Europe’s transfer market has shut up shop until January, and Monday’s deadline saw clubs across the continent scrambling to conclude business following a heavily disrupted summer.
Soccer’s habit of spending wasn’t overly impeded as many clubs continued to deal, coming to a crazed crescendo not without its usual share of fervor and fan hysteria.
Manchester United, Arsenal and Bayern Munich were among the more active outfits on the final day of business—which last-minute signings rank among the worst of the summer?
Worst Transfers of Summer 2020 Window
10. Edinson Cavani
Joined Manchester United (Free)
The arrival of Edinson Cavani at Manchester United is not dissimilar to The Wizard of Oz: imposing upon first sight but hollow and ignores the main problems when you pull back the glitzed curtain.
One of two Uruguayans to join the club on deadline day, Cavani will give United a higher class of striker alternative to Odion Ighalo. He offers something the team didn’t already have, and last season was the first in a decade during which he’s failed to score at least 20 goals.
But there’s no getting around the facts Cavani is 33, reported to be earning $260,000 per week and was available in free agency since June.
United will hope Cavani can replicate the title-winning presence of former veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but his signing is also a reminder of the current lack of structure and proper planning in their recruitment.
Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain
You’d have been laughed out of the Camp Nou five or so years ago for suggesting that, at the age of 27, Rafinha would leave the Camp Nou for as little as $3.5 million, per Reuters. Such is the toll caused by three serious knee injuries in five years, leaving Paris Saint-Germain to snap up his signature.
The Parc des Princes is an unforgiving venue, however, and Rafinha may well have benefitted more moving to a lower-pressure environment where his talents—still considerable when fully fit—are held in higher esteem.
The transfer appears to provide little more than cover for PSG, who already have a bustling midfield comprising Marco Verratti, Angel Di Maria, Idrissa Gueye, Pablo Sarabia, Ander Herrera, Leandro Paredes, fellow deadline signing Danilo Pereira and others.
It seems more than likely Rafinha will be crowded out by the competition, except this time it’ll be in Paris.
8. Facundo Pellistri
Penarol to Manchester United
Facundo Pellistri could go on to have a great impact at Old Trafford in the coming years, but an 18-year-old Penarol winger with little first-team experience is not what Manchester United required from this summer.
His move would look a lot more rational were it Liverpool or Manchester City signing him, Premier League clubs whose XIs have far fewer holes apparent right now.
7. Tosin Adarabioyo
Manchester City to Fulham
Fulham toiled this summer to add greater quality and depth in central defence, finally doing so on deadline day with the double additions of Tosin Adarabioyo (from Manchester City) and Joachim Anderson (Lyon).
Highly touted in Manchester City’s academy ranks, it’s possible the transfer is a big positive for Adarabioyo while also being the exact wrong kind of move.
There’s no guarantee the 23-year-old will start under Scott Parker, and the leaky record at Craven Cottage this season hints it may not be the defensive education Adarabioyo needs at this stage of his career.
6. Matteo Darmian
Parma to Inter Milan (Loan)
Continuing his apparent obsession over players with past Premier League links, Inter Milan manager Antonio Conte added Matteo Darmian to his ranks with little time to spare.
The former Manchester United flop joins on loan with an obligation to buy from Parma, where he made 34 appearances last term—10 more than he made in his last two seasons at Old Trafford combined.
Darmian, 30, provides some upside in that he can fulfil numerous wide roles, but his quality in those positions isn’t of the standard Conte should be looking to keep at the San Siro this season.
5. Juan Foyth
Tottenham Hotspur to Villarreal (Loan)
A misjudged decision on Tottenham Hotspur’s part purely down to the fact they probably could have done with keeping Juan Foyth, who has joined Villarreal with an option to purchase.
Foyth, 22, signed a new Spurs contract until 2023 prior to the move, though his departing message appeared to suggest he may not be back in north London again:
The Yellow Submarine have an impressive track record recruiting central defenders—particularly South Americans, to that end—and Argentinian Foyth has shown glimpses of great talent at times.
Villarreal’s problem is squeezing that quality out of the player right now. Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho will be light in defence if another injury crisis affects the corps of Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier, Davinson Sanchez and Japhet Tanganga, particularly if he wants to advance plans for playing three at one time.
4. Robin Olsen
AS Roma to Everton
Everton’s search for goalkeeping competition seemed to intensify after incumbent No. 1 Jordan Pickford was at fault for a calamitous mistake in the recent 4-2 win over Brighton & Hove Albion.
The prospects immediately looked high amid rumors of Sergio Romero or Paulo Gazzaniga, neither of whom are first choice at Manchester United or Tottenham, respectively. A season-long loan of AS Roma stopper Robin Olsen didn’t quite yield the same excitement.
As a result, the Toffees look destined to keep the error-prone Pickford as first choice, a rare negative in an otherwise superb summer window for the Merseysiders.
3. Wesley Hoedt
Southampton to Lazio (Loan)
For a team that finished last season with the second-fewest goals conceded in Serie A, Lazio’s late move to re-sign Wesley Hoedt on loan suggests they haven’t watched much of his career in Southampton.
The Netherlands international earned most of his six caps towards the end of his first spell with Lazio in 2017. However, after falling out of favor at St. Mary’s and spending last season on loan with Royal Antwerp, the Eagles appear to have an inferior player on their hands this time.
2. Jeff Reine-Adelaide
Lyon to Nice (Loan)
Jeff Reine-Adelaide’s unexpected move to Nice highlighted the “Jennifer and Ross” nature of his relationship with Lyon: a beautiful thing when all parties are happy, but car-crash viewing when they’re not getting along.
Nice will have the option to buy the former Arsenal understudy at the end of this season, but there will always be that feeling of shame it hasn’t worked out at the higher-profile club:
Fans of the player will hope Reine-Adelaide is able to replicate, or even better those displays seen at the Groupama, but podcaster Jeremy Smith fears Patrick Vieira’s style could stifle:
1. Douglas Costa
Juventus to Bayern Munich (Loan)
Backwards steps are rarely viewed as a positive thing, even less so when one returns to the club where the then-president had the gumption to suggest money was one’s sole motivator
Douglas Costa has returned to the Allianz Arena on loan from Juventus in the same period that Bayern signed Leroy Sane from Manchester City and promoted 17-year-old Jamal Musiala to the first team. Similar to Philippe Coutinho’s season-long stay in Bavaria, the 30-year-old must earn his place in Hansi Flick’s plans, but that road will be difficult on the back of two fairly unremarkable seasons in Turin.
Take into account Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman, not to mention the late arrival of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting on a free, and Costa’s second impact at Bayern may pale in comparison to the first.