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Offseason Report Cards for Europe's 20 Biggest Football Clubs

Mohamed Al-HendyCorrespondent IAugust 10, 2011

Offseason Report Cards for Europe's 20 Biggest Football Clubs

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    With the summer transfer season coming to a close, domestic leagues starting up soon (or having started up already), and Super Cups being played all over Europe, it's time to see how Europe's biggest clubs fared in the transfer market this summer.

    While it's always hard to classify who exactly falls under the title of "Europe's Biggest Football Clubs," for the purposes of this slideshow, we stuck to the UEFA Coefficient Rankings to determine Europe's biggest teams.

    As such, in this slideshow we take a look at England's top six teams, Spain's top two teams, Italy's top four teams, Germany's top three teams and France's top four teams, on the basis of league placement in the 2010-11 season.

    FC Porto is also included following their remarkable treble-winning 2010-11 season.

    Enjoy!

    Note: Loan signings and players sent out on loan aren't listed but will factor into the grades of each team's arriving and departing players.

Liverpool

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    Transfers In: CM Jordan Henderson, CM Charlie Adam, GK Doni, LW Stewart Downing

    Grade: B+

    Liverpool's new owners, Fenway Sports Group, promised that Liverpool would have funds to spend on the team this summer, and so far they have not disappointed. With over £47 million spent already, Liverpool have been highest spenders in the transfer market this summer.

    However, the money hasn't been spent in the most intelligent manner. Almost all world footballer followers will agree that there is no way Stewart Downing or Jordan Henderson are worth £20 million each, as good as they may be.

    Additionally, Liverpool seem to have strengthened an aspect of their team that was already very strong last season (the midfield) while neglecting the weakest part of their team (the defense).

    There is still time for them to reinforce it of course, but should they decide not to, they could find themselves susceptible to conceding a high number of goals this season, as they have this preseason.

    Transfers Out: LB Paul Konchesky, ST Milan Jovanovic

    Grade: C

    Liverpool have done well to offload both of the above players, who just didn't cut it at their time at Liverpool.

    However, there still remains alot of dead weight in the squad.

    Philipp Degen has returned to the club as the fourth choice right-back and surely must be sold as he will get almost no playing time next season. Nabil El Zhar and Alberto Aquilani, who have also returned from loans, don't look likely to make it into Dalglish's plans for the season and need to be sold as well (the latter is strongly being linked with a move to AC Milan).

    As for players currently in the squad, one player who will get almost no playing time and is completely out of the manager's plans is Christian Poulsen. He is, by my calculations, the ninth choice central midfielder at the club and has proven to be a rather useless player in his time at Liverpool.

    Dalglish must also decide whether it would be wise to send youngsters like Dani Pacheco, Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Spearing on loan, considering Liverpool have a plethora of options in midfield now.  

    Overall Grade: B

    Liverpool's activity in the transfer market means that they'll be a much more competitive team this season than they were last season, but it also means Kenny Dalglish will have many tough decisions to make and questions to answer at the start of the season.

    What will become of Joe Cole now with all these new signings? Will the veteran simply sit on the bench while he collects his £90,000-a-week wages, or will Dalglish give him a chance to redeem himself?

    Also, where will Luis Suarez play? Will Stewart Downing or Dirk Kuyt be benched in order to allow Suarez to play alongside Andy Carroll, or will Carroll be benched in favor of Luis Suarez?

    Finally, who will Dalglish start in midfield? Will either Lucas Leiva or Raul Meireles, who were especially solid last season, be benched in favor of the new recruits, Henderson and Adam?

    And what does Henderson and Adam's arrival mean for youngsters Jay Spearing, Dani Pacheco and Jonjo Shelvey? Will they be limited to cup games appearances, or will Dalglish help continue their development with spot substitute appearances?

    Dalglish has been provided with the tools, but it will take some real work from him to mold the squad, who currently look to be overflowing with talent, into a working, winning team.

Tottenham Hotspur

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    Transfers In: GK Brad Friedel, AM Cristian Ceballos, ST Souleymane Coulibaly

    Grade: D

    Tottenham ended the 2010-11 season in clear need of a new, fully developed striker. Fast forward more than two months however, and despite being linked with nearly every striker on the planet, Tottenham have failed to sign one.

    Preseason games have shown that a clinical, prolific striker is still Tottenham's greatest need.

    The signing of promising youngsters Ceballos and Coulibaly gives Tottenham good prospects for the future but does little for this season's squad, as it's unlikely either youngsters will get any chances this season.

    Brad Friedel is supposed to be the solution to Tottenham's GK problems with Heurelho Gomes, but at 40 years old, he has not looked amazing in preseason, and many Tottenham fans would prefer to see Carlo Cudicini as Tottenham's starting GK if Gomes is dropped.

    Transfers Out: CB Jonathan Woodgate, CM Paul-Jose M'Poku, CM Jamie O'Hara

    Grade: D

    Tottenham's squad, as explained in this article of mine, is one of the most unnecessarily overstocked squads in the Premier League.

    There are too many strikers for the one striker spot that Tottenham play with (two if you count Rafael Van der Vaart as a striker), way too many central midfielders for the two spots that Tottenham play with, and even in defense, the center-back spot is arguably a bit overloaded, though with Ledley King's constant injury problems this is understandable.

