The summer of 2016 has proved to be an eye-opening time in the footballing world. Not only did Euro 2016 surprise many with its lack of attacking intent and overall poor quality but the living volcano of football management has also proven that any day could be your last. However, the transfer market has once again highlighted the extreme amounts of money and lack of judgement in football. With club’s bank balances increasing with every passing minute, the summer transfer window provides the perfect opportunity for a totally average, mundane player to be bought for the price of a small country. In light of this fact, we have sieved through the hundreds of millions of pounds spent and compiled a list of the good, the bad and the ugly of the summer window so far.
N’Golo Kanté, Leicester to Chelsea (£32M)
Many people’s player of the season last year has made the move from East Midlands to South West London for a relatively cheap price considering his exploits of last season as an integral part of a Leicester City team that were crowned Premier League champions. Many, including his new manager Antonio Conte, expect the meteoric rise of Kanté to continue next season as the French international looks to inject the pace, power, presence and prowess that has been missing from the Stamford Bridge midfield.
Zlatan Ibrahimović, PSG to Man Utd (Free)
We maybe could have picked Bailly or Mkhitaryan but Zlatan once again takes centre stage. The 6’4” Swedish behemoth has already adhered himself to the Utd support, scoring a towering header against Leicester City winning Man Utd the Community Shield in the process. But despite winning 31 trophies throughout his glittered career, Arséne Wenger questioned whether Zlatan could still cut in such a highly competitive league like in England however, you underestimate Zlatan at your own peril.
Eder Balanta, River Plate to FC Basel (£3M)
The curveball. You may not know anything about him but the young Colombian has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona in recent years but an unfortunate run of injuries meant a move to Europe never materialised until now as FC Basel decided to take the leap of faith and Urs Fischer, Basel manager, decided to splash out £3M for his services but it is still a huge risk considering Balanta’s crisis in confidence last season. Raw, aggressive and technically proficient he has all the qualities necessary to grow and succeed as a centre-back in Europe but first he will need to develop a sense of self-belief.
Paul Pogba, Juventus to Man Utd (£89M)
The most divisive transfer in recent years, the man let go for practically nothing and signed for a world record fee only 4 years later and for that fact alone he is included in this section of our review. Failing to live up to the heights expected of him at Euro 2016, Pogba took an extended break over the summer giving plenty of time for the longest transfer saga in history to unravel over the course of nearly 2 months. Nevertheless, the deal eventually crossed the line and every Man Utd fan breathed a collective sigh of relief as their busiest and most productive summer ended with the words they had all been waiting for. I’m Back.
Andre Gomes, Valencia to Barcelona (£30M)
Is he as good as Iniesta? Definitely not. Is he better than Rakitic? Not at all. Is he as good as Busquets? Probably not. In fact, he really isn’t any better than Arda Turan, Rafinha, Denis Suarez or Sergi Samper. Despite that Barcelona decided they needed to spend £30M on another midfielder who isn’t an improvement on what they have already got.
John Stones, Everton to Man City (£50M)
How much? Our immediate when we saw Stones holding up that City shirt with his name and number printed on the back. Stones became the most sought after defender with his rampaging runs out of defence and composure on the ball, be that as it may, many sceptics see his modern twist on the traditional centre back as rash, unpredictable and never too far from a calamitous error, meaning the young Stones has a lot of pressure on his back. A young Englishman moving from Merseyside to Man City for £50M what could possibly go wrong?
Gonzalo Higuaín, Napoli to Juventus (£77M)
The world's 4th most expensive player wasn’t looking at his fighting best during Juventus’ pre-season. The 28-year-old turned up for training looking more built for comfort than built for speed, much to the enjoyment of all Napoli fans who couldn’t get a Higuaín Juventus strip on to a fat suit quick enough. Yet, we aren’t saying this is a bad buy for his weight gain, we are questioning whether the ageing Gonzalo can continue his form from last year with the dark shadow of the price tag looming over him.
Niko Kranjčar, New York Cosmos to Rangers (Free)
Remember him? Since leaving Tottenham in 2012, Niko has had a tough time of recapturing the form he showed back at White Hart Lane. After some time at Dynamo Kyiv and QPR, including a relegation with the latter, Niko was out of contract after being released by Kyiv in 2015 but was given solace by North American Soccer League side New York Cosmos. He only played 7 times. Now playing his trade in Ibrox Niko has shown glimpses of his former self in friendlies and games against lesser opposition but Rangers 1-1 draw with Hamilton proved that when things get tough and the pace of the game increases, the unfit Kranjčar fails to make an impact and is given the hook after the hour.
The spaghetti western that is the transfer market still has 21 days left for even more bizarre or wonderful deals to happen and it is no doubt that money will continue to be thrown left, right and centre over the next 3 weeks as managers, owners and chairmen face off against each other in shootout for that one player who could make or break their season.