B/R Football Ranks: Grading Every Major Summer 2019 Deal Completed so Far

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 24, 2019

MADRID, SPAIN - JUNE 13: Eden Hazard of Real Madrid is seen in Real Madrid jersey prior to the press conference of Real Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on June 13, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by TF-Images/TF-Images via Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

The summer transfer window is in full swing. Deals are being closed left, right and centre—and for big money too—as Europe's top teams refresh their squads ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.

More than 20 moves worth £20 million or more each have already been rubber-stamped, with some of those being agreed in advance and others being hashed out as each team's needs and requirements become clear.

We've taken a look at the 10 biggest deals struck so far and graded each one, taking into account the player's ability, age and style; the team's need and situation; and, of course, the all-important price.

Note: Loan deals from last summer that have seen a permanent fee taken up (Raul Jimenez to Wolves, Giovani Lo Celso to Real Betis) are not included in this list. Nor are deals that were agreed in 2018 with a future date set (Rodrygo to Real Madrid). Nor are deals that saw players registered in January and then loaned back (Christian Pulisic to Chelsea).

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10. Marcos Llorente, Central Midfielder

Real Madrid to Atletico Madrid

£27 million

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 19: Marcos Llorente of Real Madrid during the La Liga Santander  match between Real Madrid v Real Betis Sevilla at the Santiago Bernabeu on May 19, 2019 in Madrid Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

A surprising number cross the Madrid divide (Alvaro Morata, Thibaut Courtois, Juanfran and even Raul Gonzalez!), but even still, when another one does so, it draws the microscope in that inch closer.

The latest to make the jump is Llorente. He's the first of what promises to be several good players ousted from the Bernabeu as they seek to balance the books in the wake of their latest Galactico spend, and he's probably going to be a big success.

Essentially recruited as Manchester City-bound Rodri's replacement, Llorente's high-energy, committed approach will suit Diego Simeone. His stamina and work rate are off-the-charts good, and he's handy on the ball, too.

You can often get a good measure of a player by polling what his own fans think of him, and the fact Real Madrid supporters—for the most part—aren't happy at all that Llorente has been sold tells its own story.

Grade: B+

9. Mats Hummels, Central Defender

Bayern Munich to Borussia Dortmund

£27.5 million

BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 25: Mats Hummels of FC Bayern Muenchen looks on after the DFB Cup final between RB Leipzig and Bayern Muenchen at Olympiastadion on May 25, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Hummels, 30, moving to a Borussia Dortmund side usually geared toward finding younger players with clear upside is a bit of departure from their usual MO—but in this instance, you can understand their thinking.

BVB lost out to Bayern Munich in the title race last season in part due to silly defensive errors. Lucien Favre has a talented young crop at his disposal, with Manuel Akanji (23), Abdou Diallo (23) and Dan-Axel Zagadou (20) all likely to go on to great things, but their inexperience showed across the stretch.

Hummels is a progressive, ball-playing defender just like the aforementioned trio, but he boasts something in addition that they don't: experience—and great swathes of it too.

He can contribute on the pitch short-term (he hasn't fallen off as hard as many people claim, though his recovery speed has diminished) and also put the finishing touches on the likes of Akanji's teachings.

Grade: B-

8. Kerem Demirbay, Central Midfielder

Hoffenheim to Bayer Leverkusen

£28.8 million

AUGSBURG, GERMANY - APRIL 07: Kerem Demirbay of TSG Hoffenheim gestures during the Bundesliga match between FC Augsburg and TSG Hoffenheim at WWK-Arena on April 07, 2019 in Augsburg, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

It's a wonder it's taken this long for Demirbay to leave Hoffenheim, but at least the long-awaited move feels like a good one.

A sort of hybrid No. 8/No. 10, he's exactly the sort of player that manager Peter Bosz can utilise to full effect in his brazen, attacking system. Demirbay's ability to go box-to-box and pick a scything pass at the end of his run will see him become crucial to Leverkusen from the word go.