    Despite this fact, Tottenham have done practically nothing this summer to alleviate the overcrowding in their squad. Woodgate was released, but his release was always expected and still leaves five center-backs at the club.

    The selling of Jamie O'Hara was necessary, but it should've initiated the exodus of a whole host of other players. Players like Jermaine Jenas, David Bentley, Robbie Keane, Alan Hutton and Sebastian Bassong, among others, are all surplus to requirements and would've generated much-needed cash for Tottenham to spend on their transfer targets.

    Overall Grade: D

    Tottenham's summer transfer activity has been awful, and this is coming from a Tottenham fan. They've not brought in the players they need, and they've not sold the players they need to sell.

    There's still time to make everything right, but the squad that Tottenham currently have is in no way ready to challenge for the Champions League, let alone the title.

    Honestly, the signings of Souleymane Coulibaly and Cristian Ceballos are the only things that keep Tottenham from getting an F. 

Arsenal

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    Transfers In: RB Carl Jenkinson, RW Gervinho, RW Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

    Grade: B-

    As usual, Arsene Wenger has done very little in the transfer market. Gervinho has looked to be a great signing in preseason, and even Carl Jenkinson looks like a good backup RB, but there are still a lot of weaknesses in the team needing to be addressed.

    The recent signing of Oxlade-Chamberlain has brought about alot more displeasure than happiness among Arsenal fans.

    First and foremost of the positions in need of strengthening is the center-back position. Arsenal has thus far reportedly put in bids for Gary Cahill, Christopher Samba and Phil Jagielka but has been rejected by each of their respective teams.

    Additionally, the pursuit of Juan Mata looks like it will end of disappoint, but it appears Arsenal haven't given up just yet.

    Transfers Out: GK Jens Lehmann (Retired), LB Gael Clichy, AM Jay-Emmanuel Thomas

    Grade: B

    Gael Clichy has been Wenger's biggest loss this far summer, and there are major questions on whether Kieran Gibbs or Armand Traore are ready to step into his role or how effective Thomas Vermaelen would be as a left-back.

    Still, this summer has been, and will continue to be, all about Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas. If both or either remain with the team, the team should be able to compete for major honors, but if both are lost, Arsenal will likely struggle significantly this season. 

    Overall Grade: B

    With so many transfers still up in the air for Arsenal, both in terms of players coming in as well as players going out, it's hard to assign a final grade just yet.

    Were the summer transfer window to close today however, Arsenal would deserve a B for having held onto their key players but not spent enough money on a new CB and a flair signing like Juan Mata.

Manchester City

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    Transfers In: LB Gael Clichy, CB Stefan Savic, ST Sergio Aguero, ST John Guidetti, GK Costel Pantilimon

    Grade: B+

    After a successful 2010-11 season, Manchester City's signings in the 2011-12 summer transfer window indicate that they have their eyes firmly set on the title.

    Gael Clichy's signing, for a cool £7 million (honestly, that's highway robbery for a left-back of class), is an excellent signing. The left-back will provide Kolarov with competition for his spo and be available whenever Kolarov experienced a dip in form (which happened a couple of times last season).

    He may even end up overtaking Kolarov for his spot later in the season.

    Sergio Aguero's signing is also a great one for the team. With Carlos Tevez's status still up in the air, Manchester City have signed themselves a very capable replacement should he leave, and even if he stays, Aguero's versatility ensures that he'll be able to strike up a potent partnership with Tevez.

    While Savic's signing is a bit questionable, given that his track record isn't all that impressive, it's outweighed by the positive signings Man City have made this summer.

    And with Mancini reportedly wanting "two or three more players" before the new season (the guy is insane in my opinion), Man City could become even stronger before the new season begins.

    Transfers Out: Fwd Felipe Caicedo, CM Patrick Viera (Retired), CB Jerome Boateng, GK Shay Given, Fwd Jo

    Grade: C

    Going into the offseason, it was very important that Man City offload some of the deadweight in their squad to make room for new signings and lower the wage bill.

    While they did manage to do this somewhat, they did it in poor economic fashion.

    Shay Given, bought for £7 million, was sold for £3.5 million. Felipe Caicedo, sold for only £1 million to Levante (after being bought for £5.2 million), was then sold on by Levante to Lokomotiv Moscow for €7.5 million. Worst of all, Jo, bought for £18 million, joined Internacional of Brazil for a small, undisclosed fee.

    Going further however, so many deadweight players still remain with the squad.

    Nedum Onouha, Wayne Bridge, Craig Bellamy, Emmanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz top the list of players who will have practically no role to play in Manchester City's squad, but there's many more who should be loaned out or sold, rather than spend the season sitting on the Manchester City bench. 

    Overall Grade: B

    I fundamentally disagree with the Manchester City approach to football, where you buy the best players and figure the tactics out later, but it has worked thus far, and Roberto Mancini seems to be counting on it working again.

    Although I hate his defensive style, as well as the way in which he can show all the patience in the world for Mario Balotelli but no patience for Emmanuel Adebayor or Craig Bellamy, Mancini has proven himself to be a successful coach capable of managing a squad full of egos.

