Those of you who enjoy both variations of football are probably still recovering from the annual circus that is the NFL draft. It's a hectic three days of picks and trades, but that's just the tip of the iceberg: "Draft season" lasts months, the gap between the Super Bowl and the big night being far too long for comfort, and as a result some truly creative pieces of content emerge to fill the space.
In particular, one that always intrigues is the "re-draft"—a look back at draft choices in a certain year, mixing hindsight and knowledge of how they've developed in the NFL with some situational context, and re-picking the players.
And with 2020 draft season finally at an end, we've used it as inspiration to look back at the 2019 summer transfer window and offer out some re-dos for top teams in our own version of re-drafts.
We've assessed the business that some of the world's best sides did last summer, measured how successful those signings have proved and asked whether they were the right choice. We've also filled in some of the gaps clubs left back in August.
Context of the time, and what we knew and who was available, is crucial. It's for that reason you won't find, say, the suggestion that teams should have bought Erling Haaland. He hadn't broken out yet, many were unaware of his talents and without the six Champions League goals for Red Bull Salzburg to his name—the proof of his talent, if you will—no club would have paid his release clause at the time.
But you may find a suggestion that €80 million for Nicolas Pepe could have been split into separate sums for more players, or that with the benefit of hindsight, €80 million on Lucas Hernandez is a risk you wouldn't take again.
Notable ins: Nicolas Pepe (€80m), William Saliba (€30m), Kieran Tierney (€27m), David Luiz (€9m), Gabriel Martinelli (€7m)
Notable outs: Alex Iwobi (€30m), Laurent Koscielny (€5m)
Arsenal's league position (9th) and paltry win tally (9, the joint-13th-best) suggest something went badly wrong in the summer transfer window, but that's not really the case. Their issues lay in poor management and injury luck, and since Mikel Arteta was appointed the ship has been steadily righted.
Three of their five major summer signings were excellent: Saliba, Tierney and Martinelli all have huge potential and are excellent buys. The club haven't felt the full benefits of them just yet—Saliba's out on loan, Tierney's been injured and Martinelli's rightly been eased in—but they will in the future.
The other two, though, are questionable.
They knew what they were getting with David Luiz—he hasn't changed one bit; he remains partly brilliant, partly dangerous—and they needed a centre-back on deadline day so took the plunge.
But would they have had to scratch around for that final player if they hadn't committed quite so much to the signing of Pepe? The Ivorian cost €80 million, has had trouble integrating and has frustrated too often despite his obvious talent.
There's still time for him to turn that around, but the price raised eyebrows at the time, and when you consider some of the other moves they could have made, it looks less and less astute. In particular, Hakim Ziyech's name sticks out: He somehow navigated the summer without a move—something Chelsea have acted on in 2020. The winger was available for approximately €40 million and has even listed Arsenal as one of his dream clubs, per De Telegraaf (h/t The Sun).
That leaves extra cash—another €30 million or so—to commit to a centre-back other than Luiz. You'd only need half that to land the perfect guy: Diego Carlos, who Sevilla signed from Nantes in the same window, for just €15 million. He's been sensational and is already being talked about as a major sale a year on, per B/R's Marcus Alves.
Arsenal's 2019 summer re-do: Sign Ziyech instead of Pepe, sign Carlos instead of Luiz
Notable ins: Joao Felix (€126m), Alvaro Morata (€56m), Marcos Llorente (€30m), Mario Hermoso (€25m), Kieran Trippier (€22m), Felipe (€20m), Renan Lodi (€20m), Hector Herrera (free)
Notable outs: Antoine Griezmann (€120m), Lucas Hernandez (€80m), Rodri (€70m), Gelson Martins (€30m) Diego Godin (free), Filipe Luis (free), Juanfran (free)
It's no wonder Atletico Madrid have faltered a little in La Liga compared to recent years. Just look at the squad overhaul they went through last summer, losing two key players and three club icons in the space of a month.
