From Lionel Messi joining Inter Miami to Chelsea's record-breaking spending and the rise of the Saudi Pro League: GOAL grades 2023's biggest summer transfers

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All summer long, GOAL's Mark Doyle handed out grades as they happened for the biggest transfers from around the world - did he get them right?

For some football fans, the off-season is the part of the calendar that they look forward to the most, as that can only mean one thing: It's time for transfers! Over the past weeks and months, the biggest names have been linked with the biggest clubs, with speculation going into overdrive before massive deals were made and players officially made their moves.

We all know that some transfers turn out well for all parties involved, but there are plenty where at least one of the clubs, or even the player, are left wondering what might have been had they made a different decision while at the negotiating table.

GOAL has been here, then, to ensure you knew who did the best out of every massive deal before the ink was even dry on the contracts. Throughout the summer window, we have been grading every done deal as it happened, letting you track the big winners - and losers - of transfer season.

Check out all our grades from the past three months below, and let us know what you think in the comments section...

  1. September 1: Randal Kolo Muani (Eintracht Frankfurt to PSG, €75m)
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    September 1: Randal Kolo Muani (Eintracht Frankfurt to PSG, €75m)

    For Eintracht Frankfurt: Hardly ideal in terms of timing but a fantastic fee. Eintracht, remember, signed Muani for nothing just over a year ago, on a pre-contract agreement, ahead of the expiration of his Nantes deal. So this is all profit for the German side, which obviously takes the edge off the fact that they're going to have a serious job replacing his goals and assists. In an ideal scenario, they'd have been able to use the money raised to bring in new players, but the one positive to the fact that this transfer went right until the wire is that PSG ended up paying over the odds for Muani in their desperation to get the deal done. Grade: A-

    For PSG: Satisfaction at having finally got their man. At one point it looked like the deal might collapse because of Hugo Ekitike's refusal to move in the opposite direction, but they will be delighted to have got it over the line, even if the fee is exorbitant for a player with just one great season under his belt. PSG's overhaul of their forward line is now complete and the fans will be thrilled by the prospect of Muani lining up alongside fellow France internationals Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele. Grade: B+

    For Muani: The move he so desperately wanted. Truth be told, Muani disgraced himself by the way in which he helped force this deal through by effectively going on strike, given Eintracht gave him a platform on which to shine. But, let's face it, he probably won't care, and now he's likely to have a blast playing for a PSG side that looks seriously well-stocked in every department this season, which would only boost his chances of nailing down a regular starting spot in the France starting line-up ahead of Euro 2024. Grade: A

  2. September 1: Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina to Manchester United, loan)
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    September 1: Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina to Manchester United, loan)

    For Fiorentina: Finally, an end to a most annoying distraction for Vincenzo Italiano and his team! Still, this saga hasn't really been resolved in a wholly satisfactory manner for Fiorentina. To their credit, they dismissed United's ludicrous initial offer of a €2m loan fee to be paid in two instalments. But the hope all along was to get rid of Amrabat on a permanent deal, for somewhere in the region of €30m. The loan deal they've struck with United is obviously better than nothing and Fiorentina will obviously be glad that they can finally focus their attention elsewhere - for a while at least - but the Viola were obviously hoping for a more definitive and more lucrative resolution to the matter. Grade: C+

    For Manchester United: A decent deal at last. It's been a very trying summer for United, whose budgetary restrictions have been laid bare in the final few weeks of the window. However, Amrabat should add real bite - and some badly-needed dynamism - to Erik ten Hag's midfield, which has been badly overrun in recent outings. United were desperate for a defensive midfielder - and they've got a very good one for very little money. Amrabat could easily end up being the best-value transfer of Ten Hag's tenure to date. Grade: B+

    For Amrabat: The belated realisation of a dream. Amrabat thought he'd done enough at Qatar 2022 to earn himself a transfer to a truly elite club - and one can understand why. The Moroccan was absolutely sensational during the African nation's historic run to the semi-finals of the World Cup, an indefatigable presence in front of the back four who nullified the threat posed by some of the best attacking midfielders in the game. However, the challenge now for Amrabat is to show that he can deliver top-class performances on a consistent basis - something he never achieved at Fiorentina. Still, United could not have signed a more determined or hard-working character. Grade: A

  3. September 1: Ryan Gravenberch (Bayern Munich to Liverpool, £34m)
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    September 1: Ryan Gravenberch (Bayern Munich to Liverpool, £34m)

    For Bayern Munich: Something of a magic trick! Bayern have managed to sell a player that had a terrible season at the Allianz Arena for more than double what they paid Ajax for him just over a year ago. Gravenberch's potential may be obvious and some supporters fear that the club may come to regret giving up on the Netherlands international so soon, but the fact of the matter was that head coach Thomas Tuchel didn't believe the Dutchman had the requisite defensive discipline to play in central midfield - much like Julian Nagelsmann before him. If Bayern manage to bring in Joao Pahlinha, they'll be understandably chuffed with themselves. If Fulham resist their overtures, though, the Bavarians might end up looking worryingly short on numbers in their engine room. Grade: A-

    For Liverpool: Another belated - but exciting - midfield addition. We all know that Liverpool's top two central midfield targets were Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia - and they lost both to Chelsea. So, there has been an undeniable air of desperation around their moves for Wataru Endo and Gravenberch. However, both could prove shrewd signings, particularly that of Gravenberch, who is far more experienced than Lavia, for example. It's also not so long ago that the 21-year-old was being heralded as one of the most exciting youngsters to come out of Amsterdam in ages. Just ask Erik ten Hag: he tipped him to become a star while Gravenberch was still only a teenager breaking records at Ajax. It didn't happen for him at Bayern, of course, and the reports of a poor attitude are undeniably worrying from a Liverpool perspective. But while he might not be a specialist No.6 - not yet, at least - it's worth remembering that Klopp has been following Gravenberch for some time, so there is the distinct possibility that the German might just be able to turn his new signing into the 'new Gini Wijnaldum'. Grade: B+

    For Gravenberch: An end to his misery in Munich. It had been clear for some time that Tuchel didn't trust him, so Gravenberch's willingness to leave in pursuit of regular first-team football was understandable. He's not going to walk into the starting line-up at Anfield, though; it rarely works out that way for new, young arrivals at Klopp's Liverpool. So, it will be fascinating to see how he reacts to the manager's demands. Indeed, you get the feeling that the success of this move hinges on Gravenberch's attitude and application. He's got the talent to become a big hit on Merseyside, but does he have the right temperament? We're about to find out. Grade: A

  4. September 1: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City to Barcelona, loan)
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    September 1: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City to Barcelona, loan)

    For Manchester City: A welcome end to one of the more surprising break-ups in recent football history. Cancelo's relationship with Pep Guardiola unravelled so quickly, with the Portugal international seemingly going from integral to outcast overnight. The Catalan clearly had his reasons, but it really was strange to see such an important player be discarded so suddenly. City's initial hope was that Bayern Munich would take Cancelo off their hands, but when that loan move failed to materialise into a permanent transfer, a new buyer had to be found. City would obviously have preferred a permanent transfer, but a loan move with an option to buy that is highly likely to be activated is better than the alternative: Cancelo depreciating even further in value while sitting in the stands for another six months. Grade: C+

    Barcelona: The club's ideal full-back? Cancelo certainly fits the mould. He is outrageously comfortable on the ball, blessed with great vision and is so two-footed that he can play on either flank. The Portuguese has had his problems over the past year and it's undeniably worrying that neither Manchester City nor Bayern Munich wanted him anymore. But Barca were short on quality at the back and Cancelo should slot straight into Xavi's team because of his technical ability and tactical versatility. Grade: A

    For Cancelo: A dream conclusion to the nightmare scenario he found himself in. He had hoped to resurrect his career in Munich after being frozen out in Manchester, but he flopped badly at Bayern, with his prospects probably not helped by a change of manager at the Allianz Arena. He'll receive a warm welcome at Camp Nou, though, and the suspicion has long been that if Cancelo is made to feel loved and important, he will excel. Grade: A+

  5. September 1: Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid to Barcelona, loan)
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    September 1: Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid to Barcelona, loan)

    For Atletico Madrid: The usual drill with the club's most expensive mistake - extend his contract to cover their backsides before getting him as far away from the Metropolitano as possible. Diego Simeone has long since given up on the Portuguese flop, and with Chelsea having decided against making his temporary stay at Stamford Bridge permanent, Atleti had no other option but to send him out on loan again in the hope that this time he might finally convince someone to buy him. The one fear is that they might have strengthened a Liga title rival, but even if that proves the case, it will only boost the Rojiblancos' chances of getting rid of Felix for good. Grade: B-

    For Barcelona: A slightly strange move. Barca have essentially ditched Ansu Fati, a history-making homegrown hero, in favour of a notoriously misfiring forward who has scored just 25 goals in 96 Liga appearances. Still, we all know that while Felix is not a goalscorer, he is gifted. He showed flashes of his fantastic talent during Portugal's 2022 World Cup campaign and his loan spell at Chelsea, but Barcelona will need him to finally start delivering on a regular basis. Can Xavi succeed where Simeone failed? Grade: C+

    For Felix: A dream come true, apparently. Felix made it clear just a few weeks ago that he would be overjoyed if he got a chance to play for Barca - and now he's got his wish. He's still only 23 so he's still got plenty of time to prove himself. But, honestly, he's a very lucky boy to keep getting these opportunities at top-tier teams, so if Felix flops in Catalunya, it's actually hard to see another top team taking a chance on him this time next year. Over to you, Joao... Grade: A

  6. September 1: Sergio Reguilon (Tottenham to Manchester United, loan)
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    September 1: Sergio Reguilon (Tottenham to Manchester United, loan)

    For Spurs: A logical move. Reguilon cost a staggering £32m ($41m) when signed from Sevilla in 2020 but has no future in north London, with new arrival Destiny Udogie already looking capable of making the left-back berth his own for years to come. So, it makes perfect sense for Spurs to let an unwanted player leave on loan in the hope that he might do well enough to earn himself a permanent move away - if not to Old Trafford, than somewhere else. Daniel Levy will certainly be praying that Spurs can ultimately recoup as much of that initial outlay as possible. Grade: B

    For United: Another sign of the club's desperation - and budgetary constraints. In fairness to United, they've been unfortunate to see both Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia sidelined by injury - but that double-blow could have been a chance to bring in a world-class left-back. However, United are simply not in a strong enough position economically to do so and so they've been left scrambling around trying to take whatever reject they can find. Marcos Alonso and Marc Cucurella were both considered and yet United have still ended up finding a worse option. Reguilon was a decent attacking full-back for a very short spell in Spain three to four years ago, but he's been terrible at Tottenham, and proved useless while on loan to Atletico Madrid last season. What's so strange about this signing is that in order to bail themselves out of an injury crisis, United have acquired a player who was plagued by fitness problems in 2022-23. Desperate times call for desperations - and these are undoubtedly desperate times at Old Trafford - but Reguilon is nonetheless an utterly bizarre arrival. Grade: D

    For Reguilon: An incredible change in fortune. The 26-year-old was facing a season on the sidelines at Spurs but he's now set for regular game time at Old Trafford. It's an extraordinarily unexpected opportunity to remind the football world of his talents that he just cannot afford to waste. Even if he doesn't manage to secure a permanent move to United, Reguilon simply has to prove that he can once again be the exciting player that helped Sevilla win the Europa League in 2020. Grade: A+

  7. September 1: Ansu Fati (Barcelona to Brighton, loan)
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    September 1: Ansu Fati (Barcelona to Brighton, loan)

    For Barcelona: A difficult decision - but the correct call. Tough as it is to say, there is no guarantee that Ansu Fati will become the superstar that everyone expected before his serious injury issues. It's also clear that he's fallen down the pecking order at Camp Nou, even losing his starting spot - and his status as the club's 'next big thing' - to Lamine Yamal. So, letting Fati leave on loan for a year to see how he holds up to the rigours of the Premier League feels like a smart move by Barca, who are reasonably well-stocked up front. This transfer really could be the making of Fati. If so, he will be welcomed back with open arms next summer. Grade: B+

    For Brighton: Further evidence of their emergence as one of the best clubs in the world for signing top young talent, with the Seagulls signing a Barcelona player despite interest from Premier League rivals such as Tottenham. Such a deal would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, but Roberto De Zerbi has built brilliantly on the work done by predecessor Graham Potter, and Brighton are now regarded as not only a wonderfully well-run club from top to bottom - but also an incredibly enticing team to play for. Fati's fitness problems are undeniably a cause for concern, but if De Zerbi get the best out of the 20-year-old - and you certainly wouldn't bet against the gifted Italian tactician - then the Spain international could light up the Premier League alongside fellow young guns Evan Ferguson, Joao Pedro and Julio Enciso. Grade: A

    For Ansu Fati: A fantastic opportunity to kickstart his career but also take his game to a whole new level under a genius of a manager. If he can stay fit - and we appreciate that's a big if - this deal should prove the best of both worlds for Fati. He'll get to play regularly and in a tremendously exciting side that should suit his skillset down to the ground. All going well, he'll either return to Barcelona next summer utterly reinvigorated or continue excelling in the Premier League for a scintillating side. Grade: A+

  8. September 1: Matheus Nunes (Wolves to Manchester City, £53m)
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    September 1: Matheus Nunes (Wolves to Manchester City, £53m)

    For Wolves: Good riddance to bad rubbish! As umpteen irate Wolves fans have already pointed out in the harshest of terms online, Nunes arrived at Molineux last year for big money, failed dismally to justify his £38m ($48m) fee and then effectively spat in the faces of those who had never stopped supporting him by going on strike in order to force through a transfer to Manchester City. Wolves really are better off without such a contemptible character and have at least made a profit on a player who underperformed terribly - even if it wasn't as much as they would have liked. Grade: B

    For Manchester City: A sign of Pep Guardiola's desperation to strengthen his midfield. The Catalan clearly rates Nunes highly: in one of his regular flights of fancy while talking about opponents he likes, Guardiola called the Portuguese "one of the best players in the world", even though City had just hammered Nunes' Sporting CP side 5-0 in the last 16 of the Champions League in February 2022. However, this move simply would not have happened had Kevin De Bruyne not got injured at the start of the season, and Lucas Paqueta was clearly the first-choice replacement until the Brazilian got himself caught up in a betting investigation. So, this transfer, coming as it does just before the close of the summer window, says more about City's anxiety than Nunes' quality. Grade: B-