    Personally, I'll be hoping that Manchester City sink this season due to their overly congested squad and free spending ways, but I can see Mancini figuring things out and having a successful season.

    I think they'll finish in third again this season, but with Chelsea looking uncertain and Manchester United transitioning from the retirements of Paul Scholes and Edwin Van der Sar, anything is possible.

Chelsea

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    Transfers In: GK Thibaut Courtois, CM Oriol Romeu, CF Romelu Lukaku

    Grade: B-

    It's hard to say that the current Chelsea squad is really in need of any bolstering. Essein's injury created the need for another defensive midfielder to be brought in, but Romeu's peculiar contract (not as bad as Bojan's, but still includes a buyback option for Barca after one or two years) makes the signing a questionable one.

    The signing of Courtois and subsequently sending him on loan to Atletico makes little sense as a) the club already have their three first team keepers, plus two youth keepers in Matej Delac and Rhys Taylor b) Atletico are stocked in the GK position, it's almost impossible that Courtois will get games there.

    The signing of Romelu Lukaku is what really helps Chelsea to a good grade here, but it remains to be seen how well Andre Villas-Boas can integrate him into the first team.

    Even though he's only 18, he's definitely ready to play, but with Sturridge barely able to get chances, we'll see if Lukaku fares any better competing for starts with Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres and even Salomon Kalou. 

    Transfers Out: ST Fabio Borini, CB Michael Mancienne, DM Jack Cork, LM Yuri Zhirkov

    Grade: B+

    It seems that Chelsea have finally sorted out who from their academy is good enough to play and who just isn't up to standard, which I applaud them for doing.

    Unfortunately for Borini, Mancienne and Cork, they barely miss the cut, but it means that they can move on with their careers and that Chelsea can focus on the real talents from their academy, like McEachran, Kakuta and Bertrand.

    Cashing in on Yuri Zhirkov was also a nice move by Chelsea. It would've been nice to see Drogba sold to make room for Romelu Lukaku, but it appears the Belgian prodigy will have to learn the ropes from Torres and Drogba and take whatever chances he can get this year, which isn't bad considering his young age. 

    Overall Grade: B

    Though many Chelsea fans and English Premier League fans will be questioning Chelsea's chances of success following a rather quiet summer, I think their success will be entirely in the hands of Andre Villas-Boas.

    This is definitely a transition year for Chelsea, and depending on how well AVB manages it, Chelsea can finish anywhere from first to fourth. There are some important questions to be answered.

    Will AVB be able to get Torres to finally start bagging goals regularly and show the Liverpool form that convinced Chelsea to buy him? What will AVB do about Sturridge, who is ready for more playing time now but still has Nicolas Anelka in front of him in the pecking order?

    Finally, how well will AVB integrate young academy stars like Josh McEachran and Gael Kakuta into the first team?

Manchester United

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    Transfers In: CB Phil Jones, LW Ashley Young, GK David De Gea

    Grade: A-

    Love them or hate them, Manchester United know how to get their business done quickly and effectively.

    Though some people believe United overpaid on Phil Jones, the young English center back has shown that it was money well-spent thus far in his appearances, and the signing of Ashley Young for around £15 million was quite a transfer coup in of itself.

    David de Gea, arguably the world's most promising young goalkeeper, was an inspired signing by Sir Alex Ferguson as well.

    The only position which Manchester United could use some bolstering in is the center of midfield, but recent excellent performances from Tom Cleverley and Anderson have put the need for such a move in doubt.

    Transfers Out: GK Edwin Van der Sar (Retired), CM Paul Scholes (Retired), CM Owen Hargreaves, RB Wes Brown, RB John O'Shea, RW Bebe, RW Gabriel Obertan 

    Grade: A

    Although Sir Alex Ferguson probably would've liked to hold onto Van der Sar and Scholes for another season, he has done excellently in replacing them.

    Additionally, the sales of Hargreaves, Brown and O'Shea has given Man United's young players, like Fabio, Rafael, Smalling and Jones, all the opportunity to stake their claim for the right-back spot, and getting rid of Bebe and Obertan has also lessened congestion in the wing positions for Manchester United

    Overall Grade: A

    Following a summer of smart moves in the transfer market, Manchester United look set to compete for the league title and for European glory once again.

    The team, despite shuffling players into new positions and injecting youth into the squad, has had great chemistry all preseason long and showed that chemistry in the Community Shield as well.

    Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck have emerged as promising young players for United in their respective positions, while Phil Jones and Chris Smalling continue to impress wherever they are played.

    Though I'm not a Manchester United fan, Sir Alex Ferguson must be credited as a genius for making the transition from two of his best ever players (Scholes and Van der Sar) so smoothly and getting his team so excellently prepped for the long football season ahead.

Real Madrid

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    Transfers In: CM Nuri Sahin, RM Hamit Altintop, LW Jose Callejon, CB Raphael Varane, LB Fabio Coentrao

    Grade: B

    Real Madrid's transfer activity has been a mixed bag of intelligent and questionable signings.

