The transfer season is a stern test of a club and manager’s abilities to read and extract the best from a situation. Pedro makes a good case study of how an ambitious transfer can go all wrong for all parties. Had Pedro stayed, Barcelona would badly need his services now with many of their players either injured or ineligible.
At Chelsea, he has not yet settled, has just one goal to show for his 606 minutes on the pitch and is not a guaranteed starter. If he joined the Blues to warm the bench, he might as well have done that at Barcelona. At 28, he is supposed to be at his peak. And it is neither benefitting Barcelona nor Chelsea.
On the flip side are Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal, both willingly have signed for FC Barcelona despite the knowledge that they would not be able to hit field till January 2016 (that’s six peak career months lost) due to the transfer ban on Catalan club. But Vidal and Turan saw more long term benefits with attachment to the current Europe and La Liga champions. Hence transfers make extremely interesting reading. Here’s rating the Best Playing XI summer 2015 signings basis their performance, price tag and their contribution to the team’s ambitions.
Formation : 3-5-2
Petr Cech – Arsenal
Jose Mourinho is fast turning provider of best talent to title rivals. After selling off Juan Mata and Kevin De Bruyne in previous years, he sold Petr Cech to Arsenal this summer. The 33-year-old cost Arsene Wenger a mere £10m! Of the 12 games he has started this season, the Gunners have six clean sheets to show, of course, assisted by an able defence.
Cech’s biggest performance came in Arsenal’s must-win game against the mighty Bayern Munich in the Champions League where they won 2-0 with the Czech Republic shot stopper making crucial saves. The Gunners now sit second in the EPL table and are amongst the meanest defences in the league (only eight goals conceded) alongside the Manchester teams and their north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Danilo – Real Madrid
At £23m, Danilo may seem a high priced defender. But we are talking about Real Madrid and that’s one the best and richest teams in the world who sit atop La Liga and their Champions League group.
The right back has played 444 minutes so far and scored one goal. He is strong in holding the ball, passing, aerial duels and tackling. The Galactico and Brazilian combination also means guaranteed jersey sales.
Virgil van Dijk – Southampton
Virgil van Dijk cost Southampton £13m and that is a bargain deal for a centre back who has an eye for goal. Van Dijk, aged 24, had scored nine goals for Celtic (his previous club) in 76 games and has already scored two for Southampton in eight starts. Extremely strong aerially, he is also a good dribbler.
Van Dijk made his international debut for the Netherlands this year and all this shows a player on the upward trend and likely to be sought out by bigger clubs by end of the year. Southampton have sold key players to Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool in each of the last three seasons and they will want to keep him to build a team around.
Ricardo Pereira – Nice
Ricardo Pereira is currently on a loan deal from Porto to Nice but his six starts have already yielded three assists. Aged 22, Ricardo is a strong player in key passes, aerial duels, tackling, crossing and passing with no visible weakness aside from top level experience.
Nice are currently ranked sixth in Ligue 1 after finishing the previous two seasons 11th and 17th respectively. That is a massive improvement in the early stages of the season and Ricardo will be central to their progress. Watch out for how he shapes up by end of the year, bigger clubs may come calling.
Yevhen Konoplyanka – Sevilla
The Sevilla left midfielder has only started two games but came on as a substitute in seven games. His 452 minutes though have yielded four goals – that’s one goal every 113 minutes. Good for a striker, but great for a midfielder. He is 26 years old and a great bargain for the Andalusian club. There are no doubts that his playing time will only increase as the tough season rolls on.
Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City
De Bruyne has an expensive £55m price tag but the attacking midfielder has added a key missing piece to the Manchester City attack. The Sky Blues badly needed a scoring midfielder and were also aware that other scoring options such as David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure would not last a full season.
De Bruyne has clocked more than 800 minutes and come up with six goals and three assists so far. That is one key contribution every 88 minutes, the most notable one being the brilliant injury time winner he scored at the Etihad against Sevilla; a result that may just help the Citizens top their Champions League group.
City are currently top of the EPL table despite limited contributions from Silva and Aguero in some of their games.
Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco – Atletico Madrid
Carasco too has started only three games and come on as a substitute in four more. His 328 minutes on the field have yielded two goals and one assist as the 22-year-old settles with the hard-on-the-knuckles playing style of Atletico Madrid. Those are good stats for a midfielder who is strong in passing, set pieces and dribbling.
Atletico lead their Champions League group and are third in La Liga. And the Belgian midfielder is expected to be more effective as the season rolls on.
Kingsley Coman – Bayern Munich
Kingsley Coman is actually a loan deal but while teen sensation Anthony Martial grabs all the headlines, Coman has been more impressive. Loaned for two years from Juventus, there is every likelihood that Coman will settle at Bayern Munich should all parties agree. Pep Guardiola’s penchant for fast-tracking youngsters and giving them bigger responsibilities is well known.
Coman has played 501 minutes as a winger and has four assists and two goals. That’s one key contribution every 83 minutes! In a squad featuring Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski, Douglas Costa, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller, his chances will be limited but the impression he has made in his four starts is phenomenal.
His dribbling, passing and ball holding skills are immaculate. He needs to work on his finishing, though.
Douglas Costa – Bayern Munich
Costa has given Bayern that X-factor which could be the difference at the end. Bayern Munich are already on a historical ten-game winning streak in the Bundesliga and Costa has started in nine of them. That’s a lot of starts within a squad which already had the who’s who of football. In his 1096 minutes playing time for Bayern, he has scored three goals and assisted seven (highest in Bundesliga).
At a bargain price of £21m for a player with break-neck pace, dribbling, passing and holding skills, he is the best signing of the summer. Costa now starts regularly for Brazil. Pep Guardiola and Bayern feature twice in this list, which says something of the club’s ambitions and smart thinking. Munich have played the best football so far this season alongside Real Madrid.
Anthony Martial – Manchester United
Teen sensation Anthony Martial cost Manchester United a total of £58m transfer fees. But quality forwards don’t come cheap and Martial is top quality. He is now an established regular starter for the Red Devils (not that they have many options) and has struck four goals and grabbed one assist.
At 19 years old, with tremendous dribbling, finishing and passing skills, he could just shape up to be the next big thing in football. He will need to work on his defensive contributions though. United are fourth in EPL standings and second in their Champions League group.
Paulo Dybala – Juventus
Dybala has played more minutes, scored and assisted more than his established Juventus co-strikers – Alvaro Morata and Mario Mandzukic. The 21-year-old Argentinian cost Juventus £23.4m and has already repaid them by virtue of four goals and two assists in his 720+ minutes playing time.
Aside from some weaknesses spotted in aerial duels, Dybala is a complete striker who is all set for the big stage. Juventus are struggling in 12th place in the Serie A, but lead their Champions League group. Don’t be surprised if by summer 2016, he is the most sought after player in the transfer market.