    For Nunes: Like somehow winning the lottery without bothering to buy a ticket. Nunes has done nothing over the past year to now find himself in such a privileged position, playing for the best team in the world. Liverpool had also been heavily linked, of course, but their interest never materialised into a move because of the 25-year-old's poor form, while it's also worth flagging that Nunes is not a starter for Portugal. Despite the hefty fee, game time at the Etihad is far from guaranteed. However, Guardiola is obviously a great man-manager and a tactical genius, so he could easily coax the very best out of Nunes, who will obviously relish playing in a far stronger sider than Wolves. It's an awful lot of money for someone who has done next-to-nothing in the Premier League but who knows, Guardiola could yet turn him into his new Ilkay Gundogan! Grade: A+

  9. September 1: Cole Palmer (Manchester City to Chelsea, £40m)
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    September 1: Cole Palmer (Manchester City to Chelsea, £40m)

    For Manchester City: More of that precious pure profit on a homegrown player. Plenty of people - including some working at the Premier League - have long wondered where Manchester City's money has been coming from for the past decade and a half. But there's no doubt that, these days at least, a significant chunk of their income is being generated by the sale of academy products. This summer alone, City have made £79m ($100m) alone on five players aged 20 or under: Palmer, Shea Charles, James Trafford, Adedire Mebude and Carlos Borges. City may have an endless supply of oil money, but they've also invested it wisely in youth and are now reaping ridiculous rewards. There really is no end in sight to their dominance of English football. Grade: A+

    For Chelsea: Another startling illustration of the depth of their determination to sign as many potential stars as possible - regardless of the cost. In fact, this might just be the most absurd example yet. Palmer is clearly an exciting prospect - he proved that in the Community Shield and UEFA Super Cup. But he's 21 years of age and has made just three Premier League starts in his fledgling career. The fee, then, makes no sense - but Chelsea clearly have a plan for all these young players they're stockpiling at Stamford Bridge and they're sticking to it. The onus now is on Mauricio Pochettino to not only develop all these kids, but also keep them happy, which will be easier said than done. Grade: D

    For Palmer: A strange move. Leaving treble-winning City was always going to represent a difficult step down for a Manchester lad, but one could understand the reasoning, given the intense competition for places at the Etihad. After all, it's not as if Palmer's hopes of regular game time this season were helped by the signing of Jeremy Doku. However, one would have expected such a highly-rated England Under-21 international to join a stable side where he is guaranteed first-team football. So, anyone but Chelsea, really! Still, everyone is in the same boat at Stamford Bridge right now, effectively starting from scratch under Pochettino, so Palmer clearly feels he can force his way into the Argentine's XI. Grade: C-

  10. August 31: Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea to Roma, loan)
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    August 31: Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea to Roma, loan)

    For Chelsea: A temporary solution to their Lukaku problem. Chelsea's objective at the start of the summer was to completely rid themselves of the worst signing in club history, and Inter were willing to turn last season's loan agreement into a permanent transfer until it emerged that Lukaku had entered into secret talks with hated rivals Juventus. However, the Blues didn't agree with the Bianconeri's valuation of Dusan Vlahovic in the player-plus-cash deal that the Italians were suggesting, meaning the Londoners were left hoping that Lukaku would agree to move to Saudi Arabia - which he did not. As a result, another loan was all Chelsea could hope for - and they will at least receive around £5m for their troubles. However, unless Lukaku catches fire again in Serie A, and Roma manage to stump up the cash to buy the Belgian outright, Chelsea will find themselves dealing with the same Lukaku problem again next summer - when the striker will be 31 years of age. Grade: C

    For Roma: Something resembling joy for Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese manager had been so desperate for a No.9 because of Tammy Abraham's injury-enforced absence that he and his coaching staff even humorously left space in a pre-season team photo for a new arrival. So, Mourinho will be delighted/relieved that his bosses have finally answered his prayers. Lukaku is also a pretty good coup, given Roma's resources. When fit and firing, he is capable of running amok in Serie A, while it's also worth remembering that he was Manchester United's top scorer during Mourinho's second season at Old Trafford, scoring 27 goals in all competitions. Grade: B+

    For Lukaku: The best move in a very bad situation. Lukaku has become a laughing stock - and not because of his infamously wayward finishing. He is now simultaneously despised by the fans of the last three clubs he has represented, while Juventus supporters also made their feelings about him very clear when it appeared that he was about to transfer to Turin. In that context, there is arguably no more hated player in football right now. He deserves credit for rejecting offers from Saudi Arabia to continue playing at a high level, but he's botched this summer so badly that he's now gone from playing for last season's Champions League runners-up to a side that has little hope of challenging for the Scudetto this season. However, Lukaku will be given a very warm welcome at Stadio Olimpico, which will also provide him with the perfect platform to prove he can still score goals in Serie A. As a man, Lukaku's reputation has been irrevocably ruined, but do not be surprised if Mourinho, the master motivator, helps him reclaim his status as one of the best strikers in Italy. Grade: A-

  11. August 30: Folarin Balogun (Arsenal to Monaco, €40m)
    Photos AS Monaco

    August 30: Folarin Balogun (Arsenal to Monaco, €40m)

    For Arsenal: An extraordinary and highly lucrative turn of events. Balogun was well-regarded at Arsenal but nobody at the club expected him to run riot in Ligue 1 last season, particularly after his underwhelming loan spell at Middlesborough. The Gunners were, therefore, delighted to see a player that had no chance of breaking into Mikel Arteta's staring line-up score so freely for Reims that he attracted interest from all across Europe. The club also deserves credit for standing their ground on the fee, rejecting one bid from Monaco before the Ligue 1 side eventually agreed to meet the asking price, and then securing a sell-on clause. The net result is Arsenal have made pure profit on an academy product that failed to prove that he could flourish in even the second tier of English football. Grade: A

    For Monaco: Another exciting attacking addition - and a much-needed one, given Breel Embolo is injured and the future of Wissam Ben Yedder is very much up in the air, with the club captain having recently been charged with rape. Balogun's arrival is undoubtedly a major coup for Monaco, and an impressive show of financial power. Not only was the United States international one of the best players in Ligue 1 last season, he was also coveted by the likes of Inter and Chelsea. Balogun really could prove just as prolific playing in front of Aleksandr Golovin and Takumi Minamino. Grade: B+

    For Balogun: Something of a let-down for his American fans, who were expecting him to join one of Europe's elite, but perhaps a sensible decision on his part. Balogun is obviously not the finished article and, at 22, he still has a lot to learn. It is by no means a given that he will walk straight into the starting line-up, particularly while Ben Yedder is still eligible to lead the line. But Monaco are renowned for nurturing top young talent and Balogun also knows French football. Perhaps more importantly, he knows he can score goals in Ligue 1. It's also worth pointing out that he's also got a shot at winning a title at the Stade Louis II, with Monaco currently top of the table after making an exciting start to life under new coach Adi Hutter. Grade: B

  12. August 26: Gabri Veiga (Celta Vigo to Al-Ahli, €40m)

    August 26: Gabri Veiga (Celta Vigo to Al-Ahli, €40m)

    For Celta: The ideal outcome for the club (if not the player). Celta were set to 'settle' for Napoli's €36m offer for Veiga, only for Al-Ahli to hijack the deal at the last minute by agreeing to meet the midfielder's release clause. There will, of course, be some regret in Galicia - and for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they are losing a truly special talent, one that helped them avoid relegation from La Liga last season. Secondly, the release clause could have been higher, given Veiga is regarded as one of the most promising players in the world. His value was only ever going to increase. Still, Celta have got as much money as possible out of his exit. Grade: B

    For Al-Ahli: The most significant signing of the summer. Seriously, forget Karim Benzema and N'Golo Kante - ageing superstars were always likely to follow trail-blazer Cristiano Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia given the enormous amounts of money on offer for high-profile players who's best days were behind them. So, it was a huge surprise to see someone like Sergej Milinkovic-Savic follow suit, given the Serb is still at the peak of his powers. But Veiga's arrival is actually far more significant. This is one of the game's top young talents and he has ended up joining Ah-Ahli instead of Serie A champions Napoli, a team being hailed as one of the most exciting in European football right now. To borrow a phrase from Succession, the options on this transfer are unbelievable for Saudi Arabia. Grade: A+

    For Veiga: A truly staggering decision from a footballing perspective. Obviously, Al-Ahli agreed to meet his buy-out clause; Napoli did not - but Veiga was not forced to move to the Middle East. If he really wanted to join the Partenopei, he could have made it happen. Make no mistake about: the fact that Al-Ahli were offering five times as much money as Napoli was key here. Veiga and his team may well be thinking long term: make millions in Saudi Arabia for a few years and then join a top team in Europe. However, there are no guarantees in football. It's not a given that the 21-year-old will develop as he should in the Pro League - or that his international prospects won't be hindered by this transfer. Euro 2024 is just around the corner - will Veiga really be picked over compatriots playing at a higher level in La Liga? Veiga is going to make a fortune no matter what - but he's taken a huge gamble here. Grade: D

  13. August 24: Jeremy Doku (Rennes to Manchester City, £55m)
    Manchester City

    August 24: Jeremy Doku (Rennes to Manchester City, £55m)

    For Rennes: An inevitable exit. Rennes broke their transfer record to sign Doku from Anderlecht in 2020 for €26m, and while he never quite lived up to the hype that surrounded his signing - through a combination of injuries and inconsistency - he at least did enough to generate a tidy profit. He will undeniably be missed - Doku was on target in Rennes' Ligue 1 opener against Metz - but it was only a matter of time before one of Europe's top clubs acquired rare talent that Kevin De Bruyne has previously described as "a diamond in the rough". Grade: A

    For Manchester City: A fascinating signing that could just as easily toil as thrive under Pep Guardiola. Doku's talent is as exhilarating as it is obvious. He has the kind of pace off a standing start that even Kylian Mbappe admires, his dribbling skills have prompted comparisons with a peak Eden Hazard while Jurgen Klopp once admitted that he sees similarities with Sadio Mane. City also desperately needed a new winger after selling Riyad Mahrez and, in Doku, they've got one of incredible potential. However, there are two obvious concerns: a lack of end product and fitness problems. Guardiola should be able to help him with the former, but the onus will be on City's medical team to tackle the latter. This one really could go either way: £55m could prove a bargain or an expensive mistake. Grade: B+

    For Doku: Time to start realising that potential. Doku is a joy to behold when running at petrified full-backs. Only Vinicius Jr and Lionel Messi completed more dribbles in Europe's 'Big Five' leagues last season. But while he is arguably as exciting as those two in full flight, he is nowhere near as effective, as underlined by his record of 10 goals in 74 Ligue 1 appearances. Doku showed what he is capable of at Euro 2020 but this is a whole new challenge. He will have to produce exactly what Guardiola wants of him, and on a consistent basis - something that Leroy Sane, for example, never really managed in Manchester. He really couldn’t be in a better place to become a superstar, but it all depends on Doku. He has the ability - but how will his body and mind hold up to the challenge of playing for Pep while at the same time spending a significant amount of time on the bench? Grade: A-

  14. August 24: Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City to Al-Nassr, £25m)
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    August 24: Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City to Al-Nassr, £25m)

    For Manchester City: Another welcome injection of cash from the Middle East. After selling Riyad Mahrez to Al-Ahli for £30m, City have made almost as much money from Laporte's Saudi Arabian switch. It really is a decent deal for the English champions, given Laporte had slipped right down the centre-back pecking order at the Etihad. Indeed, as soon as Josko Gvardiol arrived from RB Leipzig, it was clear that Laporte's days were numbered. He may have played a key role in City's 2018-19 title win, but he was little more than a squad player last season. Grade: B

    For Al-Nassr: Some badly needed defensive reinforcement. Al-Nassr have made a dreadful start to the season, losing their opening two games, and while much of the attention has focused on the team's misfiring forward line, it's worth noting that they've already shipped four goals. Laporte may not be the defender he once was, but he should find the quality and pace of Pro League football very much to his liking. Grade: B+

    For Laporte: Evidence of how far he's fallen. Not that long ago, Laporte was being lauded as one of the very best centre-backs in the world. However, it's incredibly significant that even though he was on the market this summer for a very reasonable fee for a 29-year-old Spain international (the wage demands were obviously a different story altogether), not one top Europe team tried to sign him. His decision to join Al-Nassr, then, was entirely predictable. Grade: D

  15. August 20: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham to Al-Hilal, £46m)
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    August 20: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham to Al-Hilal, £46m)

    For Fulham: A tough one to take. Mitrovic disgraced himself last season with a ridiculous red card in an FA Cup game at Old Trafford that resulted in an eight-match ban for pushing Chris Kavanagh while contesting the award of a clear penalty. It was a shameful and nonsensical episode that cost Fulham the game - and any shot they had at qualifying for Europe. So, the least he could have done was stick around for another season. Instead, he once again let Fulham and their fans down by forcing through a move to Saudi Arabia by refusing to ever play for the club again, completely ruining his legacy at Craven Cottage. Consequently, Marco Silva & Co. are now scrambling around looking for a new striker before the window shuts. Still, Fulham have, at least, brought in a colossal amount of money for a mid-table No.9 that turns 29 next month. Grade: B-

    For Al-Hilal: The icing on the cake. Al-Hilal have invested heavily in their squad this summer, bringing in the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly, Sergej-Milinkovic-Savic, Ruben Neves, Malcom and, of course, Neymar. But it was clear before the season began that they needed a No.9. They've now got one. Mitrovic may not be one of the best centre-forwards in the world, but he is a handful for any defence and has scored enough goals at international level for Serbia to suggest that he should prove prolific in the Pro League. Grade: A-

    For Mitrovic: An embarrassing end to his time at Fulham. Mitrovic played a colossal part in the club's promotion to the Premier League, scoring 43 times in 44 appearances during the 2021-22 Championship season. But the manner of his exit leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth. Not that he'll care, of course. Mitrovic is not a Champions League-level player - he was never going to be signed by one of Europe's elite at this point of his career, so it's not in the least bit surprising that he was willing to do whatever it took to get the chance to set himself up for life while playing alongside Neymar in the Middle East. Grade: C+

