Summer Transfers: Grading the 5 Most Expensive U-21 Signings
Not every club has a world-class academy in La Masia like Barcelona.
Most clubs don’t have a manager with the scouting expertise and negotiation skills of Arsène Wenger, who consistently signs unknown youngsters for peanuts.
So in order to combat these deficiencies, clubs with financial muscle splash out crazy money for young guns.
Here are grades for the five most expensive summers signings so far of players who are 21 years or younger.
5. Luuk De Jong, Centre Forward, Age: 21
From Twente to Borussia Mönchengladbach For €15 million [£11.8 million]
Porto would have held out for €25 million, whereas Twente rolled over when Borussia Mönchengladbach applied some pressure.
Bas Dost, who was the leading Eredivisie goal scorer, secured a notable move to Wolfsburg.
Now with Luuk de Jong also plying his trade in the Bundesliga, the question will be raised again: Dost or De Jong?
It has to be De Jong because he can create his own shot, he can conjure up moments of brilliance, he’s better mentally and he has the “it factor.”
Dost is a great finisher but he disappeared in a 5-1 loss to Twente, a 5-0 loss to Ajax and a 5-1 loss to PSV Eindhoven.
De Jong shredded PSV’s backline in a 6-2 win and he scored a dramatic equalising header in a 1-1 draw against Ajax.
Regarding Dost’s finishing, it wasn’t Klaas-Jan Huntelaar-efficient let alone Afonso Alves good.
4. Jack Rodwell, Centre Midfielder, Age: 21
From Everton to Manchester City For £15 million [€19.1 million]
From Manchester City’s perspective, the transfer fee is overpriced because the current version of Jack Rodwell is not even worth £10 million let alone £15 million.
The 21-year-old is going into semi-retirement because he'll warm the benches and play in the reserves. What a waste of talent.
By the way, David Moyes does it again for Everton, because it's another pragmatic and astute transfer decision.
3. Oscar, Attacking Midfielder, Age: 20
From Internacional to Chelsea For £25 million [€31.8 million]
Move into space, receive possession, make an accurate pass and repeat.
If this simple process is mastered, it allows a team to have a conductor who’ll dictate and control the tempo of the game. Oscar can be that player for Chelsea.
Juan Mata can do the same whilst also producing incisive passes.
Eden Hazard can score, create and drag opposing players out of position with his mesmerizing dribbling.
Now, you understand how potent Chelsea’s “3” in the 4-2-3-1 could be, and then you factor in Fernando Torres leading the line because he’s ready for redemption.
That being said, £25 million for Oscar is a steep price, especially when Jordy Clasie is more suited to Premier League football.
For a more detailed write up of the Blues signing Oscar, please read this.
2. Eden Hazard, Left Forward, Age: 21
From Lille to Chelsea For £32million [€40.7 million]
Eden Hazard has made it abundantly clear that he wants to play as a No. 10. It’s not like he’s Daniel Sturridge out wide because Hazard made it as a left forward.
Last season, there were only two players in Europe’s elite competitions that scored 20 goals and provided 15 assists in league-play: Hazard and Barcelona’s No. 10.
Signing Hazard signals how committed Roman Abramovich is to winning trophies.
1. Lucas Moura, Right Forward, Age: 20
From São Paulo to Paris Saint-Germain For €45 million [£35.4 million]
€45 million for a talented but unproven prodigy is beyond foolhardy.
If Lucas Moura doesn’t click with Carlo Ancelotti, the Italian manager will discard him just like Gianfranco Zola at Parma and Thierry Henry at Juventus.
It’s as if Paris Saint-Germain are symbolically spitting in Michel Platini’s face because PSG know they can bypass UEFA's financial fair play rules.
What other conclusion can you reach? PSG’s spending is out of control, so they’ve clearly found a loop-hole in the FFP, which will ensure they’ll avoid sanctions from UEFA.