Ten of the best value for money signings so far in this transfer window | transfer window
Paulo Dybala (Juventus in Rome, free)
With so many great players out of contract, this summer has been filled with free heavyweight transfers. Juventus played their part, bringing back Paul Pogba and also signing Ángel Di María to sprinkle stardust on an underperforming squad. Dybala, meanwhile, saw his time at Juve end in acrimony. After being linked with Inter and several Premier League clubs, the forward signed for Roma instead. He accepted a reduced salary plus bonuses and indulged the fans by refusing to wear Francesco Totti’s old No.10 shirt. After a promising first season under Jose Mourinho, Roma are betting on the 28-year-old Argentinian to send him back to the Italian top flight. Next summer, they will have to renegotiate his contract or risk losing him with a €20m release clause. It’s not a risk-free move for either side, but a player who struggled to play second fiddle at Juve has the potential to shine as the main attraction in Roma.
Armel Bella-Kotchap (Bochum to Southampton, £8.4m)
Southampton have stayed afloat in the Premier League thanks to a transfer policy that targets promising players at affordable prices. This summer they have already splashed out £40m on four emerging Under-21 talents. Roméo Lavia and Gavin Bazunu (both signed from Manchester City) and Bordeaux striker Sékou Mara all have big potential, but it’s Bella-Kotchap who stands out. . After playing in Germany’s lower leagues, the centre-back made his breakthrough in Bochum’s title-winning season. Ralph Hasenhüttl’s pressing system relies on aggressive defending and the 20-year-old Bella-Kotchap should fit in perfectly. In the Bundesliga last season, he was among the top performers in terms of interceptions and aerial duel wins. Southampton conceded 67 league goals last season – a figure that urgently needs improvement. It will take time to settle in, but Bella-Kotchap can provide an affordable answer.
Adam Hlozek (Sparta Prague to Bayer Leverkusen, £11.1m)
Considered the Czech Republic’s most promising homegrown talent since Tomas Rosicky, the strong and skilful centre-forward has been on the radar of Europe’s biggest clubs since making his senior debut with Sparta Prague at the age of 16. Hlozek turns 20 on July 25 and is about to start a new chapter in his career, having made 131 appearances for his first club and breaking into the national team. More comfortable as a second striker, Hlozek created almost as many goals as he scored at Sparta. Having moved quickly to sign him at a relatively low price, Leverkusen will be hoping they can link up effectively with compatriot Patrik Schick.
Marc Roca (Bayern to Leeds, £10m)
After their dramatic escape from relegation, Leeds are having a turbulent summer. Jesse Marsch relied on his Red Bull links to sign three players, while Feyenoord winger Luis Sinisterra was tasked with replacing Raphinha. Kalvin Phillips also moved on and Marsch moved quickly to sign a new midfielder. Having failed to break through at Bayern, left-hander Roca is set to slot in alongside Leipzig’s Tyler Adams. Roca played a key role in Spain’s victory at Euro U21 in 2019, alongside Pablo Fornals and Dani Olmo. After seeing new signings struggle with injury and Premier League pace, Leeds agreed to an initial fee of £10m, with an additional fee based on appearances. Seems like a very good price for a player who will bring quality and composure to Marsch’s midfield.
Mario Gila (Real Madrid to Lazio, £5.2m)
In his first season at Lazio, head coach Maurizio Sarri led his side to fifth place while introducing his trademark high-tempo tactics to a side that had been more responsive under Simone Inzaghi. This summer, Lazio have focused on re-equipping their defence, with the arrival of three new central defenders already. Gila has joined Verona’s Nicolò Casale and Milan’s Alessio Romagnoli in signing up, and the former Espanyol academy player looks like an ideal candidate for Sarri’s pressing system. Quick, decisive and comfortable at the back, Gila, 22 in August, found first-team chances limited at Madrid but made his La Liga debut under Carlo Ancelotti last season. Having originally planned a loan move, Lazio decided to buy Gila and he could play a bigger role than expected this season.
Corentin Tolisso (Bayern to Lyon, free)
After finishing eighth in Ligue 1 last season, Lyon are looking after a takeover and several eye-catching signings this summer. Experienced left-back Nicolás Tagliafico signed for just €4m, while Alexandre Lacazette and Tolisso, who both left in 2017 for a combined £85m, returned for free. While hometown hero Lacazette will provide an immediate boost up front, he is now 31 and has shown signs of slowing down. As for Tolisso, the midfielder failed to live up to sky-high expectations at Bayern Munich with a serious injury stalling the progress of their record signing – but he still played his part in winning 14 major trophies in Germany . With Bayern hesitating over a new contract, the 27-year-old seized the opportunity to return home and play more regularly, in a move with little downside for Lyon.
Alessandro Sorrentino (Pescara to Monza, £850,000)
Top-flight debutants Monza are not in Serie A to make up the numbers. Supported by Silvio Berlusconi, the club has embarked on an ambitious recruitment campaign. They are among the biggest spenders in Serie A so far this summer, with Italy midfielders Matteo Pessina and Stefano Sensi on loan and a move for Mauro Icardi is reportedly in the works. Among these landmark moves, the €1m move for Sorrentino is intriguing. The 20-year-old keeper has made his breakthrough in Italy’s regional third tier, performing well enough to earn an invitation to Azzurri manager Roberto Mancini’s training camp. With the arrival of experienced stopper Alessio Cragno on loan from Cagliari, rising star Sorrentino could be loaned out this season but could prove to be a future star for this rising side.
Sam Johnstone (from West Brom to Crystal Palace, free)
Last season, Patrick Vieira managed to revitalize the Crystal Palace squad with a number of shrewd signings. Under the Frenchman, Palace have focused on young local talent eager for regular high-level football. The club are also ready to change course if the opportunity arises, as they did when Johnstone failed to secure a new contract at West Brom. Palace had not planned to sign a goalkeeper and at 29 he is older than most recent signings. Johnstone, capped three times by England, arrives in a World Cup year and will be desperate to dislodge Vicente Guaita, who is now 35 and prone to muscle problems. If they can get back to their best form, Palace may have found themselves a new long-term No.1.
Salih Özcan (Cologne to Dortmund, £4.3m)
At only 24 years old, Özcan has accumulated a lot of experience in his career so far. After giving up a promising career as a wrestler to focus on football, he became a star for his hometown club and was named Germany’s best young player in 2019. Özcan went on to suffer relegation and a loan spell before to help Cologne return to the Bundesliga. After winning Euro U21 with Germany in 2021, the left-handed midfielder switched allegiance to Turkey – prompting comparisons to Dortmund legend Nuri Sahin. BVB sporting director Sebastian Kehl sees Özcan as a player “who goes where it hurts and does everything without compromise”. With the departure of Axel Witsel, Özcan can add the necessary courage to the midfield.
Fabio Carvalho (Fulham to Liverpool, £5m)
After his failed move to Anfield in January, Fábio Carvalho returned to Fulham with his contract expiring. This meant that on July 1 he would have been free to go abroad or join another English club for a fee set by a court. To avoid taking that risk, Liverpool offered Fulham a deal in April: £5m upfront plus £2.7m in add-ons, plus 20% of any future sales. That may seem steep for a player with weeks left on his contract, but any court might have liked Carvalho more after he played a starring role in the Cottagers’ promotional campaign. Securing a rising England star for just £5m may prove to be an inspired move, and Jürgen Klopp’s track record suggests he will get first-team chances.
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