Connect in the back of the net

This window has been very eventful with telling transfers sealed all over Europe. Which have been the cream of the crop? Here are our top ten. 


Petr Cech (Chelsea to Arsenal) 

Petr Cech took eleven years to amass fifteen trophies at Chelsea: four English Premier League titles, four FA Cups, the Europa League and the UEFA Champions League count among them.

Just one competitive game into his Arsenal career, he has already started to repeat the trick, helping them to a Community Shield victory – over Chelsea.

His influence in the win was pronounced, inspiring confidence in his teammates through his organizational qualities and command of his area.

This is a near-perfect signing by Arsene Wenger: a reasonable £10 million price, the acquisition of a natural leader and the weakening of a title rival. All the boxes have been ticked.


Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord to Southampton)

Clasie has been described by Southampton manager Ronald Koeman as the “perfect replacement” for Morgan Schneiderlin.

Schneiderlin joined Manchester United this summer in a deal worth £25 million, depriving the Saints of their midfield talisman: the success of Southampton’s season now depends on whether Clasie can effectively replace the Frenchman at the base of midfield.

Koeman’s confidence in Clasie – who has arrived from Feyenoord for £10 million – comes from having worked with the player for three seasons at the Dutch club.

“I worked for three seasons with Jordy,” Koeman said. “Of course, he’s still not Schneiderlin – but he’s still young, he has to develop, he has to adapt to the Premier League, the intensity is what you need. It’s a great signing.” 

Given that Clasie was a target for Manchester United this summer, the relatively low fee Southampton have paid makes this one of the bargains of the transfer window so far.


Andrea Bertolacci (Roma to AC Milan) 

A creative and goal-scoring force for Genoa in the Serie A last season, Italy international Bertolacci joins AC Milan for €20 million (paid to Roma, who bought all of the player’s rights earlier in the summer).

New Milan boss Sinisa Mihajlovic will look to build his team around the 24 year-old, who brings the sort of zest, enthusiasm and energy the club have been lacking in recent seasons.

Bertolacci is an all-action midfielder, unafraid to win the ball back with tough challenges but equally capable of unlocking defences and scoring spectacular goals – including one effort last campaign that saw him waltz through the entire Milan defence before slotting home.

The former Roma player may have a questionable disciplinary record, but his form and qualities as a footballer speak for themselves.


Andre Ayew (Marseille to Swansea) 

The son of Ghana legend Abedi Pele, Andre Ayew is one of the rising stars of African football and has been snapped up by Swansea on a free transfer.

Enjoying a highly successful eight years at Marseille (including two loan spells), Ayew thrived at a club that hasn’t always provided the most nurturing environment for a young footballer: even in the more difficult seasons, the winger was a standout.

Having won two League Cups during his time in France, Ayew starred at the 2014 World Cup, again proving his ability to perform in trying circumstances: his Ghana teammates threatening a boycott of the tournament over player payments.

Ayew’s versatility – able to play virtually anywhere in midfield – as well as his pace, eye for goal and technical ability make him a steal for Swansea manager Gary Monk.


Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco (Monaco to Atletico Madrid) 

Tall, powerful and unpredictable, Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco is another player to have made his name in French football.

The 21 year-old is a member of Belgium’s current generation of prodigious talents, instrumental in Monaco’s return to Ligue 1 and benefiting from the club’s subsequent focus on youth development, following a period of wild spending under Russian billionaire Dmitry Ryblovlev.

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone will look to harness the winger’s unique skills and refine the defensive aspects of his game: Ferreira-Carrasco will need to learn to work within a team that is famous for its discipline and determination.

At €20 million, he arrives at Madrid as a direct replacement for the departed Arda Turan and brings with him a reputation for scoring and creating goals in equal measure.


Jackson Martinez (Porto to Atletico Madrid) 

Activating a €35 million buy-out clause, Atletico Madrid have put their faith in Colombian forward Jackson Martinez to mount a domestic and European assault this season.

Their faith is based on the fact that Martinez has been top goal-scorer in Portugal in the past three seasons: he follows virtually the same path to Atletico taken by another former Porto player, Radamel Falcao.

Simeone will be looking to build his attack around the 28 year-old, who is a powerful, direct player capable of acrobatic finishes and boasting a phenomenal goal-scoring record at club level.

Given the traditionally exorbitant fees paid for strikers in football – as well as Atletico’s need to replace Mario Mandzukic – this signing is a no-brainer and should help the club in La Liga in particular.


Carlos Bacca (Sevilla to AC Milan) 

Forced to sell bus tickets as a second job during the early stages of his career in Colombia, Carlos Bacca’s transformation into one of Europe’s best strikers has been sudden and unrelenting.

Breaking into professional football in his mid-twenties, Bacca was a revelation during his two seasons at Sevilla after joining from Club Brugge in 2013, starring in back-to-back Europa League triumphs for the Andalusian club.

With a goal-scoring record of one in every two games in La Liga, the 28 year-old’s success is the product of intelligent movement, anticipation and clinical finishing.

His mental fortitude and the effective simplicity of his football should serve Milan well after they triggered a €30 million buy-out clause in his contract.


Roberto Pereyra (Udinese to Juventus)

Juventus paid Udinese €1.5 million to sign Roberto Pereyra on loan last season and have now decided to make the move permanent for €14 million.

The reason? Pereyra made telling contributions in all competitions, helping Juventus to a league and cup double and a UEFA Champions League final (where he appeared off the bench) in a stunning debut campaign with the club.

“Pereyra has great qualities,” Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri has said of the player. “He always goes towards the goal. He runs a lot and he gives a lot of intensity.” 

It is an accurate description of the winger’s game: Pereyra isn’t a natural creator or goal-scorer but his ability to beat players, his tireless running and his versatility mean he is an essential part of Allegri’s tactically flexible set-up.


Angel Di Maria (Manchester United to PSG) 

That Manchester United are making a loss of more than £15 million on this deal only adds to the sense that – despite the £44 million fee – this is a bit of a steal by PSG.

The signing of Champions League winner Di Maria is a reflection of the Parisian club’s European aspirations under the ownership of Qatar Sports Investments and is an effective statement of intent.

Acquiring world-class players of the Argentine’s ilk also helps breed a winning culture and attitude, while on the pitch the diminutive winger is the complete package.

A difficult season with Manchester United is certainly not a reflection of Di Maria’s abilities, especially considering his inability to settle both on and off the pitch in England during a short period of time.


Yohan Cabaye (PSG to Crystal Palace) 

It wasn’t too long ago that Yohan Cabaye was one of the most sought-after midfielders in European football, after almost single-handedly taking Newcastle United to the promised land of Champions League football.

In England, the France international thrived, displaying a wonderful array of passing and blending his technical gifts with tenacity off the ball.

With barely concealed ambitions to play European football, Cabaye forced a move to PSG but failed to find the same sort of form in his home country.

He returns to English football at the age of 29 with Crystal Palace – to work under his former Newcastle manager Alan Pardew – and the London outfit have acquired a sublime footballer capable of transforming mediocre sides.


Written by Chris Paraskevas

Follow Chris on Twitter @Cparaskevas

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