B/R Football Ranks: Top 5 Winners and Losers of the Transfer Window

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterSeptember 2, 2019

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 1: Joao Felix of Atletico Madrid celebrate 1-2 during the La Liga Santander  match between Atletico Madrid v Eibar at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on September 1, 2019 in Madrid Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

For the second time this summer, the transfer window has now closed.

While Premier League clubs were forced to get their business done ahead of their opening fixture on August 9, the rest of Europe had up until 11 p.m. BST Monday to tally up the rest of their incomings and outgoings.

That deadline has passed; this is your lot until January offers that second chance.

Running the rule over every side's transfer business, it's fair to say some clubs look as though they've absolutely nailed their briefs. A season's outlook can transform for the better if your recruitment is good, and we've picked out five teams who certainly look better off now.

Sadly, a season's outlook can also transform for the worse if things don't go your way, or you make poor decisions—and there's been a smattering of that across Europe too.

We've picked out five transfer window "winners" and five "losers," depending on how we think they fared this summer. We've ranked each category, too, of course.

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WINNERS

5. Manchester City

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Rodri of Manchester City poses with the community shield during the FA Community Shield match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on August 4, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
Marc Atkins/Getty Images

We didn't see the usual flurry of activity from Man City this summer, but then again, you'd have been surprised if you did. After all, how much work does a squad that's totalled 100 and 98 points in back-to-back Premier League seasons really need?

What City did do was quietly fill any peep of a hole in their squad, buying back Angelino from PSV Eindhoven so that Benjamin Mendy faces no pressure in his recovery, securing Rodrigo as Fernandinho's long-term successor, and even trading in Danilo (plus cash) for Joao Cancelo—a deal City undoubtedly got the better of.

When you consider Kevin De Bruyne is now back to full fitness, it's a noticeably stronger squad than last season's, which achieved an unprecedented men's domestic treble.

We're not surprised anymore. The man who facilitates the Citizens' transfers, Txiki Begiristain, is very, very good at his job. 

   

4. Borussia Dortmund

BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 31: Mats Hummels of Borussia Dortmund controls the ball during the Bundesliga match between 1. FC Union Berlin and Borussia Dortmund at Stadion An der Alten Foersterei on August 31, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Get
TF-Images/Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund's task heading into this window was clearly defined, but that doesn't make it an easy one to pull off: Build a squad capable of taking advantage of this Bayern Munich wobble, that can take you to a Bundesliga title.

It's a claim that can only be proved right or wrong in eight months time, but it does look as though they've managed it—though it's a jarring time to say it, given they lost to newly promoted Union Berlin on Saturday.

They padded out the squad with some great players—Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard in particular are fantastic additions—and addressed the experience vacuum at the back, bringing Mats Hummels in for a second Dortmund spell to be their leading voice.

It's perhaps on this intangible level that BVB threw away a prospective title in 2018-19; they made a series of costly defensive errors late in the campaign which allowed Bayern to pip them to the post.

In that regard, Hummels should be their most important signing, and the one Sporting Director Michael Zorc will anticipate making the biggest difference.

  

3. Arsenal

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 17:  Dani Ceballos of Arsenal
during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Burnley FC at Emirates Stadium on August 17, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Arsenal spent the early parts of the summer briefing the media about their measly transfer budget. It was said to be in the £45-50 million mark—plus any player sales on top. That's an absolute pittance in the modern game, frankly—and fan expectations were set rather low.

What followed, therefore, was remarkable: William Saliba (loaned back to Saint-Etienne), Kieran Tierney, David Luiz, Dani Ceballos, Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pepe all joined for a combined £138 million (paid in instalments, of course), giving Unai Emery a squad that can genuinely challenge for a top-four position.

It's not a perfect haul, and we've haven't necessarily seen the best of it yet as Pepe has been introduced slowly and Tierney is injured, but considering the position they were perceived to be in going into the window, this is quite the effort.

A mix of clever dealings and potential hoodwinking of the media means they've far surpassed what we thought possible for them.

