Ranking the 5 Best Transfer Window Hauls Since 2000

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterAugust 31, 2020

Inter Milan Argentine forward Diego Milito, left, talks with his teammate forward Samuel Eto'o, of Cameroon, prior to a penalty kick during a Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Bari at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Luca Bruno/Associated Press

One club in particular has taken centre stage in the 2020 summer transfer window so far: Chelsea.

With five deals confirmed and a sixth blockbuster transaction in the offing—Kai Havertz, who B/R's Dean Jones has confirmed is still expected to arrive—they are the envy of almost every other fanbase. 

The Blues have secured the signatures of Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Malang Sarr, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva for a combined outlay of approximately £140 million, and Havertz's signature would tip that total over the £200 million mark.

In contrast, Liverpool and Manchester United have signed a combined total of one player, a back-up left-back, and it feels as though the Blues are closing the gap on the very best (and distancing themselves from the rest) this summer thanks to an aggressive pursuit of top-level talent.

It's the stuff of dreams; such is the calibre of the players being signed, this has the potential to be one of the best transfer windows ever

That potential got us thinking: If the collection of Ziyech, Werner, Sarr, Chilwell, Silva and Havertz does turn out to be an all-time great, which other transfer window hauls would we be comparing it against?

If Chelsea's 2020 recruits live up to their billing, they'll be battling with the five teams listed below for the title of best-ever club window.

5. Real Madrid, 2010

Angel Di Maria (€33m), Sami Khedira (€14m), Mesut Ozil (€18m), Ricardo Carvalho (€8m), Pedro Leon (€10m), Sergio Canales (€6m)

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

While the world watched in awe as a young, talented Germany side made waves at the 2010 World Cup, reaching the semi-final, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez picked up the phone.

He secured the signatures of Ozil and Khedira, who were both starring in South Africa, for a combined €32 million, then added Carvalho, Di Maria, Leon and Canales to that haul to make it an all-time great one.

Khedira, Carvalho and Di Maria started and helped win the 2014 UEFA Champions League final, the latter being named man of the match. Ozil left in the summer of 2013 but made his mark at the Bernabeu, linking with Cristiano Ronaldo superbly.

Canales and Leon didn't make much of an impact, but the former was sold on for a small profit.


4. Barcelona, 2004

Samuel Eto'o (€27m), Deco (€21m), Ludovic Giuly (€8.5m), Edmilson (€8m), Belletti (€6m), Sylvinho (€1.5m), Henrik Larsson (free)

MANU FERNANDEZ/Associated Press

Barcelona's summer of 2004 laid the foundations for their Champions League triumph in 2006 and rescued them from a nadir not too dissimilar to the one they're facing right now.

The previous two years had been pretty desperate; in 2003 they finished sixth in La Liga, while in 2004 they rebounded to second but exited the UEFA Cup at the quarter-final stage.

So a big summer ensued, whereby Barca transformed their fortunes thanks to a haul of new superstars.

Six of the seven players purchased featured in the 2006 final, with Eto'o and Belletti scoring the goals to defeat Arsenal, and Larsson creating both. The one who didn't feature, Sylvinho, was an unused substitute, so all seven made the squad.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst kept Sylvinho out of the XI, and he could be classed as a 2004 addition, too, as his loan from Arsenal had been made permanent that summer.

Barca won La Liga in 2004/05 and 2005/06, with Ronaldinho pulling the strings in midfield and Lionel Messi being introduced to the Camp Nou crowd for the first time.

Halcyon days for the Blaugrana faithful, and perhaps an illustration of how it only takes one 10/10 transfer window to right the course of a superclub.


3. Inter Milan, 2009

Diego Milito (€28m), Samuel Eto'o (€20m), Wesley Sneijder (€15m), Thiago Motta (€10m), Lucio (€7m), Goran Pandev (Free)

Felice Calabro'/Associated Press

It was a summer's business that directly led to a European treble. In the short term, it doesn't really get much better than that.

Five of the six major buys started the Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich, the odd one out being Thiago Motta, who had started both legs of the semi-final vs. Barcelona but was sent off at the Camp Nou; he too was a major part of the team's historic campaign.

These were players made for Jose Mourinho. Lucio was a warrior centre-back, Motta a prickly central midfielder, Milito a bullish target man who could carry the load on his own and Pandev a creative wide man but, crucially, a willing runner.

If there's something holding this window's work back from being the very best, it's that it was a touch short-sighted. All six were aged 25 or older—Milito and Lucio were 30-plus—and one of the pieces the club sacrificed to bring in Milito and Motta was a fresh-faced Leonardo Bonucci, who would go on to become one of Italy's best-ever centre-backs.

But ask an Inter fan if they regret any of it, and they'll tell you they won the treble. So that's a no.


2. Chelsea, 2004

Dider Drogba (€38.5m), Ricardo Carvalho (€30m), Paulo Ferreira (€20m), Arjen Robben (€18m), Tiago (€15m), Petr Cech (€14m), Mateja Kezman (€7.5m)

Martin Meissner/Associated Press

Fresh off a Champions League victory with FC Porto, Jose Mourinho arrived at Stamford Bridge and was handed a cast of incredible new players to work with.

Some he lured himself—Carvalho and Ferreira were plucked straight from that Porto side—while others, like Drogba and Cech, were acquired for him, much to his delight.

Of the seven names brought in, only Kezman and Tiago didn't really stick. Kezman spent just a year at the club, unable to replicate his goal tallies from the Eredivisie, and went on to play for seven other teams in search of the lethal form that won him a move to London in the first place. Tiago was solid for a season.

The other five ranged from useful to all-time great.

Robben shone at times but also battled injuries, leading the Blues cash to in on him for a big profit, while Cech, Carvalho, Ferreira and Drogba are legendary figures at the club.

The first three formed vital parts of one of the best defences the Premier League has ever seen, while Drogba led the line for eight years and netted that last-gasp equaliser in the 2012 Champions League final, paving the way for a victory on penalties.


1. Real Madrid, Summer 2009

Cristiano Ronaldo (€94m), Kaka (€67m), Karim Benzema (€35m), Xabi Alonso (€34.5m), Raul Albiol (€15m), Alvaro Arbeloa (€4m), Esteban Granero (€4m)

Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

The money Real Madrid spent in the summer of 2009 shocked the globe, but time has proved it cash well spent (for the most part).

Ronaldo transferred for a world-record sum of €94 million, but after averaging more than a goal per game for nine straight years, helping the club to four Champions League titles, that fee looks almost cheap.

Alonso anchored the midfield for five years, while Karim Benzema has led the forward line for more than 10. The former helped Madrid to "La Decima," their famous 10th Champions League win, the latter stuck around and orchestrated three more.

Albiol was a valuable role player in defence, Arbeloa made more than 200 appearances for the club en route to multiple trophies and Granero played his part before moving on for a profit.

The only negative is Kaka: The Ballon d'Or winner never lived up to his own billing due to a succession of injuries. There were some bright moments and spectacular showings, but the ailments and pressure of the fee swallowed him up a bit.

Still, what Madrid got from Ronaldo, Benzema and Alonso over a long period makes them worthy of top spot. Albiol's service and Kaka's occasional brilliance are bonuses. 


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