Player Transfers You Might’ve Missed During the FIFA World Cup

By Jerry Summer
Published on July 13, 2018
Soccer World Cup

When there’s a soccer World Cup, pretty much everyone is watching, and the attention of most fans is focused on this tournament. This is quite natural, as it’s the most prestigious trophy in the sport.

Still, the world keeps spinning, and often, some important transfers happen during the World Cup. This is why I decided to dedicate this post to all the deals that were closed while the competition was running that you might have missed because of that.

Other than Cristian Ronaldo’s surprising move to Juventus, there were not that many superstar transfers that rocked the soccer world. There were, however, some interesting moves that will surely affect the top European leagues.

Gianluigi Buffon – Juventus to PSG (Free Transfer)

It’s hard to find the words to describe the career of Gianluigi Buffon. The Italian is a living legend and has won almost everything in the soccer world.

Of course, the one missing trophy in his cabinet would be the Champions League, as he has three lost finals with Juventus and is one of the players with the most games played without winning the competition.

After 17 years at the club, Buffon is now moving to France and will play for the PSG. The Italian is now 40 but is still producing some solid displays. He will be hoping the super project that includes the likes of Neymar and Mbappe will help him finally get that Champions League gold medal.

At the same time, the French club gets a goalkeeper with exceptional experience. Considering the low competition in Ligue 1, PSG won’t care about Buffon’s age. They will need him to perform at his very best only in the crucial Champions League games.

If he does that, both the player and the club may be very happy with the outcome of this transfer.

Alvaro Odriozola – Real Sociedad to Real Madrid (€35.4m)

The young Alvaro Odriozola is only 22, but already a part of the Spanish national squad and one of the brightest talents of the country. He plays as a right-back but could also fill in further up the pitch.

Alvaro Odriozola Playing for Real Madrid
Alvaro Odriozola, Defender – Real Madrid C.F.

The youngster was given a chance by Real Sociedad during the 2016-2017 season and instantly impressed. In the next campaign, Odriozola made the position his own, and it was only natural for him to end up in one of the big Spanish clubs.

There were rumors linking him to Barcelona, but he joined Real Madrid at the end. The fee of €30 million + add-ons that could reach another €5 million or so seems a bit high for a fullback.

And yet, Real Madrid could end up getting one of the best players in this position for the next 10 years or so.

Naby Keita – RB Leipzig to Liverpool (£48m)

Naby Keita was one of the best players for RB Leipzig last season, and Jurgen Klopp made the midfielder one of his main targets in the summer. With Emre Can gone, Liverpool needed someone in this position, and Keita seems like the perfect replacement.

One could argue that he is actually an upgrade, because his style fits the demanding approach of the German manager, and he has an eye for goal. Of course, the Premier League is a completely different animal, so Keita might need a bit of time to get used to the new environment.

Liverpool triggered the midfielder’s release clause worth £48 million, but the price could reach up to £66 million, depending on the player’s and club’s performance in the next season.

Keita’s debut went well, according to his manager, so the supporters will be hopeful that he slots in the team instantly.

Fred – Shakhtar Donetsk to Manchester United (£52m)

Manchester United’s interest in Fred was well known, and the English giants got their man early on.

Surprisingly, the Brazilian midfielder was not included in his country’s squad for the soccer World Cup in Russia this summer.

This serves as good news for the supporters of his new club, as Fred received some rest and was ready to start the preparation for the new season early. Jose Mourinho will hope that the Brazilian will provide a much-needed boost to his midfield from very early on.

The price of £52 million might seem a bit high, but it shouldn’t surprise you. Since last summer, this is the new reality of English soccer.

Thomas Lemar – Monaco to Atletico Madrid (£53m)

It’s curious that Thomas Lemar was on my list of players who could earn a big transfer during the soccer World Cup.

He basically didn’t play in the tournament, despite being on the France squad, but he still managed to get a big move.

Thomas Lemar Playing for Atletico Madrid
Thomas Lemar, Midfielder – Atletico Madrid

The former Arsenal and Liverpool target had a rough final season at Monaco but remains one of the hottest prospects in Europe. Lemar is only 22 and has already shown some brilliant displays on the left wing.

The guy can dribble, assist, and score. It’s interesting to wonder if Antoine Griezmann had something to do with this transfer, especially since the Frenchman decided to snub Barcelona and stay in Atletico Madrid himself.

Fabinho – Monaco to Liverpool (£40m)

Another player that Monaco lost during the soccer World Cup is Fabinho. The versatile Brazilian joined Liverpool and could fill in the right-back position or play as a defensive midfielder.

After his debut, Klopp said Fabinho will need some time to adapt, and this is quite natural.

Still, with a price tag of £40 million and potential add-ons, the Brazilian is expected to start contributing to Liverpool’s season almost right away.

Douglas Costa – Bayern Munich to Juventus (€40m)

I’m not sure how a player like Douglas Costa didn’t manage to get the starting spot in Bayern Munich, but I guess the competition was the answer.

Douglas Costa Playing for Juventus
Douglas Costa, Midfielder – Juventus

Still, the Brazilian winger proved his worth when he was loaned to Juventus in the last season.

The natural end of this move was for the Italian to acquire his services permanently. This transfer is no surprise, and Juventus got one of the best wingers out there for the reasonable fee of €40 million or so.

