Referred to as ‘Silly-Season,’ the summer soccer transfer period is to soccer fanatics what TMZ is to celebrity watchers. This past weekend the European transfer window slammed shut after some last minute wheeling and dealing and a lot of speculation and rumor-mongering. The close of the window provides a respite for fans and clubs to stop and take stock of what has just happened. Fans will look at their teams and assess the ins and outs to see if they are better off now than in the spring-time. Journalists will look at the moves, rank the players and speculate on who made the best transfers and who wasted millions. In general, everyone will stand back and assess the vast number of players and billions of dollars which have changed hands in the past three months. Across Europe, the big clubs traditionally make the biggest moves and this summer was no exception. The likes of Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Chelsea, Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid all dominated the headlines and gossip pages. Some clubs looked just to tinker with their teams – a player or two here and there to strengthen from last season and help further the push forward this year. Other clubs, however, looked to make wholesale changes to their squads. Nowhere was this more evident than with clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United who brought in several new faces each and helped to fuel a billion dollar Premier League transfer window. This list looks at the biggest names and most notable transfers of the summer. Ahead you’ll find free transfers, loan deals and multi-million dollar signings all together. For ease of organization, the following list is rated by transfer value but don’t let this fool you at all. Here, number 25 can be just as big in the transfer world as any one of the top 10 listed. Football fanatics will recognize every single name posted here. Some have been vastly overpaid for while others have been absolute steals for the recipient club. Nonetheless, they are all players we would likely want on our respective teams and as such deserve a place on the top 25 transfers of this summer.
25 Robert Lewandowski, Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich - Free
We all love free stuff- who doesn’t? Bayern Munich secured the best free-transfer of the summer with the signing of Robert Lewandowski from Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund. This transfer was one of the most publicized and was ironed out months before it could officially take place. In four years with Dortmund, the Polish striker scored 74 goals in 131 matches. Despite featuring for his new club in a 2-0 loss to former team Dortmund, it’s hard to see how Lewandowski won’t be a hit at Bayern and help them challenge for further honors this season.
24 Diego Lopez, Real Madrid to AC Milan – Loan
Madrid’s bizarre decision to keep Iker Casillas and drop Diego Lopez could likely turn out to be a huge boost for AC Milan. The Spanish keeper played over 60 matches for Real Madrid over the last two seasons. By all accounts, he did very well and demonstrated he was equal, if not superior, to Madrid’s long-term keeper Casillas. When this transfer window rolled around, many thought Casillas would be on the way out. However, in a decision which left some scratching their heads, Madrid opted to let Lopez leave with Milan snapping him up. Early indications are that the Serie-A club have obtained a quality keeper who may be one of the most important signings they made this summer.
23 Fernando Torres, Chelsea to AC Milan – Loan
When Fernando Torres moved to Chelsea from Liverpool in 2011, the rest of the Premier League feared for the worst for their respective defenses. The former Red notched 65 goals in 102 league appearances and looked to give Chelsea a massive offensive boost. With only 20 goals in 110 appearances for Chelsea, many of those fears came to nothing. Set for a two-year loan with Serie A-side AC Milan, the Spanish striker has a new lease on life and an opportunity to find the form which worried so many sides in England. If Torres can find his old form and get the service from the Milan midfield, it may turn out to be a great bit of business from the Rossoneri.
22 Radamel Falcao, Monaco to Manchester United – Loan
The big story of transfer deadline day in England was surely the loan move of Monaco and Columbian striker Radamel Falcao to Manchester United. Linked with the likes of Manchester City and Real Madrid, the move caught a number of people off-guard given the fact United are not competing in Champions League this year – something which motivates many player transfers. That said, the loan is valued at just under $10 million with an option to buy the striker who is reportedly earning $490,000+-a-week. Despite being injured for much of last season, in Falcao, United get a potentially lethal striker who has demonstrated his abilities with Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco.
21 Xabi Alonso, Real Madrid to Bayern Munich – $13.1 million
If there is one centerpiece to the dissatisfaction evident among the Madrid faithful, it’s the loss of midfielder Xabi Alonso this summer. The 32 year old has enjoyed a very successful career, twice winning the Champions League as well as being part of a dominant Spanish national team. At Madrid, Alonso was a force on the pitch, playing a role in Madrid’s La Liga-winning 2011/12 campaign, various domestic cup titles and, of course, the campaign to claim La Decima last season.
20 Daley Blind, Ajax to Manchester United – $22.7 million
To be honest, many people were unfamiliar with this Dutch national player before this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. Naturally Blind, and every other Dutch player on Earth, were linked to a move to Manchester United thanks to the appointment of Louis van Gaal as manager. As a defensive midfielder, Blind checks a number of boxes for United. He provides desperately needed cover for the back four, can play as a defender if needed and knows van Gaal’s system thanks to his time with the Dutch national team.
