At the halfway point of the 2020-21 campaign, Goal evaluates how the game’s top summer signings are getting on
At the end of a coronavirus-hit transfer window, Xpooze catalogued the biggest deals around Europe. Now, as we reach 2021, it’s time to take a look at how those signings are faring for their new clubs.
#20 Nelson Semedo | Barcelona to Wolves | £27.5m/$35m
The versatile Portugal right-back, who can also play on the wing, is already a first-team regular at Molineux, but fans may have been expecting a bit more from Semedo, an attack-minded player who has yet to register a single goal or assist, and created just nine chances.
At the halfway point of the season, Semedo does not look like an adequate replacement for Matt Doherty, who joined Tottenham in August.
#19 Ollie Watkins | Brentford to Aston Villa | £28m/$36m
Eyebrows were raised when Aston Villa broke their transfer record to take Ollie Watkins out of the Championship, but the 24-year-old striker is already looking like an inspired signing.
Watkins has scored eight goals in all competitions, including a fine hat-trick in a sensational 7-2 rout of Premier League champions Liverpool, and is now being touted as a future England international.
#18 Francisco Trincao | Braga to Barcelona | £28.3m/$37m
Barcelona announced the signing of Francisco Trincao back in January, but the move did not become official until July 1.
In a sense, the Blaugrana are still waiting for the Portugal international to truly arrive at Camp Nou. Trincao has made 19 appearances in all competitions but has no goals and just one assist to his name.
In the winger’s defence, he has been afforded just four starts by Ronald Koeman and, at 21, he still has time to prove his worth. However, it is worth noting that the Pedri has made a much bigger impact in Catalunya this seasonand is three years younger than Trincao…
#17 Hakim Ziyech | Ajax to Chelsea | £33.5m/$44m
His debut was then delayed by an injury picked up in pre-season, but the attacking midfielder proved to be worth the wait, scoring two goals on his first two starts for the Blues.
However, Ziyech has been once again sidelined with a hamstring problem and his return cannot come soon enough for under-pressure manager Frank Lampard, as Chelsea just do not look anything like as threatening without their chief creator on the pitch.
#16 Donny van de Beek | Ajax to Manchester United | £35m/$45m
After being heavily linked with Real Madrid, Donny van de Beek ended up at Old Trafford, with the pandemic having played a pivotal role in Los Blancos’ decision not to spend any money during the transfer window.
Indeed, despite marking his Premier League debut against Crystal Palace with a goal, the versatile midfielder has been afforded just two top-flight starts by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The United boss insists that Van de Beek’s time will come but, as it stands, he is behind Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Fred and Scott McTominay in the midfield pecking order, and there have already been murmurings of discontent from his agent…
#15 Fabio Silva | Porto to Wolves | £35m/$45m
Wolves may be renowned for signing Portuguese players but it still came as a massive shock when they smashed their transfer record in September to sign teenage striker Fabio Silva.
Silva still looks very raw, which is hardly surprising, but he has shown enough flashes of quality to suggest that he can do a decent job leading the line until Wolves manage to sign a more experienced replacement for first-choice No.9 Raul Jimenez, who is out of action for an as yet undetermined period with a fractured skull.
#14 Achraf Hakimi | Real Madrid to Inter | £36m/$46.7m
Hakimi has already racked up four goals and four assists from the right flank and, at 22, is only going to get better and better at San Siro.
#13 Wesley Fofana | Saint-Etienne to Leicester | £36.5m/$47m
After being thrown straight into the first team partly because of the Foxes’ injury issues in defence, the 20-year-old has now locked down a starting spot at the heart of Brendan Rodgers’ back line.
As the Foxes boss says, “He’s absolutely colossal for a young guy. We’re absolutely delighted with him.”
#12 Nathan Ake | Bournemouth to Manchester City | £40m/$52m
It became clear last season that Manchester City lacked cover in defence, particularly on the left side, so Pep Guardiola’s decision to sign Nathan Ake from Bournemouth made perfect sense.
The Netherlands international has not done a lot wrong so far, though he did have a difficult afternoon against Jamie Vardy back in September, but he is yet to establish himself as a first-choice centre-back.
If anything, his task is now harder than it was at the start of the season, with Ruben Dias shining since arriving from Benfica, John Stones enjoying a surprise resurgence and Aymeric Laporte no longer guaranteed a starting slot.
#11 Diogo Jota | Wolves to Liverpool | £41m/$53m
Jurgen Klopp revealed Diogo Jota had been on his list of transfer targets for three years, but not even the Liverpool manager expected the former Wolves ace to make such an instant impact at Anfield.
The Portugal international has already struck nine times in all competitions for the Reds, including a sublime hat-trick at Atalanta in the Champions League, and chances are he would already be in double figures had it not been for the injury which has ruled him out until the New Year.
Jota has been so good that before his setback there was even talk of him taking Roberto Firmino’s place in Liverpool’s famed three-man attack.
#10 Leroy Sane | Manchester City to Bayern Munich | £44.7m/$58m
Bayern Munich finally managed to conclude a deal for long-term transfer target Leroy Sane when the former Manchester City star rejected a contract extension during the summer, forcing Pep Guardiola to admit defeat in his bid to hold on to the winger.
