The summer transfer window enjoyed an extended stint in the spotlight after the COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted business across football. Despite tight budgets, there was a flurry of movement on the final day as clubs attempted to shore up squads–at times succumbing to decisions that seem destined to fail.
For better or worse, decisions must be made. Holes must be plugged, depth for European competition or promoted squads must be addressed, and risks must be taken. Some decisions, however, appear far shrewder than others, bringing us to our top 10 transfers of the 2020 summer window.
Best Transfers of the 2020 Summer Window
10. Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Chelsea to Fulham (Loan)
A signing with the potential to be Fulham’s most valuable piece of business this summer as long as he stays fit, Ruben Loftus-Cheek hopes to finally realign his trajectory on loan at Craven Cottage.
A combination of back, ankle and Achilles injuries have thrown the 24-year-old off course in recent years. However, 10-cap England international Loftus-Cheek is a technically gifted, 6’3” asset in the middle of the park at his best, and a move to nearby Fulham means disruptions should be minimal.
There’s the makings of a very capable midfield at Fulham with RLC alongside Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Harrison Reed, even if Harry Redknapp needs convincing he’s worth the $200,000-per-week wages:
9. Justin Kluivert
AS Roma to RB Leipzig (Loan)
Following the success of Patrik Schick’s time in Leipzig last season, Die Roten returned to AS Roma seeking another attacker on loan, this time taking Justin Kluivert off their hands.
The transfer bears numerous trademarks of other Leipzig dealings in recent years; the player is only 21, is in need of playing time but boasts top-flight experience, and he suits playing on a quick counter.
Kluivert has travelled to the Bundesliga and could conquer a league his revered father, Patrick, did not during his career, with Leipzig potentially on the verge of considerably raising the Dutchman’s value.
8. Alex Telles
Porto to Manchester United
Alex Telles was close to achieving the cult status of players like Nicolas Gaitan, Wesley Sneijder and Sergio Ramos—players perennially linked with Manchester United but who never completed the switch.
The Red Devils already have a capable left-back in Luke Shaw, but Brazilian Telles looks like an upgrade in the role, and his arrival could allow right-footed youngster Brandon Williams the freedom to compete against Aaron Wan-Bissaka on his favored side:
One of the most impressive aspects of the deal is the suggested price, given United’s reputation for over-paying for certain stars in recent years. The Manchester Evening News reported the fee to be an initial $17.5 million rising to $20 million, a great figure considering Telles is 27 and valued at $44 million, per Transfermarkt.
7. Bouna Sarr
Marseille to Bayern Munich
Bayern’s ability to complete understated-but-assured business continued to the final whistle with the acquisition of Bouna Sarr, whose delayed departure from Marseille suddenly all made sense.
The Frenchman is a solid addition following Joshua Kimmich’s move back into midfield this season, set to compete with Benjamin Pavard for game time at right-back.
Sarr, 28, is comfortable getting up and down the touchline and fits in well with Hansi Flick’s plans to operate down speedy wings, offering a low-cost, hungry option in his prime.
6. Ben Godfrey
Norwich City to Everton
Everton have formed a healthy habit targeting young, English centre-backs in recent years, but Ben Godfrey has the makings of a player ready to blaze his own trail at Goodison Park.
The Toffees paid Norwich City a club-record $32.3 million to sign the England under-21 captain, via BBC Sport, with Godfrey now set to continue his development in the Premier League
Godfrey’s move is an encouraging sign Carlo Ancelotti has eyes on the future despite Everton’s current success in signing ripe-and-ready players this summer, building for a long-term vision as well.
5. Lucas Martinez Quarta
River Plate to Fiorentina
River Plate’s loss was very much Fiorentina’s gain on the last day of Europe’s transfer window as Lucas Martinez Quarta made the leap from Buenos Aires surrounded by expectations.
Having already made his debut for the national team last year and currently in the plans of coach Lionel Scaloni, it’s an exciting time for fans in Florence if Quarta’s form translates with ease:
4. Michael Cuisance
Bayern Munich to Marseille (Loan)
“Too much, too soon” is how one might describe Michael Cuisance’s ill-fated season at Bayern, but a homecoming with Marseille could provide the Frenchman a platform to produce his best season to date.
The former Borussia Monchengladbach standout was being linked with Leeds United before the move collapsed. Writer Mohammed Ali nodded to Sarr’s late move to the Allianz as a potential sweetener in Marseille landing Cuisance on such good terms (loan with $12 million option to buy):
Cuisance, 21, looked a special central playmaking talent prior to being robbed of first-team football at Bayern, but stars like Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin can attest to Marseille’s history in rejuvenating lost French talents of late.
Rennes to Leeds United
As for transfers Leeds did manage to get over the line, the Premier League newcomers signed Brazilian winger Raphinha from Rennes as a final reminder of their efficacy in the market:
A 23-year-old possessing great speed and capability with the ball at his feet, it’s easy to see where his signing fits in with Marcelo Bielsa’s all-action, entertaining style.
Raphinha spent a single season with Rennes following his move from Sporting CP last summer, and it’s a bonus on Leeds’ part that his transfer fee ($22 million) is slightly less on this occasion.
2. Federico Chiesa
Fiorentina to Juventus (Two-Year Loan)
Juventus shifted the necessary pieces out of their exit in time to conclude a deal for Fiorentina winger Federico Chiesa, a transfer that’s been touted for the last few years without pause.
The 22-year-old is a definite upgrade on the departed Costa (now at Bayern), and ticks the always-essential box of young Italy internationals honing their trade at the Old Lady.
Chiesa works well as a Juventus signing in that he can jumpstart an attack grown overly reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo last season, as well as providing hope for the post-Ronaldo era in Turin.
An initial loan deal, it would be a shock if Juventus didn’t spring the additional $47 million required—rising to $59 million—to make the move permanent by June 2023.
1. Thomas Partey
Atletico Madrid to Arsenal
Arsenal’s biggest expenditures haven’t all came off to the desired effect in recent years, but Thomas Partey looks (on paper) to be the signing they’ve coveted for a long, long time.
Many players have tried and failed to fulfil the “Enforcer” role in the Gunners engine room since Patrick Vieira vacated the throne. That isn’t to suggest Thomas is the same player, but in Mikel Arteta’s current midfield makeup, his presence could be the key to unlocking a team that’s gone from stride to stride under the current boss.
The Telegraph’s Sam Dean pointed to the key area in which he stands out from the incumbent crowd at the Emirates Stadium, a relentless figure in all areas of his play:
Arteta is yet to put many a foot wrong thus far in his Arsenal appointment, and shelling out big money to sign Thomas from Atletico Madrid could be a major move in reviving Arsenal’s glory days.