  16. August 18: Wataru Endo (Stuttgart to Liverpool, £16m)
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    August 18: Wataru Endo (Stuttgart to Liverpool, £16m)

    For Stuttgart: Not exactly ideal preparation for the start of the new Bundesliga season. Indeed, Endo is one of the main reasons why Stuttgart are still in the top flight, having played a major role in keeping them up for the past two seasons. And they're not just losing a key starter here; the Japanese is Stuttgart's 'silent leader', the "bodyguard" that protects their back four. Given he's been such a fine servant to the club since arriving in 2019 - initially on loan - Stuttgart, to their credit, were never going to block Endo from accepting the opportunity of a lifetime. But they have managed to get a decent fee for a 30-year-old who would have been out of contract next summer, meaning they will have some money to put towards a replacement. Grade: C+

    For Liverpool: Not the defensive midfielder the fans were hoping for - but a defensive midfielder nonetheless. Endo's surprise signing has been met with a lot of scepticism, which is understandable, given his age and his low profile. But he could prove a very valuable addition. Endo, who was excellent at the 2022 World Cup, is Japan's 'Duel King', a player renowned not only for his ability to win possession - but also use it intelligently. In a struggling Stuttgart side, he repeatedly managed to post better defensive numbers than the likes of Joshua Kimmich. Liverpool may have overpaid ever so lightly and he's certainly not a long-term solution to Jurgen Klopp's midfield problem - but Endo should thrive alongside better players at Anfield. Grade: B

    For Endo: A dream move. Seriously, Endo could never have expected to be snapped up by one of the game's most famous clubs at this stage of his career. Liverpool were desperate, of course, having missed out on their top two transfer targets in Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, and another No.6 is likely to arrive on Merseyside before the close of the transfer window, meaning Endo is not guaranteed game time. However, he has the work-rate and technical ability to become a big hit with Klopp. Make no mistake about it: Endo is going to relish the challenge of trying to prove himself at Liverpool. Grade: A+

  17. August 18: Romeo Lavia (Southampton to Chelsea, £58m)
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    August 18: Romeo Lavia (Southampton to Chelsea, £58m)

    For Southampton: Ample reward for refusing to accept anything less than their asking price. Clubs that are relegated from the Premier League are always forced to sell their most valuable assets - and often for knockdown fees, because of their compromised financial position. However, Southampton stood firm on their £50m valuation of a player that they paid just over £10m for a year ago, knocking back one offer after another from Liverpool. In the end, they got an even better deal than they could have expected because of Chelsea's willingness to sign every promising young player on the market. Grade: A+

    For Chelsea: Another impressive demonstration of the owners' spending power - and a second hugely significant transfer-market victory over top-four rivals Liverpool in as many days. As with the acquisition of Moises Caicedo, it's hard to shake the feeling that the Blues have once again paid over the odds for a promising but unproven talent. But manager Mauricio Pochettino won't care. He suddenly has two new talented midfielders to work with, meaning his squad is not far from being complete. Grade: B+

    For Lavia: A remarkable rise to prominence. Lavia was relatively unknown outside of the Etihad Stadium this time last year, having never made a single Premier League appearance for Manchester City. Now, he is being touted as a potential star after a breakout season at Southampton resulted in him becoming the subject of an intriguing transfer tug-of-war between two of England's biggest clubs. One wonders if he's chosen wisely, though? Lavia would have pretty much walked into Liverpool's starting line-up, given their lack of defensive midfielders, but he'll find it a little more difficult to lock down a regular starting spot at Stamford Bridge - not least because of Caicedo's arrival. Pochettino, though, is not exactly flush with midfielders and besides, at 19, time is very much on his side - particularly as he’s joined Chelsea, where lucrative, long-term contracts take the edge off any initial frustration over a lack of game time. Grade: A

  18. August 15: Neymar (PSG to Al-Hilal, €90m)

    August 15: Neymar (PSG to Al-Hilal, €90m)

    For Paris Saint-Germain: A huge weight has been lifted. Neymar didn't just prove a colossal strain on the club's resources for six years, he also became a burden because of his propensity for courting controversy, on and off the field. PSG, remember, wanted rid of Neymar last summer but they couldn't find a buyer willing to give them decent money for the most expensive mistake in football history. Step forward, Saudi Arabia. PSG may have made a massive loss on the world-record fee they paid for Neymar in 2017, but make no mistake about it: Nasser Al-Khelaifi & Co. are thrilled with themselves right now. On the same weekend, they essentially managed to offload Neymar for an incredibly generous €90m, sign his replacement (Ousmane Dembele) and convince Kylian Mbappe to stay at Parc des Princes. PSG couldn't have hoped for a better turn of events. Grade: A+

    For Al-Hilal: The superstar signing the fans have been awaiting. Al-Hilal have undeniably bought well this summer: Kalidou Koulibaly should prove one of the most dominant defenders in the Pro League, while Ruben Neves and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic have the makings of the division's best midfield pairing. However, the arrival of Malcom didn't exactly set pulses racing. Neymar, though, is an incredible acquisition - and not just for Al-Hilal but the entire league. He may be an outrageously divisive character, but he's one of the most high-profile and talented players in world football. Grade: A+

    For Neymar: A depressing descent into farce. No matter what one thinks about Neymar as a person - he's undeniably one of the most gifted players the game has ever seen. This is a player so skilful that during his time at Barcelona, he sometimes upstaged Lionel Messi - that's how good he can be. It's something of a sporting tragedy, then, that he ended up squandering six years of what should have been a legendary career at PSG before now effectively going into semi-retirement in Saudi Arabia. And yet nobody is the least bit surprised - because no top teams wanted Neymar anymore. Consequently, a move to the Middle East was inevitable, and he’ll earn a fortune for his troubles. But what a sad waste of talent. Grade: F

  19. August 15: David Raya (Brentford to Arsenal, £3m loan)
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    August 15: David Raya (Brentford to Arsenal, £3m loan)

    For Brentford: A big blow for Thomas Frank. The Bees boss planned for this scenario with the signing of Mark Flekken but, at the end of the day, he has still lost his first-choice goalkeeper just a few days before the start of the new Premier League season. Brentford were in an awkward position, though, with Raya having just one year left on his contract. So, they've made the best of a bad situation by getting the Spain international to sign a renewal by allowing him to join Arsenal on loan for an initial £3m, but with a view to a permanent transfer for an additional £27m. Given it will only take a few appearances for the obligation-to-buy clause to be activated, the Bees are almost certain to end up securing 10 times the fee they paid Blackburn Rovers for Raya's services in 2019. Grade: B

    For Arsenal: A strange move in the eyes of some supporters but, in truth, it's the right call. Aaron Ramsdale is a hugely popular figure at the Emirates and he played his part in Arsenal's Community Shield win over Manchester City last weekend, but he's not a title-winning goalkeeper and Mikel Arteta knows it. The Englishman may be a spectacular shot-stopper but he is error-prone and poor with his feet. Raya, who was also wanted by Bayern Munich, represents an upgrade on Ramsdale. The fact that Arsenal have also managed to structure this deal in such a way to avoid any Financial Fair Play (FFP) issues is another big bonus. Grade: A

    For Raya: Just reward for last season's sensational campaign. Displacing Ramsdale will not be easy, of course. Arsenal's current No.1 has already said he is looking forward to the challenge of holding onto his starting spot. He will put up one hell of a fight - but it's a fight that Raya can win. He kept 12 clean sheets last season - just two fewer than Ramsdale in a title-challenging team - while no goalkeeper made more saves (154). His save percentage (71.43) was also the best in the division and far superior to that of Ramsdale (66.67%). Raya will, thus, relish the chance to establish himself as one of the game's elite goalkeepers. Grade: A-

  20. August 14: Moises Caicedo (Brighton to Chelsea, £115m)
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    August 14: Moises Caicedo (Brighton to Chelsea, £115m)

    For Brighton: Jackpot! Brighton have done it again, taking Chelsea to the cleaners for a third time in a year. However, this transfer is on a whole other level to the deals they agreed with the Blues for ridiculously overrated full-back Marc Cucurella and former manager Graham Potter, who was sacked after less than a season at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool’s desperation to sign a defensive midfielder undeniably helped, as it created a bidding war that Todd Boehly & Co. were never going to back away from. Caicedo is a fine player - he could become a great one - and he has the ability to have a transformative effect on Mauricio Pochettino’s midfield, but he is simply not worth £115m from an objective perspective. So, congratulations to Brighton, they’ve once again played an insane transfer market perfectly. Grade: A+

    For Chelsea: A satisfying signing given Liverpool’s interest. The fee is absolutely outrageous given Caicedo has played just 45 Premier League games, but Chelsea have been paying mad money since the takeover, so it’s not really that much of a surprise. They clearly don’t care about cost. Some more sales are now absolutely essential in order to avoid any FFP problems - but, evidently, they are confident of balancing the books before the close of the transfer window. For now, they’ll be just basking in the praise they’re receiving from the club’s fans for signing such a coveted player. Grade: B+

    For Caicedo: Some serious expectations to meet. At 21 years of age, and with so little top-level experience under his best, Caicedo has just become the subject of the biggest transfer fee in Premier League history - he is under intense pressure to show why. And it will not be easy to slot seamlessly into a team with so many new components, one that is also still getting to grips with the demands of Mauricio Pochettino. But Chelsea have a policy of buying young players of enormous potential - and Caicedo certainly fits the bill. He plays with a composure and intelligence that belies his age, so he is actually well placed to become a big hit at the Bridge. Grade: B

  21. August 14: Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea to Real Madrid, loan)
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    August 14: Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea to Real Madrid, loan)

    For Chelsea: A strange decision on the surface. Chelsea, after all, paid a world-record fee for a goalkeeper when they signed Kepa from Athletic Club in 2018, and despite displays of incompetence and insubordination, the Basque had reclaimed the No.1 jersey from Edouard Mendy, who was allowed to move to Saudi Arabia earlier this summer. However, Kepa is not an elite-level goalkeeper, which is why Chelsea have always been open to selling him. He’s only departed on loan, of course, but the Blues are clearly hoping that he does well enough at the Bernabeu to earn himself a permanent switch to Madrid - or some other club. In the meantime, they’ll just spend big to bring in another goalkeeper to compete with new arrival Robert Sanchez for a starting spot. Not many clubs could operate like Chelsea - or would even want to - but they have the money to get away with it. Grade: B-

    For Real Madrid: A risk they felt compelled to take. Thibaut Courtois’ knee injury is a hammer blow for Carlo Ancelotti’s team. The Belgian is often overlooked when it comes to debating the world’s best goalkeepers, but he is an outstanding shot-stopper, as he proved during his decisive display in the 2022 Champions League final against Liverpool. Kepa is nowhere near as good as Courtois, but he is good with his feet and the hope is that a return to Spain will help him rediscover his very best form. This obviously isn’t an ideal situation for Madrid - Courtois will be seriously missed - but, at the end of the day, Florentino Perez has managed to fill a big vacancy with a Spain international that was also wanted by Bayern Munich - and, most importantly of all, without having to spend a single cent. Grade: B

    For Kepa: An absolutely unbelievable and totally unexpected chance to restore his reputation as one of Spain’s best goalkeepers on one of the game’s grandest stages. Truth be told, Kepa has done very little to earn this chance, but it’s on him now to make the most of it. He still has the makings of a top goalkeeper, of course, but he simply cannot afford to make the same mistakes he made at Stamford Bridge in the searing spotlight of Santiago Bernabeu. It will be truly fascinating to see how he fares in Madrid. Grade: A

  22. August 12: Harry Kane (Tottenham to Bayern Munich, £100m)
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    August 12: Harry Kane (Tottenham to Bayern Munich, £100m)

    For Tottenham: The best outcome in the circumstances. Spurs were in an awful situation. Kane, their hometown hero and best player by some distance, had just one year left on his contract and was intent on joining a club capable of winning trophies. Daniel Levy, then, was left in a difficult position with two goals: get a big fee for Kane - and without having to sell him to a Premier League rival. The chairman has achieved his twin objectives. Kane's departure is going to devastate Spurs supporters. He's one of their own and utterly irreplaceable. But Levy has done all he could to limit the damage, even if one could argue he's actually responsible for Tottenham not being in a position to win the titles that Kane craves... Grade: A

    For Bayern Munich: A belated replacement for Robert Lewandowski. It's no exaggeration to say that Bayern could have beaten Manchester City in last season's Champions League quarter-finals had they been in possession of a proper centre-forward. Erling Haaland effectively proved the difference between the two teams. In Kane, though, the Bavarians have got themselves not only a great goalscorer, but a fantastic all-round talent. Granted, there will be concern over Kane's injury record and his age (30), but you can be sure that Thomas Tuchel will be delighted that his employers have signed a striker who should work wonderfully well with the likes of Jamal Musiala and Kingsley Coman. It's undeniably an awful lot of money for a 30-year-old - probably too much, in fairness - but, at the end of the day, Bayern once again have a No.9 capable of firing them to Champions League glory. Grade: A-

    For Kane: A difficult decision - but the right one. Kane's affection for Spurs is well-documented but he's also an ambitious man who wants to win titles. At Bayern, he will get the chance to do exactly that. Indeed, a Bundesliga medal is almost guaranteed and his arrival immediately transforms Tuchel's team into serious contenders for next season's Champions League. Kane clearly would have preferred to remain in England - he wanted to join City two years ago and Manchester United were keen this time around - but by joining Bayern he is fulfilling his desire to play for a truly elite club, and without seriously upsetting Spurs fans. Grade: A

  23. August 11: Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona to PSG, €50m)
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    August 11: Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona to PSG, €50m)

    For PSG: A potential bargain, but with a serious emphasis on the word 'potential'. We've known since he was tearing up the Bundesliga as a teenager that Dembele had the talent to become a superstar - the question was whether he had the temperament. Everything we've seen up from him until now suggests not. He has struggled for form and fitness throughout his six-year stay at Barcelona, mainly because of his own lack of professionalism. PSG are gambling on both Luis Enrique and a return to his native France belatedly bringing the best out of Dembele - and given they've only stumped up €50m in cash, they're probably right to believe it's a risk worth taking. At the very least, it means that they'll still have one jet-heeled winger on their books even if Kylian Mbappe leaves before the close of the transfer window - even if the pair couldn't be further apart when it comes to producing quality performances on a consistent basis. Grade: B+

