The best transfer windows ever #4: Pogba, Luiz, Stones, Mane, Gotze…

Quick Reads

We have gleefully recalled the summers of 2013, 2014 and 2003 in our countdown of the greatest transfer windows of all time, but for the fourth best ever we don’t need to think too far back…

Even if you hate a never-ending stream of rumours, awkward Twitter announcements and flashy headlines splashed across newspapers, the summer transfer window is still one of the best parts of the year.

But which has been the most entertaining summer since 2000? Let’s work it out.

Best Transfer Window Ever #4: 2016

The Transfer That Shook The World

Paul Pogba from Juventus to Manchester United for €105m.

Funny how just a year later this one really does seem like a bargain. Jose knows.

But if there’s one underrated aspect of this transfer, it’s definitely Mino Raiola tweeting, “Nothing is done yet, lots of blah blah blah,” in response to all the early rumours, followed by Adidas immediately shooting the Blah Blah commercial which featured Pogba saying, “Don’t believe everything you read in papers,” as well as about 437 different hints of the future United move.

Viral marketing at its best. Modern football at its worst. Pick whatever side you prefer.

Top transfers

Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli to Juventus (€90m), Hulk from Zenit St. Petersburg to SIPG (€55.8m), John Stones from Everton to Man City (€55.6m), Leroy Sane from Schalke 04 to Man City (€50m), Granit Xhaka from Borussia Mönchengladbach to Arsenal (€45m), Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United (€42m), Sadio Mane from Southampton to Liverpool (€41.2m).

Nine thoughts

1) This was madness!

2) Premier League clubs blew a staggering £1.1billion during the course of the window, with 13 out of 20 teams breaking their transfer records.

Manchester City made John Stones the most expensive English footballer ever, Hulk became China’s most valuable asset since tea, while Crystal Palace buying Christian Benteke – or anyone, really – for €31.2m was the surest sign that the end was near.

After a few years of flirting, and hesitating, European football finally broke through the glass ceiling and never looked back.

3) Madness!

4) Out of nowhere, Chelsea laid out €35m for David Luiz after selling him to PSG back in 2014. Somehow, the whole thing turned out to be a genuine success for both the club and the player. Go figure.

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READ: Investigating claims that Chelsea’s squad is too small to retain the title

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5) Mad-NESS!

6) Two seasons after selling Alvaro Morata to Juventus for €20m, Real Madrid brought the Spaniard back for €30m only to use him as a back-up striker for Karim Benzema for the majority of the year, then sell him again in 2017 for twice the price. Oh, football.

7) M.A.D.N.E.S.S!

8) At this point, you probably wondering, “Wait a minute… Luiz returned to Chelsea… Morata returned to Madrid… are you trying to tell us something?” Bingo!

For some reason, 2016 was the ultimate year of the comeback. Here is an incomplete list of high-profile players (and Adrian Mariappa) who suddenly – or not so suddenly – returned home that summer: Paul Pogba, David Luiz, Alvaro Morata, Mario Gotze, Mats Hummels, Radamel Falcao, Tomas Rosicky, Denis Suarez, and, um, Adrian Mariappa.

If only my ex was a footballer.

*Slowly dying inside*.

9) M-A-D… you got the idea.

The Ultimate Bargain

Dani Alves from Barcelona to Juventus for free.

The only question remains: how the f*ck do they do it???

Top Manager Transfers

Antonio Conte from Italy to Chelsea, Jose Mourinho to Manchester United, Pep Guardiola from Bayern Munich to Man City, Ronald Koeman from Southampton to Everton, Jorge Sampaoli from Chile to Sevilla, Carlo Ancelotti from Real Madrid to Bayern Munich, Unai Emery from Sevilla to PSG.

If football heaven does exist, we’ve already been there.

The Ultimate Burning Shirt Transfer

Mats Hummels from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich for €35m.

This time, Bayern went even further by luring away not just a star but a skipper of Dortmund. Once again, the deal had been confirmed way before the final match of the season which, by an amazing coincidence, turned out to be the German Cup final featuring both Bayern and Dortmund.

The good news: Marco Reus finally got his well-deserved captain’s armband while remaining the only superstar of the 2011 Bundesliga-winning side who never left the club. Keep being you, Marco.

Epic Transfer Fail

Andre Gomes from Valencia to Barcelona for €35m.


Honourable mentions: Renato Sanches to Bayern (€35m), Vincent Janssen to Tottenham (€22.1m), Ahmed Musa to Leicester (€19.5m).

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READ: How a transfer REALLY happens & how a contract looks – The Secret Footballer

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Entertaining Sublot

Although most of the China’s craziest transfers had happened earlier that year during the winter transfer window, you still spent last summer worrying your favorite player might flee for a better life.

Sponsored by local companies desperately trying to gain favour with the government, Chinese clubs literally had no chill. So much so that one of them – Shanghai SIPG – landed Brazil and Zenit Saint-Petersburg star Hulk for a monstrous €55.8m, making him the second most expensive player of the window.

Then there was Graziano Pelle who left Southampton for Shandong (€15.2m), and Anthony Ujah, signed by Liaoning from Werder Bremen (€11.5m), as well as a bunch of elite managers such as Manuel Pellegrini, Felix Magath, and Andre Villas Boas who found inner peace in China, too.

That’s about it, but yeah, as mentioned earlier, it was not so much about the real threat but a possibility of getting your heart broken at virtually any time. Thanks for the laughs, China, but we don’t miss you.

Hilarious moment

Messi dyed his hair blonde for this paragraph! What more do you want?

The Club That Went Completely Nuts

Rather predictably, Manchester City.

In his first summer in England, Pep Guardiola splashed €213m, with John Stones, Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan being the club’s biggest signings of the window. Also, they paid €18m for Claudio Bravo.

Iconic Transfer Campaign That Changed Everything

Chelsea… at least so far.

For the price of Pogba and Jese, the Blues managed to land three first-team players who would make the Premier League winning squad – N’Golo Kante (€35.8m), David Luiz (€35m), and Marcos Alonso (€23m) – as well as a young super-sub Michy Batshuayi (€39m) and one mighty Italian who would take the team from 10th place to the title and bring the shattered club back to life. Crisis management at its finest.

To Sum It Up

This was a highly entertaining window with everyone losing their mind over Chinese money, Bayern being Bayern, and the Premier League establishing itself as the NBA of football with their own little World Cup of managers.

Throw in a world-record transfer, the Higuain saga and Zlatan’s long-awaited debut in England, now that’s what you call a proper summer show.

By Vitaly Suvorov