    Signing Nuri Sahin for only €10 million gave Real Madrid an excellent start to their summer, but the signing of Hamit Altintop, who wasn't even involved in Real Madrid's preseason, is still a highly perplexing and confusing one.

    Similarly, the signings of Jose Callejon and Raphael Varane look like they will pay off for Real Madrid in the long run, but it is questionable as to whether signing Fabio Coentrao for  €30 million was very intelligent.

    The left-back has played in the role of a defensive midfielder for much of Real Madrid's preseason, raising the question as to why Real Madrid didn't just invest the money in an actual defensive midfielder, as well as if it was wise to splash so much money for a position well-covered by Marcelo in Real Madrid's starting XI.

    Transfers Out: GK Jerzy Dudek, CB Ezequiel Garay

    Grade: B

    Getting rid of Ezequiel Garay was good as the Argentine defender had clearly fallen out of favor under Jose Mourinho, but there are many other players who still need to be shown the door.

    With Nuri Sahin, Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira and Esteban Granero all still in Jose Mourinho's plans, Lassana Diarra's time at Real Madrid is clearly up. The fact that Fabio Coentrao is being used as a defensive midfielder clearly indicates this.

    Fernando Gago also needs his future cleared up. If Mourinho has no plans to use him even after his Copa America resurgence, then he should be allowed to leave.

    Lastly, Royston Drenthe seems to also have no place in Mourinho's plans, but his staying at Real Madrid seems to be more down to him than Real Madrid as he has already turned down a move to Benfica.

    Overall Grade: B

    Real Madrid likely aren't done in the transfer market, as Mourinho still hasn't gotten that third forward he wanted to sign and Diarra, Gago and Drenthe are still at the club.

    Still, should no further moves be made, Real Madrid still seem well-equipped and ready for the start of the new season.

Barcelona

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    Transfers In: Fwd Alexis Sanchez

    Grade: B

    For all the news reports linking Barcelona with all sorts of players this summer, the Blaugrana have made only one signing and stuck to their philosophy of only adding world class talents to a core produced by their academy.

    I've spent the summer being rather undecided on the Alexis Sanchez transfer. At first, I thought it was the most illogical deal ever, spending roughly €38 million for a forward/winger who won't even start. Since then however, I've tempered my opinion of the move.

    While I still don't like it, it does add much needed depth (following the departures of both Jeffren and Bojan) to the Barcelona lineup and ensure Pedro and David Villa stay on their toes. It does, unfortunately, drop Ibrahim Afellay further down the pecking order however.

    Time will tell if Barcelona are able to sign Fabregas and add him as another world class player in their ranks.

    Transfers Out: CB Martin Caceres, DM Victor Sanchez, Fwd Zlatan Ibrahimovic, DM Oriol Romeu, ST Bojan Krkic, RW Jeffren Suarez, CB Gabriel Milito

    Grade: A+

    You may be wondering why on earth I've given Barcelona the highest grade on this list in terms of transfers out when they've gotten rid of three very young talented players, as well as one of the most fearsome strikers in the world.

    The reason is simple. They've absolutely robbed the teams they've dealt their young stars to. Seriously, either Roma, Sporting CP and Chelsea are just stupid, or Barcelona have the best negotiators on this planet.

    There isn't enough space here to discuss the individual contracts of Krkic, Romeu, and Suarez, but essentially each player's contract has a buyback clause after one or two years, meaning that all three players get experience at some of the biggest clubs in the world, much more experience than they would've gotten at Barcelona and then come back to Barcelona fully developed and ready to contribute.

    I still cannot wrap my head around why big clubs like Chelsea and Roma, and even Sporting CP, would allow themselves to be so obviously swindled by Barcelona.

    Overall Grade: B+

    Barcelona's transfer activity seems to be done for the summer, minus the seemingly neverending saga of Cesc Fabregas.

    Personally, I believe they are well equipped to challenge in all competitions without him, and that he adds little to a squad already in possession of an established playmaker (Xavi) and an up-and-coming one (Thiago Alcantara), but we'll see what happens and how he fits into the squad if Barcelona do sign him.

Juventus

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    Transfers In: CM Andrea Pirlo, LB Reto Ziegler, DM Michele Pazienza, RB Marco Motta, RW Simone Pepe, ST Fabio Quagliarella, ST Alessandro Matri, AM Albin Ekdal, CM Sergio Almiron, RB Stephan Lichtsteiner, CM Arturo Vidal, ST Mirko Vucinic

     Grade: A

    After a disastrous 2010-11 season, Juventus decided to start from scratch with a brand new batch of stars. Through careful scouting and patient negotation, Juventus secured the signings of a variety of experienced Serie A stars, without having to break the bank.

    Out of all the arrivals, at least six are expected to be regular starters in the side, meaning new coach Antonio Conte will have his work cut out for him in terms of getting his team to gel.

    If he can do that however, Pirlo and co. have easily enough talent to take Juventus all the way back to the top of Serie A, and in future seasons, Europe.  

    Transfers Out: AM Sebastian Giovinco, RM Hasan Salihamidzic, CM Tiago, DM Mohamed Sissoko

    Grade: B+

    Juventus have done well this summer to get rid of their Mohamed Sissoko and Felipe Melo (on loan to Galatasaray), but still find themselves rather overloaded in the fullback positions as well as in the striking department.

