The best transfers of the 2021 summer window - ranked

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
It's been a crazy few weeks
It's been a crazy few weeks / ANP Sport/Getty Images

While the pandemic has forced many clubs to reign back their spending, the 2021/22 summer transfer window still witnessed some incredible deals.

Club legends moved on, young prospects were sold for eye-watering sums and there has also been plenty of bargain buys.

Here are 40 of the absolute best deals of a bonkers transfer window.

40. Denzel Dumfries (PSV Eindhoven to Inter, £12.8m)

Denzel Dumfries
Dumfries was impressive at the Euros / Marco Canoniero/Getty Images

Achraf Hakimi was vital to Inter's success last season. With Ashley Young also departing this summer, the Serie A holders needed a replacement and they have done well to secure Denzel Dumfries on their meagre budget.

Dumfries was one of the stars of Euro 2020 and although he is not the complete package defensively he has created a lot of chances over the past few seasons.

39. Kurt Zouma (Chelsea to West Ham, £25m)

For a long time, Kurt Zouma to West Ham did not look likely to happen thanks to his high wages.

In the end, though, this roadblock was navigated with the Hammers adding Zouma to their already impressive defence. He may have been expensive but Zouma showed he is an extremely capable defender last season.

38. Marc Cucurella (Getafe to Brighton, £16m)

Marc Cucurella
Cucurella is an Olympic silver medalist / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

For a team who play three at the back frequently, Brighton are not blessed with that many natural wing-backs.

Graeme Potter has rectified this during the summer, swooping for Marc Cucurella. He loves to bomb forward and could be a nice pick-up for your Fantasy Premier League team, provided he is not too expensive.

37. Ilaix Moriba (Barcelona to RB Leipzig, £15m)

Ilaix Moriba
Moriba is one of several players to leave Barcelona / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona used to nurture homegrown talent. Now, they let them go on the cheap to prevent financial catastrophe.

RB Leipzig have an excellent record of developing young players and Ilaix Moriba should get all the support he needs to blossom into something special.

36. Nikola Vlasic (CSKA Moscow to West Ham, £25.7m)

Attacking midfielder Nikola Vlasic arrives at West Ham off the back of successive double-figure scoring seasons in the Russian Premier Liga.

After failing to re-sign Jesse Lingard on a permanent basis, the former Everton man could be the ideal replacement - and he's far younger.

35. Donyell Malen (PSV Eindhoven to Dortmund, £29m)

Donyell Malen
Malen is an exciting talent / Lars Baron/Getty Images

22-year-old Donyell Malen enjoyed a terrific 2020/21 campaign, netting 19 Eredivisie goals and seven assists for PSV.

This, as well as his displays at Euro 2020, were enough to convince Borussia Dortmund to make him their next pet project. BVB are rarely wrong in the transfer market and we would not be surprised to see the forward sold on for big bucks in a few years' time.

34. Kristoffer Ajer (Celtic to Brentford, £17.5m)

Kristoffer Ajer
Ajer is a colossal defender / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Kristoffer Ajer fits Brentford like a glove and represents good value at less than £20m.

Capable of driving into midfield when required, Ajer is also a beast in the air. His arrival was another fine example of Brentford's famous recruitment strategy in action.

33. Marcel Sabitzer (RB Leipzig to Bayern Munich, £13.5m)

No one operates in the transfer window quite as ruthlessly as Bayern Munich.

This summer they have stolen their closest rivals' manager, centre-back and captain. Die Roten Bullen skipper Marcel Sabitzer is one of the best value signings of the summer and

32. Adam Armstrong (Blackburn Rovers to Southampton, £15m)

Losing Danny Ings, seemingly out of nowhere, was a real blow for Southampton. They seem to have found a suitable replacement in Adam Armstrong, though.

He managed 28 goals in the Championship last season and despite being just 24 and English, Saints have only spent £15m to secure his services. That's very good value.

31. Odsonne Edouard (Celtic to Crystal Palace, £14m)

Odsonne Edouard
Edouard has scored for fun in Scotland / Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

After what seems like an eternity, Odsonne Edouard has finally secured a move to the Premier League.

Crystal Palace have long lacked a reliable goalscorer and Edouard is exactly that. £14m is considerably less than what they might have expected to pay for his services too.