In today’s market, this a steal, and we all saw how good the guy is during the World Cup.

Vinicius Junior – Flamengo to Real Madrid (€45m)

When a club like Real Madrid invests €45 million in a relatively unknown kid from Brazil, it’s probably a good idea to pay some attention.

Vinicius Junior will be 18 come July 12, but he has already caught the eye of some of the biggest European clubs. This is the reason the Spanish giant decided to pull the trigger and get the boy first.

It will be interesting to see what happens next, as Real Madrid is probably not the best place for a player to develop his skills.

If the team does manage to get his maximum potential, Vinicius Junior looks like one of the superstars of the future. As many other Brazilian forwards, he combines some crazy skills with a solid efficiency. The potential is there, so let’s see how far he can go.

Arthur Melo – Gremio to Barcelona (€40m)

The biggest Spanish clubs often shop from the Brazilian market, and this year is not an exception. Barcelona also bought a young talent from South America in Arthur Melo. The midfielder is only 21 but looks perfect for the style of the Catalans.

He is small and has good movement and an exquisite technique. To be fair, this transfer should be one for the future, but with Paulinho going back to China, Melo might get more minutes under his belt than he expected.

Considering his young age and lack of experience at the highest soccer level, I feel that we will see the best of this guy in at least a season or two.

The price of €40 million with potential add-ons obviously means that Barcelona saw something special in Arthur.

Jack Wilshere – Arsenal to West Ham (Free Transfer)

There was a time when Jack Wilshere looked like the next big thing in English soccer. The midfielder showed a lot of promise before reaching 20 and was seemingly the perfect player for Arsenal.

He spent his whole career playing for the Gunners and was the archetypal Arsene Wenger player. Wilshere has a lot of skill, great vision, and is bold with the ball at his feet.

Unfortunately, he had a bunch of injuries in the past, which was the reason his career declined rapidly. To be fair, Wilshere is still only 26 and has been relatively healthy over the past two years. There’s certainly hope that he might become an exceptional player in his peak.

Still, the new Arsenal manager, Unai Emery, wasn’t ready to offer him guarantees for a starting spot, and Wilshere didn’t sign a new contract. As a result, he had to find a new club, and West Ham was more than happy to take him.

Wilshere’s ability is undoubted, and if he manages to stay fit, this could be the jackpot for his new team. Only time will tell if that will be the case.

Arsenal’s Transfers

There are two clubs that made a couple of transfers already, so I decided to group them up. Arsene Wenger’s successor at Arsenal, Unai Emery, was eager to solve some of the defensive issues of the team early in the transfer window.

As a result, he’s already gotten 3 players. The first of them is the former Juventus right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner on a free transfer. The experienced Swiss skipper is expected to challenge the young Hector Bellerin.

The Spaniard is one of the most promising players in Europe in his position, but the lack of competition in the previous season certainly hurt his development. Now, he will have to fight for his place with the experienced Lichtsteiner, and the Arsenal fans are hoping this will lift his performance.

The second transfer that is directly addressing one of the weak links in the squad is the acquirement of Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen.

The promising goalkeeper has already expressed his satisfaction of joining the Gunners and his admiration for Arsenal legend Jens Lehmann.

The team has been in need of a solid number 1 for a season or two, as Petr Cech is not the same player anymore, and David Ospina has failed to show enough consistency to claim the role. One of those two will be probably sold by the end of the window.

Finally, Arsenal managed to get Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund. The experienced center back should instantly become a starter. Considering the long-term injury of Arsenal skipper Laurent Koscielny, this seems like a smart move by Unai Emery.

Inter’s Transfers

Another team that has been busy during the World Cup and already got a couple of exciting signings is Inter Milan. The supporters of the club are buzzing, and there’s a good reason why.

For a start, Radja Nainggolan will join the team from local rival AS Roma. The Belgian midfielder is a hard worker with solid skills. He looks like a good transfer for a fee of around €38 and has a lot of Serie A experience, so there won’t be a period of adaptation.

Another added bonus is that Nainggolan has decided to retire from international soccer after he was left out of the Belgian squad for the World Cup. This will help the player focus on his club career.

Inter also managed to get two players on free transfers. Dutch center back Stefan de Vrij should help the defense of the team, while the Ghana midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah will add much-needed depth in the middle of the park. Most importantly, both have Serie A experience.

One of the most exciting deals of the Italian club was the acquisition of the young Argentinian star Lautaro Martinez from Racing Club.

The striker is only 20 but has already shown how clinical he can be, scoring over 20 goals in less than 50 games for his former club. For a price of around €25 million, this transfer has the potential to be a steal in the long run.

Finally, Inter was able to sign Matteo Politano from Sassuolo on loan. The talented winger is an exciting player who can both score and assist, which is the reason he is also part of the Italian national team.

Final Words

I think these are the most important transfers that you might’ve missed because of the soccer World Cup. Of course, there were many others, and there will even more by the end of the summer.

Is there a deal that excited you but is not included in this post? I would love to hear about it, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Player Transfers You Might’ve Missed During the Soccer World Cup
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Player Transfers You Might’ve Missed During the Soccer World Cup
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The attention of all soccer fans was occupied by the World Cup at the start of the summer. Meanwhile, some interesting transfers happened during the tournament. Take a look at them.
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