  

2. Atletico Madrid

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 01: Joao Felix of Atletico de Madrid  scores the first goal of the team during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and SD Eibar SAD at Wanda Metropolitano on September 01, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sp
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Atletico Madrid's management were likely dreading this summer. They knew Filipe Luis, Juanfran and Diego Godin—three club legends to different degrees, all stalwarts of one of the best-ever defensive lines in football—were going to depart. They also knew Rodri would join Manchester City and will have had an inkling Antoine Griezmann was off, too.

So to come out of a summer in which all of that talent is taken from you looking in pretty good shape? That's masterful work, truly masterful, and Atletico deserve great commendation.

The defensive line has been refreshed with Kieran Trippier, Renan Lodi, Felipe and Mario Hermoso all joining. Marcos Llorente crossed the Madrid divide to reinforce midfield, while Joao Felix joined in a €126 million deal that both replaces Griezmann and generates a buzz around this team.

Even if you think, at worst, that Atletico have merely stood still in this window, that makes them winners. To lose the five players they did, recalibrate and start the season the way they have (three wins from three) is incredible.

   

1. Inter Milan

MILAN, ITALY - AUGUST 26:  Stefano Sensi of FC Internazionale celebrates his goal during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and US Lecce at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on August 26, 2019 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)
Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

On the final day of May, Inter Milan appointed Antonio Conte as their new manager. They then spent June, July and August steadily acquiring the players he needs to be a success, the charge led by Sporting Director Beppe Marotta—the genius who helped build Juventus' dynasty from 2010 to 2018.

Diego Godin is the perfect player to place at the centre of the Nerazzurri's back three; Romelu Lukaku is the perfect player to lead the line; Valentino Lazaro and Cristiano Biraghi revamp the wing-back areas; Stefano Sensi and Nicolo Barella do the same in central midfield.

They've taken a punt on Alexis Sanchez, who joins on loan without an option to buy. If it works it's a masterstroke; if it doesn't, it doesn't matter.

Are Inter legitimate Serie A title contenders following this business? It's a subject we tackled on B/R Football Ranks in August.

    


    

LOSERS

5. Paris Saint-Germain

TOPSHOT - PSG's Brazilian forward Neymar (R) and Brazilian captain Thiago Silva (L) attend a training session in Ooredoo training center in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on August 29, 2019. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MARTIN BU
MARTIN BUREAU/Getty Images

There's a fair bit to like about PSG's incoming summer business. They've strengthened at goalkeeper (Keylor Navas), centre-back (Abdou Diallo), central midfield (Idrissa Gueye, Ander Herrera, Pablo Sarabia) and forward (Mauro Icardi).

At surface level, that's good.

They also kept Neymar—though depending on how you feel, that's either a big positive or a major negative.

But there's a bitter aftertaste to what they've done in terms of outgoings, and it's also fair to question whether, from a man-management perspective, they've made the task of taming their own squad even harder for 2019-20.

Icardi is a fantastic striker, a true No. 9, but the drama that surrounds him drove Inter Milan mad. He was stripped of the club captaincy earlier this year after going AWOL for 40 days, per Nicky Bandini of the Guardian, and it's little wonder Conte was clear on phasing him out.

So after struggling to manage Neymar for two years, PSG have essentially added a similarly difficult-to-manage player to their ranks, making Thomas Tuchel's job twice as hard.

Then there's the sales of Moussa Diaby, Christopher Nkunku, Stanley Nsoki, Tim Weah and Arthur Zagre—six academy products who, at one stage, looked as though they might represent the homegrown future of PSG but have now been cast away.

The summer's work has probably left Les Rouges et Bleus no closer to their ultimate goal (winning the Champions League) and no happier as a club either.

  

4. FC Porto

PORTO, PORTUGAL - SEPTEMBER 01: Mateus Uribe of FC Porto looks on during the Liga Nos match berween FC Porto and Vitoria SC at Estadio do Dragao on September 01, 2019 in Porto, Portugal. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Few clubs boast the consistent, profit-turning record in the transfer market that FC Porto do, so it feels strange to label them a loser in the window.

