Nabil Fekir (attacking midfielder), Lyon to Real Betis, £17.8m
The Lyon playmaker almost signed for Liverpool last summer, only for fitness concerns to scupper a £53m deal. Fears over Fekir’s durability may have reduced his price but he was still expected to attract interest from Europe’s elite after impressing in the Champions League. Instead, mid-table Real Betis lured him, in the summer’s biggest shock move. At 26, Fekir is approaching his prime – and if he can help Betis break the top four, he will have handsomely repaid his fee.
Kasper Dolberg (forward), Ajax to Nice, £18.2m
Ajax’s team of young talents took Europe by storm last season, but Dolberg flew under the radar. The Denmark international failed to score in the Champions League and lost his place to Dusan Tadic, a revelation in the false nine role. Domestically, Dolberg was far more impressive, with 11 goals and five assists. Nice, recently taken over by UK-based company Ineos and managed by Patrick Vieira, may be the perfect place for the 21-year-old to develop. Don’t be surprised if his next move comes at a far bigger price.
Matteo Darmian (defender), Man Utd to Parma, £1.3m
There are few assets that depreciate faster than a Manchester United footballer. Darmian joined Parma on deadline day for a minuscule fee – less than 2% of that paid for Harry Maguire. The full-back never really looked up to United’s level but will surely improve a mid-table side, still rebuilding after financial meltdown. The 29-year-old is a versatile defender who brings World Cup, European Championship and Champions League experience back to Serie A.
Efthymios Koulouris (forward), PAOK to Toulouse, £3.1m
Last season PAOK Salonika won the Greek title unbeaten. Koulouris was the league’s top scorer with 19 goals – while on loan at another club, Atromitos. The youth product looked set to bolster the champions’ options but Toulouse swooped for a player with one extraordinary scoring season (25 goals in 35 games) behind him. The 23-year-old, dubbed the “Greek Benzema”, has started well in France, scoring on his debut and adding a memorable counterattacking goal against Amiens.
Bas Dost (forward), Sporting to Eintracht Frankfurt, £6.3m
Frankfurt, having sold Luka Jovic to Real Madrid and Sébastien Haller to West Ham, let Ante Rebic leave for Milan on deadline day, and three players with 57 goals between them last term were gone. Adi Hütter has reinvested Jovic’s €60m fee to bolster all areas of his squad, with André Silva (on loan) and Dost the key attacking recruits. The Dutch forward may not be a glamour signing, but he scored 76 goals in 84 appearances in Portugal. The 30-year-old is such a natural finisher he went a calendar year scoring exclusively with his first touch.
Daley Sinkgraven (defender), Ajax to Bayer Leverkusen, £4.5m
Part of the Ajax team that reached the Europa League final under Peter Bosz, Sinkgraven found his opportunities limited by injuries before Bosz, now Leverkusen’s manager, brought him to the Bundesliga. Primarily a left-back, Sinkgraven can also play in midfield and as a winger, and completes a useful summer for the Champions League returnees, who also recruited PSG winger Moussa Diaby and Hoffenheim midfielder Nadiem Amiri at reasonable prices.
Victor Osimhen (forward), Charleroi to Lille, £10.8m
After Lille’s surprise second-place finish last season, Europe’s big spenders began circling, with Arsenal signing Nicolas Pépé and Rafael Leão joining Milan. The Ligue 1 side have replenished their squad with the next wave of young talent, including Bayern outcast Renato Sanches and Turkish playmaker Yusuf Yazici. Osimhen was allowed to leave Wolfsburg last summer but a 20-goal season in Belgium with Charleroi earned him a chance in Ligue 1 – and the 20-year-old has four goals in his first four appearances.
Ismaël Bennacer (midfielder), Empoli to Milan, £14.4m
From Lionel Messi to N’Golo Kanté via Serge Gnabry, Arsenal have a history of letting superstars slip through their fingers. Bennacer didn’t make the grade there and left for Empoli in 2017 – with a buy-back clause allowing Arsenal to match any bids. When Milan offered €16m after he shone at the Africa Cup of Nations with Algeria, Arsenal got their chance – and politely declined, instead paying a rumored £12m to loan Dani Ceballos for one season. Bennacer, a holding midfielder capable of creative bursts, could prove to be the latest star that got away.
Tomas Koubek (goalkeeper), Rennes to Augsburg, £6.4m
As a Czech international keeper at Rennes, Koubek drew inevitable comparisons with Peter Cech. Although the 27-year-old has not reached those heights, his heroics helped Rennes stun PSG in this year’s Coupe de France final, and drew interest from Porto. It was a surprise, then, to see Koubek shown the door weeks later, after reportedly falling out with the club’s hierarchy. He has landed with Augsburg, where a safe pair of hands are urgently required – they conceded a Bundesliga-high 71 goals last season.
Ryan Kent (winger), Liverpool to Rangers, £6.5m
The deadline-day deal for Kent is Rangers’ biggest outlay since their financial collapse. Hardly a cut-price fee, then, but the 22-year-old could be crucial if Rangers are to maintain a title challenge. Kent made 43 appearances on loan last season, earning the PFA Scotland young player of the year award. His swashbuckling style earned praise from Jürgen Klopp in pre-season, but he left Liverpool minutes before the window shut.
How last year’s picks have fared:
William Carvalho (M), Sporting–Betis, £13.3m: The holding midfielder made 43 appearances in a quietly impressive first season in Spain.
Alban Lafont (GK), Toulouse-Fiorentina, £6.75m: The highly-rated young keeper failed to settle at Fiorentina and has returned to France, joining Nantes on loan.
Juan Bernat (D), Bayern-PSG, £13.5m: The versatile Spaniard featured regularly in Ligue 1 but made the biggest impact in Europe with three Champions League goals.
Robin Olsen (GK), Copenhagen-Roma, £7.6m: Sweden’s No 1 failed to fill the gap left by Alisson and has been loaned to Cagliari after the arrival of Pau López.
João Moutinho (M), Monaco-Wolves, £5m: Played a pivotal midfield role as Wolves finished seventh in the Premier League, securing a return to Europe.
Danny Ings (F), Liverpool-Southampton, loan with £18m obligation: Scored eight goals in his first season but continues to struggle with injury problems.
Paco Alcácer (F), Barcelona-Dortmund, loan with £21m option: The striker has been reborn in Germany, his goalscoring form convincing Dortmund to seal a permanent deal early.
Hamza Mendyl (D), Lille-Schalke £6.3m: Struggled for first-team chances and has been loaned to Dijon by Schalke’s new manager, David Wagner.
Fabian Schär (D), Deportivo-Newcastle, £3m: Became a key member of a reliable defense under Rafa Benítez, and chipped in with goals, too.
Saman Ghoddos (F), Östersund-Amiens, £3.4m: The Iranian was signed from under the noses of Huesca, but spent several weeks out with appendicitis, and has been banned for four months after the Spanish side complained to Fifa.