19 Ivan Rakitic, Sevilla to Barcelona – $23.4 million
Barcelona’s decision to sell Cesc Fabregas remains questioned by many. You can’t deny, however, that the decision to buy Ivan Rakitic from Sevilla was good business for the Catalan club. The Croatian midfielder scored 27 league goals with Sevilla and assisted numerous plays. With a pass completion rate of over 90%, Rakitic will likely make the Barca faithful ask “Cesc who?” Early indications suggest this could be the case given his sublime assist against Elche CF during the first game of the new Spanish season.
18 Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal to Barcelona – $24.7 million
When Thomas Vermaelen joined Arsenal from Ajax in 2009, the Gunners looked to have secured the services of a future great. Last season, however, the one-time captain of the North London club found opportunities limited thanks to a series of injuries and poor performances. With only 14 league appearances in 2013/14, it was obvious to most that the Belgian international would move on. There was some surprise when Barcelona swooped in and sealed a deal in a relatively short period of time. Nonetheless, if Vermaelen can regain his form, the Catalans will have acquired a very good defender.
17 Mario Balotelli, AC Milan to Liverpool – $26.3 million
Guess who’s back, back again? For much of the summer window Mario Balotelli was strongly linked with a move to Arsenal. Like most Arsenal related moves, the Balotelli rumors dragged on and on before being put out of their misery by manager Arsene Wenger. With 26 goals in 43 matches for Milan, Balotelli appeared to be good business for anyone interested. The problem is that the Italian striker comes with more baggage (and fireworks) than his Bentley could possibly carry. Despite a history of being a distraction on and off the field, Liverpool decided to take a chance and sign Balotelli for a little over $26 million.
16 Danny Welbeck, Manchester United to Arsenal – $26.3 million
When Louis van Gaal became Manchester United manager, we all knew there would be big changes at the club. On deadline day, while United worked on signing Falcao on loan, long time Red Devil Danny Welbeck slipped off to league rivals Arsenal. News of this transfer has divided fans of both camps. Nevertheless, a pacey out-and-out striker like Welbeck will no doubt relish playing in his preferred position while getting service from the creative and attack minded midfield assembled by Arsene Wenger.
15 Ciro Immobile, Torino to Borussia Dortmund – $28 million
Despite having a somewhat amusing last name for a striker, Ciro Immobile has proven to be anything but. The Italian striker made a name for himself with a strong stint at Torino where he tallied 22 goals in 39 league appearances. Robert Lewandowski’s move from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich meant there was a striker vacancy at Jurgen Klopp’s team which desperately needed to be filled. Despite a huge legal-ownership mess between Torino, Dortmund and Juventus, Immobile found his way to Dortmund in June 2014. Time will tell if he can fill the sizeable boots left by the departure of Lewandowski.
14 Mario Mandzukic, Bayern Munich to Atletico Madrid – $31.8 million
With the rumors and various reports that Robert Lewandowski was set to join Bayern Munich, it was obvious to everyone that Mario Madzukic’s time at Bayern Munich was coming to an end. The powerful Croatian striker spent two seasons at Bayern scoring 33 goals in 54 appearances. With no room left for him at the German giants, it was just a question of which major club he would end up at. That question was answered in July when Atletico Madrid, looking for a replacement for Diego Costa, signed him. He quickly set about repaying the club’s faith in him by scoring the winning goal in the two-legged Spanish Super Cup against city rivals Real Madrid.
13 Antoine Griezmann, Real Sociedad to Atletico Madrid – $39.5 million
This French winger is a relatively new arrival in the world of soccer stars. The 23 year old Greizmann developed a name for being a speedy and effective winger over the past few seasons at Real Sociedad. The past two seasons in Spain have seen the French international score 31 goals in 84 appearances in all competitions. This production, combined with his performances for the French national team, attracted considerable attention from clubs around Europe. In the end, Atletico Madrid reportedly met his buy-out clause of nearly $40 million and secured the services of this promising young midfielder.
12 Toni Kroos, Bayern Munich to Real Madrid – $39.5 million
Pep Guardiola has come under much criticism lately for making Bayern Munich too Spanish. Things weren’t helped with the sale of German international Toni Kroos to La Liga giants Real Madrid this summer. The Champions League and three-time Bundesliga title winning midfielder had been with Bayern since 2006. Since 2010, he has made 176 appearances and scored 23 goals in all competitions for the German club. His move to the Spanish capital raised a few eyebrows and has many fans watching to see just how the German midfielder fits in with Carlo Ancelotti’s plans.
11 Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea to Everton – $46 million
A member of Chelsea since 2011, Belgium international Romelu Lukaku never seemed to find a place of his own at the London club. Despite this, the 21 year old striker enjoyed very successful loan spells at West Bromwich Albion and Everton where he scored 32 league goals in 66 appearances. His impressive performance for Everton last season was enough to convince Everton boss Roberto Martinez to splash a club record $46 million on a permanent move. The question now becomes whether the fire and drive displayed by Lukaku over previous years remains after having secured a permanent deal with Everton.
