Neymar was undoubtedly the biggest signing of the summer. (Getty)
Alas, we can all exhale. The transfer window has slammed shut. Or at least most of them around Europe have.
Clubs in Spain have an extra day to get deals over the line, but the vast majority of player movement has already happened. Some of it happened Thursday. Some of it happened way back in June. Collectively, it smashed records and boggled minds. It permanently altered the soccer landscape.
Now that it’s all in the past, it’s time to look back on the 2017 transfer window that was. Here are the top 50 moves of the summer, ranked based on the likelihood they’ll make a lasting impact and the extent of that impact:
TOP 50 TRANSFERS OF THE 2017 SUMMER WINDOW
1. Neymar | Barcelona —> PSG | €222 million — Is there anywhere else to start? The Neymar deal was colossal on so many levels. It more than doubled the world-record fee. It damaged Barcelona’s present and future and transformed PSG’s. It was the single event around which the Parisian club’s image will be built for years to come. PSG didn’t just pay for Neymar the player; it paid for someone it thinks could become a global megastar that transcends soccer – if he isn’t already that.
2. Ousmane Dembele | Borussia Dortmund —> Barcelona | €105 million — Neymar’s replacement is nowhere near the icon his predecessor on the Barcelona left wing is, and that’s precisely what makes his move to Spain so fascinating. Dembele is an unassuming 20-year-old who, at this time last year, was an unknown to many casual soccer fans. Now he’s the second-most expensive player ever, will bear the burden of expectation that comes with a €105 million – potentially rising to €147 million – transfer fee, and will try to chart the course to superstardom at the 21st century’s most successful club.
Dembele is not Neymar. He is and will be himself, a freak athlete with majestic dribbling skills and raw final-third ability. He’ll surely wow the Camp Nou crowd, at least on occasion. But not matter how many people tell him he doesn’t have to be Neymar, that shadow will follow him until he elevates himself into the same stratosphere. He may very well eventually do that. He also may come up short, and that may or may not be acceptable. His development will be as intriguing as that of any other soccer player over the next several years.
3. Kylian Mbappe | Monaco —> PSG | €180 million* — PSG will spend over €400 million on two players. That’s stupefying. But it’s also (probably) within the Financial Fair Play rules, because PSG won’t pay the Mbappe fee until next summer. We covered the logistics of why they’d do that here.
But let’s talk about Mbappe the player. He scored 26 goals in all competitions as an 18-year-old. He partnered Radamel Falcao in a front two that helped power Monaco to a Ligue 1 title and the Champions League semis. He’s a clinical finisher, even at such a young age, and is both active off the ball and creative on it. He has the potential to be the full package. Comparisons to Thierry Henry aren’t ludicrous.
How he’ll fit with Neymar and PSG’s other attacking options is an unanswerable question until he steps onto a field alongside them. There’s also the matter of patience: If Mbappe doesn’t quite hit the heights of last season right away, could regular relegations to the bench throw off his development? The talent is there, though, and it’s as close to unquestioned as an 18-year-old’s talent can be.
4. Romelu Lukaku | Everton —> Manchester United | £75 million — Big Rom could transform Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. Could. There have already been glimpses through three Premier League games. His power and pace can unleash the Mourinho counter, and his finishing ability can get United enough goals. He’s not the all-around forward that such a sum of money would have bought in the past, but he’ll be a big part of United’s title challenge – and perhaps title challenges, plural, for years to come. He’s still only 24.
5. Naby Keita | RB Leipzig —> Liverpool* | €65 million — Keita won’t join Liverpool until next summer, but when he does, he’ll prove to be the quintessential Jurgen Klopp midfield signing. The €65 million could rise to €75 million.
6. Leonardo Bonucci | Juventus —> AC Milan | €42 million — Serie A’s biggest summer story was AC Milan’s spending spree. Flush with cash from new ownership, they splashed that cash early and often on nine players, the most notable of which was Bonucci. The Italian center back has been one of the top-five defenders in the world for some time now, and probably still is even at the age of 30. But the most stunning aspect of this was that Juventus would sell its central defensive maestro to a domestic rival intent on challenging the six-time reigning Italian champs. If Bonucci runs head-on into an early-30s physical wall, Juve will look like geniuses. But there’s sizable risk here.
