Sunday, September 22, 2019

Teenage kicks: Joao Felix and Matthijs de Ligt rank up with the biggest signings of the window

SoccerNews in Eredivisie 3 Sep 2019

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Europe’s transfer window closed on Monday evening and the continent’s top clubs avoided the temptation of breaking the bank for last-minute deals.

Most had their business all wrapped up comfortably before the deadline, while the widely floated return of Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain to Barcelona sank in the Seine.

But it was a transfer window in which there was plenty of lavish spending, and it was a familiar crop of clubs doing the biggest deals.

Here is a look at the most expensive signings made by European clubs during the window – including two of the world’s most talented youngsters.

Matthijs de Ligt – Ajax to Juventus

This Dutch prodigy was a huge hit in the Champions League and Eredivisie for Ajax last season, and the powerful centre-back captained the Amsterdam giants before he was inevitably courted by Europe’s leading clubs. Juventus won the battle for his signature, with De Ligt, who was 19 at the time of the move, making a €75million leap to Serie A, signing a contract until 2024. He turned 20 in August.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

4you, 4ever #family #TURNDELIGTON @juventus

A post shared by Matthijs de Ligt (@mdeligt_) on Jul 19, 2019 at 3:33am PDT

Nicolas Pepe – Lille to Arsenal

Arsenal were often accused of over-cautious frugality during Arsene Wenger’s reign as manager, but the club backed Unai Emery with a big-money move for Lille’s exciting forward Nicolas Pepe, who arrived at Emirates Stadium in a £72m deal. He was brought in to give Arsenal a fearsome forward line, teaming up with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

Romelu Lukaku – Manchester United to Inter

Red Rom reached the end of the line at Manchester United, where it was becoming increasingly obvious he would not be a preferred pick of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. But United got back almost all their money for the former Everton frontman when they sold him on to Inter for a fee understood to be €80m.

Lucas Hernandez – Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich

Bayern had this deal in the bag before last season ended, announcing the €80m signing way back in March. Hernandez arrived at the Allianz Arena from Atletico at the campaign’s end, and after recovering from knee surgery the 23-year-old made his debut on the second weekend of the new Bundesliga season. Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic described Hernandez as “one of the best defenders in the world”.

Harry Maguire – Leicester City to Manchester United

Jose Mourinho wanted him 12 months earlier, but Manchester United finally landed Maguire from Leicester City in an £80m deal, making him the world’s most expensive defender. Maguire was a standout performer for England at the 2018 World Cup and has come a long way since his days at Sheffield United and Hull City, with a six-year contract at United showing the club see him as a cornerstone figure for the new Solskjaer era.

Eden Hazard – Chelsea to Real Madrid

Hazard had made no secret of his wish to join Real Madrid, and the Belgian’s ambition was realised when Zinedine Zidane came calling during the close season. After seven years at Chelsea, Hazard moved to the Santiago Bernabeu for an initial fee of around €100m – with the possibility of more cash to follow in add-ons. Injury has prevented Hazard making an early impact in LaLiga.

Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid to Barcelona

A year on from winning the World Cup with France, Griezmann swapped Atletico Madrid for Barcelona in one of the most contentious moves of the European summer. Barcelona coughed up €120m  to release Griezmann from his contract, infuriating Atletico who claimed talks had been taking place behind their back, at a time when the player had a higher buy-out clause, and demanded a higher fee be paid. Once he – and the dust – settles at Camp Nou, Griezmann has what it takes to be a big hit.

Joao Felix – Benfica to Atletico Madrid

With Griezmann on his way, Atletico made sure they would have a top-class replacement by reinvesting in Benfica’s star teenage forward Joao Felix. The 19-year-old cost the Rojiblancos €126m, immediately inherited Griezmann’s number seven shirt, and his prodigious talent is already winning plenty of admirers in Spain.

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SoccerNews

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