Karim Benzema to Al-Ittihad
For the first time in history, the reigning Ballon d’Or holder is not playing European club football. Frenchman Benzema has taken his gilded gong and made the move to Saudi Arabia to play for Al-Ittihad. While the former Real Madrid striker will bring plenty of experience as well as goals with him, it may not end up being all sunny in Saudi for Benzema. His new coach, the mercurial Nuno Espirito Santo, has already made it clear that he did not want Benzema, since the latter does not suit the manager’s high-pressing system. However, if anyone was to bet on who wins between the two, it would be more likely that Nuno gets fired instead of Benzema moving away a few short months after his arrival.
Harry Kane to Bayern Munich
After finally breaking his toxic relationship with an empty trophy cabinet at Tottenham Hotspur, Kane’s move to Bayern Munich has begun with a string of goals, with his lack of pace not a problem thus far. While Kane’s link-up play and attacking nous are welcome additions for Bayern, the English skipper’s $131 million move will ultimately be judged on whether he can propel the Germans to their first UEFA Champions League title in four seasons. After all, winning the Bundesliga should be a formality, which should also give Kane his first taste of silverware
Josko Gvardiol to Manchester City
Even by his standards, Pep Guardiola can get obsessive with his centre-backs. The fact that the Manchester City manager just made Gvardiol the most expensive defender in the world (for $99 million) speaks volumes of the trust Guardiola has in the young Croatian. Gvardiol enjoyed a splendid World Cup in Qatar last year, at least until Lionel Messi floored him in the semi-finals; but at City, the ball-playing centre-half should feel at home. With Aymeric Laporte making way shortly after Gvardiol put pen to paper at the Etihad Stadium, Gvardiol could be deployed anywhere across the back-line, as he looks to hit the ground running in England
Declan Rice to Arsenal
One of the most sought-after talents in the English circuit, Arsenal had to spend top dollar to lure the former West Ham captain to North London. Rice will add a sense of stability to the Gunners’ midfield, allowing their more attacking players greater freedom up front, while dictating play with his exceptional array of passes. He will also help build a bridge between attack and defence, the lack of which cost Mikel Arteta’s team dearly in the title run-in last season. The only drawback for Arsenal could be the pressure of the price tag on Rice, given the club splurged $132 million for his signature
Andre Onana to Manchester United
After the anti-climactic exit of David de Gea, Manchester United fans were divided. Some expressed relief while others felt the anguish of watching their last league champion leave. Onana is of a different profile to De Gea, as he is better with his feet and more effective in the team’s build-up play. Having said that, United’s $57 million acquisition also has a tendency to rush out of his box, which could prove calamitous for the Red Devils. Although manager Erik ten Hag knows the Cameroon international well from their time together at Ajax, Onana’s first season at United could prove to be a classic case of a double-edged sword
Moises Caicedo to Chelsea
In January, Chelsea broke the British transfer record when they bought Enzo Fernandez. After a mass overhaul of the squad, the Blues needed to restock their midfielders and chose to break the record they had just set to sign Moises Caicedo from Brighton for $146 million. Caicedo has shown that he has the dynamism to play in the Premier League, being a key member in getting the Seagulls to sixth last season. On paper, Caicedo and Enzo at the heart of Chelsea’s midfield tick all the boxes. In reality, Caicedo will take time to adapt, with fans hoping that his signing is not a case of deja vu, given how Marc Cucurella’s journey from the Amex Stadium to Stamford Bridge has turned out
Jude Bellingham to Real Madrid
Arguably the signing of the summer, Bellingham chose Real Madrid among a sea of suitors, joining Los Blancos for $111 million. With four goals in three games, the most complete midfielder of England’s next gen has started life in the Spanish capital with a bang, recalling Cristiano Ronaldo’s impressive early days in all white. Hard as it is for British players to stay in the good books of Real fans (just ask Gareth Bale!) Bellingham’s versatility across the midfield could make him the club’s most vital player this season, especially if Kylian Mbappe spends another year in Paris.
Neymar to Al-Hilal
The prince who is yet to become king raised a lot of eyebrows by choosing one of the most lucrative football packages ever at Al-Hilal over staying in Europe. By now, the laundry list of luxuries doled out to Neymar has become public knowledge. Expect the backlash to resonate just as loudly should the Brazilian struggle in Saudi Arabia, be it through a dip in form, fitness or both. Neymar’s fans in India, however, are not complaining, as the joint-highest goalscorer for Brazil is likely to be in Pune soon, representing his new colours during the AFC Champions League