7. Nemanja Matic | Chelsea —> Manchester United | £40 million — Juventus wasn’t the only league champion that sold a key player to a potential challenger. Matic started 30 Premier League games as the Blues romped to 93 points and an EPL crown. A couple months later, he was unloaded to United, and already looks like a steal. He meshes extremely well with Paul Pogba at the midfield base of Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1, and frees up the dynamic Frenchman to be himself. Chelsea’s rationale is understandable – Matic is 29, and his replacement had already been purchased – but if he tips the balance of the 2017-18 Premier league title race, Chelsea fans will look back on the decision with dismay.
8. Alvaro Morata | Real Madrid —> Chelsea | £58 million — Morata was the Blues’ biggest signing of the summer. With Diego Costa forced out into the cold by manager Antonio Conte, Morata has been tasked with replacing his countryman. He’s excelled when he’s gotten opportunities at Real Madrid and Juventus in the past, but those opportunities have been limited. This is his big chance.
9. Mohamed Salah | Roma —> Liverpool | £37 million — Salah was downright awesome for Roma last year, and he’ll accentuate the strengths of an already exhilarating Liverpool attack. He, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and (probably) Philippe Coutinho will form one of the best front threes in Europe, no matter which of the three are playing.
10. James Rodriguez | Real Madrid —> Bayern Munich | €35 million* — James was not a failure at Real Madrid. He just wasn’t Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Isco, etc. … the list goes on. He was buried on the depth chart, mostly by no fault of his own. That’s why Bayern’s price is so reasonable. It’s a two-year loan with an option to buy, and if James can hit the heights he has intermittently for both club and country, this could prove to be one of the most astute pieces of business of the summer.
11. Tiemoue Bakayoko | Monaco —> Chelsea | £37 million — A robust defensive midfielder who can both break up play and power past opponents in midfield with the ball. And he’s only 22. He carried an injury into the season, so Chelsea fans haven’t gotten a true glimpse of his might, but it’ll be on show soon enough.
12. Benjamin Mendy | Monaco —> Manchester City | £52 million — He basically has the strength of a center back, the straight-line speed of a wingback, and Aleksandr Kolarov’s left foot. Pep Guardiola was desperate for fullbacks, spent around £130 million on three of them, and Mendy is the best (and youngest) of the bunch.
13. Alexandre Lacazette | Lyon —> Arsenal | £46 million — Lacazette isn’t the spectacular center forward that Arsenal fans have clamored for over the past five years … And Arsene Wenger pulled the trigger on a move for him two or three years too late … but Lacazette is finally a Gunner, and even if he’s not a world-class striker, he’s damn good. His Ligue 1 goalscoring record should translate fairly well to the Premier League.
14. Blaise Matuidi | PSG —> Juventus | €20 million — Juve is so smart. Matuidi had fallen down the PSG midfield pecking order, and turned 30 this past April, but it’s not as if he’s performance fell off the cliff. So the Italian champions swooped in and spent a fee that, in this market, is nothing. Even if Matuidi is merely central midfield depth, he’ll serve an important role. And when you look at what other reserve midfielders are going for – *cough*DannyDrinkwater35mil*cough* – €20 million is a bargain.
15. Bernardo Silva | Monaco —> Manchester City | €50 million — Silva helped tear City apart in the Champions League knockout stages last season, so Pep snapped him up, and paid handsomely to do so. His adaptation to the Premier League could go in a number of different directions, but Silva is a tidy attacking midfielder who meshes with what City and Guardiola want to do.
16. Federico Bernardeschi | Fiorentina —> Juventus | €40 million — Juventus has done very well building its squad both from outside Serie A and from within it.
17. Douglas Costa | Bayern Munich —> Juventus | €40 million — Loan with an option to buy. He’s talented, but is Juventus the right fit? There are doubts.
18. Corentin Tolisso | Lyon —> Bayern Munich | €42 million — A well-rounded central midfielder who won’t need to be the main man right away, but could be down the line.
19. Kyle Walker | Tottenham —> Manchester City | £50 million — The fee is what has attracted the most attention. But just think, if it had been £35 million and not 50, what would your analysis be? It’d be that he’s a very solid addition at City. The key will be health.
