As we come towards the end of the season, football fans, pundits - and one would certainly hope scouts and chief executives - are already starting to think about transfers. Some clubs like to get their business done early though, and a number of deals have already been signed off on ahead of the transfer window re-opening.
Now, there are loads of pre-agreed transfers in the world game, but we can only focus on seven. These aren’t the seven biggest, best or most high-profile, nor are they are a really obscure seven, just seven of my choice; and I’ve tried to get a decent mix of those you almost certainly already know about and those that might just have slipped a little under the radar.
So before you comment saying ‘what about so and so?!’, this is just a random seven, I’m not claiming these are the only seven players who have already agreed to make moves in the summer. Oh, and they are in no particular order.
Here are our 7 pre-arranged summer transfers:
7. Zack Steffen - Manchester City
Our number one when we recently had a go at putting together a best XI made up of players in the MLS right now, Zack Steffen won’t be playing in the states for much longer. Still a baby in goalkeeping terms aged 24, Steffen has already established himself as the first choice in the United States national team.
The Pennsylvania-native spent some time in Germany with Freiburg a couple of years back, although he never registered a first team appearance. He joined Columbus Crew in 2016, becoming the club’s number one in 2017. In the two-and-a-bit seasons since, he has racked up 78 appearances, earning rave reviews last season in particular, when he made the MLS Best XI and was named as the division’s best goalkeeper.
It was around that time, in December 2018, that Steffen signed off on a transfer to reigning Premier League champions Manchester City. The move was criticised in some quarters, since Steffen is one of the brightest prospects in the American game, and some feel the lack of game time he’s likely to get at the Etihad could stunt his progress. Whatever your take on the deal, Steffen will linkup with the club on June 9th, 2019.
6. Eder Militao - Real Madrid
(L-R) Eder Militao of FC Porto, Divock Origi of Liverpool FC during the UEFA Champions League quarter final match between FC Porto and Liverpool FC at Estadio do Dragao on April 17, 2019...
Few clubs can rival Real Madrid when it comes to snapping up players on pre-arranged deals, with Los Blancos having done it a number of times particularly with young South American talent in recent years. Eder Militao fits that criteria, as a 21-year-old Brazilian international, although he is playing his club football in Portugal rather than Brazil.
Militao joined Porto from São Paulo for €4 million last summer, and in the space of 12 months, they’ll turn a €42 million profit when the youngster joins Real for €50 million on July 1st, 2019. For the record, if you’re thinking I’m really bad at maths - well, you’d be right, but not on this occasion - the reason Porto’s profit will be €42 million rather than €46 million, is because Sao Paulo will pocket a €4 million sell-on fee.
Who is Militao anyway? Well, he looks to be a pretty dominant character at the back. He’s big, fast and difficult to knock off the ball. He can cover at right-back or in holding midfield, but looks best striding out from the centre-back position, where he has a good understanding of the game and is pretty assertive in the tackle. He looks a good player, and he is the first signing made by Real since Zinedine Zidane’s return to the club.
5. Moanes Dabour - Sevilla
A player who we’ve talked about a couple of times in the past on this channel, albeit not for a while, Moanes Dabour has an incredible goal scoring record with his last two clubs. Those two clubs are Grasshopper and Red Bull Salzburg though, in Switzerland and Austria respectively, and with all due respect to the Swizz and Austrian top flights, things are going to be a lot tougher for Dabour at his next club.
That’s because the 26-year-old Israeli international has already signed off on a summer move to La Liga outfit Sevilla. In theory, Dabour should suit Sevilla down to the ground. A subtle and intelligent second striker who picks up little pockets of space and lays on plenty of chances for his team mates, Dabour has good close control and an eye for a pass.
For someone who tends to play in either a withdrawn role or out wide on the left, a record of 47 goals in 89 games for Grasshopper and 68 goals in 121 games for Red Bull Salzburg is really quite impressive, but as we said, things will be a lot tougher in Spain. If Dabour maintained those kind of numbers at Sevilla he’d probably be nominated for the Ballon d’Or.
4. Benjamin Pavard - Bayern Munich
Benjamin Pavard of VfB Stuttgart controls the ball during the Bundesliga match between VfB Stuttgart and Borussia Moenchengladbach at Mercedes-Benz Arena on April 27, 2019 in Stuttgart,...
A World Cup winner in 2018 and the scorer of one of the goals of the tournament in Russia for France against Argentina, there were one or two raised eyebrows when Didier Deschamps brought Benjamin Pavard into his squad in 2017. That was because the France boss had plenty of much more high-profile options at centre-back, and Pavard was a 21-year-old in a Stuttgart side that had only recently been promoted to the Bundesliga.
As it happened, Deschamps had brought in Pavard as a right-back, and it was there that he played at the World Cup. Deschamps is a pretty pragmatic and often conservative boss, and it seemed like he preferred Pavard for the defensive security he offered the side.
