Now that the excitement of the 2014 World Cup has come and gone, the eyes of soccer fans around the world can shift back to the start of the club season. Like every other summer, this one has come with big-name players making big-money moves to new clubs – many of whom impressed during their country’s campaign at the World Cup. Some are surprising given how young these players are despite their huge move, while others have moved for exorbitant transfer fees despite being in the centre of great controversy. In other words, we’ll be counting down the top 10 biggest summer transfers so far.
If nothing else, this list goes to show just how much clubs are willing to spend for big name players – the smallest fee on this list is $40.9 million in American dollars, and the largest one is $127.8 million – and that clubs will spend as much as they can on the right player, even if that player is suspended for four months thanks to his cannibalistic tendencies (We’re talking about you, Barcelona).
Although not every club on this list is going to be competing in the Champions League next season – the one club who won’t be there features twice – they’ll still pull out all the stops as long as the transfer window remains open. Whether it helps each team to the point where it’s completely worth their money is up for debate, but it helps in the short term at the very least even if it sets their pocketbook back a significant amount. If nothing else, these players get very valuable experience playing football for a big name club in more of a spotlight than they otherwise would have played under. Here are the 10 biggest transfers of the summer window as of July 23rd.
10 Toni Kroos to Real Madrid -- $40.9 million
Despite helping his nation go all the way to winning football’s greatest trophy this summer, Toni Kroos has made a massive transfer from Bayern Munich to Real Madrid. Although he was a major player in Germany’s World Cup triumph, he wasn’t often in the starting XI at the Allianz Arena, and thus has moved to the Bernabeu for an estimated $40.9 million. That being said, Kroos has claimed that his move was motivated by the fact that he thinks Real Madrid are “the greatest club in the world” and that there was “no other club” for him – much to the ire of Bayern supporters.
9 Adam Lallana to Liverpool -- $42.6 million
Although $42.6 million may be a bit steep for a player of his kind – just ask Liverpool supporters with regards to when they splashed out tons of cash for Andy Carroll – Adam Lallana’s price tag is not entirely unjustified. He’s come off a stellar season at Southampton, and now he’s made a move to Anfield with a chance of playing Champions League football this season. In addition to Serbian wonder kid Lazar Markovic – who moved to Liverpool from Benfica for another hefty price – the 26-year-old former Saints captain will be hoping to make himself a mainstay in the Reds’ starting XI.
8 Ander Herrera to Manchester United -- $49.4 million
A year after Man United failed to sign him just before David Moyes’ disastrous tenure as manager, Ander Herrera has finally signed from Athletic Bilbao for $49.4 million right before the start of Louis van Gaal’s. The Spanish midfielder – adept at dribbling despite not being particularly fast – addresses the Red Devils’ need for a central midfielder, though it remains to be seen what sort of impact he will have at Old Trafford. Despite his transfer, former Man United player Nicky Butt has said that supporters need to be patient with him, as he is not on the level of Paul Pogba or Toni Kroos.
7 Luke Shaw to Manchester United -- $51.1 million
If your national team boss is going to pick you to go to the World Cup ahead of one of his established veterans and you’re only 17 years old, you must be doing something incredibly right. For Luke Shaw, this is what happened after an impressive season with Southampton. The young left back has now signed with Manchester United for $51.1 million, and now has to bear the responsibility of replacing Patrice Evra – who recently signed with Juventus – in his favoured position. Although Shaw claims to not feel any pressure from his newfound role, it remains to be seen whether or not someone as young as he is can rise to the occasion at Old Trafford.
6 Cesc Fabregas to Chelsea -- $51.1 million
After three years in La Liga with Barcelona, Cesc Fabregas has moved back to the Premier League – this time with Chelsea rather than his former club, cross-town rivals Arsenal. Despite a poor World Cup campaign for Spain, Fabregas has moved to Stamford Bridge for a transfer fee of about $51.1 million on a five-year contract with the club. Arguably still at the peak of his powers, Fabregas is expected to step right into Chelsea’s starting XI. Furthermore, if Jose Mourinho wanted to sign him so badly that he missed his son’s own match to get him, that’s a sign that he’ll be an important part of Chelsea’s upcoming campaign.
5 Diego Costa to Chelsea -- $54.5 million
He may have made a mistake in choosing Spain over his native Brazil for this summer’s World Cup, but Diego Costa still had an impressive enough season for Atletico Madrid to earn a switch to Chelsea for the upcoming 2014-15 campaign. Arguably the best striker Chelsea have now, Costa signed with the Blues – later followed by his Atletico teammate Filipe Luis – for a transfer fee of $54.5 million. Whether or not he continues his run of form from last season into the Premier League remains to be seen, but Costa gives the Blues some much-needed striking firepower that Fernando Torres and Demba Ba (who has since left for Besiktas in Turkey) haven’t really provided.
4 Alexis Sanchez to Arsenal -- $59.6 million
The second-biggest signing the Gunners have made in the last two years – next to Mesut Ozil – former Barcelona winger Alexis Sanchez has transferred to Arsenal for a fee of about $59.6 million. Having impressed with Chile at this summer’s World Cup and having been deemed a “star” by former Arsenal great Robert Pires, Sanchez is likely going to be counted on as being a key part of the offensive element of Arsene Wenger’s team after being rumoured for a long time to be signing with Liverpool instead. Though it’s unknown if any players other than him and Mathieu Debuchy will be moving to the Emirates this summer, Sanchez is certainly a massive coup.
3 David Luiz to Paris Saint-Germain -- $85 million
PSG have been known for spending big in recent years, and their recent $85 million purchase of David Luiz from Chelsea is no exception. However, the Ligue 1 champions may be regretting dropping so much money on someone who’s probably better suited as a defensive midfielder than a central defender. If you need proof of why, just take a look at the wild-haired Brazilian’s shambolic performances for his country in the latter stages of the FIFA World Cup this past summer – in particular, his poor showing in a 7-1 rout at the hands of eventual champions Germany. How quickly David Luiz can come back from those performances while playing in France is so far unknown.
2 James Rodriguez to Real Madrid -- $634 million
The winner of the Golden Boot trophy at this summer’s World Cup despite Colombia crashing out in the quarterfinals, James Rodriguez’s spectacular performances at the tournament earned him a move to Real Madrid – to the tune of about $107.4 million in a transfer fee. Although Real Madrid’s midfield is worth a fortune in transfer fees just by itself – coming up to about $634 million combined between him, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Asier Illarramendi, Xabi Alonso and Isco – James most certainly has the talent to make a name for himself at the Bernabeu despite the ridiculous array of talent the team possesses.
1 Luis Suarez to Barcelona -- $127.8 million
Not only is this transfer the most expensive on this list at $127.8 million, it’s also by far the most controversial. Unless you lived under a rock, you saw and/or heard about Luis Suarez’s bite on Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini at this summer’s World Cup that earned him a four-month suspension from all football-related activities. As such, Suarez can’t even enter the Nou Camp thanks to his ban. Regardless, the Blaugrana took a flyer on him thanks to his sublime footballing skills despite his controversial behaviour. Sadly for Barcelona supporters, he won’t be able to showcase such skills in their uniform until his suspension ends October 26th.