The best transfers of the 2021 summer window – ranked

While the pandemic has forced many clubs to reign back their spending, the 2021/22 summer transfer window has still witnessed some incredible deals.

Club legends have moved on, young prospects have been sold for eye-watering sums and there has also been plenty of bargain buys.

Here are 25 of the absolute best transfers… so far.

25. Adam Armstrong (Blackburn Rovers to Southampton, £15m)

Losing Danny Ings, seemingly out of nowhere, was a real blow for Southampton. They seem to have found a suitable replacement in Adam Armstrong, though.

He managed 28 goals in the Championship last season and despite being just 24 and English, Saints have only spent £15m to secure his services. That’s very good value.

24. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa to Manchester City, £100m)

Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish became the nation’s sweetheart during Euro 2020 and he capped off a near-perfect summer with a dream move to Manchester City.

His £100m price tag is a Premier League record but after an adjustment period to Pep Guardiola’s regime, he should thrive at the Etihad Stadium.

23. Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen to Aston Villa, £30m)

Leon Bailey

Aston Villa will be starting the season without talisman Jack Grealish but they can at least be confident that Leon Bailey can relieve some of the creative and goalscoring burden.

Bailey enjoyed his best season yet last time out and has been linked with some huge clubs over the years. Villa getting the job done for just £30m is mightily impressive.

22. Michael Olise (Reading to Crystal Palace, £8m)

Michael Olise

Despite being just 19 years old, Michael Olise was one of the Championship’s brightest lights last season. The flying winger managed seven goals and also laid on 12 assists. 

He has an extremely bright future and joins an excitingly young Crystal Palace squad in the midst of a rebuild. 

21. Eric Garcia (Man City to Barcelona, free)


We did not get to see the best of Eric Garcia during his time at Manchester City, but it is clear he has the potential to reach the top.

Both Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique are big fans, making Barcelona signing him on a free all the more impressive.

20. Cristian Romero (Atalanta to Tottenham Hotspur, loan)

Brazil v Argentina: Final - Copa America Brazil 2021

If you believe certain reports, Lionel Messi’s Barcelona departure was partly down to his side’s failure to sign Cristian Romero. High praise indeed.

Barca’s loss is Tottenham’s gain and Romero – who joins on loan with an option to buy – seems like the perfect successor to ball-playing defender Toby Alderweireld.

19. Hakan Calhanoglu (Milan to Inter, free)

Hakan Calhanoglu

Hakan Calhanoglu signing for Inter took quite a few people by surprise. Not only had he crossed the Derby della Madonnina divide, the Nerazzurri were also supposed to be trimming their own expenses when they announced his arrival on a salary of around €5m a year.

Although the circumstances were a little strange, Inter will be delighted to have got themselves an exciting player for no transfer fee.

18. Ibrahima Konate (RB Leipzig to Liverpool, £36m)

Ibrahima Konate, Wout Weghorst

Liverpool are unlikely to experience an injury crisis of the same proportion as last season this time out.

Even still, the addition of Ibrahima Konate is a welcome one. Signed from RB Leipzig well before other clubs got their business done, he should be able to cope with Liverpool’s high line without too many problems.

17. Emiliano Buendia (Norwich to Aston Villa, £38m)

Emiliano Buendia

Aston Villa are one of a long list of Premier League clubs who aspire to break into the top six. Signing Emiliano Buendia – albeit for a hefty fee – could be an important step on that journey. 

Ludicrously creative in possession he is also an underrated presence defensively. He will fit into Dean Smith’s well oiled outfit perfectly. 

16. Rodrigo de Paul (Udinese to Atletico Madrid, £30m)

Rodrigo De Paul

Rodrigo de Paul has been a name floating around the transfer rumour mill for several years.

Atletico Madrid have finally stumped up the cash required to prise him away from Udinese as they look to defend their La Liga title this season. De Paul has many strengths to his game and if he can adapt to Diego Simeone’s defensive demands he should fit in nicely.

15. Jack Harrison (Man City to Leeds, £11m)

Jack Harrison

Jack Harrison has been one of the key cogs in Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United revolution over the past three seasons.

The 2020/21 campaign was his best yet with the industrious midfielder registering eight goals and eight assists. His permanent signing may have gone relatively unnoticed outside of Elland Road, but Leeds will be delighted to have got it over the line. 

14. Boubakary Soumare (Lille to Leicester, £17m)

Boubakary Soumare

One of the key reasons for Leicester’s recent success has been their ability to replace their key players without missing a beat. 

They might have just done it again by signing Boubakary Soumare. The former Lille man seems the perfect replacement for Youri Tielemans should he depart in the not so distant future. 

13. Memphis Depay (Lyon to Barcelona, free)

Memphis Depay

After missing out on him last summer, Barcelona has finally signed Memphis Depay. He joins the Blaugrana off the back of his best ever season for Lyon and thanks to his contract expiring, he has not cost them a penny.

If Barça can find a way to fit him into their system, they could be on to a real winner.