But not every club gets it right every summer. They lost Eder Militao and Oli Torres for good enough fees, but Felipe went cheap and both Hector Herrera and Yacine Brahimi both departed for free. Each one of those five players played at least 25 times for Porto in Liga NOS last term; it's no small loss.

Replacing them are Shoya Nakajima, Ze Luis, Mamadou Loum, Mateus Uribe, Renzo Saravia and Ivan Marcano. Of them, just one (Loum) is under the age of 23, and only Nakajima offers confidence in terms of sell-on potential.

So the Dragons enter September in a weakened state compared to last season, the players brought in not particularly young or attractive to Europe's biggest fish.

Fortunately, some of their talented young prospects—namely Romario Baro and Fabio Silva—are ready to step in and help.

   

3. Manchester United

Manchester United's Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England on August 31, 2019. (Photo by Glyn KIRK /
GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

Outside of wrinkling your nose at the price, there's little reason to be truly dissatisfied by Manchester United's three signings this summer.

Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka were the subjects of severe English tax, but they improve the side and are already having an impact. Dan James doesn't look expensive at all, on early evidence; three goals in four games actually puts him potential bargain territory.

The issues come when you consider their business as a whole—the incomings vs. the outgoings and the size of the squad it leaves them with.

Sans Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, they look really light up front. There's a huge onus now on Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to stay fit and consistent—the latter of which neither have ever managed—and pressure on Mason Greenwood to make the step up.

The centre of midfield has been a mess in the first three Premier League games and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer doesn't have many options to call on to change it. Nemanja Matic looks so leggy, Fred's basically been discarded and Ander Herrera has joined Paris Saint-Germain.

Not one player has been sold unnecessarily, and Solskjaer's desire to change the culture of the dressing room is fair. But the goal of every window is to leave yourself with a squad capable of achieving your aims. Have United done that? 

   

2. Espanyol

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 01: RCD Espanyol supporters are seen in their seats during the Liga match between RCD Espanyol and Granada CF at RCDE Stadium on September 01, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
Alex Caparros/Getty Images

For a club like Espanyol, the summer after qualifying for the Europa League is supposed to be a good one. Playing continental competition broadens your horizons and attracts a different calibre of player to the one you're used to; fans can get giddy over heady transfer suggestions and your squad can vastly improve.

Sadly, for the Periquitos, it's been quite the opposite: Star defender Mario Hermoso, central to their resilience last season, has gone to Atletico Madrid, while star striker Borja Iglesias, responsible for 17 (35 percent) of their La Liga goals in 2018-19, has gone to Real Betis.

Their early season form is suffering for those losses and for the Europa League pre-qualifying rounds; they've accrued just a point from three games in the league, this weekend losing 3-0 to newly promoted Granada at home.

They may have held on to midfield star Marc Roca, but that's only a small comfort at this stage. Espanyol are shaping up for a difficult season, playing more games with a weaker squad than last year. 

   

1. Chelsea

Chelsea's English head coach Frank Lampard (L) gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge in London on August 31, 2019. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO ED
IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

With a transfer ban in place, Chelsea were always going to suffer this summer. At least they made a real fist of the situation, appointing club legend Frank Lampard as manager and turning to their talented youth setup for fresh options.

But their five points from four Premier League games speaks volumes: They've fallen behind in squad strength terms as they sold Eden Hazard and couldn't replace him with another bonafide star.

Christian Pulisic was acquired in January so he doesn't count towards the summer work and Mateo Kovacic was acquired permanently having spent 2018-19 on loan at Stamford Bridge. They're both good players but would have to perform miracles to make Blues fans forget about Hazard.

With no ban in place, it's highly likely we'd have seen Chelsea bolster at centre-back, left-back, winger and striker. These are now the positions in which they look a little short—either for quality or quantity—and they weren't able to do anything about it.

   

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