    For Barcelona: A fittingly disastrous end to the worst deal in the club's history. Barca have botched this every step of the way. In their desperation to find a Neymar replacement, they overpaid for Dembele in 2017. Then, when it became clear that he was incapable of taking care of himself off the field, which led to him rarely appearing on the field, they should have cut their losses on the €107m signing. Granted, finding a buyer at the right price wasn't easy, but they've ended up losing Dembele to hated rivals PSG for a knockdown fee anyway - and a year after handing him a new contract, brutally punished for the insertion of a 'private' buy-out clause that also means they won't even get the full €50m fee, which is to be divvied up between the club, the player and his agent. So, while Barca are right to feel deeply disappointed in Dembele, who has never done anything but let them down, they really only have themselves to blame for investing so much time, trust and money in such an unreliable and frustrating figure. The one consolation? At least the suffering is finally over. Barca really will be better off without Dembele, who proved nothing but a waste of space at Camp Nou. Grade: D-

    For Dembele: Yet another 'last chance' to make the most of his God-given ability - only this time in Paris. Will he take it? You wouldn't bet on it. PSG aren't exactly associated with discipline and dedication. Superstars have been able to do as they please for years. Indeed, indulgence is one of the main reasons why they currently find themselves in this current mess with Mbappe - so what's the likelihood of a maddening character like Dembele finding the guidance he needs at Parc des Princes?... Still, it's a decent deal for him from a financial perspective, and he should walk straight into the starting line-up - when fit of course. But in terms of this proving a successful transfer, well, it's like Messi said when asked about Dembele's prospects of becoming a Barca legend many years ago, it all depends on Ousmane. Grade: B

  24. August 7: Goncalo Ramos (Benfica to PSG, €65m)

    August 7: Goncalo Ramos (Benfica to PSG, €65m)

    For Benfica: They've done it again! Having already sold Darwin Nunez and Enzo Fernandez during the past year for exorbitant fees, Benfica have repeated the trick with Ramos. The only difference here is that Ramos didn't cost The Eagles a single cent - the striker came through the youth academy and then the B team - so this is all profit. The challenge now, of course, is replacing the 27 goals Ramos hit in all competitions last season, but it's nothing Benfica haven't faced before. Remember, we're talking about a club that has made more than €1.5 billion on player sales since the turn of the century. Grade: A+

    For PSG: A move to make Kylian Mbappe happy, right?... The winger was desperate for the club to sign him a No.9 to play off last summer, but his plea fell on deaf ears and the team could certainly have done with a more orthodox centre-forward at times. Mbappe, of course, is still set to leave the Parc des Princes, but Ramos undoubtedly has the potential to help fill the massive void the France international will leave behind. As the Portugal international showed during the World Cup, he can finish, he is mobile and he can cope with immense amounts of pressure, having scoredt a hat-trick having been given the unenviable task of replacing Cristiano Ronaldo in the Seleccao's starting line-up. Grade: B+

    For Ramos: A deserved move to a club with sufficient resources to truly challenge for the Champions League. Benfica are a far better-run club than PSG, of course, but as the past year has underlined, they are constantly forced to sell their best players. So, while the Parc des Princes is currently shrouded in uncertainty, it does provide Ramos with a platform to prove himself a world-class striker. The 22-year-old certainly appears to have the kind of varied skillset that should enable him to thrive under Luis Enrique. Grade: A-

  25. August 5: Rasmus Hojlund (Atalanta to Manchester United, £72m)
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    August 5: Rasmus Hojlund (Atalanta to Manchester United, £72m)

    For Atalanta: Yet another huge windfall for one of the biggest overachievers in world football. Hojlund only arrived in Bergamo last summer for €17m and Atalanta have now sold him for more than four times that figure. In an ideal world, the Dea would have held onto the striker for another season but, as with the sale of Amad Diallo to United a couple of years ago, they received an offer for an unproven youngster that was simply too good to refuse. Grade: A+

    For Manchester United: An undeniable risk. Hojlund's potential is obvious. He is a little like Erling Haaland in that he is freakishly fast for a big man, but he is nowhere near as good as the Norwegian at the same age. He could yet become a truly great goalscorer - he has already hit a hat-trick at international level for his native Denmark - but even at home there is a fear that he has made this move a little too soon. Does Hojlund have the makings of a great No.9? Absolutely. But is he ready to be the starting striker at a club like United? It's doubtful. At the end of the day, we're talking about a guy that scored just nine league goals last season. In that sense, the fee is absolutely ludicrous and says much about United's desperation as the insanity of the transfer market. Grade: C

    For Hojlund: A move that not even he would have dared dream of a year ago. Hojlund's hope was to become the undisputed first-choice centre-forward at Atalanta next season and start scoring freely in Serie A. Now, his task is to not only break into United's starting line-up but make the role his own. It's a big ask for a player who should really just be concerned with playing regularly at this stage of his career. There is no guarantee of game time at Old Trafford. Also, when he does play, he will be under intense pressure to live up to his lofty price tag and there is an obvious fear that he will end up following a similar career path to the man he is essentially charged with replacing - Anthony Martial. Grade: B

  26. August 5: Josko Gvardiol (RB Leipzig to Manchester City, £77.5m)

    August 5: Josko Gvardiol (RB Leipzig to Manchester City, £77.5m)

    For Leipzig: Confirmation of their status as the best club in the world for developing young talent. Leipzig signed Gvardiol from Dinamo Zagreb in September 2020 (but let him stay in Croatia for the remainder of the season) and paid €16m for his services. It may not sound like much by modern standards but it was a significant investment in a teenager. It paid off handsomely, though. Obviously, the fans are understandably concerned by Gvardiol's departure, given Christopher Nkunku, Dominik Szoboszlai and Konrad Laimer have also left the club this summer. But if Leipzig have proven anything over the past few years, it's that they know how to keep churning out quality players. Grade: A

    For Manchester City: A serious statement of intent. It's not actually easy strengthening the strongest squad in world football but that's exactly what City have done with the addition of Gvardiol. The Croatian has absolutely everything one would want in a modern centre-back: he is big, strong and excellent on the ball. In short, Gvardiol is the perfect player for Pep Guardiola. Grade: A+

    For Gvardiol: A significant step up in class but one he's absolutely ready to take. The thing most people will probably remember about Gvardiol's 2022 World Cup campaign is the youngster being schooled by the master, Lionel Messi, but it really shouldn't be forgotten that, in Qatar, Gvardiol underlined why he is regarded as the game's next great centre-back. He is still only 21 years of age, the competition for starting sports at the Etihad is intense and it could take him some time to adapt to Guardiola's demands - but it is actually terrifying to think just how good Gvardiol could become under the Catalan's tutelage. Grade: A

  27. August 4: Axel Disasi (Monaco to Chelsea, £38m)
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    August 4: Axel Disasi (Monaco to Chelsea, £38m)

    For Monaco: Another hammer blow for one of the worst defences in last season's Ligue 1. Six months after losing Benoit Badiashile to Chelsea, Monaco have allowed a second centre-back to leave for west London. The money is good, in fairness. Monaco have banked even more cash than when they sold Badiashile to the Blues in January, but the problem Les Monegasques have now is figuring out how to properly replace not one but two France internationals less than a fortnight before the start of the 2023-24 campaign. Grade: B-

    For Chelsea: Badly needed cover. The hope is that Wesley Fofana will feature at some point before the end of the season but there are just no guarantees when it comes to recovery time from ACL surgery. Chelsea could have tried to get by with Thiago Silva, Levi Colwill and Badiashile as their only options in the centre of defence, but they have instead wisely decided to bring in another centre-back. And a quality one at that. Disasi is a 25-year-old France international who is more than capable of challenging for a starting spot. Grade: B

    For Disasi: An unexpected opportunity to prove himself in the Premier League - and perhaps also nail down a regular spot in the France team. Disasi certainly shouldn't have any problems settling in at Chelsea. He used to play alongside Badiashile at the Stade Louis II, while Chelsea's co-sporting director Laurence Stewart joined the Blues from Monaco earlier this year. Competition for places at Chelsea will be intense this season but Disasi, who carries a decent attacking threat in the opposition box, could easily become a staple of Mauricio Pochettino's side. Grade: B+

  28. August 1: Sadio Mane (Bayern Munich to Al-Nassr, €40m)
    Al Nassr Twitter

    August 1: Sadio Mane (Bayern Munich to Al-Nassr, €40m)

    For Bayern: Welcome relief. Mane had become a major problem for Bayern, who thought they’d bagged themselves a bargain when they signed the Senegalese from Liverpool last summer for just over €30m. Instead, they were lumbered with a past-it player on a big contract. Liverpool, it seems, knew exactly what they were doing letting Mane leave. As Thomas Tuchel publicly admitted, the 31-year-old fell far short of expectations at the Allianz Arena and his brief Bavarian career will be most remembered for a dressing-room dust-up with Leroy Sane. Bayern are blessed to have got rid of Mane without making a massive loss on arguably the worst signing in the club’s history. Grade: A+

    For Al-Nassr: Another noteworthy deal. It was Al-Nassr, of course, who signalled the start of Saudi Arabia's emergence as a major power in the transfer market by signing Cristiano Ronaldo in January. They've since added Marcelo Brozovic, Seko Fofana and Alex Telles. Brozovic undoubtedly represents their best bit of business this summer, but the Mane deal is making far more waves because of his profile, which is perfectly understandable. And, if he can recapture even a fraction of the form he showed at Anfield, he should score plenty of goals, and create just as many for Ronaldo. Grade: A

    For Mane: A dramatic descent into mediocrity. Seriously, nobody saw this coming. Mane underlined his status as one of the very best players in the world during Liverpool's brave quadruple bid. A year later, he's been binned by Bayern, after failing to impress not only under Tuchel, but also Julian Nagelsmann before him. Consequently, his decision to drop down a level - and pick up a colossal pay packet in the process - is not at all surprising. His time at the top was over anyway, so this is the best thing for him. Grade: B

  29. July 31: Fabinho (Liverpool to Al-Ittihad, £40m)
    Al Ittihad Twitter

    July 31: Fabinho (Liverpool to Al-Ittihad, £40m)

    For Liverpool: A situation that would have been unthinkable a year ago. From a tactical perspective, Fabinho was arguably the most important player of the Jurgen Klopp era, the accomplished defensive midfielder nicknamed 'Dyson' by the Reds manager because of the way in which he hoovered up loose balls. So, Liverpool selling him before he's even turned 30 represents quite the fall from grace. However, it was made painfully clear during a desperately difficult 2022-23 campaign that Fabinho was struggling physically, no longer protecting the back four with anything like his usual energy or efficacy. The hope was that he would recover and get back to his best at Anfield this season. But Liverpool have instead decided to cash in Fabinho now and replace him with a younger model. In that context, £40m is a fantastic fee for a player deemed surplus to requirements. However, it is now absolutely imperative that the Reds get a deal for Romeo Lavia over the line as the massive Fabinho void will need to be filled by a quality player. Grade: A-

    For Al-Ittihad: Another significant addition to a title-winning squad. Al-Ittihad conceded just 13 goals in the Saudi Pro League last season and their defenders could have an even easier time of it this time, with Fabinho having arrived to play alongside N'Golo Kante in midfield. The pair's best days may well be behind them - the Frenchman is certainly no longer the force he once was because of a succession of injury issues - but the pair could form a formidable barrier in front of the backline if they both stay fit and healthy. Grade: A

    For Fabinho: A surprisingly sudden end to his Anfield career. He leaves a legend, of course, given the vital contribution he made to Liverpool becoming the 'Champions of everything' at one point. But it's a little sad that he didn't get the send-off he deserved because basically none of the fans saw this coming. It was clear that the Reds' midfield needed to be overhauled but few expected Fabinho to be a victim of that process. However, Al-Ittihad basically made both Liverpool and their No.6 an offer that neither party felt they could refuse. Grade: C

  30. July 28, Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City to Al-Ahli, £30m)
    Al Ahli Twitter

    July 28, Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City to Al-Ahli, £30m)

    For Man City: A fantastic return on a player who had been reduced to the role of a big-game bench-warmer by the end of last season. Mahrez clearly has the talent to continue playing at the very highest level, but he had slipped down the pecking order at the Etihad because of Bernardo Silva’s sensational form and Jack Grealish belatedly proving himself worthy of a starting spot, resulting in the Algerian failing to see a single minute of game time in either the FA Cup or Champions League final. So, City will be absolutely ecstatic that they have managed to recoup half their original outlay on a 32-year-old winger who had become surplus to requirements. Grade: A+

    For Al-Ahli: Another big-name signing. Al-Ahli had already snapped up Edouard Mendy and Roberto Firmino, and it’s not difficult to see Mahrez combining brilliantly with the latter. Mahrez is undeniably in decline - there’s a reason why City are willing to let him go and replace him with a younger model - but as he proved during the Premier League title run-in, he still has sufficient pace and, more importantly, trickery to run riot in Saudi Arabia. Grade: A

    For Mahrez: The right time to leave City. Getting back into Pep Guardiola’s starting line-up would not have been easy and Mahrez was never going to be content with spending another season in and out of the side. With offers from top European clubs thin on the ground, it’s not really surprising that he’s accepted Al-Ahli’s offer. After all, there was little left for him to achieve in England, having won a treble, as well as Premier League titles with two different clubs. In that context, a money-spinning move to Saudi Arabia was the inevitable outcome. Grade: B

  31. July 27, Jordan Henderson (Liverpool to Al-Ettifaq, £12m)

    July 27, Jordan Henderson (Liverpool to Al-Ettifaq, £12m)

    For Liverpool: The end of an era. With Henderson as captain, Liverpool won it all. Granted, his days as a guaranteed starter were over, arguably even before the summer arrivals of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, but it's somewhat surprising that Jurgen Klopp has sanctioned the sale of a man who embodied the coach's values and work ethic, particularly so soon after the departure of another of his standard-setters, James Milner. At the end of the day, though, Liverpool have secured a fee for Henderson that no other club would have dreamed of paying for a 33-year-old reserve midfielder. Grade: B

