20 best signings of the summer throughout Europe

Updated: September 4, 2019

Clubs ramped up the spending over the last three months, shattering transfer record all across Europe. But some of the money was actually spent in good places. Based on clubs’ individual needs and the value of each deal, here are the 20 most impressive signings of the 2019 summer window:

1. Eden Hazard to Real Madrid

  • Reported fee: €100M
  • Former club: Chelsea
  • Position: Winger

Real Madrid waited years to sign another Galactico, someone who could reenergize a fan base that never seems content with anything. Guess what: Hazard is exactly that player. The 28-year-old has the flair, skills, and personality to meet expectations at the Santiago Bernabeu. He evolved as a player during his time with Chelsea, becoming more than just an impressive dribbler. He’s the complete package, and well worth the price Madrid paid to sign him.

2. Joao Felix to Atletico Madrid

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  • Fee: €126M
  • Former club: Benfica
  • Position: Forward

Atletico acted quickly to snap up one of Europe’s most promising talents. Felix may only be 19, but he represents a change of direction. Antoine Griezmann is gone and Diego Simeone is rethinking his defensive approach. It feels like Atletico are embarking on a new era, with Felix at the forefront. He’s already made a huge impression at the club, pulling off a nasty nutmeg on his La Liga debut. Atletico’s big bet seems surer by the match.

3. Rodri to Manchester City

  • Reported fee: €70M
  • Former club: Atleti
  • Position: Midfielder

If Pep Guardiola could program a midfielder, it would be exactly like Rodri. A tailored-made replacement for the aging Fernandinho, Rodri has all the characteristics to run a midfield as complex and demanding as Guardiola’s. Comparisons with Sergio Busquets are accurate, which is good news for City supporters and fans of the Spanish national team. Rodri has already made himself at home in the Premier League, showing quality and pugnacity in his first few matches in English football.

4. Matthijs De Ligt to Juventus

Daniele Badolato – Juventus FC / Juventus FC / Getty
  • Fee: €75M
  • Former club: Ajax
  • Position: Center-back

Juventus emerged as a late contestant in the De Ligt sweepstakes, well after Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain began negotiations with the Dutchman’s entourage. It’s a testament to the Bianconeri’s overall growth – in sporting and economic terms – that they were able to convince De Ligt of a move to Turin. His early struggles notwithstanding, the 19-year-old is a worthy successor to Giorgio Chiellini. Having already served as captain of childhood club Ajax, De Ligt has the personality to become a leader at his new club. He’ll have every opportunity to prove himself now that Chiellini is out with a long-term knee injury.

5. Frenkie De Jong to Barcelona

  • Fee: €75M
  • Former club: Ajax
  • Position: Midfielder

It was easy for De Jong to choose Barcelona, not just because of their pedigree and their commitment to possession-based football but because of the bond they share Ajax. Even though a deal was reached in January, Barcelona allowed De Jong to play out the remainder of the season with the Dutch outfit. And it paid off. He grew leaps and bounds in the second half of the 2018-19 campaign and thrived in the Champions League knockout rounds. Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde can now count on the Dutch international to provide an uptick in production in midfield. He’s a versatile player who can create chances from any position.

6. Nicolas Pepe to Arsenal

Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal FC / Getty
  • Reported fee: €80M
  • Former club: Lille
  • Position: Winger

Thanks to some inventive accounting, Arsenal maximized the little funds they had to sign Ligue 1’s breakout star. The Gunners reportedly agreed to pay the mammoth transfer fee in installments, enabling them to stay within their limited budget. And what a signing it was. News of Pepe‘s arrival sent supporters into a frenzy and reignited hopes that Arsenal can finish in the top four.

7. Mauro Icardi to Paris Saint-Germain

  • Loan with €70M option to buy
  • Former club: Inter
  • Position: Forward

Call it a marriage of convenience. Inter had to get rid of Icardi – the controversial striker whose wife and agent, Wanda Nara, went to war with club officials – and PSG needed someone to aid their ailing attack. Recent injuries led the reigning Ligue 1 champions to Icardi, and despite the baggage he may bring to the French capital, the deal carries little risk. Any missteps and the club can easily send Icardi back to Inter at the end of the season. Make an impact and he’ll have a chance to establish a new beginning at PSG.

8. Adrien Rabiot to Juventus

Daniele Badolato – Juventus FC / Juventus FC / Getty
  • Free transfer
  • Former club: PSG
  • Position: Midfielder

Juventus have perfected the art of the free transfer. Rabiot is the latest in a long line of inspired signings that came at a discount. Much has been said and written about his attitude, but at his core, he’s a skillful player who can reinvigorate Juventus’ midfield. The Serie A champions needed someone to add a little artistry, especially with manager Maurizio Sarri on board. They couldn’t go another season with slow and aging midfielders. Rabiot fits the bill in every sense.

9. Hirving Lozano to Napoli

  • Reported fee: €40M
  • Former club: PSV
  • Position: Winger

Lozano has already endeared himself to Napoli supporters and coach Carlo Ancelotti, becoming the first Mexican to score in Serie A. Obvious marketing opportunities come with the 22-year-old, who’s adored in Mexico and a regular starter for the national team. But his biggest asset is his match-winning ability. Napoli will benefit from Lozano’s direct and aggressive style of play.

10. Philippe Coutinho to Bayern Munich

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  • Loan with €120M option to buy
  • Former club: Barcelona
  • Position: Midfielder

On the surface, Coutinho seems like nothing more than a cosmetic addition. But he’s so much more. Following in the footsteps of James Rodriguez, Coutinho joined Bayern on loan for a negligible €8.5-million fee. Bayern have the option to make the deal permanent at the end of the season, but crucially, the decision is up to them. Coutinho is capable of filling a number of positions – in midfield, in the No. 10 role, or on the wing – affording manager Niko Kovac some flexibility with his formation.