30. Manuel Locatelli (Sassuolo to Juventus, £30m)

Locatelli was attracting interest from across Europe all summer / MIGUEL MEDINA/Getty Images

Manuel Locatelli has long been one of the best midfielders in Serie A, providing the creative heartbeat for Roberto De Zerbi's wonderfully entertaining Sassuolo side.

After further enhancing his reputation in the summer by helping Juventus win Euro 2020, Locatelli has followed De Zerbi out of the club, earning a move to Juventus. Expect him to have no problem making the midfield his own in Turin this season. £30m is a snip too.

29. Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen to Aston Villa, £30m)

Leon Bailey
Bailey is one of the most exciting talents currently playing in the Bundesliga / Pool/Getty Images

Aston Villa will be starting the season without talisman Jack Grealish but they can at least be confident that Leon Bailey can relieve some of the creative and goalscoring burden.

Bailey enjoyed his best season yet last time out and has been linked with some huge clubs over the years. Villa getting the job done for just £30m is mightily impressive.

28. Emiliano Buendia (Norwich to Aston Villa, £38m)

Emiliano Buendia
Buendia is a very smart signing / Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

Aston Villa are one of a long list of Premier League clubs who aspire to break into the top six. Signing Emiliano Buendia - albeit for a hefty fee - could be an important step on that journey. 

Ludicrously creative in possession he is also an underrated presence defensively. He will fit into Dean Smith’s well oiled outfit perfectly. 

27. Cristian Romero (Atalanta to Tottenham Hotspur, loan)

Brazil v Argentina: Final - Copa America Brazil 2021
Romero helped Argentina win the Copa America this summer / MB Media/Getty Images

If you believe certain reports, Lionel Messi's Barcelona departure was partly down to his side's failure to sign Cristian Romero. High praise indeed.

Barca's loss is Tottenham's gain and Romero - who joins on loan with an option to buy - seems like the perfect successor to ball-playing defender Toby Alderweireld.

26. Eric Garcia (Man City to Barcelona, free)

Garcia could be in the heart of Barcelona's defence for years to come / LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

We did not get to see the best of Eric Garcia during his time at Manchester City, but it is clear he has the potential to reach the top.

Both Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique are big fans, making Barcelona signing him on a free all the more impressive.

25. Danny Ings (Southampton to Aston Villa, £25m)

Danny Ings
Ings has settled quickly at Villa / Visionhaus/Getty Images

This transfer literally came out of nowhere.

It is said that Villa rushed through negotiations to beat Manchester City's Jack Grealish announcement and Ings has made a similarly frantic start to his career in the west Midlands, scoring in each of his side's opening two games.

24. Hakan Calhanoglu (Milan to Inter, free)

Hakan Calhanoglu
Calhanoglu made a surprise cross-city switch / Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Hakan Calhanoglu signing for Inter took quite a few people by surprise. Not only had he crossed the Derby della Madonnina divide, the Nerazzurri were also supposed to be trimming their own expenses when they announced his arrival on a salary of around €5m a year.

Although the circumstances were a little strange, Inter will be delighted to have got themselves an exciting player for no transfer fee.

23. Ibrahima Konate (RB Leipzig to Liverpool, £36m)

Ibrahima Konate, Wout Weghorst
Konate adds some much needed strength in depth to the Liverpool defence / Cathrin Mueller/Getty Images

Liverpool are unlikely to experience an injury crisis of the same proportion as last season this time out.

Even still, the addition of Ibrahima Konate is a welcome one. Signed from RB Leipzig well before other clubs got their business done, he should be able to cope with Liverpool's high line without too many problems.

22. Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona to Atletico Madrid, loan)

Antoine Griezmann
Griezmann's underwhelming spell at Barcelona is over / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona spent the entire summer trying to push Antoine Griezmann out of the club and with just hours to go before the transfer window slammed shut, they managed it.

Diego Simeone has been desperate to get his main man back for some time and two years after his departure, he has returned to Atletico. It is a complex deal, initially a loan with an optional extension and an obligation to buy - but it seems to work for both clubs.

21. Rodrigo de Paul (Udinese to Atletico Madrid, £30m)

Rodrigo De Paul
De Paul won the Copa America this summer / Gustavo Pagano/Getty Images

Rodrigo de Paul has been a name floating around the transfer rumour mill for several years.