The club did a good job of signing new faces and promoting existing ones to fill those gaps, with the majority of the new boys making a positive impact, and the likes of Stefan Savic and Thomas Partey stepping up. Felix cost a lot, but there's Ballon d'Or potential and the chance of a decade of service from him. Morata probably cost too much, but he's been efficient enough with 12 goals in all competitions before the break.
A re-do for Atletico wouldn't wipe out any of their signings; they're all talented and contributing. It also wouldn't wipe any of their sales, as both Rodri and Griezmann left via release clause, Martins wasn't wanted and Lucas' injury history meant Los Colchoneros bagged a great price for him.
What a re-do would trigger, though, is one more signing: a striker. You can understand why Diego Simeone rolled with the current crop, as Diego Costa looked ferocious in pre-season, and Morata was freshly signed, but goals have been hard to come by—they've netted just 31 in La Liga, an average of 1.1 per game—so their need heading into the next window is clear.
The man picked would have to be willing to muck in, work hard for the team and be able to take advantage of Trippier and Lodi's crossing abilities. You have to take into account the fact Atletico had zero non-EU slots remaining, too.
That rules out ideal candidates such as Carlos Vinicius, who moved to Benfica last summer, and Duvan Zapata, who is a late bloomer at Atalanta—unless you sold right-back Santiago Arias to free up a slot, of course.
Interestingly, a former player of theirs, Mario Mandzukic, spent the summer waiting to be sold by Juventus, wasn't, and then kicked his heels for four months before leaving for the middle east in December. A waste of everyone's time, that, so a summer return to Atleti would have worked for all.
Atletico's 2019 summer re-do: Sign Mandzukic
Notable ins: Antoine Griezmann (€120m), Frenkie de Jong (€75m), Junior Firpo (€18m)
Notable outs: Malcom (€40m), Andre Gomes (€25m), Philippe Coutinho (loan)
Barcelona made three major signings last summer and only one can be labelled a success so far. Frenkie de Jong's been a touch inconsistent but has flashed exactly the sort of talent you pay €75 million for. He'll be a key cog in Barca's midfield for a decade.
The same healthy projections can't be made of the other two.
Antoine Griezmann's goal/assist tally (eight goals, four assists in 26 league games) is respectable, but he's proved difficult to integrate into Barca's style and has been tried in all sorts of positions to get him going. That's not what you want to be saying about a man who cost €120 million.
Junior Firpo's scope to impress is much more limited than De Jong's or Griezmann's—he's a back-up left-back after all—so it seems harsh to draw a definitive conclusion on him. Getting a player good enough to step in for Jordi Alba but patient enough to play a bit-part role is no easy task.
All of Barca's sales made sense, in particular Malcom's given the emergence of Ansu Fati, they just needed to nail the De Jong and Griezmann acquisitions to take the step intended. Sadly, the hit rate there stands at 50 per cent.
It makes you wonder why they settled for Griezmann so quickly, rather than continue their pursuit of Neymar; they've practically wanted him back from the moment he left and still yearn for him now.
If he was out of their price range, cheaper alternatives (to both he and Griezmann) may have been available, such as Memphis Depay or Federico Chiesa. Both are much younger and fit the wing role better.
Barca's summer re-do: Sign Neymar, or failing that Depay or Chiesa, instead of Griezmann
Notable ins: Lucas Hernandez (€80m), Benjamin Pavard (€35m), Mickael Cuisance (€12m), Philippe Coutinho (loan), Ivan Perisic (loan)
Notable outs: Mats Hummels (€30m), Renato Sanches (€20m), Arjen Robben (retired), Franck Ribery (free), Rafinha (free)
Of the five first-team signings Bayern made last summer, just one, Pavard, has become a key player. He's nailed down the right-back berth, and his accurate crossing is a major factor in Robert Lewandowski's impressive goal tally (39 goals in 33 games).
The other 10-12 players typically picked for big occasions—Chelsea, RB Leipzig, Boussia Dortmund and such—are all from previous windows. That means that so far, big investments in Lucas (world's most expensive defender at the time) and Coutinho (hefty loan fee and wages) haven't paid off. Cuisance can develop quietly, and Perisic is a depth option, but the other two are a concern.