His style of running and dribbling is very interesting—almost Mousa Dembele-like in its physical elegance—making him a joy to watch when he slaloms forward. 

Grade: A


7. Benjamin Pavard, Central Defender/Right-Back

Stuttgart to Bayern Munich

£31.5 million

France's defender Benjamin Pavard arrives at the French national football team training base in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines on May 29, 2019 as part of the team's preparation for the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying Group H matches against Turkey and Andorra. (Pho
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

Pavard had a tough season. The post-World Cup-winning swagger dissipated from his game quite quickly as his club, Stuttgart, fell toward the Bundesliga relegation mire, and over time, the Frenchman's performance levels dropped in accordance with the team's.

There were still moments of excellence in each of his games—usually long-range passes from the back, of which he is one of the best in the game at—but the player we saw at the World Cup, and the player Bayern Munich originally struck a deal for in January, needs coaxing back out of the shadows.

This shouldn't be much of an issue; Pavard's level will naturally rise in a better team alongside significantly better players. He'll probably split time between centre-back and right-back (just as he did at Stuttgart) and receive a solid amount of playing time.

Grade: B

6. Ferland Mendy, Left-Back

Lyon to Real Madrid

£43.2 million

MADRID, SPAIN - JUNE 19: Ferland Mendy of Real Madrid is seen in Real Madrid jersey prior to the press conference of Real Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on June 19, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

With Marcelo on the decline and the wrong side of 30, left-back has been a problematic area for Los Blancos for about a year. But this season, instead of choosing between Marcelo and Sergio Reguilon, they can unleash Mendy, who is better than both and will now have the chance to show it.

He's a balanced player, better in attack than defence but not overwhelmingly so, who explodes out of the blocks and outmuscles opponents easily. He combines that physical ability with clear tactical understanding and clever movements, and his right foot isn't too bad either.

In 2018-19 he played against Manchester City and Barcelona twice, largely impressing. You'd imagine those performances quelled any lingering doubts about his ability to step up and convinced Real Madrid to pay the fee.

Playing into the high grade awarded is that pickings are pretty slim when it comes to left-back; it's one of the hardest positions to nail down because left-footers don't exactly grow on trees. 

Grade: A-

5. Eder Militao, Central Defender

FC Porto to Real Madrid

£45 million

Porto's Brazilian defender Eder Militao celebrates a goal during the Portuguese League football match between CD Aves and FC Porto at the CD Aves stadium in Aves on January 3, 2019. (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIO

It was probably about time Real Madrid freshened up their central defensive options—and by that, we don't mean by playing Nacho.

Raphael Varane's poor post-World Cup year combined with Sergio Ramos' usual mixed bag of defending contributed heavily to the 2018-19 disaster, giving the club the perfect excuse to go out and sign one of the best young defenders in Europe: Eder Militao.

He'd been a Porto player just eight months when Los Blancos activated his release clause, with the Spanish giants understandably impressed with his range of passing, calmness in possession, recovery speed and aerial domination on show in Portugal.

These are all traits Varane boasts, so the methodology in recruitment is clear: Either Varane bucks up, or there's a new, 21-year-old version of him waiting in the wings.

Militao can deputise at right-back too if asked, having played the position both in Brazil and for Porto, though he's not at his most comfortable there—particularly against serious opponents. He's a centre-back, a very good one and a potentially elite one.

Grade: A

4. Luka Jovic, Striker

Eintracht Frankfurt to Real Madrid

£54 million

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - MAY 02: Luka Jovic of Eintracht Frankfurt celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Europa League Semi Final First Leg match between Eintracht Frankfurt and Chelsea at Commerzbank-Arena on May 02, 2019 in Frankfurt a
Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

As well as Karim Benzema held the fort up front for Real Madrid over the back end of last season, it was clear Madrid needed to sign a new No. 9 with both the present and the future in mind.

In Jovic, they picked the perfect guy.

