chelsea to Bristol City – £8m (€8.9m)
  • Allan – Liverpool to Fluminese – loan extended
  • Pablo Sarabia – Sevilla to PSG – £16.1m (€17.9m)
  • Emerson Hyndman – Bournemouth to Atlanta United – loan
  • Gabriel Martinelli – Ituano to Arsenal – £6m (€6.6m)
  • Sandro Ramirez – Everton to Real Valladolid – loan
  • Martin Ødegaard – Real Madrid to Real Sociedad – loan

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