    Additionally, Sebastian Giovinco proved himself to be a very capable player at Parma last season, and would've fit excellently into Antonio Conte's new look Juventus.

    Unfortunately for Juventus, due to their previous mismanagement of the player, Parma had the option to buy 50 percent of the player's rights and keep the player, and the Serie A team decided to do just that.

    Overall Grade: A-

    Juventus have had an excellent summer, and even though their squad is still a bit bloated, they look ready to compete for the title once more after two disastrous seasons.

    As stated above, Juventus' success will come down to how well Antonio Conte can get his players to gel together and play in his system. Additionally, he will also have to restore players like Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon and Alessandro Del Piero to their best after poor 2010-11 seasons for all three Italian legends.

    If he can do that, the sky's the limit for this new-look Juventus team. 

Napoli

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    Transfers In: CM Gokhan Inler, CB Miguel Britos, GK Antonio Rosati, DM Marco Donadel, CB Federico Fernandez, CM Blerim Dzemaili, RW Mario Santana, GK Roberto Colombo, CF Edinson Cavani, CF Nicolao Dumitru (loaned back to Empoli, CF Cristiano Lucarelli, RW Daniele Mannini

    Grade: A

    In preparation for their first season in the Champion's league, Napoli have restructured practically the entire squad. They've added much needed depth in order for the team to be able to compete in three competitions.

    They've added developing talents in the form of Miguel Britos, Federico Fernandez and Blerim Dzemaili, and they've added experienced quality in the form of Gokhan Inler, Marco Donadel and Mario Santana.

    Edinson Cavani, the club's goal machine, has also been signed on a permanent basis after spending last season on loan from Palermo

    Transfers Out: DM Michele Pazienza, CB Cribari, DM Nicolas Amodio, RW Daniele Mannini, AM Jose Sosa, DM Manuele Blasi, ST Fabio Quagliarella

    Grade: A-

    Ideally, it would've been great to see Napoli bring back Quagliarella and have him as their third choice striker to rotate with Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi, but Juventus wanted him and that was that.

    Pazienza was also a player that Napoli could've benefited further from, but he decided to move to Juventus when his contract ended, and Napoli signed adequate replacements for him to ensure his absence did not weaken the team.

    Overall Grade: A

    Aurelio De Laurentiis' team looks set to continue their ascension in Italian football following a summer of intelligent reinvestment. The team's biggest assets, Cavani, Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik, have all been retained, smart signings have been made and unneeded players have been sold to free up space for the new signings.

    Walter Mazzarri could not have asked for more from the board and owner and will be hopeful that his team can put forth a strong challenge for the Serie A title, or at least the Champions' League places, as well as go deep in the Champions' League. 

Inter Milan

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    Transfers In: ST Luc Castaignos, GK Emiliano Viviano, LB Yuto Nagatomo, LW Ricardo Alvarez, RB Jonathan

    Grade: B

    When I reviewed Inter Milan's summer acquisitions here, I thought that Inter Milan had had a very poor summer transfer campaign. Looking at the summers of teams like Tottenham and Arsenal however, who've hardly made any signings, Inter Milan's summer transfer campaign hasn't been too bad.

    Signing Emiliano Viviano looked like a great signing before the Italian international endured a serious knee injury in training, and Luc Castaignos has looked to be a very promising striker for Inter Milan with his preseason showings thus far.

    Yuto Nagatomo has of course already established himself as Inter's starting left-back, while Jonathan will be competing with/replacing Maicon, who's status at the club looks very uncertain.

    Ricardo Alvarez, meanwhile, is the X-factor, upon who's shoulders lies, to a significant degree, the fate of Inter's season. The Argentine has been Inter Milan's biggest signing of the summer, for a fee of about €12 million, and with Sneijder, Eto'o and Maicon all unsure about whether or not they will remain at the club, Alvarez could find him shouldering a lot more responsability than he expected early in the new Serie A season. 

    Transfers Out: CB Marco Materazzi, ST David Suazo, ST Victor Obinna

    Grade: B

    As was the case under Mourinho, Inter Milan seem to still be overflowing with center-backs, with six players at the club capable of playing in the center-back positions. However, given that Gian Piero Gasperini's new formation plays three center-backs, it may make sense to have that many center-backs in the squad.

    Otherwise, there isn't much to be said here. The players sold weren't getting any playing time and had lost their usefulness to Inter a few seasons back.

    Overall Grade: B

    Although things do not look too bad as of yet for Inter, Inter fans will be anxious about what is to come between now and the end of the transfer window.

    With Sneijder up for sale and Mancini keen on acquiring Eto'o in exchange for Tevez, Inter Milan could see their best two players leave before the end of the transfer window.

    If that happens, I fully expect Gasperini and Inter to stumble through a miserable 2011-12 campaign.

Milan

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    Transfers In: CB Philippe Mexes, LB Taye Taiwo, GK Marco Amelia, ST Gianmarco Zigoni, ST Alberto Paloschi, AM Stephan El Shaarawy

    Grade: A

    Milan get an A here for the excellent business conducted in the signing of both Taye Taiwo and Philippe Mexes on free transfers. Stephan El Shaarawy looks a bit pricey having been bought at a fee of €10 million, but at 18 years old and filled with promise, the money could end up being money well spent on the player.