There's no doubt Perisic and Coutinho were taken after their main target, Leroy Sane, tore his ACL. With Kingsley Coman so injury prone they were wisely covering their bases, but both Perisic and Coutinho ended up having fitness issues, too.
And then there's Lucas. He's brilliant but has spent more than 100 days injured since joining and doesn't boast an injury record that makes for good viewing for a 24-year-old.
His absence, along with the sale of Hummels and a major injury to Niklas Sule, has made things uncomfortable at the back for Bayern at times. Luckily Alphonso Davies has developed into a brilliant left-back, David Alaba has been able to step inside and Jerome Boateng has given them another option. They've dug deep and coped.
€80 million, plus the €30 million received for Hummels, could have got Bayern almost any centre-back in the world, such as Kalidou Koulibaly, Milan Skriniar or, if left-footedness was a requirement, Clement Lenglet.
You might also argue the cash committed to Coutinho could have been used to buy a winger who wasn't a stopgap, but if Sane is the man they want, and they decided to wait for him, that's fair. Between Coutinho, Perisic, Coman, Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller, they've had enough cover there.
Bayern's summer re-do: Sign Koulibaly, Skriniar or Lenglet instead of Lucas
Notable ins: Mats Hummels (€30m), Julian Brandt (€25m), Thorgan Hazard (€25m), Nico Schulz (€25m)
Notable outs: Abdou Diallo (€32m), Max Philipp (€20m), Alexander Isak (€6.5m)
This is probably the trickiest re-do of all because Borussia Dortmund's apathy in one particular market last summer led them to a goldmine in January, so right now you'd say don't change a thing—but in November it felt a very different story.
Yes, we're talking about Haaland.
At one stage this season, fans were ruing the club's failure to sign a No. 9 and fearful it might cost them in a season where Bayern Munich appeared weak for a spell. But had they secured a frontman in the summer they may not have been able to entice Haaland in the winter—he was very picky about his destination. So with hindsight, you leave Dortmund with a rotation of Paco Alcacer, Marco Reus and Brandt up top.
Speaking of Brandt, he's been a very handy signing, able to play three positions to a high level and slot in where required. Hazard's been OK, too, while Hummels has gone some way to securing a defensive line that looked pretty rickety last season.
The knock-on effect of Hummels joining was Abdou Diallo leaving for Paris Saint-Germain. The Frenchman's been solid in the capital, and Dortmund may feel some regret there, but again context is key: Hummels ate into the minutes one of Diallo or Dan-Axel Zagadou were going to get, and in the end, Diallo asked to go, per Sky Germany (h/t Goal's Ronan Murphy).
That leads us to the only real howler of the lot: Spending €25 million on Schulz. He's more wing-back than full-back—something apparent as he struggled in a back four, one of several reasons they ended up shifting to a back three before Christmas—and no one could blame Dortmund for wanting this one back in order to pick a player more suitable to the system they wish to play.
Schulz was signed from Hoffenheim, and you don't even have to look outside the country to find a better option: Jerome Roussillon, of Wolfsburg, who has developed into an excellent, well-rounded left-back.
Dortmund's summer re-do: Sign Roussillon instead of Schulz
Notable ins: Romelu Lukaku (€65m), Nicolo Barella (loan), Stefano Sensi (loan), Cristiano Biraghi (loan), Valentino Lazaro (€22m), Diego Godin (free), Alexis Sanchez (loan)
Notable outs: Mauro Icardi (loan), Ivan Perisic (loan), George Puscas (€8m)
Inter Milan underwent a swift, brutal Conte-fication last summer, with the shape of the club and the type of personnel drastically changing in a matter of months.
Out went those who either don't fit the system or won't work for the team; in came physical wing-backs, a striker who leads an aggressive line, the ultimate central defensive warrior and a nice blend of central midfield talent. And Alexis Sanchez on loan.
Some of those signings have stuck, but others haven't—and Conte had to dip into the January market (having spoken out publicly regarding the summer work in November) to apply some plasters.
