All summer long, GOAL’s Mark Doyle will be handing out grades for the biggest transfers from around the world
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 next weeks and months, the biggest names will be linked with the biggest clubs, with speculation set to go into overdrive.
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 is here, then, to ensure you know who did the best out of every massive deal before the ink is even dry on the contracts. Throughout the summer window, we will be grading every done deal as it happens, letting you track the big winners – and losers – of transfer season.
June 30: 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+
June 29: 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