Atletico Madrid have finally stumped up the cash required to prise him away from Udinese as they look to defend their La Liga title this season. De Paul has many strengths to his game and if he can adapt to Diego Simeone's defensive demands he should fit in nicely.

20. Boubakary Soumare (Lille to Leicester, £17m)

Boubakary Soumare
Soumare is perfectly placed to replace Youri Tielemans should he depart / Tony Marshall/Getty Images

One of the key reasons for Leicester’s recent success has been their ability to replace their key players without missing a beat. 

They might have just done it again by signing Boubakary Soumare. The former Lille man seems the perfect replacement for Youri Tielemans should he depart in the not so distant future. 

19. Patson Daka (RB Salzburg to Leicester City, £23m)

Patson Daka
Signing Daka could pay off massively for Leicester / Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Leicester rarely slip up in the transfer market but even by their own high standards, their deal to sign Patson Daka could be an inspired one. 

Daka is the latest player to come out of the RB Salzburg talent factory and he is almost as exciting as Erling Haaland. He has managed 51 league goals over the past two seasons, is a frightening athlete and is nowhere near the peak of his powers.

Could we be looking at the heir to Jamie Vardy’s throne?

18. Pierluigi Gollini (Atalanta to Spurs, loan)

Pierluigi Gollini
Spurs have a Hugo Lloris successor in Gollini / Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Finding a successor to the remarkably reliable Hugo Lloris has been in the back of Tottenham’s mind for some time. Rather than waiting until the Frenchman gets even older, they might have found his replacement a few years early. 

Pierluigi Gollini has been Atalanta’s starting keeper for some time and despite rarely receiving much help from his defence, has performed solidly.

He arrives on loan with an option to buy at the end of the season - the perfect deal for Spurs’ needs. 

17. Jack Harrison (Man City to Leeds, £11m)

Jack Harrison
Harrison has finally signed for Leeds permanently / Pool/Getty Images

Jack Harrison has been one of the key cogs in Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United revolution over the past three seasons.

The 2020/21 campaign was his best yet with the industrious midfielder registering eight goals and eight assists. His permanent signing may have gone relatively unnoticed outside of Elland Road, but Leeds will be delighted to have got it over the line. 

16. Tammy Abraham (Chelsea to Roma, £8m)

A host of Premier League clubs were chasing Tammy Abraham this summer but in the end he opted for a move to Jose Mourinho's Roma.

Edin Dzeko's departure means Abraham will be I Giallorossi's main man up front this season and he should fit in well in Serie A.

15. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa to Manchester City, £100m)

Jack Grealish
Grealish was unveiled at a special press conference / Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images

Jack Grealish became the nation's sweetheart during Euro 2020 and he capped off a near-perfect summer with a dream move to Manchester City.

His £100m price tag is a Premier League record but after an adjustment period to Pep Guardiola's regime, he should thrive at the Etihad Stadium.

14. Mike Maignan (Lille to Milan, £12m)

Mike Maignan
Maignan did not wait around to replace Donnarumma / Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Replacing Gianluigi Donnarumma was always going to be a near impossible task. Milan have dealt with things pretty well, not waiting long after Lille’s shock Ligue 1 title win to sign Mike Maignan. 

Maignan averaged the second best save percentage in the division last term, as well as the most clean sheets. He is still only 26 too.

13. Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid to Chelsea, loan)

Saul Niguez's move to Chelsea went right down to the wire with the Blues submitting the relevant documentation with minutes to spare.

Included in the deal is a £30m optional buyout clause. If he has a good season this represents fantastic value for money. Thomas Tuchel had been desperate for one more midfielder this summer and his personal intervention played a vital role in completing the transfer.

12. Memphis Depay (Lyon to Barcelona, free)

Memphis Depay
Barcelona have been chasing Depay for some time / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

After missing out on him last summer, Barcelona has finally signed Memphis Depay. He joins the Blaugrana off the back of his best ever season for Lyon and thanks to his contract expiring, he has not cost them a penny.

If Barça can find a way to fit him into their system, they could be on to a real winner.

11. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool to PSG, free)

Georginio Wijnaldum
Liverpool may regret not offering Wijnaldum the money he wanted / Pool/Getty Images

The full effect of Georginio Wijnaldum’s departure from Liverpool will not take long to be noticed. The Dutchman has been a near ever present in the Reds’ greatest team of the Premier League era, knitting things together in midfield. 