11. Nabil Fekir to Real Betis

  • Fee: €19.75M
  • Former club: Lyon
  • Position: Attacking midfielder

Betis secured one of the bargains of the summer, adding Fekir at a fraction of his true value. His contract with Lyon was running out and Betis – shrewd operators in the transfer market – snuck under the radar to complete the signing. Fekir nearly joined Liverpool last season for €60 million, according to reports, but the deal fell apart because of a failed medical. His wonky knee is concerning – Fekir tore his ACL in September 2015 – but he certainly has the skill to improve Betis’ standing in La Liga.

12. Diego Godin to Inter

Claudio Villa – Inter / FC Internazionale / Getty
  • Free transfer
  • Former club: Atletico Madrid
  • Position: Center-back

Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta has built a reputation on deals like Godin‘s. Taking advantage of market inefficiencies is Marotta’s forte. It’s how he managed to sign Carlos Tevez and Paul Pogba for virtually nothing during his trophy-laded spell at Juventus. Now add Godin to his catalogue of impressive signings. The rugged Uruguayan arrives as one of Europe’s outstanding center-backs of the last decade. He’s also a leader with a win-at-all-costs mentality. His experience is just as welcome as his aerial ability.

13. Ander Herrera to Paris Saint-Germain

  • Free transfer
  • Former club: Manchester United
  • Position: Midfielder

Manchester United’s loss is PSG’s gain. The tough-tackling Herrera is a further sign of PSG’s evolution into a meaner and leaner machine. Thomas Tuchel’s midfield is more robust than it’s ever been, and Herrera is the ideal tactical pawn. He shadows opponents with relentless energy and shackles the most talented dribblers. Tuchel appreciates players like Herrera who follow orders and run themselves into the ground.

14. Julian Brandt to Borussia Dortmund

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  • Reported fee: €25M
  • Former club: Bayer Leverkusen
  • Position: Midfielder/winger

Brandt is Dortmund‘s wild card. Capable of playing in midfield or on the wing, the 23-year-old is just as good at creating chances as he is at finishing them off. He may not boast glittering statistics, but he often sets up the assist-maker and rattles defenders with penetrating through balls. Brandt can cross with accuracy, rifle set pieces, and dribble in tight corners. Dortmund will find themselves in the title race if Brandt’s at the center of their operation.

15. Franck Ribery to Fiorentina

  • Free transfer
  • Former club: Bayern Munich
  • Position: Winger

Fiorentina convinced Ribery to give up a bigger payday elsewhere and move to Tuscany – an impressive show of intent by a club that barely avoided relegation last season. New owner Rocco Commisso arrived with a sense of purpose and promised to invest in the squad. Even at 36, Ribery has the IQ and pace to beat his man. Injuries could crop up here and there, but the risk is worth the reward. Ribery has brought hope to a fan base starving for success.

16. Antoine Griezmann to Barcelona

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  • Fee: €120M
  • Former club: Atletico Madrid
  • Position: Forward

Barcelona may have lacked common decency in negotiations with Atletico Madrid – they’re accused of tapping up Griezmann in the months leading to his transfer – but there’s no denying the significance of this deal. Barcelona completed the signing only after Griezmann’s release clause dropped a cool €80 million. Not only did they weaken a rival, they gained a world-class player and an attacker who can fill the void Luis Suarez will eventually leave behind.

17. Ismael Bennacer to AC Milan

  • Reported fee: €16M
  • Former club: Empoli
  • Position: Midfielder

After missing out on a Champions League spot by a single point, Milan changed managers and directors and implemented a new strategy. They expanded their scouting networks and began searching for value on the market. Bennacer is arguably their best work. Milan secured a deal for the 21-year-old in June and watched his stock rise at the Africa Cup of Nations, where he was named player of the tournament.

18. Nicolo Barella to Inter

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  • Reported fee: €45M
  • Former club: Cagliari
  • Position: Midfielder

Barella has the tools to become an undisputed starter for Inter and the Italian national team. Nerazzurri boss Antonio Conte loves players with Barella’s fighting spirit and tenacity. Though he’s prone to yellow cards and rash challenges, the 22-year-old is a difficult midfielder to contain and a nightmare to mark. Few players combine play-making and ball-retrieving like Barella does.

19. Wissam Ben Yedder to AS Monaco

  • Reported fee: €40M
  • Former club: Sevilla
  • Position: Forward

Linked with Andre Silva and Mauro Icardi in the final weeks of the window, Monaco elected to sign Ben Yedder as their go-to striker. The 29-year-old rose to stardom in Ligue 1 with Toulouse and improved his reputation during his time at Sevilla. He scored 10 goals in the Champions League in 2017-18 and another 10 in the Europa League last season. Monaco may have overpaid, but they did so for a forward who can rival PSG’s goal-getters in the scoring charts.

20. Ante Rebic to AC Milan

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  • Two-year loan deal
  • Former club: Eintracht Frankfurt
  • Position: Forward

New Milan director and former player Zvonimir Boban used his connections to finalize the signing of fellow Croatian Rebic on a temporary basis. Milan were looking far and wide for an industrious attacker to pair with marksman Krzysztof Piatek and found one at the last minute on agreeable terms. They were able to sweeten the deal by offering Andre Silva in return. The Champions League seems more attainable with Rebic in the side.

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