The Germany international hit the ground running at the Allianz Arena, netting on his Bundesliga debut, but his time at Bayern to date has mirrored his Man City career: flashes of brilliance mixed with frustrating fitness problems and fluctuating form.
There is no doubt that Sane, who has still managed to rack up five goals and three assists from 16 appearances, retains the potential to become a genuine superstar, but Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has warned that the onus is on the player to “take the next step” up in class.
#9 Mauro Icardi | Inter to PSG | £45m/$58m
Mauro Icardi hit 24 goals in 30 games during his loan spell at Paris Saint-Germain last season, which unsurprisingly convinced the French giants to make his move from Inter permanent.
Things have not gone quite as well for the Argentine this term, though.
A combination of illness and injury has restricted Icardi to just five appearances, and two goals, in 2020-21, and it remains to be seen what the future holds for the centre-forward, given Mauricio Pochettino is set to replace the sacked Thomas Tuchel as coach.
On his day, Icardi is one of the best poachers in world football but, as we have seen throughout his career, the 25-year-old’s attributes and personality are not to everyone’s tastes…
#8 Thomas Partey | Atletico Madrid to Arsenal | £45m/$58m
It did not take long for the Ghana international to adapt to the pace and physicality of the Premier League, but, unfortunately for under-pressure manager Mikel Arteta, Partey has made just nine appearances to date due to injury.
However, based on what we have seen so far, the 27-year-old’s imminent return to action will aid Arsenal’s attempts to propel themselves into contention for a top-six finish.
#7 Victor Osimhen | Lille to Napoli | £45m/$58m
It is no coincidence that Napoli‘s form has dipped since Victor Osimhen sustained a shoulder injury while on international duty in November.
The Nigeria international had made a scintillating start to life in Serie A, wowing all and sundry with his blistering pace and terrific technique, as well as providing a much-needed focal point for the Partenopei attack.Osimhen is set to return early in the New Year and is widely expected to add significantly to the two goals he has scored in just eight appearances so far for Napoli.
#6 Timo Werner | RB Leipzig to Chelsea | £47.5m/$61m
Timo Werner looked destined to join Liverpool during the summer, but the Reds were rocked by the financial crisis caused by Covid-19, which allowed Chelsea to swoop for one of Europe’s most exciting forwards.
However, now that the Blues have the Germany international, it seems that manager Frank Lampard does not quite know what to do with him.
Werner is struggling in an unfamiliar role and tactical approach out on the left wing, and his confidence has been unsurprisingly affected.
The 24-year-old has still managed eight goals in 23 appearances and has plenty of time to turn things around at Stamford Bridge, but much will depend on whether he is properly deployed during the second half of the season.
#5 Ben Chilwell | Leicester to Chelsea | £50m/$65m
Ben Chilwell says he is hoping to emulate Ashley Cole’s achievements at Stamford Bridge and he is going the right way about it.
Chilwell has already contributed five assists from full-back, as well as two goals, and the former Leicester City ace is proving himself one of the Blues’ better buys during the summer window.
#4 Miralem Pjanic | Juventus to Barcelona | £55m/$71m
In a wholly unsurprising development, a transfer that was more about balancing the books than improving the Barcelona team has proven a disaster.
Miralem Pjanic may once have been one of the world’s best midfielders, but it was obvious during his final season at Juventus that the 30-year-old was past his best.
Barca nonetheless decided to effectively swap him with Arthur in order to make ends meet ahead of the end of their budgetary year, and have been rewarded with no goals, no assists and just 15 chances created by Pjanic, who has been trusted from the start just nine times by coach Ronald Koeman.
#3 Ruben Dias | Benfica to Manchester City | £62m/$79m
It is still early days, of course, but Manchester City may have belatedly found a worthy successor to club legend Vincent Kompany at the heart of the defence.
Former Benfica man Ruben Dias has settled into his new surroundings at the Etihad Stadium with impressive ease and now looks set to star for some time to come.
The Portugal international has established himself as Pep Guardiola’s first-choice centre-back after just 18 outings for City in all competitions.
#2 Arthur | Barcelona to Juventus | £66m/$86m
While Pjanic’s Barca career already looks like a write-off, there is still hope for Arthur in Turin.
The Brazilian, after all, is still only 24 and undoubtedly capable of playing the slick passing game coveted by coach Andrea Pirlo.
The worry, though, is that while Arthur has impressed in patches, he does not look like a significant upgrade on what Juve already have in midfield, as underlined by the fact that he has not contributed a single goal or assist in his 13 appearances to date.
That is not exactly his job, of course, but he has also been criticised for slowing the game down too much and being too cautious with his passing.
#1 Kai Havertz | Bayer Leverkusen to Chelsea | £70m/$91m
However, as with Werner, Lampard does not yet seem to know how to get the best out of the versatile and talented 21-year-old, who has scored just once in the Premier League.
Havertz deserves patience and understanding as he adapts to a new team, league and country – not to mention his recovery from a bout of Covid-19 – but the pressure is only going to build on both the attacking midfielder and his manager given the size of the transfer fee involved.
A strong second half of the season is essential for both.