    Marco Amelia's permanent signing is also a good signing, as the backup goalkeeper proved to be a reliable custodian between the sticks whenever Christian Abbiati was not starting for AC Milan. 

    Transfers Out: CM Andrea Pirlo, CB Sokratis Papastathopoulos, CM Alexander Merkel,  LB Marek Jankolovski, CB Nicola Legrottaglie, CB Oguchi Onyewu, CF Marco Borriello

    Grade: A-

    It always hurts to give away your ex-talisman to one of your biggest league rivals, but aside from the Pirlo transfer, AC Milan have done well this summer in offloading their fringe players.

    Papastathopoulos has been sent along with Merkel to pick up experience at Genoa, and Marco Borriello, who has never really excelled for Milan, has been sold for a solid €10 million.  

    Overall Grade: A-

    Milan now have one of the strongest defenses in not only Serie A, but the world, thanks to their two excellent free transfer acquisitions. They've offloaded a host of fringe players to make room for newer, more talented players and look ready to defend their Serie A title.

    The club are still in the market for a midfield playmaker, since Kevin-Prince Boateng, as good as he is, just isn't a playmaker.

    The acquisition of said playmaker and how will he slots into the team will determine how successful the team can be this season.

Paris Saint-Germain

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    Transfers In: GK Nicolas Douchez, CF Kevin Gamiero, CB Milan Bisevic, RW Jeremy Menez, DM Blaise Matuidi, DM Mohamed Sissoko, GK Salvatore Sirigu, AM Javier Pastore

    Grade: A

    Paris Saint-Germain's new Qatari owners claimed that their goal was to get the club in the Champions League by the end of the 2012-13 season, but judging by their heavy investment in the team, it'd be crazy to expect anything less than Champions League football next season for PSG's new squad.

    Having spent a total of roughly €92 million this summer, PSG have been the highest spending club of the summer transfer window, and have added some serious firepower to a team already filled with very promising players and prospects.

    Transfers Out: DM Claude Makelele (Retired), GK Gregory Coupet (Retired), GK Apoula Edel, CB Sammy Traore, RW Ludovic Giuly, RM Younousse Sankharé, LM Tripy Makonda, DM Jeremy Clement

    Grade: A

    Out with the old, in with the new. PSG's old guard of Makelele, Coupet, Traore and Giuly all depart to make room for PSG's new imports. Jeremy Clement also leaves to make room for PSG's new defensive midfielders, Matuidi and Sissoko.  

    Overall Grade: A

    Paris Saint-Germain are definitely going to be an exciting team to watch going forward, and it'll be interesting to see just how far they can go with the Qatar Investment Authority bankrolling all their expenditures.

    Leonardo and Co. have done an excellent job building a young team filled with talent, and the ceiling of potential for this team currently looks incredibly high.

Lyon

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    Transfers In: None

    Grade: F

    The Ligue 1 giants have not made a single purchase in transfer market all summer long, and will be relying on their returning players from loan and youth products to inject new life into their squad.

    Injecting youth into a squad is always a good idea but by itself rarely ever brings success, especially not to a team desperately in need of new stars.

    Transfers Out: DM Jeremy Toulalan, RW Cesar Delgado

     Grade: D

    There's nothing really wrong with getting rid of Cesar Delgado as the club has many better wingers and forwards. Selling Jeremy Toulalan however, who many considered to be the club's best player over the last couple of seasons, for nothing more than €10 million despite him being in the best years of his career at the age of 27, is just plain ridiculous for a club like Olympique Lyonnais.

    The move will give Maxime Gonalons more opportunities to play next season but will undoubtedly weaken the team's quality in midfield.

    Overall Grade: F

    Lyon have been in decline since the departure of Brazilian legend Juninho at the end of the 2007-08 season, and having lost one of their best players and made no purchases, look likely to go even further into decline in the coming season.

    With PSG gearing up to take Ligue 1 by storm and burst into the top three of the league, Lyon look set to drop out of the Champions League spots for the first time since the 1997-98 season. 

Marseille

16 of 22

    Transfers In: GK Gennaro Bracigliano, DM Alou Diarra, DM Nicolas Nkoulou, LB Jeremy Morel, RM Morgan Amalfitano

    Grade: B+

    Unlike Olympique Lyonnais, Olympique Marseille have been active in the transfer market after being beaten to the title by Lille last season.

    Following the departures of Gabriel Heinze and Taye Taiwo on free transfers, Jeremy Morel has been signed to be the club's new starting LB, and the signing of Alou Diarra will provide Marseille's midfield with a huge boost in quality as well as a great leader.

    Nkoulou is a great prospect who will be developed slowly at Marseille, and Amalfitano gives Marseille more options down the right flank.

    Transfers Out: LB Taye Taiwo, GK Jules Goda, AM Mohamed Dennoun, LB Gabriel Heinze, CM Fabrice Ariel, LB Charley Fomen, CB Vitorino Hilton 

    Grade: C+

    Allowing both your first and second choice left backs to leave the club on free transfers is never good business. A quality left-back like Taye Taiwo should've fetched the club at least €10 million, but poor management by the club allowed the player to run down his contract and leave on a free.