    For Al-Ettifaq: A noteworthy purchase more because of what Henderson represents than his - not insignificant - talents as a player. Al-Ettifaq have signed one former Liverpool captain to play under another. At the very least, their exploits next season are likely to arouse interest on Merseyside, as Reds will be curious to see how Henderson fares in Steven Gerrard's midfield. Henderson can still play, though, as he proved during England's 2022 World Cup campaign, and he will bring a lot of professionalism and passion that should benefit Al-Ettifaq enormously. With this move, the Pro League has also proven that it has sufficient cash to make moral considerations disappear. If it's possible to convince even Henderson to move to Saudi Arabia, then no player is unobtainable. Grade: B+

    For Henderson: A shocking end to a hitherto admirable career. Henderson was by no means adored by rival fans and players, but he was one of those rare figures who was respected throughout the English game. This decision, though, has already provoked a huge amount of controversy, not least because Henderson has been considered an ally of the LGBTQ+ community. Henderson really shouldn't be singled out as a mercenary or made a scapegoat, given many other players have made financially-motivated moves like this. It's an individual's choice at the end of the day and the 'politics in sport' debate is far bigger than Jordan Henderson. From a sporting perspective, he also had a fight on his hands to hold on to a starting spot at Liverpool next season, but he's spent his professional life defying the odds, so it's genuinely surprising that he’s opted to take the money and run away from everything he previously stood for. Grade: F

  32. July 20: Andre Onana (Inter to Manchester United, £48m)
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    July 20: Andre Onana (Inter to Manchester United, £48m)

    For Inter: From a purely economic perspective, a Beppe Marotta masterclass. Inter signed the former Ajax goalkeeper on a free transfer last summer, meaning this sale is pure profit. The plan now is to replace him with Shakhtar Donetsk goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin and possibly a veteran shot-stopper like Yann Sommer - all for a fraction of the fee. It's hard to quibble with that kind of business acumen, but Inter's willingness to sell their No.1 offers just further evidence of their now annual need to balance the books by selling at least one key player - hammering home the point that until their Chinese owners resolve their financial problems, they will not be able to truly compete with Europe's elite in the transfer market. Grade: A-

    For Manchester United: A long-overdue acquisition of a ball-playing goalkeeper. There is simply no denying that David de Gea, for all his faults, came to his team's rescue time and time again over the past few years. He was so often the last line of defence - literally - and earned United countless points with miraculous saves. De Gea, though, does not fit the mould of the modern goalkeeper. He is not very good with his feet. Onana, by contrast, is outstanding, as he proved with one sensational pass after another in the Champions League final against Manchester City. There will be some concern over the fact that he was booted out of Cameroon's World Cup squad for disciplinary reasons last November and seriously upset Ajax by leaving on a free transfer just a few months after returning from a doping ban that the club had stood by him throughout. But Erik ten Hag has worked with Onana before so he knows exactly what he's getting. For that reason, this should prove a rare win for United in the transfer market. Grade: A

    For Onana: An opportunity to cement his status as one of the very best goalkeepers in the world. With all due respect to Serie A, it just does not attract the same level of attention as the wonderfully well-marketed Premier League. Onana can gain a whole new level of recognition for his sensational shot-stopping - and pin-point distribution. The pressure will be intense - several great goalkeepers have flopped at Old Trafford down through the years - and he will make mistakes simply because he takes so many risks. But Onana has both the skill and sell-belief to thrive at the 'The Theatre of Dreams'. Grade: A

  33. July 19: Oriol Romeu (Girona to Barcelona, €8m)
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    July 19: Oriol Romeu (Girona to Barcelona, €8m)

    For Girona: A small but not insignificant profit on a player they only signed last summer for just over €5m. And Girona have, at least, already managed to sign Yangel Herrera from Manchester City on a permanent transfer, after his loan spell at the Estadi Montilivi last season. Still, Romeu's exit is undoubtedly a blow. He was a hugely influential figure, on and off the field, playing all but two of Girona's 38 Liga games last season. The midfielder will be missed. Grade: C+

    For Barcelona: Another reminder that the Catalans remain strapped for cash. Barca, remember, have just lost Sergio Busquets, arguably the greatest holding midfielder in history, and the one thing that took the edge off his exit was the fact that he is 35, and clearly on the wane. However, they've replaced him with a 31-year-old who wasn't good enough for Barca the first time around and subsequently failed to make the grade at Chelsea too. But we all know why Barca are still forced to occasionally shop in the bargain bin. Their financial problems haven't gone away and, when it comes down to it, this is not the worst deal. They've spent very little money on a stop-gap solution that knows the club inside out and should provide adequate cover in the middle of the park. Questions will be asked, though, if a proper Busquets replacement isn't signed soon... Grade: C
    For Romeu: A fairy-tale finish to his career. Given how his career has panned out since leaving Camp Nou for Chelsea in 2011, Romeu would never have dared to dream that he would eventually end up back at Barcelona. So, expect him to relish every second of his return. Indeed, there will arguably be no more motivated player in Xavi's squad this season as Romeu looks to make the most of one of the most unexpected transfers in recent football history. Grade: A+

  34. July 18: Kim Min-jae (Napoli to Bayern Munich, €50m)
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    July 18: Kim Min-jae (Napoli to Bayern Munich, €50m)

    For Napoli: An almost complete disaster. Granted, Napoli have made a sizable profit on a player they only acquired from Fenerbahce last summer for €18m, but the insertion of a release clause has cost the club dearly. The South Korean proved himself worth far more than €50m (£43m/$55m) during a stunning debut season in Serie A in which he achieved the seemingly impossible by immediately filling the void left by Kalidou Koulibaly. For that very reason, Napoli wouldn't have wanted to lose Kim after just one year at the Maradona. So ignore the capital gain here; the bottom line is the Partenopei are losing one of the pillars of their Scudetto-winning team - and for nowhere near market value. Grade: D-

    For Bayern Munich: An absolute steal. Bayern's problems in central defence were brutally exposed by Manchester City in the Champions League, with Dayot Upamecano proving an absolute liability. So, landing a tough, ball-playing centre-back like Kim - despite intense competition from the likes of Manchester United - is a huge boost for the Bavarians. Kim should form a formidable partnership with Matthijs de Ligt, the kind that could support a serious crack at next season's Champions League. Grade: A+

    For Kim Min-jae: A move of mixed emotions, one imagines. Kim had already become a cult hero in Naples and the hope was that Luciano Spalletti's thrilling team would be even better placed next season to win the Champions League. However, the coach's shock departure has probably made leaving slightly less painful, given the chaos it created. Kim will also be looking forward to moving to Munich, given not only is he set for a bumper pay-rise, he'll also be part of a team that could be further reinforced by the arrival of Harry Kane. In that context, signing for Bayern over United is looking like the right decision. Grade: A-

  35. July 15: Declan Rice (West Ham to Arsenal, £105m)
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    July 15: Declan Rice (West Ham to Arsenal, £105m)

    For West Ham: A wonderful windfall. West Ham have secured a pure-profit, British-record fee for a player that they signed as a teenager following his release by Chelsea - and immediately after he helped them win a first major European competition for nearly 60 years. And maybe the best thing about the transfer is that no objective observers are really quite sure if Rice is worth the money. It's essentially the dream deal for any mid-level club. Grade: A+

    For Arsenal: A colossal coup. Arsenal went up against the financial might of Manchester City and it was the Premier League champions who blinked first in the bidding war for Rice's services. In that sense, this is a hugely significant transfer for the Gunners. Having re-established themselves as a major force on the field last season, they have now sent a message to their rivals off it. Whatever one may think about Rice's fee, or his limitations as a player, he is undeniably one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League and represents a serious upgrade on Thomas Partey. Rice was Arsenal's primary transfer target for a reason - and despite competition from Pep Guardiola's treble-winners, they've got their man. If he helps them end a two-decade title drought next summer, he'll be considered value for money. Grade: A

    For Rice: The right call. He would have been guaranteed titles at the Etihad but he's guaranteed game time at the Emirates - which is precisely what he needs at this stage of his career. We know that Rice has the makings of a truly world-class midfielder; he underlined that at Euro 2020. But he quickly became a very big fish in a small pond at West Ham. He was repeatedly lauded as the next big thing while occasionally poor performances were overlooked. There will be no hiding place now, though. He is the most expensive British player in football history and, as Jack Grealish will attest, dealing with that title isn't easy. Rice, though, should slot seamlessly into Mikel Arteta's exciting young side, given he has the talent and temperament to become a future Arsenal captain. Now, he just has to prove it. Grade: A

  36. July 14: Jurrien Timber (Ajax to Arsenal, £35m)
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    July 14: Jurrien Timber (Ajax to Arsenal, £35m)

    For Ajax: A bitter blow to their backline. Timber has been a regular in the Ajax starting line-up for the past two-and-a-half years and was absolutely outstanding during their 2021-22 title-winning campaign, at the end of which he was voted Eredivisie Player of the Season. The Amsterdam outfit are renowned for churning out one tremendous talent after another, and while the fee is not exactly pittance, replacing such a talented and versatile ball-playing defender will not be easy. Grade: B-

    For Arsenal: A smart signing. Arsenal's lack of defensive depth was brutally exposed towards the tail end of last season, with the loss of William Saliba to injury effectively killing their title challenge. The arrival of Timber, then, means Mikel Arteta will now have a third top-drawer centre-back competing for a starting berth, as well as an excellent option at right-back. The Spaniard wants as many multi-purpose players in his squad as possible; in Timber, he's just procured another one. Ruud Gullit is among those who doubts whether his compatriot has the requisite strength and stature to cope with the physicality of the Premier League, but the fact that Timber was wanted by former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag at Manchester United will only add to the sense of satisfaction around the Emirates right now. Grade: A-

    For Timber: A timely step out of his comfort zone. Timber is only 22 but he has been tipped for big things for quite a while. Virgil van Dijk, for example, says his international colleague is a better player than he was at the same age. The Liverpool ace also acknowledged his fellow centre-back needs to continue to develop, but he should be given time to do exactly that at Arsenal. His weaknesses are obvious: he can sometimes be outmuscled by big No.9s, while he's not great in the air, with Wesley Sneijder recently claiming that "he loses every header". But it's not as if Arteta won't be aware of such things and he'll feel that Timber's strengths - his pace, poise and passing - will make him an extremely useful member of the squad. The one thing to watch, though, will be Timber's minutes. He's previously stated that his next move would be influenced by the likelihood of regular game time, so it will be fascinating to see if he gets enough to keep him happy next season. He's being viewed as Saliba's understudy, but Arteta has surely convinced him to move to north London by promising a bigger role than that?... Grade: B

  37. July 13: Christian Pulisic (Chelsea to AC Milan, €20m)
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    July 13: Christian Pulisic (Chelsea to AC Milan, €20m)

    For Chelsea: A huge loss on their original investment. Chelsea, remember, paid a whopping £58 million ($74m) to sign Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund in 2019, but the injury-prone and inconsistent American never came close to justifying that fee. Consequently, they were left with no option but to sell the winger for a knockdown price. Even then, though, there was frustration that Pulisic refused to join Lyon, who had offered slightly more money than AC Milan, because he had his heart set on a switch to San Siro. Still, at least another well-paid reserve has been removed from the wage bill. Grade: C+

    For AC Milan: A timely boost. Things are not going well for Milan right now. The fans are furious following the sacking of club legend Paolo Maldini and subsequent sale of Sandro Tonali, and they will only be appeased by the kind of signings that will clearly strengthen Milan's threadbare squad. Pulisic undoubtedly fits the bill. He may not be an elite-level player but, Rafael Leao aside, he is more talented than any other winger/attacking midfielder currently at Milan. The one concern: can he stay fit long enough to belatedly realise his potential? Grade: B+

    For Pulisic: A badly needed transfer. It's been clear for some time now that Pulisic needed to get out of Stamford Bridge, where he was never going to become a regular starter. He's also chosen well. For all their internal issues, Milan are undeniably a bigger club than Lyon and are in dire need of an upgrade on the likes of Ante Rebic, Alexis Saelemaekers and Junior Messias. The fact that Leao plays in Pulisic's preferred position is only a minor issue - because game time is guaranteed. Indeed, Pulisic may even be deployed as a No.10 given Charles De Ketelaere could be offloaded this summer, after a disastrous debut season in Serie A, while Brahim Diaz has returned to Real Madrid. All things considered, San Siro, the Scala of calcio, provides Pulisic with the perfect stage on which to prove himself. Grade: A

  38. July 12: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio To Al-Hilal, €40m)
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    July 12: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio To Al-Hilal, €40m)

    For Lazio: An exit that seriously stings. The Sergeant was such a loyal and popular servant to the club, and integral to Lazio securing a shock return to next season's Champions League. He will be sorely missed. But, at the end of the day, it was clear that Milinkovic-Savic was going to leave the club this summer - his contract was due to expire next year - and club president Claudio Lotito has managed to find a buyer willing to meet the asking price. The fans are rightly furious with 'SMS' for leaving but they are majorly relieved that he hasn't been sold to a Serie A rival. In that sense, Lazio have made the best of a bad situation. Grade: B+

    For Al-Hilal: Arguably the best signing made by a Saudi side this summer. Milinkovic-Savic is still only 28 and he is coming off the back of a fine season in Serie A. He's undoubtedly got at least another couple of great years left in him and he should prove the most dominant midfielder in the Pro League, especially as he'll have Ruben Neves alongside him. If Al-Hilal - who have already strengthened their defence with Kalidou Koulibaly - can now bring in a world-class attacker, they should start the new campaign as title favourites. Grade: A+

    For Milinkovic-Savic: A desperately disappointing end to his hopes of proving himself a world-class player. He's long been good - we knew that as far back as 2018, when he was being linked with the likes of Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid. The question was, though, whether Milinkovic-Savic was truly great. Sadly, we'll never know, with the Serbia international set to spend his remaining peak years in Saudi Arabia when he could - and should - have spent at least one more season playing Champions League football. Still, at least he's going to earn plenty of money... Grade: D

  39. July 12: Vitor Roque (Athletico Paranaense To Barcelona, €35m)

    July 12: Vitor Roque (Athletico Paranaense To Barcelona, €35m)

