In the first part, we explored the undetected deals in Spain. This is the second part, where we delve into the deals that happened in the rest of Europe.
The surprise wasn’t that the spending in England went out of hand. The surprise was by how much it did – Burnley, a Championship team, spent more on one player (Andre Grey from Brentford) than Genoa have on their entire squad – and Genoa came sixth in Serie A.
Heck, even Montpellier spent about the same money, and they’ve even won the French league in this decade. Southampton, the “selling club”, managed to sell just two players for a transfer fee, and to replace Morgan Schneiderlin brought in…Oriol Romeu?
But the Premier League transfer window would not be complete without Newcastle making some poor signings, right? Right. Except they didn’t – their list of signings is so good, the only complaint so far has been Mitrovic not playing.
In Germany, Bayern Munich somehow thought €8.5 million was good value for a player who had never played once in the first division. Stuttgart were able to acquire left-back Emiliano Insúa on a free from Atletico – the one in Madrid – even though he had a year left on his contract.
But the bargain of the Bundesliga for this summer belongs to a different left-back: Júnior Díaz. The Costa Rican left Mainz for newly-promoted Darmstadt – for free. Don’t know who he is? He’s the guy who crossed so well it beat Italy.
And the guy who scored this goal against Freiburg. Oh, and speaking of Freiburg, they sold one of the most underrated prospects in football, Jonathan Schmid, to Hoffenheim – for a paltry €3.7 million.
Lazio pulled off coup after coup – first signing Patricio Gabarrón from Barcelona for free, and then going on to sign Ricardo Kishna, one of the most promising players in world football, from Ajax for just €4 million. He even scored on his debut.
And if that wasn’t enough, they signed ex-Manchester United player Ravel Morrison for nothing – who seems to be doing well there. Palermo angered very few of their fans by selling Paulo Dybala, but definitely angered most of their fans by selling Andrea Belotti to Torino, widely earmarked as Dybala’s replacement, for €7.5 million.
Juventus loaned out Kingsley Coman, even though he had played in both of Juventus’ opening fixtures, to Bayern Munich for a cool €7 million. And if the clubs from Milan overpaid, then the club from Naples underpaid – how Napoli were able to buy two world-class defensive midfielders in Mirko Valdifiori for €5.5 million and Allan Marques for €11.5 million remains a mystery to me.
The French league may now be PSG and 19 other teams, but there was some room for bargains to be found – €1.7 million for promising player Ryad Boudebouz was one, which showed Montpellier’s brilliance in the transfer market.
Lille seem to be in hot pursuit for talents falling off the ladder, having acquired Junior Tallo (Roma) and Yassine Benzia (Lyon) for just a million euros each.
If Nantes has been in the news for selling Papy Djilobodji to Chelsea for just €3.5 million, then they haven’t been in the news for being able to secure the services of Ajax striker Kolbeinn Sigthórsson for €500,000 less.
And talking about the Dutch Eredivisie, Excelsior Rotterdam, the smallest club in the division, were able to snap up Ajax’s up-and-coming left-back Bas Kuipers for nothing.
Well, then at least in Portugal, Porto and Benfica would rack in the bargains? Guess what – Sporting CP took THAT prize. Bryan Ruiz and Teófilo Gutiérrez, the striker who replaced Falcao at the World Cup, were brought in for a combined €5.4 million.
Other than that, Rio Ave sold Fabinho, surely last year’s most in-form right-back in world football, to Monaco for just €600,000 more. A club in the city of Porto brought in Rivaldo’s son, Rivaldinho. Except that it wasn’t Porto, it was Boavista.
In Switzerland, FC Basel signed Icelandic winger Birkir Bjarnson for €2 million; just a year ago, Pescara had paid exactly a 100 times less to lure him from Sampdoria. And in the same league – yet a different country – Liechtenstein-based FC Vaduz sold promising Swiss keeper Andreas Hirzel to Hamburger for the meagre sum of €50,000.
How the mighty have fallen – look at Asturian player Miguel Marcos Madera aka “Míchel”. In January 2010 he was a Sporting Gijón legend, joined Birmingham and was described as “better than Mascherano”.
In 2011, he was at Getafe. In 2014, he was released and joined Maccabi Haifa in Israel. And in 2015 he left again to join Qarabag Agdam in Azerbaijan – and he is still just 29-years-old. In hindsight that hasty winter exit to Birmingham proved costly – a player “worse than Míchel” waited six months more and joined Barcelona.
In Denmark, FC Midtjylland continued their policy of recruiting players using data analysis, bringing in explosive Kenya-born Australian-South Sudanese 20-year-old winger Awer Mabil for €810,000 – an A-League record.
But the most underrated transfer in Europe was surely accomplished by Randers FC, who signed Australian-Afghan Mustafa Amini, a genius on the ball, from Dortmund – for free.
This was part 2 in a three-part series on this summer’s transfer surprises…keep a look out for more lesser-known shocks in part 3, where we end with a tour of the other continents.