The five most-interesting football transfers so far
We definitely are in the hottest season of the year, not only for the warm and sunny days of summer but also for all the rumours and excitement around the football transfer market season. And even if transfers and signings will continue at least for another month, there already have been some very interesting movements so far, with lot of players that we are eager to see in a new tactical system, with new teammates and new managers. So, we asked our contributor Edward Stratmann to pick the five most-interesting transfers so far, explaining why we can’t wait to see them on the pitch with their new shirts. Take a look!
Julian Brandt to BVB
Borussia Dortmund’s capture of former Bayer Leverkusen star Julian Brandt is a fantastic piece of business by the club, who only paid a €25 million transfer fee having met his release clause. Undoubtedly one of the most exciting young players in European football, the uniquely talented German international’s skill set will be a massive asset to Lucien Favre’s side. Capable of operating almost anywhere across the attacking and midfield lines, his versatility will give his manager so much tactical flexibility as to how best deploy him.
Shining brightly under Peter Bosz in an offensively geared central midfield role, a post where he bagged three goals and supplied nine assists from in 13 games, his former Bayer boss believes this is his best position. “I’ve seen a lot of games involving Julian. During my time with Dortmund when we played against Bayer, in Leverkusen. Back then he was playing on the wing, but I saw him as a midfielder. He’s such a good player and you’ve got to give good players the ball as much as possible,” he explained.
Expected to operate in midfield at Dortmund too, his intelligent movement to connect attacks, create space for others and dismantle defensive structures will serve as a fine foundation. So good at exploiting vacant spaces by using head scans and his all-round awareness, he takes up great positions to aid build-up, support wide attacks, be an outlet in between the lines and wreak havoc in the half-spaces.
Focusing on the latter, and the half-spaces are of particular strategic benefit to him, allowing him to receive possession with a heightened view of the field while being under less pressure. This subsequently means he can enjoy some additional freedom to use his mesmerising dribbling and incisive passing to drive his team forward.
It’s also notable how good he is at performing rotations with his teammates, another aspect that only compounds issues for his adversaries by causing confusion on who should mark who. A tidy finisher, creative passer and an incisive dribbler, the talented Brandt can hurt oppositions in so many ways with his multifaceted skill set.
Instinctive and capable of producing a moment of magic to unlock defences, expect Brandt to once again light up the Bundesliga next term. After all, despite being only 23, he incredibly has over five years experience in the Bundesliga, so he should have little worry settling in and hitting the ground running at his new team.
Marcus Llorente to Atlético Madrid
Although he missed roughly two months of football last season due to injury, Marcos Llorente still played some brilliant football for Real Madrid in the first half of the season. Excelling during Santiago Solari’s reign, he looked the part in central midfield for Los Blancos, with his relentless energy, tidy ball movement and formidable attitude seeing him shine.
Once 2019 came around, things didn’t go to plan, however, for his injury issues arose and Zinedine Zidane took over the managerial reigns and rarely played him when he regained fitness. Deemed surplus to requirements at Madrid, the assertive defensive midfielder made the tough choice to join rivals Atlético Madrid. Even though he’s got a massive family connection to Los Merengues, the move to Atléti makes perfect sense for his career.
Joining Diego Simeone’s supremely drilled, physical and tigerish team will suit his attributes brilliantly, for he’ll relish working under the tutelage of the fiery Argentine. In a system, where he’ll be expected to undertake power of defensive work, the tough, ultra-fit and intelligent Llorente will be an ideal midfield presence to protect the defence, block passing lanes and make the necessary interventions to break up the play.
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🔴⚪ | #BienvenidoMarcosLlorente 😀🏧 La sonrisa de @MarcosLlorente al posar con la rojiblanca – 🔴⚪| #WelcomeMarcosLlorente 😀🏧 @MarcosLlorente with his new shirt! It looks good on you, mate! – 🔴⚪| #BienvenueMarcosLlorente 😀🏧 @MarcosLlorente… Avec son nouveau maillot! #AúpaAtleti #Atleti #Atlético #AtléticoDeMadrid
Starring on loan at Alaves back in 2016/2017 in Mauricio Pellegrino’s defensively geared scheme, he’s proven he can shine in this kind of environment. Importantly, though, he’ll get plenty of chances to use his coherent distribution skills to help dictate play and facilitate many attacks. Adept at reading the play and so clever with his movement, the signing of the 24-year-old will bring plenty of quality to Los Colchoneros, as he’ll be a quality replacement for the outgoing Rodri.
Aaron Ramsey to Juventus
Bringing in Aaron Ramsey on a free transfer is a fantastic acquisition for the mighty Juventus. Desperate to bolster their squad to win the coveted Champions League title, while also hoping to notch their ninth straight Serie A title, the former Arsenal star adds another dimension to their already gifted squad.