    For Athletico Paranaense: Rapid reward for a serious show of faith in a teenager. Athletico only signed Vitor Roque last April - and for a club-record €4.4m (£3.7m/$4.5m). They've now agreed to sell him for roughly eight times that figure, which can't be considered as anything but good business. Even better, they've ensured that Vitor Roque will remain at the club until the conclusion of the current campaign, which is a huge boost, with Athletico in the midst of another serious assault on the Copa Libertadores, after finishing as runners-up last year. The one regret? Maybe that they didn't manage to set that buy-out clause a little higher. Grade: A-

    For Barcelona: Quite the coup for the cash-strapped Catalans. Barca's financial situation has been well-documented at this stage. Progress has been made in terms of repairing the damage done by the Josep Maria Bartomeu era, but there's still a long way to go before Barca are back signing superstars. However, this is a fine signing, given Xavi's squad was in dire need of an understudy for Robert Lewandowski, who showed signs of slowing down last season, and in Vitor Roque they've acquired one of the most promising young strikers in the world despite intense competition for his signature. Grade: A

    For Vitor Roque: A daunting but exciting challenge. Vitor Roque has been touted as the new Ronaldo for some time now, which is unsurprising given he is a pacy forward who made his breakthrough at Cruzeiro. However, he is nowhere near that level right now and is probably more comparable in style to Sergio Aguero. How he deals with moving to Barcelona at such a young age will obviously be key to his hopes of success at Camp Nou, but the pressure of being Athletico's most expensive player clearly hasn't hindered him in any way and arguably the best part of this deal is that he'll get another six months of top-flight football under his belt in his native Brazil before then getting the chance to learn from Lewandowski, one of the great modern strikers. Grade: A+

  40. July 9: Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich to PSG, €50m)
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    July 9: Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich to PSG, €50m)

    For Bayern: One half of a transfer-market masterstroke. They've managed to bring in Kim Min-jae, a Serie A title-winner coveted by Manchester United, and essentially pay for his arrival with the departure of one of most injury-prone players on the planet. They've strengthened their defence by removing its weakest link. Outstanding work. Grade: A+

    For PSG: A massive gamble. We know that Lucas Hernandez is a good, versatile defender when fully fit - but when has he ever been ever fully fit?! He's 27 years of age and he's never played more than 27 league games across a single season in his entire career. He managed just 84 starts in four years in Munich. PSG have demonstrated an unusual and admirable level of prudence during the summer window so far, but this is quite the risk. Hernandez is capable of playing at both full-back and centre-back, he could prove an inspired signing - and we sincerely hope he does. But his 2022 World Cup ended in tears and, sadly, this transfer easily could too. Grade: D

    For Hernandez: A serious stroke of luck. Hernandez should feel blessed that anyone was willing to pay such a fee for his services, let alone the champions of France. He should relish returning home and the hope must be that he finally gets a break from the fitness problems that have plagued his career. If he does, he might finally show why Bayern were willing to pay €80m to bring him to Munich in the first place. Grade: A

  41. July 7: Manuel Ugarte (Sporting CP to PSG, €60m)

    July 7: Manuel Ugarte (Sporting CP to PSG, €60m)

    For Sporting CP: The Portuguese club may feel that they could have got even more money for a player that was so keenly pursued by both Chelsea and PSG. Both clubs were more than willing to meet the €60m (£52m/$64m) buy-out clause in Ugarte's contract and, in the end, the race for his signature was decided by the size of the salaries on offer. In an ideal world, Sporting would have kept the Uruguayan for another season, given they only finished fourth in the 2022-23 Primeira Liga, but his sale will at least significantly soften the financial blow of missing out on Champions League football. Grade: A-

    For PSG: Not a shirt-selling, superstar signing but precisely the kind of player they need. Ugarte is young, hungry and talented. He may not have featured for Uruguay at the 2022 World Cup but, at club level over the last year in particular, he has shown himself to be a defensive midfielder of real promise. He offers very little going forward but is a fantastic ball-winner and has a real edge about him. He really could develop into quite the intimidating and influential presence in the PSG line-up. Grade: B+

    For Ugarte: PSG is obviously a shambles of a club. There is undoubtedly a danger of Ugarte becoming a victim of the constant state of chaos at Parc des Princes. One certainly wonders if it's really the ideal venue for a young player to learn how to conduct himself on and off the field. Let's also remember that the identity of the next PSG manager is not yet known, only adding to the uncertainty surrounding Ugarte's chances of success. However, there is clearly an opportunity here for him to lock down a regular starting spot in a team crying out for his kind of attributes. Indeed, his mere arrival hints at a long overdue change in direction in terms of the club's priorities in the transfer market. Grade: B

  42. July 6: Milan Skriniar (Inter to PSG, free)
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    July 6: Milan Skriniar (Inter to PSG, free)

    For Inter: An avoidable shambles. Beppe Marotta has earned plenty of deserved praise over the years for picking up free transfers, but losing Skriniar for nothing does not reflect well on him - or his employers. There are obviously two sides to every story - and the player's agent has copped plenty of flak for his conduct during this long, drawn-out affair - but the fact of the matter is that Skriniar's future should have been resolved two years ago. Either get him to commit to a new contract then or immediately sell him for a sizable fee. In the end, Inter left it too late and have been punished, failing to make a single cent on a world-class centre-back who captained the club. It's telling that while the fans were left divided by the news that Skriniar had signed a pre-contract agreement with PSG in January, the ultras accepted his decision after speaking with him directly. They were obviously upset he had opted to leave but they knew that his exit was really the club's fault. Grade: F

    For PSG: One of the best signings they've made in years. Yes, there will be concerns over the back injury that saw Skriniar miss the final five months of last season, but the PSG medical team will have done their due diligence, while the man himself says he's already back at 100 percent, pointing to the fact that he's just come through a couple of international games without any problems at all. Skriniar, then, should quickly become a key figure in Luis Enrique's back-line. He has absolutely everything you would want in a centre-back: he is big, strong, good on the ball and a real leader. On his day, he is one of the best players in his position in world football - and he's just arrived at the Parc des Princes on a free transfer and with his best years still ahead of him. Grade: A+

    For Skriniar: A tough decision. It's clear that he was very happy in Milan, both on and off the field. He initially struggled to come to terms with playing in a back three, but quickly established himself as one of Inter's best players and most influential characters. It shouldn't take him long to do likewise at PSG, where his qualities should perfectly complement those of Marquinhos. Skriniar evidently felt a little bit let down by Inter, who tried to offload him last summer at a time when he was still looking to extend his stay at San Siro, but a big pay-rise and the chance to be a part of Luis Enrique's exciting PSG project should help him forget all about what he described as a "difficult" six months. Grade: A

  43. July 6: Marco Asensio (Real Madrid to PSG, free)
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    July 6: Marco Asensio (Real Madrid to PSG, free)

    For Real Madrid: This might not be anything like as big a blow as Karim Benzema leaving Los Blancos, but it is a setback. Sure, he's not a regular, but it's not easy finding a player of Asensio's quality willing to spend so much time sitting on the bench. Madrid even acknowledged the Spaniard's "outstanding conduct" during their parting statement. Madrid did their best to hold onto the winger - or at least persuade him to sign an extension so as to avoid losing him for nothing. Talks had been going on since last December, but Asensio has decided to depart in search of starts and leaves a significant void behind him at the Bernabeu. Grade: D

    For PSG: A shrewd signing by Luis Campos. Free transfers aren't always free hits, simply because of the salaries involved. PSG know that better than most clubs, having been burned by Lionel Messi and Gini Wijnaldum in recent seasons. However, while Asensio has been given a decent pay packet - a reported €10m (£8.5m/$11m) per annum - this looks like a low-risk move that could pay off handsomely. After all, we're talking about a player that scored 12 goals in each of his final two seasons in Spain, despite being in and out of the team. Grade: B

    For Asensio: A potential game-changer. Asensio could easily have accepted Madrid's offer and spent the remainder of his peak years at the Bernabeu, playing only occasionally but picking up a decent pay packet and probably a few more winners' medals. So, while PSG is hardly the most original or daring choice, he does at least deserve credit for trying to test himself elsewhere. There is, however, an obvious concern that depending on what other moves PSG make in the market this summer, Asensio could still end up warming the bench again next season. Grade: B+

  44. July 6: Arda Guler (Fenerbahce to Real Madrid, €20m)
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    July 6: Arda Guler (Fenerbahce to Real Madrid, €20m)

    For Fenerbahce: Burned by the buy-out clause! Guler didn't attract attention from Europe's top clubs solely because he is a talented teenager - the fact that he was available for just €17.5m (£15m/$19m). Now, it's widely believed that Madrid won the race for his signature by agreeing to pay an ever so slightly higher fee - and give Fenerbahce a 20 percent share of any future sale - but there's no denying that the Super Lig side have been short-changed by the existence of such a paltry buy-out clause. Grade: D

    For Real Madrid: Two causes for celebration. Firstly, they've landed one of the most promising players in Europe, a prodigiously gifted and versatile attacker that has an impressive amount of experience - at both club and international level - for one so young. Secondly, they've beaten bitter rivals Barcelona to the signing of 'The Turkish Messi'. Guler may not go straight into Carlo Ancelotti's starting line-up, but he clearly has the ability to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo by becoming a key player for Real's rejuvenated team. Grade: B+

    For Guler: A dream come true. At just 18 years of age, he's joined the most successful club in European Cup history and will be surrounded by a plethora of superstars. Just think of what he will learn in training sessions alone! However, the obvious question is, just how much game time will he actually see? A loan move appears likely - and arguably essential - if he is to continue on his currently rapid rate of progress. So, patience will be key. It's imperative he avoids growing frustrated by an initial lack of minutes and is humble enough to accept a temporary move away from Madrid. Grade: A

  45. July 5: Mason Mount (Chelsea to Manchester United, £60m)
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    July 5: Mason Mount (Chelsea to Manchester United, £60m)

    For Chelsea: Another unwanted player off the payroll. The way in which Mount has plummeted down the pecking order at Chelsea is puzzling. At one point, he looked like the kind of homegrown hero they'd build a new, winning team around. Yet last season he scored just three goals and spent the majority of his time on the bench. So, whatever one thinks about Mount's attributes as a player, as soon as he became expendable, it was important to secure as big a fee as possible for him before he entered the final year of his contract. Chelsea have done exactly that, getting £60m for a player that was - rightly or wrongly - surplus to requirements. Job done. Grade: B+

    For Manchester United: A somewhat strange choice. Mount is capable of fulfilling a variety of roles between the midfield and the attack, and versatility is always useful. He's also a very hard worker, which is why he's proven so popular with many of his managers. But he's not a generational talent, he's not a game-changer, and he doesn't appear to be exactly what United need right now. Mount should certainly prove useful, but while the price is not astronomical, it's certainly not value for money, especially when one considers what Liverpool and Spurs have paid for Alexis Mac Allister and James Maddison, respectively. Grade: C

    For Mount: A glorious chance to get his career back on track. Mount didn't just lose his place in the Chelsea starting XI last season, he also lost his spot in the England squad. This transfer, then, is a very badly needed change of scenery. Getting into the United line-up won't be easy, at least not in his preferred position, with Bruno Fernandes very much the main attacking midfielder at Old Trafford. But, given the money involved, Erik ten Hag clearly feels that Mount can add something to his side - most likely as a No.8 - and that's all that matters right now. Grade: A

  46. July 4: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool to Al-Ahli, free)
    Al Ahli Twitter

    July 4: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool to Al-Ahli, free)

    For Liverpool: Sorry to see Firmino leave but grateful for all the memories. Jurgen Klopp could no longer guarantee the Brazilian starts but he clearly wanted to keep one of his greatest servants for at least another year - and one can understand why. The 31-year-old may no longer be the indefatigable force of nature he once was, but he would have made for one hell of a rotational player, as underlined by the fact that he still chipped in with 13 goals in his final, injury-interrupted season. There will also be some regret that he wasn't under contract, given Al-Ahli probably would have paid over the odds for Firmino, as Saudi teams have already done with several other big-name players on the wrong side of 30 this summer. As it is, they've lost a club legend for nothing. Grade: C

    For Al-Ahli: Another top transfer. After signing Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from Chelsea, Al-Ahli have now landed another Champions League winner in Firmino, who should prove a big hit in Saudi Arabia. The forward has never relied too heavily on pace, so age shouldn't be a concern, nor should the fact that he can't press like he once did, given the intensity of the Pro League is nothing like that of the Premier League. Firmino's never been outrageously prolific either, as his role has often been to create space and goals for others, but his incredible intelligence and ingenuity should see him hit the back on a regular basis for Al-Ahli. Grade: A

    For Firmino: A well-earned and well-remunerated break from the rigours of elite-level football. Few attackers have ever worked as hard - and for such a sustained period of time. In that sense, it's unsurprising that he's elected to accept the insane amount of money he has been offered to drop down a few levels. But while Firmino wouldn't have been guaranteed game time at any top European club, it's still a shame that links with the likes of Barcelona and Inter came to nothing, as it would have been nice to see such a class act playing at the very highest level for a little while longer. Grade: B

  47. July 3: Marcelo Brozovic (Inter to Al-Nassr, €18m)
    Al Nassr Twitter

    July 3: Marcelo Brozovic (Inter to Al-Nassr, €18m)

    For Inter: A necessary evil. A fully-fit Brozovic is quite clearly one of Inter's best players, as he proved in the Champions League final against Manchester City in Istanbul, where he was arguably the best player on the pitch. But the fact of the matter is that Inter have financial issues and they deemed €18m for a 30-year-old midfielder that had injury issues last season too good to turn down. That money will now go some way towards signing a younger replacement. Brozovic will undoubtedly be missed - he wasn't just a great player, he was immensely popular with both the fans and his team-mates - but needs must as far as the Nerazzurri are concerned. Grade: B

    For Al-Nassr: Not the sexiest signing from a PR perspective - but hugely significant all the same. Al-Nassr boasted in a celebratory social media post that they had acquired someone that everyone wanted, and while that's not strictly true, there's no denying that several elite European sides were interested in the Croatia international, most notably Barcelona. So, this deal is far more meaningful for Al-Nassr - and the Saudi Pro League in general - than snapping up an ageing superstar on a free transfer. In Brozovic, they've got their hands on a world-class player still close to something resembling the peak of his powers. Cristiano Ronaldo will definitely be happy to have him on board! Grade: A