Pavard will soon have a club side that looks a little bit more at home in the French squad though, where he’s currently one of only two or three players not in the Champions League. Pavard’s current club Stuttgart have had a torrid campaign, and he’ll most likely have to contend with a relegation play-off before departing for the reigning champions Bayern Munich in June.
3. Aaron Ramsey - Juventus
A transfer that’s likely to be pretty common knowledge to our English viewers at least, it has been reported that Aaron Ramsey could earn as much as £400,000 a week at Juventus. I think Ramsey is a really good midfielder, and would probably rate him higher than most, but even with no transfer fee that seems more than a little excessive.
Anyhow, the midfielder, who has been at Arsenal since the age of 17, will leave in the summer aged 28. During those 11 years, the Welshman has played 364 games for the Gunners, scoring 64 goals and winning three FA Cup’s, scoring winning goals in two of the three finals. Arsenal’s loss will be the Old Lady’s gain, and they’ve shown in the past that they have a penchant for bargain central midfielders with the likes of Emre Can, Sami Khedira and Paul Pogba all arriving on frees or for nominal fees.
Ramsey will join the Italian giants on a four-year deal on July 1, 2019.
2. Rodrygo - Real Madrid
Brazil's Rodrygo (L) vies for the ball with Bolivia's goalkeeper Jhon Cuellar (R) during their South American U-20 football match at El Teniente stadium in Rancagua, Chile on January 25,...
Well, we did say Real Madrid are the masters when it comes to this kind of deal, and they strike again in second place in our seven. Following the arrival of Vinicius Junior last summer, the young prospect will be joined at the Bernabeu by another Brazilian teenager this summer in the form of Rodrygo.
The 18-year-old, who was born in 2001, is considered by many to be the brightest talent in the Brazilian game. Like Vinicius, Rodrygo tends to operate from out wide on the left, but he’ll most likely end up taking a more central role if the two are eventually to start games together for Real and Brazil.
Currently contracted to Santos, Rodrygo was named as the Campeonato Paulista’s Best Newcomer for 2018 after he scored 12 goals in 52 games, and he has bagged 4 goals in 14 games so far this term. Rodrygo will join Real in June 2019, in a deal that was agreed in June 2018, and it will set the club back €45 million.
0. Honourable Mentions
As I said, there are a whole host of players with pre-arranged transfers this summer that we could never manage them all. We will throw a few more names into the hat with the honourable mentions though, starting with Raul Jimenez. A surprise package at Wolves this season in many respects, Jimenez had never been that prolific at Benfica, but he’s found the back of the net 16 times in all competitions in his debut campaign in England. More than his goals though, his all-round play has been very impressive, and the 27-year-old will join Wolves on a permanent deal for a club record £30 million in the summer. The Midlanders could actually have featured twice in this seven, with Leander Dendoncker set to make his loan move a permanent one in a deal worth £12 million in the summer as well.
Elsewhere, Chelsea will soon welcome Christian Pulisic to Stamford Bridge, although it is actually right that he doesn’t feature in this seven, since he officially signed for Chelsea in January, and is only actually on-loan at Borussia Dortmund right now.
And lastly, it would seem remiss not to mention Lucas Hernandez, who will become the second most expensive defender of all time behind only Virgil van Dijk when he signs for Bayern Munich in the summer. Just like Pavard, Hernandez is a young French defender who can play as either a full-back or centre-back, and the two will link-up at the Allianz Arena next season.
Right, that’s it for our quick honourable mentions, and although this list is in no particular order, here is your top spot…
1. Frenkie De Jong - Barcelona
(L-R) Frenkie de Jong of Ajax, Tim Matavz of Vitesse during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Ajax Amsterdam and Vitesse Arnhem at the Johan Cruijff Arena on April 23, 2019 in Amsterdam,...
Although I will repeat that this list is in no particular order, I have clearly saved the best player until last. Of all the young players I’ve seen come through in the last 5-10 years, and I’m including Kylian Mbappe here, there are none I’ve enjoyed watching more than De Jong. Although he joined Ajax at the age of 18, and wasn’t there from the age of 9 or 10 like a lot of Ajax academy players, the boy clearly has the Ajax ethos running through his veins, and he evokes the spirit of Buckingham, Michels and Cruyff everytime he takes to the field.
His confidence at the age of 21 is phenomenal. He never looks panicked in possession, even when he’s closed down by two or three players on the edge of his penalty box. De Jong is such a positive footballer, always backing his own ability on the ball and in the pass, never carelessly lumping the ball forward and always driving his team forward.
In many respects, it’s a crying shame that this Ajax team won’t get the chance to grow and develop as a collective, but if De Jong were to go anywhere, Barcelona is probably the right destination. That’s exactly where the 21-year-old is heading in the summer, having signed off on a €75 million move to the Camp Nou in January.
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