Lazaro has already been loaned to Newcastle, flagging that deal with clear re-do potential. Godin hasn't been a constant but has the title-winning experience Conte has specifically referenced and has likely been key in prospect Alessandro Bastoni's development. The Sanchez deal was a flier, but yet another ankle injury has prevented him from taking flight.
January saw Victor Moses and Ashley Young brought in to play wing-back and both have impressed, while Christian Eriksen's proven quality has been added to a midfield that perhaps lacked big-time experience. All three have won trophies and been involved in title races, which seems key based on Conte's comments.
So a re-do would see a different right-wing-back to Lazaro signed and more experience brought in sooner. Mario Fernandes, the giant, rumbling wing-back who starred for Russia at the 2018 World Cup, would certainly fit Conte's style, while Eriksen was available for the right fee in the summer—if he had cost €40 million then, not €20 million in January, it would still have been a steal.
Inter's summer re-do: Sign Eriksen, sign Mario Fernandes, don't sign Lazaro
Notable ins: Matthijs De Ligt (€85m), Danilo (€37m), Cristian Romero (€26m), Luca Pellegrini (€22m), Merih Demiral (€18m), Adrien Rabiot (free), Aaron Ramsey (free), Gianluigi Buffon (free)
Notable outs: Joao Cancelo (€65m), Leonardo Spinazzola (€30m), Moise Kean (€28m)
Juventus' medical room saw plenty of different faces over the summer as a whopping eight players signed. The club were notably aggressive in securing top young central defensive talent—likely with one eye on the ages of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci—while right-back, central midfield and goalkeeper were fleshed out too.
All of the deals made sense on paper bar one: the signing of Danilo, who moved from Manchester City in a swap plus cash deal. City sent the Brazilian full-back plus €28 million to Juve in exchange for Cancelo, per Goal.com.
Even acknowledging Cancelo's so-so start in life at City, Juve got the raw end of this one. They downgraded at the position and over time have realised it, hence Juan Cuadrado emerging as the starting right-back instead. They've lost Cancelo's crisp connection with compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo, too.
In an ideal re-do, Juventus take Cancelo back, but if FFP played a part in making the exchange, then another circa-€30 million right-back can be sourced: Hans Hateboer of Atalanta would suit Maurizio Sarri's style, as would Real Madrid's Alvaro Odriozola, who ended up being loaned to Bayern Munich in January due to a lack of game time.
The other question mark hangs over Ramsey and Rabiot. Did Juventus need to sign both? Free transfers are great, but they're a trick. The signing-on fees are pumped up and the wages rocket. Adding the pair took the senior central midfield count up to seven, which led to Emre Can being sold in January.
Did that need to happen? Probably not. It's tough to argue both Ramsey and Rabiot were needed, and if push comes to shove, you naturally prioritise the 24-year-old with a good injury history over the 28-year-old with a bad one.
Juventus' summer re-do: Don't sell Cancelo, or if FFP forces it, sign Odriozola instead of Danilo; don't sign Ramsey
Notable ins: None
Notable outs: Simon Mignolet (€7m)
Liverpool signed one player last summer, 17-year-old centre-back Sepp van den Berg, with no intention of playing him regularly any time soon. That's it.
At the time, it felt like a huge missed opportunity, as they could have done with an extra body or two in attack, or some cover at left-back, but time proved Jurgen Klopp right: They raced ahead in the Premier League, topped their Champions League group and won the Club World Cup.
January saw them strike a shrewd deal for Takumi Minamino, beefing up the attack without disrupting its flow, and that's it. Another correct call.
The Reds are 25 points clear in the league, and while they are out of the Champions League, it was a game in which they simply fell the wrong side of some extremely harsh margins—the width of the woodwork, an injury to Alisson Becker being the two main obstacles to progress.
This isn't a reason to call in Captain Hindsight and rip up the whole thing, it's just the way football goes sometimes. You could argue that a lack of action last summer hasn't cost them at all in the league, and it wasn't the reason they fell in the Champions League.