Set to add so much dynamism and energy into the Old Lady‘s offensive plans, his running power and ability to expertly time his runs from deep should be a great tool for new manager Maurizio Sarri to fully utilise. Angling and directing his runs masterfully, he targets the gaps within backlines superbly to latch onto crosses and cutbacks unmarked due to the opposition defenders usually being preoccupied with their man.
A crafty finisher, very adept at finding space in slower, more methodical build-up play and accomplished at linking play with his crisp passing to boot, Sarri will relish working alongside the Welshman. Ramsey’s defensive output offers further upside, for he’s an excellent presser who uses his cover shadow effectively and is never afraid to get stuck in when need be.
By the numbers, his all-round contribution is aptly depicted, for last season he completed roughly two dribbles per 90, 45.21 passes p90 at 85.9%, 2.03 interceptions p90, 1.44 progressive runs p90, 4.11 touches inside the box p90, 1.2 shot assists p90, 1.99 shots p90 and suffered 1.53 fouls p90.
Daniel James to Manchester United
After a breakthrough season at Swansea City, Daniel James earned himself a switch to Manchester United, as the Red Devils identified him as a key man in rejuvenating the squad. Although he’s not the finished article yet, he’s undeniably a massive talent that possesses so many of the raw ingredients required to be a star. The scorer of five goals and supplier of 10 assists in the Championship, Swans manager at the time, Graham Potter, afforded him the chance to shine in a season where his development came on in leaps and bounds.
Boasting a lethal combination of blistering pace and smart movement, his off the ball runs are a handful for any backline to manage. Once he sees a colleague in a position to receive with their head up, he gets on his bike, so he can provide an outlet and get the jump on his marker. As a result of his speed, once he latches onto a pass, he usually draws the attention of additional markers, which can crucially free up a teammate in a dangerous position.
The flying winger’s 1v1 dribbling is another key component of his armoury, for he can beat his man with wicked changes of pace and direction, sharp close control and a nice array feint, thus ensuring he succeeds frequently in these isolation duels. This aspect of his game also means he wreaks havoc on the counter-attack, as he’s so difficult to stop with time and space to run into against unset defences. The fact he completed the third most progressive runs per 90 in the Championship (3.64), was the fourth-most fouled player (2.93 p90), ranked in the top 20 for dribbles (5.14 p90) and came in 16th for most touches inside the box p90 (4.11) aptly demonstrated his menace.
Having signed the Welsh international for just £15 million, the highly regarded 21-year-old will look to continue on his remarkable upward trajectory at Man Utd, where he’ll be desperate to prove he has what it takes to stamp his mark at one of the world’s biggest clubs.
Pablo Sarabia to PSG
A real difference-maker in the final third and boasting a wand of a left foot, Pablo Sarabia’s move to Paris Saint-Germain represents great value for the French giants. Triggering his €18 million release clause, the 27-year-old’s a real bargain at that price, for he’s another player who’s great at orchestrating goals or scoring them himself.
One of only two LaLiga players to reach double figures for goals (13) and assists (13) the last term, the other being Lionel Messi, the little maestro was one of the most effective operators in Spain. Thriving especially on the right-wing, but versatile enough to fulfil central roles on the pitch, play as a wing-back or on the opposite flank, he will give PSG boss Thomas Tuchel vital squad depth and add some crucial imagination to their offensive work.
So good on the ball, his first touch and control provide a solid foundation from which to undertake his work in close quarters. This means he can coolly weave out of danger with his nifty dribbling, turn his opponent, protect the ball using his body or play some lovely one and two touch layoffs. In addition, by frequently scanning his environment, he knows what the best decision to make is once he inherits possession.
Meanwhile, when afforded time and space on the ball to run at markers 1v1 or weigh up his passing options, he shines here too. Capable of using crafty stepovers, feints, nutmegs or shimmies, he’s a hard man to play against on the dribble, for he can either cut inside or drive down the flank. Supplementing this with his ingenuitive passing, that sees him destabilise defences with precise through balls, delightful crosses and cutbacks, accurate passes into the 10 spaces and lofted aerial deliveries, and he’s quite the offensive weapon.
His intelligent movement, ideal receiving postures and set piece taking ability all warrant special mention too, as he’s a player that excels in getting the fundamentals and subtle details spot on, which is clearly why the tactically sophisticated Tuchel was keen to secure his services. Having been a Real Madrid youth product, who then went on to truly stamp his mark in the game during spells at Getafe and Sevilla, the next chapter of his career at PSG further underlines what a special player he’s become.