    Better management could've also seen Heinze bring in a fee of €2 million to €5 million for his move to Roma.

    Overall Grade: B

    Despite the loss of their two best left backs, the club have signed a decent replacement and significantly improved the quality of their midfield. I fully expect them to challenge for the title and be competitive in the Champions League.

Lille

17 of 22

    Transfers In: DM Benoit Pedretti, GK Vincent Enyeama, ST Ronny Rodelin, CB Marko Basa, RW Dmitri Payet, CB David Rozehnal, RB Laurent Bonnart 

    Grade: A-

    In a summer in which Lille were expected to be torn apart by the bigger clubs of Europe following their successful 2010-11 title winning season, Lille have faired considerably well.

    Pedretti has been signed to replace the outgoing Cabaye, and French international Dmitri Payet has been signed to replace Gervinho. Although both don't currently seem to be as good as their predecessors, they are certainly both very good players who should perform impressively when called upon.

    The signing of Enyeama as a backup and future successor to the aging Landreau, as well as the signings of Rozehnal and Basa to compete for the empty starting spot left by Adil Rami, all seem like smart transfers by the club as well.  

    Transfers Out: CF Pierre-Alain Frau, DM Yohan Cabaye, RW Gervinho, CB Adil Rami, LB Emerson, DM Stephane Dumont  

    Grade: B-

    Once again, given the circumstances, Lille didn't fare too badly in the transfer market. Eden Hazard and Moussa Sow, the club's best player and highest scorer, respectively, both survived the summer onslaught and will be with the club for the new Ligue 1 season.

    Rami was already leaving at the end of the season due to an agreement with Valencia, and the club did all they could to hold onto Yohan Cabaye before the player decided he wanted to move to Newcastle United (a move he will surely regret, considering Newcastle's condition).

    Gervinho brought the club a decent amount of money, which was reinvested to sign replacement players for the club.

    Overall Grade: B+

    While there is no doubt that the Lille of 2011-12 will not be as strong as the Lille of 2010-11, the club still look strong enough to challenge for the title.

    Time will tell what kind of toll the Champions League takes on the club though, and if the club's squad is deep enough to handle a run in the Champions League while simultaneously being competitive in Ligue 1.

    My instincts tell me that one or the other will have give.

Bayern Munich

18 of 22

    Transfers In: ST Nils Petersen, GK Manuel Neuer, RB Rafinha, CB Jerome Boateng

    Grade: A-

    For at least two seasons now, it's been evident that Bayern Munich's weakness lies in their weak defense. Last season, things got so bad that Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, a defensive midfielder, had to play as a makeshift right back, but even that couldn't stop the team from regularly leaking in goals.

    With the signings of Rafinha and Boateng, it seems that Bayern Munich have finally realized the weakness of their defense and decided to do something about it.

    Rafinha's signing provides Bayern Munich with two capable fullbacks, and allows Diego Contento to develop without having too much pressure on him to perform.

    At center-back, Boateng and Holger Badstuber have all the ingredients to form the next great center-back partnership for Bayern and Germany, are backed up by the capable talents of Van Buyten and Breno.

    Lastly, Neuer gives Bayern a No. 1 in goal for the forseeable future, and Nils Petersen is a great striking talent who should prove to be a great signing if (and it's a big if) he can be break into the rotation. 

    Transfers Out: GK Thomas Kraft, DM Andreas Ottl, RM Hamit Altintop, CF Miroslav Klose, AM Mehmet Ekici

    Grade: A-

    No bad moves here. Kraft isn't needed with Neuer now at the club, since the club already have a capable deputy in Hans-Jorg Butt. Ottl and Altintop were just utlity players at the club, and Klose, who has been poor for Bayern over the last couple of seasons, has been replaced by the young Petersen.

    Ekici looked like he might be a promising talent, but once again with the congestion in the lineup it was smart of Bayern Munich to cash in on him while his value was still high.

    Overall Grade: A-

    A solid summer overall for Bayern Munich that fixed some major personnel issues with the squad. No spectacular buys or sales were made, but with the right coaching, Bayern Munich should easily ascend back to the top of the Bundesliga and go far in the Champions League.

Bayer Leverkusen

19 of 22

    Transfers In: RW Karim Bellarabi, CB Omer Toprak, RW Andre Schurrle, GK David Yelldell

    Grade: B+

    Bayer Leverkusen have done well to sign one of the brightest talents of Germany's new generation of players in Andre Schurrle. The young German prodigy can play as a winger or a forward and will face competition in both positions from a variety of high-caliber players but should break through with time and provide Bayer Leverkusen with a new dimension of creativity and flair. 

    Transfers Out: LB Constant Djakpa, CM Kevin Kampl, CF Richard Sukuta-Pasu, CB Domagoj Vida, RW Burak Kaplan, CM Zvonko Pamic, RW Marcel Risse, Gk Benedikt Fernandez, CB Sami Hyypia (Retired), CM Arturo Vidal

    Grade: B-

    Only the last two transfers will have any noticable impact on Bayer Leverkusen squad, but it will interesting to see how Bayer Leverkusen cope with the loss of Vidal and Hyypia.

