One month into the transfer window and we’ve seen a decent amount of player movement for a summer period dominated by the World Cup. Things will definitely heat up over the next two-to-three weeks ago as teams drop from the competition and clubs begin to accelerate their negotiations and recruiting. There have not been any marquee mega-signings like Neymar to Paris-St. Germain from last summer, at least not yet. But we have seen some movement from major clubs bolstering their roster for the upcoming campaign.
The biggest move to date is a move which did not occur. After years of speculation about Antoine Griezmann leaving Atletico Madrid for the likes of FC Barcelona or Manchester United the Frenchman has decided to re-up at the club. He signed a new deal which will keep him at Atletico Madrid for the foreseeable future (2023). It’s a statement signing that Griezmann was willing to pass up a bigger marquee to stay where he’s performed over the past four seasons. In 142 total appearances for the club he’s scored 79 goals. The club has been linked to some additional signings with the likes of Thomas Lemar (Monaco) and Edinson Cavani (PSG) being floated around the rumor mill.
Liverpool seemingly out of nowhere signed defensive midfielder Fabinho from AS Monaco for a reported €45 million. Fabinho, a 24-year-old Brazilian, came up in the Real Madrid system (played for their 2nd league team for a year) before being loaned and permanently transferred to Monaco. In five seasons with the club he scored 29 goals but scoring is not his forte, at 6 feet 2 inches, Fabinho is an excellent defender and strong passer. He’ll be an immediate upgrade for Liverpool at that position. The Reds will be very active in the transfer market as they’ll be hungry to get back to the Champions League final after coming up short against Real Madrid. Rumors still have Lyon midfielder Nabil Fekir heading to Anfield as well even as talks have stalled. RB Leipzig midfielder Nagby Keita’s move is all but final and he’ll help fill the void left by the departing Emre Can who has now signed for Juventus.
The Gunner’s new manager Unai Emery has been busy revamping the club’s roster and he’s made three deals to date. I suspect he’s no where close to being complete as the team looks to move on from the Arsene Wegner era.
First he signed Juventus right-wing back and Swiss international Stephan Lichtsteiner on a free deal. He’s a average to good defender (lacks speed) with plenty of European experience (over 300 appearances in Calcio A), he’ll be a nice addition to an Arsenal defense which was spotty at best. He won’t start but will provide protection should anything happen to Hector Bellerin.
In keeping with upgrading the defense, their next signing was centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund. It’ll be interesting to see how Emery positions the depth chart on defense, when healthy Laurent Koscielny is the center piece for their defense but more times than not he’s out with some type of issue. Shkordan Mustafi, a recent signing, underwhelmed in my opinion in his two seasons for Arsenal and while he’s a similar player to Sokratis I would rather take the Greek over the German based on what I’ve seen. I get the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t but I’ve seen too many mistakes from Mustafi to feel secure if I’m an Arsenal fan. And thank God I am not.
Lastly, Arsenal has acquired German goalkeeper Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen a move that could end Petr Cech’s time with Arsenal. Leno is 26 years old and unfortunately for him it doesn’t look like he’ll be participating in the World Cup any time soon, he missed the cut for this competition and is behind Neuer (Bayern), Ter Stegen (Bareclona) and Trapp (PSG) on the depth chart. Cech is ten years his senior so it’s wise for Arsenal to begin thinking about what the next steps are in the transition of this club. Back-up keeper David Ospina was never going to be the answer so Leno’s signing is a good one in my book. Leno does have Champions League experience which is a plus but Arsenal fans won’t be needing that this year as they finished 6th in the league and will be playing in the Europa League.