Transfer Window: 10 Bargain Signings of the Summer so Far
With every passing transfer window, prices seem to rise and rise – at least as far as Premier League clubs are concerned. The fact that Arsenal’s £40m offer for Wilfried Zaha is now deemed laughable shows the state of the market. Finding value is becoming increasingly difficult, but here are 10 confirmed transfers that look like shrewd investments.
Pablo Fornals: Villarreal to West Ham, £24m
Pablo Fornals’ signature did not come cheap but West Ham seem to have pulled off a real coup. The 23-year-old is coming off a frustrating campaign in La Liga but he picked up 12 assists in Spain’s top flight the season before and has genuine star quality.
Fornals proved as much as he helped Spain win the Euro Under-21 Championship this summer. The midfielder scored the goal that ensured La Roja weren’t eliminated in the group stage and then added another against Poland – as well laying on a sublime assist against France.
Julian Brandt: Bayer Leverkusen to Borussia Dortmund, £22.5m
Julian Brandt was also eligible for the Under-21 Championship but was deemed too established in Germany’s senior setup, having already won 25 caps. The versatile 23-year-old is probably worth twice what Dortmund have paid for him, but the club avoiding a bidding war by acting fast.
He is capable of playing from either wing or behind the striker and also excelled from a deeper position last season, scoring seven goals and setting up 11 more. He also created more chances in the Bundesliga (86) than any other player.
PSG triggered Sevilla’s release clause and picked up Pablo Sarabia at a cutdown price. Another player capable of playing from wide on the right or in the middle of the pitch, he was one of the star turns in La Liga last season.
The 27-year-old has been a reliable source of goals and assists for a number of years now but the 2018-19 campaign was his most productive by a distance. In fact, Sarabia was the only player other than Lionel Messi to register double figures for both goals (12) and assists (13) in La Liga. Messi was the only player to create more chances from open play (57) than Sarabia.
Che Adams: Birmingham to Southampton, £15m
Signing a 22-year-old English striker who has just scored 22 goals in the Championship for £15m represents good business for Southampton. For comparison, Ayoze Pérez is on his way to Leicester City for twice that price. Adams has always been quick and strong, but his hold-up play and end product really improved last season.
He will also suit playing in a team that does not create many chances. Those 22 goals last season came from a relatively modest 2.7 shots per 90 minutes. He also created 10 more chances (67) than any other striker in the Championship and scored five times from outside the box.
Nikola Vlasic: Everton to CSKA Moscow, £14m
Nikola Vlasic failed to make his mark at Everton but he was hardly given a fair crack. After signing him in the summer of 2017, the club gave the playmaker just 577 minutes of action in the Premier League that season before loaning him out to CSKA Moscow for the 2018-19 campaign. Everton have made a small profit on their investment of £10m, but it could have been a whole lot more had they given the 21-year-old a chance.
Even though he is a full international for Croatia, Vlasic was picked for the aforementioned Euro Under-21 Championship in Italy, where he scored twice – including a fine goal against England. Moreover, Vlasic picked up five goals and five assists in the Russian Premier League last season. He also had a direct hand in five goals in the Champions League, including CSKA Moscow’s winner in their home clash against Real Madrid.
Joan Jordán: Eibar to Sevilla, £12.5m
Knowing they would have a hole to fill once Sarabia left the club, Sevilla made an astute acquisition in the form of Joan Jordán. The 24-year-old midfielder was unquestionably the star performer for an Eibar side that comfortably avoided the drop once again in La Liga. The Spaniard is a very complete midfielder both in and out of possession – and he has chipped in with 10 goals and eight assists over the last two La Liga campaigns.
Teji Savanier: Nîmes to Montpellier, £8.5m
Teji Savanier had not played top-flight football until last season but he looked at home immediately in Ligue 1. The opportunity to return to his hometown club this summer was an offer the 27-year-old found too difficult to refuse.
Montpellier finished sixth last season, narrowly missing out on a European finish, so Savanier will be hoping to inspire them to better things. Outstanding over a set piece, he picked up more assists than any other player in Ligue 1 last season (14), and he chipped in with six goals himself. His has a huge impact both in and out of possession, making him great value at £8.5m.
Kevin Mbabu: Young Boys to Wolfsburg, £8.5m
Kevin Mbabu has taken over as Switzerland’s first choice right-back from longstanding captain Stephane Lichtsteiner and offered the national team a real outlet from that flank. The 24-year-old completed 13 dribbles and created eight chances in four Nations League appearances last season and helped Young Boys win the Swiss league by a whopping 20 points.
The full-back also made his mark in the Champions League, winning four tackles per 90 minutes while also creating 2.4 chances per 90. The defender, who spent four years on the books at Newcastle, is now following in the footsteps of his compatriot Ricardo Rodríguez in signing for Wolfsburg. He will hope to make the sort of impact that Rodríguez did prior to his switch to AC Milan.
Lisandro Martínez: Defensa y Justicia to Ajax, £6m
Well aware that Matthijs de Ligt would be leaving this summer, Ajax wasted no time in searching for defensive reinforcements. After signing Argentinian left-back Nicolás Tagliafico last January, they have now brought in his countryman Lisandro Martínez, who will hope to make a similar impression.
Martínez can fill in at left-back but he is more often utilised as a centre-half. Physically he is nothing like De Ligt, occupying a modest 5ft 10in frame, but what he lacks in height he makes up for in determination. He is willing to fly into tackles when necessary, but the Dutch champions will have been particularly drawn to his composure in possession. The 21-year-old – who won his first Argentina cap earlier this year – has both the vision and range of passing required to play out from the back and he isn’t shy of dribbling out from defence. Martínez could prove an absolute snip.
Alexander Isak: Borussia Dortmund to Real Sociedad, £6m
Dortmund’s decision to not only cash in on Alexander Isak but make a loss on the 19-year-old is bizarre to say the least. While many take goalscoring records in the Eredivisie with a pinch of salt, for a player of his age to do what he did on loan at Willem II last season was incredibly impressive.
He started 15 league matches following his move in January and found the net 13 times, picking up a further six assists. All in all, the forward had a direct hand in a goal every 72 minutes, averaged 3.6 shots per 90 minutes and hit the target with 60% of those shots.
The Guardian Sport