12. Patson Daka (RB Salzburg to Leicester City, £23m)

Patson Daka

Leicester rarely slip up in the transfer market but even by their own high standards, their deal to sign Patson Daka could be an inspired one. 

Daka is the latest player to come out of the RB Salzburg talent factory and he is almost as exciting as Erling Haaland. He has managed 51 league goals over the past two seasons, is a frightening athlete and is nowhere near the peak of his powers.

Could we be looking at the heir to Jamie Vardy’s throne?

11. Pierluigi Gollini (Atalanta to Spurs, loan)

Pierluigi Gollini

Finding a successor to the remarkably reliable Hugo Lloris has been in the back of Tottenham’s mind for some time. Rather than waiting until the Frenchman gets even older, they might have found his replacement a few years early. 

Pierluigi Gollini has been Atalanta’s starting keeper for some time and despite rarely receiving much help from his defence, has performed solidly.

He arrives on loan with an option to buy at the end of the season – the perfect deal for Spurs’ needs. 

10. Mike Maignan (Lille to Milan, £12m)

Mike Maignan

Replacing Gianluigi Donnarumma was always going to be a near impossible task. Milan have dealt with things pretty well, not waiting long after Lille’s shock Ligue 1 title win to sign Mike Maignan. 

Maignan averaged the second best save percentage in the division last term, as well as the most clean sheets. He is still only 26 too.

9. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool to PSG, free)

Georginio Wijnaldum

The full effect of Georginio Wijnaldum’s departure from Liverpool will not take long to be noticed. The Dutchman has been a near ever present in the Reds’ greatest team of the Premier League era, knitting things together in midfield. 

Jurgen Klopp was desperate to keep him and the Dutchman is likely to make Liverpool regret letting him depart this season. In France he should be given more license to roam forward, which is a very exciting prospect. 

8. Achraf Hakimi (Inter to PSG, £60m)

Achraf Hakimi

Achraf Hakimi is probably the best attacking right-back on the planet. Last season he registered a pretty bonkers seven goals and 10 assists to help Inter scoop the scudetto. 

However, when the Nerazzurri’s financial issues became public knowledge PSG smelled blood and swooped in to sign the defender. Right-back has been one of the Parisian’s less exciting positions in recent years and that is about to change in a big way. 

7. Jadon Sancho (Dortmund to Man Utd, £73m)

Jadon Sancho

At long last, Jadon Sancho is a Manchester United player. Signing him may have required the most tiresome transfer saga in recent memory, but all the effort will likely prove worthwhile in the end. 

Sancho is one of the biggest signings United have made in the past decade and he could easily go on to become an icon at Old Trafford.

6. Romelu Lukaku (Inter to Chelsea, £97.5m)

Romelu Lukaku could be the missing piece in the puzzle that turns Chelsea into Premier League winners.

After Thomas Tuchel’s arrival, the Blues looked strong in most areas. However, finding the back of the net remained a problem, with Jorginho ending the campaign as Premier League top scorer with a measly seven.

Lukaku’s arrival should change that this season.

5. David Alaba (Bayern to Real Madrid, free)

David Alaba

Testing positive for coronavirus before he has even kicked a ball is a blow, but David Alaba still looks set to be a hit at Real Madrid.

Following the departures of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, Los Blancos were looking thin on star quality at the back. Thank goodness for Alaba’s arrival then. He will provide experience and composure in defence and his versatility could also prove vital.

4. Andre Silva (Milan to RB Leipzig. £20m)

Andre Silva

Andre Silva’s incredible goal scoring antics slipped under the radar somewhat last season. Overall he managed 28 Bundesliga goals for Eintracht Frankfurt, a tally bettered only by Robert Lewandowski. 

He does not just bring finishing to RB Leipzig, though. The Portugal international also works tirelessly and registered a career best eight assists last season. 

3. Raphael Varane (Real Madrid to Manchester United, £41m)

Real Madrid v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander

Ever since United dropped a world record fee for Harry Maguire in 2019 a debate has been raging about who he should be partnered with. 

Finally, the Red Devils seemed to have found the perfect solution in Varane. Blessed with a wicked turn of pace, he should complement Maguire perfectly. The fact he is costing such a modest fee is another big plus.

2. Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan to PSG, free)

Gianluigi Donnarumma

Paris Saint-Germain’s transfer strategy has not always been the most successful, but they deserve credit for tying down the best young goalkeeper in the world for five years without even having to pay a fee. 

Keylor Navas has fared pretty well in recent times, but Donnarumma is definitely an improvement. Coupled with their other business, PSG are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Champions League this season.

1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona to PSG, free)

Lionel Messi is probably the best player of all time. PSG picking him up on a free transfer was the cherry on top of a truly ridiculous transfer window.

His arrival leaves Mauricio Pochettino with a frightening forward line, even if their work off the ball will be minimal. It is hard to overstate just how big this transfer is for both PSG and a cash-strapped Ligue 1 in general.

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