10 Ander Herrera, Athletic Bilbao to Manchester United – $47.7 million
On transfer deadline day last season Ander Herrera was part of a bizarrely mismanaged $39 million transfer attempt by Manchester United which ultimately failed. Nevertheless, United kept their sights on the Spanish midfielder and returned in the 2014 summer transfer window with a larger offer to activate the player’s buy-out clause. The 25 year old demonstrated in pre-season that he can create assists, which will be important when it comes to setting up Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao.
9 Luke Shaw, Southampton to Manchester United – $49.4 million
It’s understood that when English clubs buy an English player they tend to overpay as a result of an unwritten “British tax.” Combine this with Manchester United’s desperation for a new defense and Luke Shaw’s quickly rising stock and you get a situation where a team may have overpaid for a player. This is not to say that Shaw isn’t worth a pretty penny – just that nearly $50 million for a 19 year old defender is, perhaps, a bit much. Nonetheless, in Shaw, Louis van Gaal gets an important piece for sorting out the defensive mess he inherited at United this summer.
8 Cesc Fabregas, Barcelona to Chelsea – $49.4 million
Known for his time and development at Arsenal, the midfielder was torn when his hometown club of Barcelona came calling in 2011. He eventually left London to undertake his dream of playing for the Catalan side. Things did not work out. Booed by his own fans and then told he was surplus to requirements, the Spanish midfielder looked set for an Arsenal return this summer. Unfortunately, Arsene Wenger told him he was not needed. Enter Chelsea, who swooped in and got the midfield magician for a pretty good price. Known as a pass-master and always high on the assist rankings, Chelsea’s move could be one of the best of the summer.
7 Eliaquim Mangala, Porto to Manchester City – $52.7 million
Over the past few seasons Manchester City have often been the big spenders when it comes to transfers. Not this season. With FIFA Financial Fairplay restrictions and a limited roster space thanks to the Homegrown rule, the Citizens have been relatively quiet. That said, they still found the time to splash over $50 million on Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala. The French defender is reunited with his former Porto defensive teammate Fernando, who City had purchased earlier in the transfer window.
6 Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid to Chelsea – $52.7 million
Another transfer which a lot of people expected to happen, Chelsea’s move for Brazilian striker Diego Costa made sense. Chelsea lacked a consistent goal scorer up-front and Jose Mourinho moved to remedy that problem with the purchase of Costa. Over the past four seasons with Atletico, Costa scored 53 goals in 110 appearances. But would that translate into long-term success in a notoriously challenging Premier League? So far, he appears to have fit in well with his new club, scoring four goals in three matches.
5 Alexis Sanchez, Barcelona to Arsenal – $57.6 million
Yet another move that had some people wondering what Barcelona were thinking this summer. Perhaps with the purchase of players like Luiz Suarez and Ivan Rakitic, the Barcelona leadership believed Alexis Sanchez was surplus. In any event, London outfit Arsenal swooped in to claim the Chilean forward who had also impressed at the World Cup. The versatile Sanchez can play forward or winger and scored 39 goals in 88 league appearances for Barcelona.
4 David Luiz, Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain – $82.3 million
There were a lot of football fans and journalists scratching their heads when this transfer became public. David Luiz has his moments as a defender but most people would have a hard time explaining the price-tag attached to this one. The matter seemed to reach comical proportions during this year’s World Cup after the Brazilian defender put in a rather poor display on the pitch. It spawned numerous internet and twitter jokes – most involving the PSG ownership searching through trash bins to find the receipt from the defender’s sale.
3 Angel Di Maria, Real Madrid to Manchester United – $98.2 million
Like a broken record, we come across another huge transfer that left people wondering what sort of decision making was going on at Real Madrid this summer. Angel Di Maria is a fast, creative midfielder who can also score goals. The Argentine spent four years at Madrid, making 124 league appearances and netting 22 times. When it became known there was no place for him in the Spanish capital, clubs came running. Ultimately, Manchester United won out by spending nearly $100 million to secure di Maria’s services.
2 James Rodriguez, Monaco to Real Madrid – $103.7 million
If any one player on this list got a massive boost from the World Cup heading into the summer transfer window, it was Columbian James Rodriguez. The attacking midfielder has spent the last four seasons with Porto and Monaco. Over this time the 23 year old scored 34 goals in 97 league appearances. With six goals and two assists in five matches at this summer’s World Cup, it was only a matter of time until a big club swooped in to sign him. Time will tell if this was a good bit of business by Real Madrid.
1 Luis Suarez, Liverpool to Barcelona – $117.7 million
You’re probably tired of all the Suarez-biting jokes, right? Well, sinking his teeth into top spot and biting a big chunk out of Barcelona’s transfer coffers, the former Liverpool striker dominated much of this summer’s transfer headlines. Suarez is a fascinating football character. Undeniably deadly on the pitch – in more ways than one – Suarez scored 69 goals in 110 league appearances for Liverpool. He has great movement, speed and a lethal shot. Will Barcelona be a case of biting off more than he can chew? If the Uruguayan can play anywhere near as well as he did on Merseyside, an already deadly Barcelona front line will get even stronger.