With the season coming to an end, the big, bad summer transfer window has crept up on us and promises for another few months of completely absurd rumours, mega money transfers and last-minute deals that nobody had ever considered.
Winning the transfer window and winning are two entirely different beasts altogether. History shows that nobody wants to officially be crowned as winners of the transfer window, as it almost certainly never ends well.
Generally, though, getting ahead and tying up deals as early as possible ahead of the summer is an indication that a club is heading in the right direction. Just ask Manchester United fans, who have watched their side aimlessly throw their own revenues down the drain season upon season with scattergun recruitment often halfway through their pre-season.
Getting deals done early is key. It allows players to have their futures decided in advance and allows the manager to hit the ground running when their squad reports for pre-season. Of course it’s nigh on impossible to have all business wrapped up by that point, but to have one or two transfers pre-agreed in advance can prove rather handy.
So, let’s take a look at those who have tried to get ahead of the curve for the 2023 summer window.
There’s being ahead of the curve, and then there’s whatever the hell this was.
Perhaps peak Chelsea under the new co-ownership of Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali, a deal to bring Nkunku to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2023 was rumoured to have been agreed in late 2022, with the 2022-23 season barely even at the halfway point.
It’s been one of the worst kept secrets in football since the turn of the new year, despite neither Chelsea nor RB Leipzig officially acknowledging it yet. The French forward has a big task on his hands in settling in amid the chaos around the club at the moment.
A move that seemingly came out of nowhere, Brighton moved quickly to snap up Watford hotshot Pedro following a fruitful season in the Championship.
He’s already been out on the pitch at the AMEX, being presented in front of the fans at half-time of their eventual 5-1 defeat to Everton. Ouch.
Still, though, with the way the Seagulls recruit, chances are he’ll look every bit a world-class player in about six months and be worth a fortune.
What a time to unveil Joao Pedro at the Amex 😭😂 pic.twitter.com/v0D8W4WuSN
— SEAGULLS SOCIAL (@SeagullsSocial) May 8, 2023
Despite being linked to Barcelona recently, it is Bayer Leverkusen who appear to have won the race for Benfica’s Grimaldo.
The 27-year-old full back was out of contract this summer and available for free as a result, giving Xabi Alonso’s side a brilliant opportunity to snap up a player with 22 goal contributions in all competitions this season.
England’s midfield starlet has gone from strength to strength during his time at Borussia Dortmund, but finally looks set to move on this summer, with Real Madrid all but agreeing a deal for the 19-year-old.
Bellingham has been linked with a move to Liverpool to essentially no end over the last 12 months, but when it became clear they could not afford the transfer, many expected Manchester City to be his next move.
However, football heritage has prevailed and Real have sealed a deal, which will now see them effectively replace their Kroos-Modric-Casemiro midfield with Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni.
Liverpool missed out on Bellingham and look set to say goodbye to Milner after eight years of service.
The versatile veteran is also set to join Brighton, in what looks to be more shrewd recruitment for the Seagulls.
Blending in Milner’s experience with their endless roster of hidden gems from around the world? What on earth is Roberto De Zerbi cooking?
Everyone’s favourite Englishman-turned-Chilean is set to leave Blackburn Rovers after rising to prominence and enjoying an upturn in form over the last few years, essentially ever since he stuck ‘Diaz’ onto the end of his last name.
The Chile international is out of contract this summer and has agreed to join Villarreal for the 2023-24 campaign. Seeing how he takes to the Spanish top flight after a career in the Championship will be intriguing. One to watch.
They’re not messing around this summer, are Brighton.
Clearly aware of their need to recruit before their squad is raided, Dahoud is the third player they have a deal in place to sign and the season isn’t even over yet.
Outgoing Dortmund midfielder Dahoud feels like the riskiest of the three, though. While he’s clearly got potential, the 27-year-old has only managed to show it in splashes. Brighton could be make or break for him.
Once hotly tipped as one of the most exciting young midfielders in Europe, it all went a bit quiet for Aouar at Lyon after a big move failed to materialise following the hype.
He looks set to join Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma this summer, though, which is a massive opportunity to reignite the flame. A new league, a huge club and an esteemed manager – the tools are there.
And with Roma entering season three of the Mourinho project, it’s someone like Aouar who could be the difference maker in a summer that will prove key.