    Should Ballack find his old form again, he should be able to slot into Vidal's position in midfield, but that in of itself is highly questionable.

    As for Sami Hyypia, it will be up to Stefan Reinhartz, Manuel Friedrich and Daniel Schwaab to fill his shoes, though this task should be alot easier than making up for the absence of Vidal.

    Overall Grade: B

    Many would argue that Arturo Vidal was easily Bayer Leverkusen's best player last season and that without him, Bayer Leverkusen will struggle.

    While I do agree that Vidal's presence was immense for Leverkusen last season, I believe that with Schurrle's creativity and a revitalized Ballack (or alternatively, an on-form Renato Augusto), Bayer Leverkusen can carry on without the Chilean midfielder.

    How well these two players progress will go far in determining how successful Bayer Leverkusen are this season.

Borussia Dortmund

20 of 22

    Transfers In: AM Ivan Perisic, CM Ilkay Gundogan, LB Chris Lowe

    Grade: C+

    Given the usual influx of money that comes along with winning the Bundesliga and qualifying for the Champions League, Borussia Dortmund's summer transfer activity has been rather disappointing.

    They started out by selling their best player, Nuri Sahin, for a measly €10 million and didn't even spend that much money in the transfer market.

    Ilkay Gundogan has been brought in as a replacement for Nuri Sahin, so at least the team won't suffer too much from Sahin's absence, while Perisic is a promising Croatian attacking midfielder who will likely play as backup to Kagawa or Gotze whenever either play is unavailable to start.

    Lowe will play as Schmelzer's backup following Dede's departure 

    Transfers Out: CM Nuri Sahin, CM Markus Feulner, LB Dede

    Grade: C+

    Nuri Sahin was in the last year of his contract, so his sale had to be made, but Borussia Dortmund should've definitely tied him down to a long term contract years ago after having worked so hard to help him mature and develop.

    Worst-case scenario, Dortmund should've pushed for a €15 million-plus transfer fee from free-spending Real Madrid.

    Additionally, even though Dede would've no longer been first choice at Borussia Dortmund, the club should've pushed to retain the defender who would've still got plenty of opportunities to play with the added load of Champions League games added to the team's schedule.

    He could've provided experience and leadership to an incredibly young team lacking in both departments.

    Overall Grade: C+

    I personally was amazed to see Borussia Dortmund make a run at the title with such a young, inexperienced squad, but to me that was down to the brilliance of Nuri Sahin and the impenetrable defense of Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic, among other contributing factors.

    If Ilkay Gundogan can replicate the magic of Nuri Sahin, Borussia Dortmund may get another shot at the title, but if not, I can easily see the team struggling, even with the return of Shinji Kagawa and the continued emergence of Mario Gotze. 

FC Porto

21 of 22

    Transfers In: RW Djalma Campos, AM Juan Iturbe, AM Kelvin, GK Rafael Bracalli, ST Kléber, LB Alex Sandro, RB Danilo

    Grade: A-

    It's been an excellent summer transfer campaign for reigning Portuguese and Europa League champions FC Porto. They've signed two massive prospects in Kelvin and Iturbe and signed a pair of massively talented fullbacks in Alex Sandro and Danilo.

    Kleber and Djalma Campos, both of whom played at Maritomo last season, will be backup forwards to the front three of Radamel Falcao, Hulk and Silvestre Varela, while Rafael Bracalli will compete with Paweł Kieszek to be the club's second choice goalkeeper.

    Transfers Out: AM Mariano Gonzalez, RW Jorge Chula, AM Josue 

    Grade: A-

    This summer was always going to be more about the departures rather than the arrivals at the club. So far, the only major departure from the club has been the coach, Andre Villas-Boas, and FC Porto will be hoping that stays the case till the close of the transfer window.

    Overall Grade: A-

    Last season, FC Porto was heralded by many as the best team in the world after FC Barcelona, and some even went so far as to say that the FC Porto team of 2010-11 was the best team in the world last season.

    It was a fearsome, cohensive attacking unit that mercilessly beat nearly every opponent in its path.

    Although Andre Villas-Boas has since moved onto richer pastures, FC Porto have remarkably held onto all their star players, and managed to improve the squad even further with the signing of some impressive prospects.

    Should the club manage to hold onto its key players until the end of the transfer season, FC Porto should be able to recapture the league title and go far in the Champions League, but should key players, like Falcao, decide to move, then an exodus could easily take place and weaken FC Porto significantly ahead of their busy, fixture-congested season. 

The End

22 of 22

    At long last, the 20 biggest clubs of Europe, according to the UEFA Coefficient Rankings, have had their summer transfer activity graded.

    What do you think? Do you agree with most or all of the ratings or disagree? Which one do you think are particularly accurate or maybe particularly incorrect?

    In three weeks time, when the transfer window comes to a close, this list will be reposted with all of the completed and finalized transfers of each of the clubs' on this list.

    Until then however, make your thoughts known here about how you feel about your clubs' transfers and who you think should or should not be signed.

    I look forward to reading your comments!

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