    For Brozovic: A serious step down but a massive pay-rise. Brozovic's love for Inter was obvious. In an ideal world, he would have remained in Milan. But economics decided otherwise. Obviously, his preference was to move to Barcelona, where he would have made for a fantastic replacement for Sergio Busquets, but, again, financial restrictions prevented the Catalans from matching Al-Nassr's offer. At that point, Brozovic and his representatives focused on getting as much money out of the Saudi side as possible, and they've done an excellent job in that regard, securing a three-year deal worth a reported €100m. So, while it's a real pity for Brozovic as a player, it's a massive boost for his bank balance. Grade: C+

  48. July 3: Sandro Tonali (AC Milan to Newcastle, £60m)
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    July 3: Sandro Tonali (AC Milan to Newcastle, £60m)

    For Newcastle: Yet another sensible and shrewd signing. Indeed, when it comes to state-sponsored clubs and squad-building, Newcastle are pretty much the anti-PSG. It is, of course, a sizable fee, but Tonali is a 23-year-old Italy international coming off the best season of his club career to date, with the all-action midfielder playing a pivotal role in AC Milan's run to the semi-finals of the Champions League. He has both the character and quality to excel under Eddie Howe. Grade: B+

    For AC Milan: An absolute disaster - at least from the fans' perspective. Tonali grew up supporting the Rossoneri and, after a slow start to his San Siro career, he established himself as arguably their most important player. Yes, even more important than Rafael Leao, given his role within Stefano Pioli's side. Obviously, the owners will point to the fact that they are making a massive profit on a player signed for just €27m two years ago - but unless those profits are immediately reinvested into the squad, the fans are going to be furious. Because by selling Tonali, RedBird Capital Partners have essentially ripped the heart out of the team - just a couple of weeks after ripping the heart out of the club by sacking Paolo Maldini as technical director. Grade: D-

    For Tonali: A fascinating transfer at a key moment in his career. The word is that Tonali didn't want to leave Milan and was effectively pushed out the exit door by RedBird, and that obviously doesn't bode well. However, he's getting a serious payrise out of this deal and should also relish the physical aspect of Premier League football. In that sense, this is a move that could elevate Tonali's game to a whole other level, and Italy may end up benefiting in the long run. Given the money involved, he will be under intense pressure to hit the ground running, but it's not hard to see Tonali thriving alongside Bruno Guimaraes. Grade: B

  49. July 2: Dominik Szoboszlai (RB Leipzig to Liverpool, €70m)
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    July 2: Dominik Szoboszlai (RB Leipzig to Liverpool, €70m)

    For RB Leipzig: Mixed emotions no doubt. A talented team that has just won back-to-back DFB-Pokal trophies, as well as qualifying for next season's Champions League, is now in danger of being ripped apart, with Christopher Nkunku having already left for Chelsea and Josko Gvardiol being courted by Manchester City. But, at the end of the day, this is the Red Bull business model - and it most definitely works for them. They've just received a club-record fee for a player they signed from sister club Red Bull Salzburg for €20m in 2021 - and that money is likely to be put to good use. Indeed, Leipzig have proven time and time again that they are one of the best clubs in the world when it comes to identifying and nurturing young talent. Szoboszlai is just the latest example of that fact. Grade: A

    For Liverpool: Another major step towards challenging for trophies again. It became painfully clear last season that the Reds needed to rebuild their entire midfield, but they're now well on their way to doing precisely that -and for roughly the same price as Jude Bellingham - by cleverly following up the shrewd signing of Alexis Mac Allister by triggering the release clause of another classy and versatile midfielder that is only going to get better in the coming years. Szoboszlai hasn't come cheap and Liverpool have been burned before when it comes to paying big money for a highly regarded RB Leipzig midfielder (Naby Keita is arguably the most disappointing signing in the club's history), but the Merseysiders have now got their hands on a Newcastle target that can pass, dribble, shoot - and run all day. In theory, Szoboszlai should prove perfect for Jurgen Klopp's technically and physically demanding brand of football. Grade: A-

    For Szoboszlai: An incredible opportunity to develop into a world-class attacking midfielder. Anfield is obviously a high-pressure environment and the fee could weigh heavily around the Hungarian's neck. But each and every time the 22-year-old has had to step up in class, for both club and country, he's done so with impressive composure - and relative ease. Former Salzburg coach Jesse Marsch always said that Szoboszlai was as talented as Erling Haaland. We're now about to find out if he was right. Grade: A+

  50. July 1: Nicolas Jackson (Villarreal to Chelsea, £32m)

    July 1: Nicolas Jackson (Villarreal to Chelsea, £32m)

    For Villarreal: Pure profit on a player with a lot still to prove. The youth academy product only officially became a member of the senior squad last August and definitely wouldn't have commanded such a lofty fee had it not been for a scoring spree at the tail end of last season, which saw Jackson net nine times in eight Liga games. It's never easy letting go of a homegrown hero, but Villarreal will be counting their blessings here, not least because Bournemouth were only offering £20m for Jackson when injury intervened and scuppered a proposed January transfer to the Vitality Stadium. Grade: A

    For Chelsea: Another unexpected signing. Jackson fits in with the club's new policy of buying young players of great potential, and it was clear to anyone who watched the versatile winger last season that he had the makings of a fantastic player. After all, he's known as 'the Senegalese Neymar' because of his wonderful dribbling skills. But Chelsea are essentially gambling on that sensational finish to 2023-23 being more than just a purple patch in front of goal. It's a small stake by the Blues' standards, but a gamble nonetheless. Grade: B

    For Jackson: A meteoric rise. Jackson has just 35 Liga games under his belt, and only 12 goals, so there is an obvious concern that he will become another victim of Chelsea's scattergun approach to player recruitment. However, he had no doubts over accepting a move to Stamford Bridge, believing himself ready and able to prove himself in the Premier League. The hope will be, though, that he's now viewed as the immediate solution to Chelsea's goalscoring problems, as that would be an awful lot of pressure to place on a 22-year-old with so little experience operating as a No.9. Still, time is on his side, as he's signed an eight-year contract with the Blues! Grade: A

  51. June 28: James Maddison (Leicester City to Tottenham, £40m)
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    June 28: James Maddison (Leicester City to Tottenham, £40m)

    For Leicester: A sad but well-managed exit. Leicester did well to hold onto Maddison in January but relegation made his sale both inevitable and necessary. The Foxes clearly wanted to wrap this deal up as quickly as possible, appearing utterly uninterested in sparking a bidding war between Spurs and Newcastle that could have dragged on for weeks. They had a reasonable fee in mind and, unsurprisingly, it was met rather promptly, thus allowing Leicester to focus on restructuring their squad for next season as soon as possible. One could argue they could have tried to squeeze a few more pounds out of Tottenham, but they've done right by the player, while still managing to do right by themselves. Grade: B+

    For Tottenham: A very smart signing. When one considers that Chelsea are demanding more than £60m for Mason Mount, Spurs have done incredibly well to snap up Maddison for just £40m. England internationals do not usually come that cheap, even in circumstances such as these. Furthermore, Maddison has far more credit in the bank than Mount, given he's been one of the better attacking midfielders in the Premier League for the best part of five years, and even during last season's struggles at Leicester, he still managed 10 goals and nine assists. He should, therefore, prove an excellent addition to a Spurs side looking for a No.10 - and a much better buy than Mount. Grade: A

    For Maddison: A chance to take his game to another level. Even if Leicester hadn't gone down, this summer still would have felt like the right time for Maddison to move on, as it's long been clear that he has the talent to play for one of the Premier League's 'Big Six'. Spurs are obviously in a state of flux - again - and Maddison would undoubtedly be disappointed to see Harry Kane leave soon after his own arrival, but, for all their flaws, Tottenham are offering him a big stage on which to showcase his skills. One also imagines that Maddison will seriously enjoy playing under the attack-minded Ange Postecoglou, who afforded similarly-skilled players plenty of creative freedom within the exciting side he constructed in his previous post at Celtic. Grade: A-

  52. June 28: Kai Havertz (Chelsea to Arsenal, £65m)
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    June 28: Kai Havertz (Chelsea to Arsenal, £65m)

    For Chelsea: An unexpected bonus. It was genuinely surprising that Arsenal were willing to offer an initial £50 million ($64m) for a forward with a record of 19 goals in 91 Premier League games - so for Chelsea to have got an additional £10m ($13m) plus add-ons out of their London rivals is outstanding work by the club's much-maligned transfer negotiators, who are overseeing a badly-needed summer clear-out. Havertz may have scored a couple of huge winners for the Blues, in the Champions League and Club World Cup finals, but it would be impossible to portray his three seasons at Stamford Bridge as anything other than desperately disappointing. And yet Chelsea have essentially made their money back on a player who will not be missed whatsoever - just remarkable. Grade: A+

    For Arsenal: A gamble that appeared to come out of nowhere. There had been talk that a desperate Real Madrid might resurrect their interest in Havertz after being left in the lurch by Karim Benzema, and while that was surprising, it at least made sense, in that Carlo Ancelotti has a void in his team that now needs filling. But why on earth do Arsenal want Havertz? Where is he going to play? Is he really better than any of their current forwards (Leandro Trossard included)? Are they handing over a guaranteed £60m ($76m) for a reserve? It's not like he's only struggled at Chelsea either; he's been dreadfully underwhelming for Germany too. Honestly, unless Havertz suddenly rediscovers the form that made him one of Europe's hottest prospects at Bayer Leverkusen, he could prove a colossal waste of cash. Grade: D

    For Havertz: An incredible chance to kickstart his career. It's difficult to see him walking into Arteta's starting line-up, but we know that Havertz is gifted. There's a reason why he's continued to pique the interest of the likes of Madrid and Bayern Munich despite his sub-standard showings in west London. Lothar Matthaus, remember, once compared him to Zinedine Zidane and tipped him to win the Ballon d'Or. So, the potential is there. But there can be no more excuses now, given the size of the fee involved. Arsenal have made a hugely significant investment in Havertz, who will be under intense scrutiny from day one at the Emirates. He has to deliver. His end product simply must improve. Otherwise, it's difficult to see him ever getting another chance at a top club. Grade: A-

  53. June 27: Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea to Manchester City, £25m)
    Manchester City

    June 27: Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea to Manchester City, £25m)

    For Chelsea: A deal that just makes sense. Kovacic is a fan favourite thanks to his undeniably impressive work-rate and some memorable moments over the years, most notably that goal against Liverpool in January 2022. However, even the most ardent supporter would concede that Kovacic never delivered world-class performances on a consistent basis - which, let's face it, has been the story of his career. At the end of the day, he is 29, has just one year left on his contract and while we're not talking about massive money here, his exit will go a little way towards helping Chelsea ease their Financial Fair Play (FFP) concerns. Grade: B

    For Manchester City: A pretty shrewd signing. Kovacic certainly isn't good enough to command a regular starting spot in Pep Guardiola's star-studded side - his passing is surprisingly poor at times, while he offers little going forward - but he should prove a fine rotational player. The Croat certainly has the right mix of technique and tenacity to do a job in the middle of the park for the Premier League champions and will doubtless enjoy playing in a far stronger side than the one he is leaving. Grade: B+

    For Kovacic: This must feel like winning the lottery for a player who has failed to live up to the hype he generated after breaking into the Dinamo Zagreb team as a teenager. Back then, we thought we were looking at the new Zvonimir Boban and even the man himself said Kovacic could go on to have an even better career. However, he's not got close to that level. At Inter, nobody could quite figure out his best position, and it was a similar story at Real Madrid. As already mentioned, he enjoyed some good times at Chelsea, but certainly not enough to suggest that he warranted a move to the treble winners. Christmas really has come early for Kovacic. He may not play every week, but he'll see more game time than Kalvin Phillips and will almost certainly add to his trophy haul. Grade: A

  54. June 26: Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City to Barcelona, free)
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    June 26: Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City to Barcelona, free)

    For Manchester City: A sad day. In Ilkay Gundogan, City are losing a legitimate club legend, a versatile midfielder who repeatedly proved himself a big-game player. Indeed, as team-mate Kyle Walker noted, by the end of Gundogan's seven-year stay at the Etihad, he had developed a reputation for turning into "prime (Zinedine) Zidane during the last few months" of every season. City did their utmost to convince the Germany international to stay for one more season, with the option of another, but Barca's offer of a guaranteed two-year contract, coupled with a salary increase, proved decisive. Obviously, the treble-winners have already brought in Mateo Kovacic to strengthen their midfield, but the Croatian isn't anywhere near as multi-talented, influential or decisive a player as the outgoing Gundogan. Grade: C

    For Barcelona: A fantastic addition. Gundogan will turn 33 in October but, as he underlined during City's glorious 2022-23 campaign, he remains a world-class player, one that never stops working and carries a constant goal threat. With Sergio Busquets having just left Barca, Gundogan will also a restore some much-needed experience to Xavi's midfield. There are understandable concerns over whether he is ideally suited to the coach's diamond midfield, but if Gundogan has demonstrated anything in recent years, it's that he's one of the most adaptable players in the game today - and Barca have got him on a free. Grade: B+

    For Gundogan: The perfect way to wrap up his career at the very highest level. Gundogan has clearly been tempted by Barcelona for some time now, and it's easy to understand why. For all of the Catalans' economic issues in recent years, Camp Nou remains one of the greatest stages in world football. He should enjoy himself performing alongside Pedri & Co. - no matter what role he's asked to play. He's also managed to secure exactly what he wanted - a lucrative, two-year contract with the option of a third - while at the same time leaving City on excellent terms. In that sense, things couldn't have gone any better for Gundogan. Grade: A+

  55. June 25: Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea to Al-Hilal, £20m)
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    June 25: Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea to Al-Hilal, £20m)

    For Chelsea: Another significant step towards reducing the size of the squad - and the wage bill. On the face of it, making an approximate £13m loss on a player that only joined last year is a bit of a blow, but the truth of it is that Chelsea have done well to procure such a fee for a 32-year-old centre-back coming off a dreadful campaign. In that sense, the emergence of Saudi Arabia as such a major player in the transfer market has been a godsend for a club looking to offload ageing stars on high salaries. Grade: A-