Liverpool's summer re-do: Don't change a thing
Notable ins: Rodri (€70m), Joao Cancelo (€65m), Angelino (€8m)
Notable outs: Danilo (€37m), Douglas Luiz (€17m), Fabian Delph (€10m), Vincent Kompany (free)
Many were surprised, some shocked, that Man City opted not to sign a centre-back last summer. Vincent Kompany's departure left a hole that was ultimately ignored, and the Citizens paid the price for that when Aymeric Laporte sustained a bad injury that wiped most of the first half of his season.
Without either, Fernandinho has been pressed into centre-back duty too often, Rodri's become the full-time pivot in midfield sooner than perhaps intended, and there have been spells where City look particularly vulnerable.
Add to this the consistent uncertainty at left-back, with Angelino struggling to settle in and Benjamin Mendy injured too often, and it's no wonder they're so far behind Liverpool in the league. The fact Angelino was then loaned to RB Leipzig and has been excellent adds salt in the wound.
City's summer re-do plan is simple: Buy the centre-back they should have replaced Vincent Kompany with, and buy a left-back you can rely on physically and can settle into the system quicker.
An imposing, elite-tier centre-back like Kalidou Koulibaly would undoubtedly have done the trick. He'd have cost a lot—north of €70 million, in all likelihood—but he's the complete package.
At left-back, a player who was in the Barcelona system while Pep Guardiola was there but has flown the nest since, Alejandro Grimaldo has been excellent for Benfica—but hasn't been without his own injury issues.
Theo Hernandez joined AC Milan last summer with his stock at an all-time low, but fast forward eight months and he's re-emerged as one of the world's most promising young left-backs. He gives you what Mendy does—thrust, power, attacking X-factor—on a more consistent basis.
Man City's summer re-do: Buy Kalidou Koulibaly and Theo Hernandez
Notable ins: Harry Maguire (€87m), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (€55m), Dan James (€17m)
Notable outs: Romelu Lukaku (€65m), Ander Herrera (free), Antonio Valencia (free)
The summer signings United did manage have proved successful so far. They went big on homegrown talent and paid a pretty penny for it, but each of Harry Maguire, Aaron-Wan Bissaka and Dan James have been varying degrees of success.
The issue lies in the fact they didn't make enough signings. The work felt…half finished. That they dipped into the January window for two players largely confirms that.
If United could wind the clock back, they'd undoubtedly swoop for Bruno Fernandes six months sooner. His impact his been magnificent—Paul Pogba-esque, you might argue—breathing life back into a midfield that had been toiling.
Odion Ighalo has provided a useful presence up front on an emergency basis, and without wanting to take a dream move away from a man, it's again proof that United could have signed a Romelu Lukaku replacement earlier, with options like Mauro Icardi, Mario Mandzukic, Luka Jovic and Moussa Dembele potentially available at various points throughout the summer.
Dembele or Jovic would have been ideal; excellent strikers who are young enough to build around and lean on.
And on Pogba, a summer sale felt right as he clearly wanted out, but he was kept and has contributed nothing due to injury in the wake of the saga. Time hasn't changed the fact that a deal probably should have been made.
United's summer re-do: Sign Bruno Fernandes and either Jovic or Dembele; sell Pogba
Notable ins: Abdou Diallo (€32m), Idrissa Gueye (€30m), Pablo Sarabia (€18m), Keylor Navas (€15m), Mauro Icardi (loan)
Notable outs: Moussa Diaby (€15m), Christopher Nkunku (€13m)
PSG produced an atypically functional summer. Rather than chase the glitz and glamour names, they focused on signing players who could balance an XI spearheaded by some of the finest attackers in the world.
Idrissa Gueye and Pablo Sarabia have proved astute additions, while Keylor Navas was an easy "yes" once he became available. Mauro Icardi was a risk, but so far he's scored consistently and hasn't caused any trouble. Manager Thomas Tuchel has even found a way to play him with Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria without exposing the team defensively.
The work wasn't perfect, though, and if a re-do was possible they'd perhaps change a few things. Ander Herrera, brought in free of charge but on a hefty wage, has suffered with injuries and has struggled to contribute. This is no freak happening: His injury record has been a concern for years.
The profile of player was right, though.