Strikers are a confident breed by nature, but to shoulder the pressure of playing for a club like Real Madrid, you have to be ice-cold in front of goal and completely and utterly sure of yourself. There's playing football, and then there's playing in front of the expectant white wall at the Bernabeu.

Jovic's 2018-19 tape is jam-packed full of nonchalant finishes. The 21-year-old's an assassin in front of goal who shows no hesitation; there's no doubting his own ability. This is a smart move by Los Blancos, who have now finally moved some way toward replacing Cristiano Ronaldo.

Grade: A

3. Frenkie de Jong, Central Midfielder

Ajax to Barcelona

£67.5 million

Real Madrid's Croatian midfielder Luka Modric (L) challenges Ajax's Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Ajax at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on March

De Jong enjoyed the breakout season to end all breakout seasons in 2018-19, playing a major part in Ajax both getting to a Champions League semi-final and securing a domestic double.

Barcelona agreed this deal back in January and watched, likely grinning from ear to ear, as he waltzed around Luka Modric and Co. at the Bernabeu on the way to a famous victory over Real Madrid and then did the same to Cristiano Ronaldo's Juventus in Turin.

A tempo-setting, dictating midfielder, he dominates games from deep, combining progressive passing with incisive runs forward. Impossible to press or harass into a corner, he has a canny knack of finding his way out of corners, marking himself out as press-resistant despite being physically quite slight.

Already a fantastic player, he moves to the Camp Nou to put the finishing touches on his education with Sergio Busquets, one of the greatest holding midfielders ever. The perfect fit for player and club.

Grade: A

2. Lucas Hernandez, Centre-Back

Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich

£72 million

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 9: Lucas Hernandez of Atletico Madrid during the La Liga Santander  match between Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on February 9, 2019 in Madrid Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty I
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Bayern Munich agreed a whopping £72 million deal with Atletico Madrid to sign Lucas Hernandez in March.

The magnitude of this fee cannot be understated, and the fact Lucas now sits second in the all-time list of most expensive defenders (behind Virgil van Dijk at £75 million) generates great expectations.

Perhaps it was the sheer impact Van Dijk has had at Liverpool that convinced Die Roten this was a plunge worth taking; the transformative impact the Netherlands international has had at Liverpool is surely one every club wishes to emulate.

Lucas isn't the suave, sweeping presence Van Dijk is. In fact, he can appear quite the opposite at times, charging about in an emphatic and aggressive manner befitting a Diego Simeone product. Defensively he is rock-solid, and the fact he can play centre-back or left-back comfortably is a bonus.

At age 23, he both improves Bayern's back line and offers them a cornerstone to build on in the future. The cost is pretty eye-watering, but World Cup winners don't come cheap.

Grade: C+

1. Eden Hazard, Winger

Chelsea to Real Madrid

£90 million

MADRID, SPAIN - JUNE 13: Eden Hazard of Real Madrid is seen in Real Madrid jersey prior to the press conference of Real Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on June 13, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by TF-Images/TF-Images via Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

For the sake of all of our sanities, it was nice of Real Madrid to get this one done and dusted early. 

Some now consider Hazard to be the world's third-best player, with his sensational 2018-19 season (19 goals, 17 assists) coming in conjunction with yet another Neymar injury. Others won't quite go that far, but wherever he places in your list, everyone agrees that he is truly one of the best on the planet.

Madrid, and specifically Zinedine Zidane, see him as the perfect player to haul the club up off the ground and lead them into a new era of success, and not only does he have the ability to do so, he has the mental fortitude and attitude too.

£90 million is a lot for a 28-year-old with just one year left on his contract, but when you're dealing with players in this tier, it's probably wise not to view the transfer through that prism.

Instead, it's important to realise that the only reason Hazard was attainable at all is because he was entering his final year at Chelsea. The window was open, but you still have to pay a premium.

Grade: B+



All transfer fees and statistics via Transfermarkt.co.uk