20. Paulinho | Guanzhou Evergrande —> Barcelona | €40 million — This move raised quite a few eyebrows, but Paulinho legitimately resurrected his career in China and is currently a regular with the Brazilian national team. He’s a completely different player than the Spurs flop you remember.
21. Ederson | Benfica —> Manchester City | £35 million — The most expensive goalkeeper ever, depending on what currency you’re going by. And honestly, we have no idea if he’s worth the money. But if he struggles this year, just remember David De Gea’s first season at Man United. In other words, give him time.
22. Andre Silva | Porto —> AC Milan | €38 million — Highly-touted Portuguese striker who’ll lead a new-look Milan attack.
23. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain | Arsenal —> Liverpool | £35 million — A very complex transfer. There’s a sense that he underachieved at Arsenal. But is he just simply an average player? Or was he the product of a poor, or even toxic, situation? Recent goings on at Arsenal hint at the latter.
24. Niklas Sule | Hoffenheim —> Bayern Munich | €20 million — An absolute tank of a center back with a good amount of skill too. And he’s only 21. What a steal.
25. Kingsley Coman | Juventus —> Bayern Munich | €21 million — So much talent and flair. Coman’s end product has to improve if he’s ever going to be an international star, but at 21, he’s got plenty of time.
26. Antonio Rudiger | Roma —> Chelsea | £29 million — An ACL tear halted his rise on the eve of Euro 2016. But over a year removed from surgery, it could resume. He’s still only 24.
27. Vitolo | Sevilla —> Atletico Madrid* | €38 million — The 27-year-old Spanish forward will spend the first four months of the season on loan at Las Palmas until Atleti’s transfer ban is lifted.
28. Davinson Sanchez | Ajax —> Tottenham | £42 million — Spurs probably overpaid for the 21-year-old Colombian center back. But if he can step in seamlessly when either Jan Vertonghen or Toby Alderweireld hints at decline, Tottenham will be ecstatic.
29. Youri Tielemans | Anderlecht —> Monaco | €25 million — Unheralded 20-year-old Belgian midfielder who should break out with Monaco – if not this year, then next.
30. Juan Cuadrado | Chelsea —> Juventus | €20 million — Never worked out at Chelsea. Spent last season on loan at Juventus, and now the deal is permanent.
31. Gylfi Sigurdsson | Swansea —> Everton | £45 million — The most egregious overpay of the summer.
32. Victor Lindelof | Benfica —> Manchester United | £31 million — Still very much an unknown quantity, and unlikely to be a first-choice center back in year one at Old Trafford. Would not be at all surprising to see Jose Mourinho ultimately mold him into a defensive midfielder.
33. Hakan Calhanoglu | Leverkusen —> Milan | €25 million — Free-kick wizard, and a nice all-around attacking player too.
34. Vinicius Junior | Flamengo —> Real Madrid* | €46 million — The highest-rated Brazilian youngster on the market. He’s only 17, and at least two years off from contributing at Madrid. He’ll be loaned back to Flamengo until he’s 18, at which point he can legally complete the transfer.
35. Nelson Semedo | Benfica —> Barcelona | €30 million — Barcelona have had a rough few years in the transfer market. Semedo, however, appears to be one of the club’s better buys.
36. Keita Balde | Lazio —> Monaco | €30 million37. Theo Hernandez | Atletico Madrid —> Real Madrid | €24 million38. Luis Muriel | Sampdoria —> Sevilla | €20 million39. Jordan Pickford | Sunderland —> Everton | £25 million40. Benedikt Howedes | Schalke —> Juventus | €13 million41. Kelechi Iheanacho | Manchester City —> Leicester | £25 million42. Michael Keane | Burnley —> Everton | £25 million43. Kevin Kampl | Leverkusen —> RB Leipzig | €20 million44. Franck Kessie | Atalanta —> AC Milan | €20 million45. Danilo | Real Madrid —> Manchester City | €30 million46. Harry Maguire | Hull —> Leicester | £20 million47. Serge Aurier | PSG —> Tottenham | £23 million48. Davide Zappacosta | Torino —> Chelsea | €25 million49. Wayne Rooney | Manchester United —> Everton50. Andriy Yarmolenko | Dynamo Kiev —> Dortmund | €23 million
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Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. national teams, the Premier League, and much, much more – for FC Yahoo and Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.