Jurgen Klopp was desperate to keep him and the Dutchman is likely to make Liverpool regret letting him depart this season. In France he should be given more license to roam forward, which is a very exciting prospect. 

10. Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes to Real Madrid, £30m)

Eduardo Camavinga
Camavinga has been one of Real's top targets for some time / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

As 90min reported last year, Real Madrid have long been enamored by Eduardo Camavinga and they finally got a deal done on deadline day.

The 18-year-old has got it all and will contribute right from the get go. He is the man to lead Real's midfield for many years to come.

9. Achraf Hakimi (Inter to PSG, £60m)

Achraf Hakimi
Hakimi is a world class right-back / Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Achraf Hakimi is probably the best attacking right-back on the planet. Last season he registered a pretty bonkers seven goals and 10 assists to help Inter scoop the scudetto. 

However, when the Nerazzurri’s financial issues became public knowledge PSG smelled blood and swooped in to sign the defender. Right-back has been one of the Parisian's less exciting positions in recent years and that is about to change in a big way. 

8. Jadon Sancho (Dortmund to Man Utd, £73m)

Jadon Sancho
Sancho is finally a United player / Pool/Getty Images

At long last, Jadon Sancho is a Manchester United player. Signing him may have required the most tiresome transfer saga in recent memory, but all the effort will likely prove worthwhile in the end. 

Sancho is one of the biggest signings United have made in the past decade and he could easily go on to become an icon at Old Trafford.

7. David Alaba (Bayern to Real Madrid, free)

David Alaba
Alaba did not cost Real a penny / Pool/Getty Images

Testing positive for coronavirus before he has even kicked a ball is a blow, but David Alaba still looks set to be a hit at Real Madrid.

Following the departures of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, Los Blancos were looking thin on star quality at the back. Thank goodness for Alaba's arrival then. He will provide experience and composure in defence and his versatility could also prove vital.

6. Andre Silva (Milan to RB Leipzig. £20m)

Andre Silva
Silva scored more Bundesliga goals than Erling Haaland last season / Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Andre Silva’s incredible goal scoring antics slipped under the radar somewhat last season. Overall he managed 28 Bundesliga goals for Eintracht Frankfurt, a tally bettered only by Robert Lewandowski. 

He does not just bring finishing to RB Leipzig, though. The Portugal international also works tirelessly and registered a career best eight assists last season. 

5. Romelu Lukaku (Inter to Chelsea, £97.5m)

Romelu Lukaku could be the missing piece in the puzzle that turns Chelsea into Premier League winners.

After Thomas Tuchel's arrival, the Blues looked strong in most areas. However, finding the back of the net remained a problem, with Jorginho ending the campaign as Premier League top scorer with a measly seven.

Lukaku's arrival should change that this season.

4. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus to Man Utd, £12m)

It's the deal that nobody ever thought would happen. Over a decade on from him first leaving the club, Cristiano Ronaldo is back at Old Trafford and the Manchester United faithful have been dancing in the street ever since.

His arrival gives Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a remarkable amount of firepower to call upon this season and it will be fascinating to see how he handles it all.

3. Raphael Varane (Real Madrid to Manc Utd, £41m)

Real Madrid v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander
Varane could the signing that pushed United to the next level / Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Ever since United dropped a world record fee for Harry Maguire in 2019 a debate has been raging about who he should be partnered with. 

Finally, the Red Devils seemed to have found the perfect solution in Varane. Blessed with a wicked turn of pace, he should complement Maguire perfectly. The fact he is costing such a modest fee is another big plus.

2. Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan to PSG, free)

Gianluigi Donnarumma
Donnarumma is a penalty saving king / GES-Sportfoto/Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain's transfer strategy has not always been the most successful, but they deserve credit for tying down the best young goalkeeper in the world for five years without even having to pay a fee. 

Keylor Navas has fared pretty well in recent times, but Donnarumma is definitely an improvement. Coupled with their other business, PSG are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Champions League this season.

1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona to PSG, free)

Lionel Messi is probably the best player of all time. PSG picking him up on a free transfer was the cherry on top of a truly ridiculous transfer window.

His arrival leaves Mauricio Pochettino with a frightening forward line, even if their work off the ball will be minimal. It is hard to overstate just how big this transfer is for both PSG and a cash-strapped Ligue 1 in general.