    For Al-Hilal: A second high-profile signing inside a week, following the arrival of Ruben Neves from Wolves. It's not quite as impressive a coup as signing a Portugal midfielder with his best years still ahead of him. But, when fully fit and on his game, Koulibaly is one of the most dominant defenders in world football. It's certainly not difficult to imagine him bossing centre-forwards in Saudi Arabia. Grade: B

    For Koulibaly: Evidence of just how far he's fallen over the past year. He left Napoli a club legend and widely regarded as one of the game's very best centre-backs. With this move, though, it now seems certain that he'll only be remembered as a great defender in Italy and his native Senegal, which is a little saddening. Koulibaly really was a colossus at his peak but it feels like he left it too late to test himself in England. To make matters worse, he picked the wrong time to leave Napoli, who won a historic Scudetto with him. Still, he's now set to make millions in Saudi Arabia... Grade: D

  56. June 23: Ruben Neves (Wolves to Al-Hilal, £47m)
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    June 23: Ruben Neves (Wolves to Al-Hilal, £47m)

    For Wolves: A big boost in terms of balancing the books. It was clear for some time that Wolves were open to letting Neves leave for the right price. The problem was that while there was always interest in the midfielder's services, it never materialised into concrete bids. Given their need to address some FFP concerns, Wolves were, therefore, delighted to receive such a lucrative offer from Al-Hilal. The key now, of course, is what percentage of the transfer fee Julen Lopetegui will be able to invest in his squad. It will also be fascinating to see if Matheus Nunes follows his fellow Portuguese out of Molineux. Losing two highly-rated midfielders would obviously hit Wolves hard but, right now, it's hard to see Neves' sale for £47m as anything but an excellent deal for the cash-strapped club. Grade: A+

    For Al-Hilal: Quite the coup. Al-Hilal have seen the two sides that finished above them in last season's Pro League make some serious waves in the transfer market in the past six months, with Cristiano Ronaldo joining Al-Nassr in January, and N'Golo Kante ready to join Karim Benzema at Al-Ittihad. Neves obviously doesn't have anything like the same profile as those three legends of the game, but his signing is hugely significant in that he is only 26. His best years are ahead of him, and he is now set to spend them in Saudi Arabia. Grade: A

    For Neves: On the surface, a puzzling decision by a player approaching his prime. Clearly, he's going to earn a fortune plying his trade in Riyadh. But this is a guy who was talking about his desperation to play in the Champions League less than a month ago: "Me and my family love it here, but in football you have to follow your main goals." At that time, playing in the Pro League certainly didn't seem like one of them. So, what changed? Obviously, the cash helped convince him, but Neves probably also realised that his dream move to Barcelona simply wasn't going to happen, certainly not this summer anyway, and that no other elite European side would be willing to meet Wolves' asking price. Indeed, there's long been the perception that Neves is a good player, but not a great one. And this transfer suggests that maybe he's accepted that now, thus making it easier to agree to a move that will effectively see him become the Pro League's answer to Oscar, the former Brazil international who sensationally quit Chelsea to join Shanghai Port during the Chinese Super League boom six years ago. Grade: F

  57. June 20: N'Golo Kante (Chelsea to Al-Ittihad, free)
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    June 20: N'Golo Kante (Chelsea to Al-Ittihad, free)

    For Chelsea: A tough one to take. When fully fit, N'Golo Kante is a ball-winning machine, the ultimate back-line protector and an under-rated offensive force. The problem is, he's been beset by physical problems for the past couple of years, resulting in the 32-year-old making just seven Premier League appearances last season. In that sense, his exit is not exactly a major setback as his decline has been obvious. But the Blues did want to keep Kante. Even as recently as February, they thought a contract extension was close. Instead, they've lost the midfielder for nothing, which always stings. Grade: C

    For Al-Ittihad: Another headline-grabbing addition. Just a few days after sealing a sensational swoop for Karim Benzema that caught nearly everyone by surprise, including Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, the newly-crowned Saudi Pro League champions have snapped up another fantastic Frenchman, who should, in theory at least, add quality, dynamism and experience to their midfield. However, there are more question marks over this particular deal. Is Kante really worth a reported €100m (£86m/$112m) a season, given his incessant injury problems? He may be a well-liked character but he's not exactly a sponsor's dream, so one wonders how much value Al-Ittihad are actually going to get out of Kante if he's not fit to feature regularly. Grade: B

    For Kante: One hell of a payday at a concerning moment in his career. Kante is already a wealthy man but he's essentially ensured that neither he nor his family will ever have to worry about money again with a lucrative contract that reportedly includes commercial deals and an investment portfolio. However, this decision effectively confirms what we all feared the few times Kante actually managed to play last season - that he is finished at the very highest level. Grade: B-

  58. June 20: Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig to Chelsea, £53m)
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    June 20: Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig to Chelsea, £53m)

    For RB Leipzig: Further evidence of their shrewd recruitment strategy. Nkunku was picked up from Paris Saint-Germain four years ago for just €13 million (£11m/$14m) and has now been sold for nearly five times that figure. The problem now, of course, is how to replace a player that both scores and creates goals, but if Leipzig have proven anything over the past decade, it's that they know how to find and nurture young talent. Nkunku is just their latest success story in that regard. Grade: A

    For Chelsea: A decent bit of business by the Blues - at last. Chelsea's new owners have quickly earned themselves a reputation as the worst transfer market operators in world football, having overpaid for one player after another during one of the biggest - and most reckless - spending sprees the game has ever seen. However, while nobody can possibly know how Nkunku will fare when placed in the cauldron of chaos that is Stamford Bridge, this undoubtedly has the makings of a great deal. Obviously, he had some injury issues last season, while he's still not netted in 10 appearances for France. However, while £53m is a significant sum of money, it's not a bad price at all for the best player in the Bundesliga in 2021-22, as well as last season's joint-top scorer. Let's put it this way: Todd Boehly & Co. have paid far more for a lot less over the past year. Grade: A-

    For Nkunku: Nkunku obviously wanted to test himself in what he believes is the toughest league in the world - he made that clear in his first comments as a Chelsea player - and he has the pace and power to thrive in England. However, is Chelsea really the right club for him? It's far too early to say, given they're an unknown quantity right now. The appointment of Mauricio Pochettino feels like a step in the right direction and the hope is that he will take Nkunku's game to a whole other level, just as he did with the likes of Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-min at Spurs. However, it's still not entirely clear where the very versatile Nkunku will be deployed. So, while his signing cannot be construed as anything other than a positive given Chelsea are crying out for a goalscorer, it remains to be seen if his obvious world-class potential is realised in west London. Grade: B

  59. June 14: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid, €103m)
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    June 14: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid, €103m)

    For Borussia Dortmund: Good - but not great. Dortmund have obviously got their money's worth out of Bellingham, who joined from Birmingham City three years ago for €30m (£25m) and developed into the leader of a side that really should have won this season's Bundesliga. In that sense, they did well to hold on to the teenager this long, given the intense interest in his services last summer. However, while Dortmund have generated a massive profit on the England international, the feeling was that the most in-demand midfielder in world football would command more than a guaranteed €103m (£88m/$110m), especially when one considers Benfica got €120m out of Chelsea for Enzo Fernandez in January. Grade: B+

    For Real Madrid: Los Blancos are obviously far better transfer market operators than Chelsea (who isn't, in fairness?) but they've done well here to agree a deal with Dortmund that will, at most, rise to €130m (£112m/$140m). That feels like a decent bit of business in the current economic climate, with average players commanding €100m fees. There are no sure things in football, but Bellingham had already been shining in the Champions League before proving himself a superstar-in-the-making with his performances at the 2022 World Cup. He, thus, has every chance of becoming a mainstay in the Madrid starting line-up for the next decade alongside fellow young guys Federico Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni. If he does, that fee really will look like a bargain for Madrid, who, let's not forget, faced quite the fight for Bellingham's signature. Grade: A

    For Bellingham: The ultimate step-up in class. Fourteen-time European Cup winners Madrid offer arguably the most prestigious stage on which to perform in world football, but also the most demanding. Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and Zinedine Zidane have all been booed by the Bernabeu faithful. Bellingham, then, will come under intense scrutiny in Spain and will be under pressure to justify his price tag, while at the same time competing for a starting spot in a team in transition with some high-profile colleagues, including Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. Displacing either of those two living legends isn't easy - just ask Tchouameni! And it's not as if Kroos has exactly issued Bellingham with a warm welcome... For all his undoubted talent, Bellingham could come to regret this move - at least initially - given he would have been immediately a certain starter at Liverpool... Grade: B+

  60. June 8: Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton to Liverpool, £35m)
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    June 8: Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton to Liverpool, £35m)

    For Brighton: There will obviously be a certain degree of sadness among Brighton supporters that one of the key players in their sensational sixth-placed finish in the Premier League is leaving - as well as an undoubted sense of frustration that he has been sold for less than the market value because of the buy-out clause. Mac Allister is also unlikely to be the only high-profile departure this summer, as coach Roberto De Zerbi has lamented. However, this is what Brighton are all out about: making big profits on bargain buys. It's a business model that has secured European qualification for the first time in the club's history. To tell the truth, they did well to hold onto him after his exploits in Qatar and while replacing their top scorer for 2022-23 won't be easy - if anyone can do it, it's Brighton and their tremendous transfer team. Grade: B

    For Liverpool: A very timely boost after the Jude Bellingham blow. The primary reason for the Reds' surprising struggles in 2022-23 has long been obvious: an ageing midfield. Jurgen Klopp's team were in dire need of rejuvenation and, in Mac Allister, Liverpool have acquired a 24-year-old midfielder who is industrious, innovative and versatile - and for 'just' £35m. We really could be talking about the steal of the summer here. After all, Mac Allister's World Cup-winning team-mate Enzo Fernandez cost three times as much! Grade: A+

    For Mac Allister: This feels like the perfect move at the perfect time. He's improved exponentially over the past couple of seasons, culminating in him playing a pivotal role in his country's triumphant campaign at Qatar 2022. There is clearly even more to come from Mac Allister as he approaches his prime years, and although he maybe would have preferred to join a Champions League participant, his new boss is capable of taking the midfielder's game to an even higher level. It also helps when the way is clear for a new signing to walk straight into the starting line-up! Grade: A+

  61. June 7: Lionel Messi (PSG to Inter Miami, free)
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    June 7: Lionel Messi (PSG to Inter Miami, free)

    For PSG: A colossal blow to the brand. At the end of the day, though, PSG had put themselves in a perilous position in relation to Financial Fair Play regulations by committing so much cash to the salaries of three superstar forwards. One of them was always going to have to go this summer and there was no way PSG were giving up Kylian Mbappe, the cornerstone of their entire project, while they still can't find a buyer for Neymar. In that sense, Messi's exit was inevitable and the incredible thing is, the fans are happy to see the GOAT leave, given he came to represent everything they hate about their club. So, at least he's off the books now, meaning PSG can no doubt waste the money saved on some other ill-advised signing... Grade: C

    For Inter Miami: The deal of the century! Inter Miami don't have a good team. They are presently bottom of the Eastern Conference. It's not a well-run club either. Phil Neville was allowed to coach the team for more than two years. That tells you everything you need to know about David Beckham and his fellow owners. Yet they've still managed to pull off the biggest deal in MLS history - despite intense competition for his services from Saudi Arabia. Is Messi still at the absolute peak of his powers? Of course, not. But he remains an absolute magician, as he proved by inspiring Argentina to victory at the 2022 World Cup just seven months ago. His mere presence is a game-changer for both Miami and MLS. A+

    For Messi: A reasonably shrewd move. Obviously, he could have earned even more money by moving to Saudi Arabia, but he's still secured himself a sizeable salary for the next few years. The hope was that Messi would have another crack at the Champions League. He said himself he was desperate to win a fifth title - but that clearly wasn't true. Evidently, his one remaining career goal is to captain his country at the 2026 World Cup, which will be staged in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Joining Miami gives Messi an excellent chance of realising that dream, given the MLS is far less demanding, physically, than any of Europe's Top 10 leagues, and he will be feeling right at home in the States by the time the tournament rolls around. B

  62. June 6: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid to Al-Ittihad, free)

    June 6: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid to Al-Ittihad, free)

    For Real Madrid: An absolute disaster. Madrid have acknowledged that Benzema had earned the right to leave on his own terms after 14 years of stellar service but, as coach Carlo Ancelotti admitted, the club just "cannot be happy" about the timing of the French forward's "surprise" exit. Real fully expected Benzema to sign a one-year extension, thus providing them with plenty of time to find a new No.9. He has instead torpedoed those plans, leaving Florentino Perez to pick up the pieces. Madrid have lost a legend for nothing and signing a replacement for anything less than €100m will be nigh on impossible. Grade: F

    For Al-Ittihad: The biggest transfer in the club's history. Some famous names have played for the Saudi side over the years, including Roberto Donadoni and Bebeto, but we're talking about the current Ballon d'Or holder here. This, then, is a deal of historic proportions for Al-Ittihad, one which will draw an unprecedented level of attention to the club. From a purely sporting perspective, it's arguably even bigger than Cristiano Ronaldo joining Al-Nassr, given Benzema clearly still has plenty to offer at the very highest level, as he proved with 31 goals in all competitions during the 2022-23 campaign. He's going to add a completely new dimension to a team that are just coming off their first Pro League title triumph in 15 years. Seriously, what a coup for Al-Ittihad! Grade: A+

    For Benzema: Well, it very much depends on how you view transfers. Financially speaking, this is obviously one hell of a deal for Benzema. He's going to earn a fortune by spending two years in Saudi Arabia. On a sporting level, though, it's a serious step down in quality. But does Benzema care? Clearly not. And that's understandable to a certain degree. He's already won it all at club level and, having called time on his international career, there is clearly nothing else motivating him at this stage of his career other than money - of which he is now about to make an obscene amount. In that sense, this is a dream move for him. Still, one cannot help but wonder if he'll come to regret effectively entering into early retirement. After all, Ronaldo is earning millions in Saudi Arabia but he doesn't look particularly happy right now, does he?... Grade: B+