With a raging pandemic and the economic aspects associated with that, it was always expected that there will not be many mega signings in the 2021 summer transfer window. However, the window was far from being a quiet one.
Two of 21st century’s biggest football icons in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi switched allegiances, while superstars like Sergio Ramos and Gianluigi Donnarumma also signed for new teams this summer. However, most of those deals were either free transfers or the transfer fee involved was not a significant one.
Having said that, there were a few big-money signings in this window. Jack Grealish was the most expensive summer signing of 2021, closely followed by Romelu Lukaku and Jadon Sancho.
Let us have a look at how the five biggest summer signings of 2021 fared so far.
Ben White was an integral part of the Brighton & Hove Albion team in the last edition of the Premier League and it would be fair to say that the Seagulls would have conceded a lot more goals than they did had it not been for their rock-solid centre-back.
Keeping all of that in mind, Arsenal’s decision to shell out £50-M for a player who has played only one season in the English first division surprised many. To make things worse, White’s start to his Arsenal career was disastrous.
In his first match in a Gunners shirt, White was outplayed and outsmarted by Brentford’s Ivan Toney as the Bees won that match by a 2-0 margin. The 24-year-old did not get a shot at immediate redemption as he then returned a positive diagnosis for COVID-19.
But since his return, White has played well and has hardly put a foot wrong. He has five matches since recovering from COVID-19 and Arsenal have not lost any of those five matches. The North London side has kept clean sheets in three of those games and have conceded a total of only three goals.
The second mention on our list is another defender but with significantly different traits than the previous mention. Moroccan international Achraf Hakimi, who currently plies his trade for French giants Paris Saint-Germain, is by definition a right-back but is predominantly known for his assists and darting runs rather than his defensive prowess.
The former Real Madrid product joined Paris Saint-Germain from Italian outfit Inter Milan for a reported price of €60-M. He has started 10 Ligue 1 matches for PSG, where his team has won all but one match.
Hakimi has also scored three goals in the French first division – two against FC Metz and the other against Troyes. Still only 22 years of age, Hakimi also has two assists to his name which came against Stade Reims and Stade Brestois.
Jadon Sancho is one of the rare players on this list who has not been able to live up to the expectations at his new club. The English youngster was signed by Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund for a fee of £73-M, which did not seem to be a lot given Sancho’s brilliant performances in Germany.
The Manchester City youth product scored 50 goals in his 137 appearances for Dortmund, but is yet to open his goal tally for the Red Devils. Owing to a string of underwhelming performances, he has found himself at the fringes of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s preferred playing XI, instead of being at the heart of it.
Sancho has played seven matches in the Premier League, four of which have been substitute appearances. Even in the matches he started, he did complete the full ninety minutes and the story is same in the UEFA Champions League as well. The only match where he played till the end was an EFL Cup game against West Ham United which Manchester United ended up losing.
If we were to analyse Romelu Lukaku’s homecoming a month ago, it would have been dubbed sensational. However, things have changed in the recent weeks.
After winning the Serie A with Inter Milan last season, the Belgian goal-machine rejoined Chelsea, the team he signed for when he was an 18-year-old prodigy.
Lukaku had a bright start in his second stint with the reigning champions of Europe, justifying Chelsea’s decision to spend £97.5-M. He scored in his first appearance, which was against London rivals Arsenal. Lukaku then scored a brace against Aston Villa and also found the back of the net in the Champions League clash against Zenit St. Petersburg.
But goals have dried up since as Lukaku has not scored in his last six appearances for the Blues. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, however, has put the blame for his lack of form on mental fatigue given the excessive workload players have had to endure in the past few weeks.
While there has never been any doubt on the capabilities of Jack Grealish, it is the price tag of £100-M that raised the eyebrows of many when this transfer was announced. Manchester City broke the bank to sign the former Aston Villa man and it is not uncommon in football that a hefty price tag affects the mental space of a footballer, subsequently resulting in an unexpected decline in form.
That, however, has not been the case with the Englishman. He has been involved in most of Manchester City’s matches this season and more often than not has justified both his price tag, and his place in what arguably one of the more difficult teams to get into.
The 26-year-old has mostly been used as a left-winger and has played 11 matches in the ongoing season for the Sky Blues. G
realish has scored twice and has as many assists to his name. His goals came against Norwich City in the Premier League and RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League. He had an assist against Leipzig as well, while the other assist came in the match against Arsenal.