They'd also perhaps take back some of the sales. Moussa Diaby has made a mockery of both the decision to let him go to Bayer Leverkusen and the fee (€15 million) so far. Perhaps PSG would still sell him given the chance, but they would have inserted a buy-back clause—something we've scoured for evidence of but haven't found.
The same arguments can be applied to Christopher Nkunku, who is at the heart of a fairytale RB Leipzig story, having been sold for a similar amount. The fact he's this good so soon after leaving PSG suggests he wasn't far off this level in 2019. Could Nkunku have stayed, Herrera not been signed and PSG be better off?
PSG's summer re-do: Don't sign Herrera, don't sell Nkunku, keep or negotiate a buy-back clause for Diaby
Notable ins: Eden Hazard (€100m), Luka Jovic (€60m), Eder Militao (€50m), Ferland Mendy (€48m), Rodrygo (€45m), Alphonse Areola (loan)
Notable outs: Mateo Kovacic (€45m), Marcos Llorente (€30m), Raul de Tomas (€20m), Theo Hernandez (€20m), Keylor Navas (€15m)
Real Madrid had a really good summer. They loaded up on quality young players to set themselves up for the next five years, while at the same time gave themselves a short-term boost to close the gap to Barcelona and leapfrog Atletico.
Eder Militao, Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy and Rodrygo had the talent to contribute short term and become stars long term. Eden Hazard was already a star, ready to step in and take Cristiano Ronaldo's stage.
Alphonse Areola was good back-up with Keylor Navas gone—a decision Los Blancos haven't regretted, as Thibaut Courtois has stepped up big time. The other sales have proved wise, too, with some decent fees coming in to lower the net spend.
The questions here revolve around two players: Hazard and Jovic.
The former's been struck by injuries and hasn't been able to assume his mantle, but that doesn't make it a bad transfer. Unlike Herrera's case with PSG, Hazard's career record of appearances per season is solid—until now. It's been bad luck.
The latter is perhaps looking like a regret. The scouting was solid in that Jovic has the talent and the mentality to play at the Bernabeu, but the transition to a team wired so exclusively to play off Karim Benzema has been tough for him.
Could another player have handled this better? A more rounded, established player who has more experience in playing as the lone striker, a focal point? Names like Moussa Dembele and Dries Mertens jump out; one's a long-term buy and one's a patch, but they wouldn't have cost more (Mertens considerably less).
Madrid's summer re-do: Sign Dembele or Mertens instead of Jovic
Notable ins: Tanguy Ndombele (€60m), Ryan Sessegnon (€27m), Jack Clarke (€11m), Giovani Lo Celso (loan)
Notable outs: Kieran Trippier (€22m)
Tottenham signed four players last summer. In hindsight, it wasn't enough, but at the time fans were just happy they'd signed anyone—after all, they'd gone over a year without welcoming a new face through the door.
At the very least, all four signings were strong. Ndombele's had fitness issues, but when he has played, he's shown his unique abilities, Lo Celso's become a key part of the team, while Sessegnon and Clarke are homegrown projects to build up.
They just needed more.
Things were further clouded by a number of long-term starters creeping towards the end of their contracts. When summer 2019 rolled round, Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen all entered the final 12 months of their deals. That's not healthy, and it's no wonder things deteriorated.
At the very least, a right-back should have been signed; to not do so, in the wake of Trippier's departure, was negligent. There were ample options, ranging from the rampaging Youcef Atal (Nice) to the steadier Elseid Hysaj (Napoli), or a mix of the two in Kevin Mbabu, who signed for eagle-eyed Wolfsburg early in the window.
Left-back should have been addressed, too. Danny Rose's tenure at Spurs is winding down, and while Sessegnon may be the future there, it could be a few years before he assumes that important mantle. Could Grimaldo have been lured, or Alex Telles? Portugal's a good place to shop for left-backs.
And with hindsight, the Eriksen situation should have been resolved last summer. Given Spurs only got €20 million for him in January and his final five months of performances were mixed, to say the least, they might as well have cut ties earlier, for a bit more money. Lo Celso could have been integrated into the XI sooner in turn.
Re-do: Sell Eriksen, buy Mbabu, buy Grimaldo
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