Analyzing the Most Shocking Moves at the 2021 Premier League Transfer Window

| September 3, 2021 7:58 am PDT

The Premier League clubs spent a total of nearly $1.6 billion on transfers this summer. Surprisingly, Arsenal was the team that splashed more money than anyone else, including Manchester United.

The reason why I’m mentioning the Red Devils is that this club signed one of the greatest soccer players of all time – Cristiano Ronaldo.

His transfer was the biggest story of the English transfer window.

In this post, however, I’m not going to focus on Ronaldo’s $20 million transfer. Instead, I will focus on the most shocking signings in the Premier League this summer.

In the past couple of weeks, we saw dozens of transfers that had a larger price tag than the one involving Ronaldo. The most expensive of those was the transfer of Jack Grealish from Aston Villa to Manchester City.

Let’s start with him as I go over the most shocking Premier League transfers in 2021.

Manchester City Signs Jack Grealish for Nearly $140 Million

Jack Grealish’s move to Manchester City broke the record for the highest transfer fee ever paid in the Premier League. With a $138.9 million fee, the transfer is also the most expensive soccer deal of 2021.

It does appear it has already begun to pay off, of course.

The reason behind such a shockingly high fee is that Grealish’s former team Aston Villa didn’t want to part ways with the club legend. And he really is one of Villa’s biggest legends.

The guy joined the youth ranks of Aston Villa when he was only six years old. From 2001 to 2021, Grealish was a “Villan,” spending only one season as a loanee at Notts County.

Grealish also has a family connection with Aston Villa. His great-great-grandfather played for this team from 1897 to 1908.

During his Aston Villa years, Grealish played 185 competitive matches in the Premier League, Championship, FA Cup, and League Cup. Primarily an attacking midfielder/winger whose role is to create goal chances, Grealish made more than 50 assists, as well as scored 29 goals for Aston Villa.

While at Aston Villa, Grealish got an invite from the England manager Gareth Southgate to take part in the 2020 UEFA Nations League, as well as the 2020 Euro.

Still in his mid-twenties, Grealish seems to have a bright future ahead of him.

In fact, some bookmakers even think his golden age might start straight away – Grealish is currently fifth in the list of top favorites for the 2021-22 Premier League Player of the Year award at 11.00.

Romelu Lukaku Returns to Chelsea for Over $135 Million

The 28-year-old Belgian striker is back at Chelsea, where he spent three not-too-successful seasons 2011–2014). From there, he moved to Everton, where he turned into a real goal-scoring machine – in 110 games, Lukaku scored 53 goals.

Unsurprisingly, his performances caught the eye of bigger clubs. Manchester United was the quickest to get his signature in 2017. After two years at Old Trafford, Lukaku moved to Italy.

From 2019 to summer 2021, he was Inter Milan’s key player, helping the team break Juventus’ Serie A dominance of nine straight title wins.

The next step in his career is to try and win the 2021-22 Premier League with Chelsea.

Judging by what we saw in his debut, Lukaku is going to play an important role this season.

What we saw in his first Chelsea game of 2021 was him scoring the opener against Arsenal.

With him leading the attack, the Blues look like one of the top title candidates. In fact, oddsmakers see them as the second strongest Premier League favorite, with odds of 3.75.

Meanwhile, the odds on Chelsea retaining the Champions League trophy for another season are 9.00.

Jadon Sancho Signs for Manchester United for $100 Million

The 21-year-old is thought to be one of the biggest talents in the soccer universe, with the potential of turning into one of the world’s best players in a few years’ time.

Just look at his talent on full display here.

Even though he played for Manchester United’s biggest rival in his youth career, Jadon Sancho is now a Red Devil. He spent two years in Man City’s youth ranks, before being dropped due to “attitude” after missing a training session.

He’s arrived at Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund, where he played a very important role even as a teenager. In the 2020-21 season, he scored 20 goals in 44 games. Last season, we saw him putting 16 goals away in 38 matches.

His performances with Borussia Dortmund put him on Gareth Southgate’s radar – he was included in England’s squad for the 2020 Euros.

Sancho featured in three games in that tournament, including the Final at Wembley, when Italy beat England on penalties. He was one of the England players to miss the penalty shot.

Other Premier League Signings Worth Mentioning

  • Ben White
  • Raphael Varane
  • Ibrahima Konate
  • Emiliano Buendia
  • Danny Ings
  • Leon Bailey
  • Ashley Young

Jack Grealish, Romelu Lukaku, Jadon Sancho – the transfers of these guys cost their new clubs over $100 million each.

The fourth most expensive Premier League trade of the summer was Ben White. The center-back came to Arsenal from Brighton, after the Gunners paid a fee of almost $70 million.

The next two players in the list of most expensive transfers are also center-backs. The players are  Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate. To get their signings, their new clubs had to pay $47 million each.

Varane, who won all sorts of titles with Real Madrid, is now one of the pillars of Man United’s defense line. Konate is now a Liverpool player, after spending four seasons with RB Leipzig.

Then, there are the three signings made by Aston Villa with the money the club received from Grealish’s transfer.

The Villans signed Emiliano Buendia (from Norwich), Danny Ings (from Southampton), and Leon Bailey (from Bayer Leverkusen) for a total of $125 million. They also signed Ashley Young from Inter Milan on a free transfer.

Most Notable Premier League Departures of 2021

Georginio Wijnaldum has left Liverpool after five very successful seasons. During that period, he won the Champions League with the Reds, as well as helped them win their first domestic league title in the Premier League era.

Starting 2021, Wijnaldum is a part of PSG’s dream team that also includes Lionel Messi. Speaking of Messi, his son’s godfather, Sergio Aguero, has also moved away from the Premier League.

Previously, Aguero spent an entire decade playing for Manchester City, engraving his name in the club’s history – he’s their all-time top scorer.

Recent rumors suggest that Sergio Aguero wants to “escape” Barcelona after less than two months. The reason? Aguero moved to Barcelona wanting to play together with his BFF, Lionel Messi.

Both Wijnaldum and Aguero left their Premier League clubs on free transfers. The same, however, wasn’t the case with Tammy Abraham.

After it became clear that Lukaku will sign for Chelsea, the Blues decided to sell Abraham to AS Roma, a team now led by the former Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho. His move cost the Italian team nearly $50 million.

Looking Ahead to the Rest of 2021 for the EPL

This is some wild stuff, right? From big names to arguably even bigger deals, numerous Premier League squads are hoping some serious dollar signs will translate into more winning.

Ronaldo was the biggest star to move during the Premier League transfer window, but will he make the biggest impact?

You can assess that in a recent post that provided the 2021 EPL transfer ratings.

Zarko Naric
Zarko Naric

Zarko Naric – the World's Greatest Sportswriter, according to his grandma.

Zarko started writing for in 2019, covering sports like soccer, tennis, and basketball,  as well as some more niche sports like cycling, for example.

In addition to writing news, picks, and blog pieces focused on sports, Zarko’s also been covering politics, TV/music contests, and so on.

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