Grading the 25 biggest signings of the summer transfer window so far

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Despite the financial restraints on many clubs around the world, the wheeling and dealing continues unabated – particularly in England – as we rumble toward the final weeks of the European transfer window. In order of transfer fee, we’re grading the marquee signings thus far in the men’s game. For more on all the deals struck by Saudi Arabian clubs – excluded on this list because of market distortion – tap here.

Declan Rice ?? Arsenal

The deal: Reported €116-million initial fee ?

Arsenal identified Rice as their primary midfield target early in the transfer window and withstood stiff competition from Premier League rivals – and reigning champions – Manchester City, who never met West Ham United’s asking price. When trying to make the leap from title contender to winner, this is the type of statement move you need.

Verdict: A

Jude Bellingham ?? Real Madrid

The deal: Reported €103-million initial fee ?

Real Madrid’s midfield is locked in for the next decade-plus. Bellingham, 20, joins Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni, and Fede Valverde in assuming the reins from decorated veterans Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. How did every other club in Europe let this happen? The English international is already a hit in Madrid and should develop into a generational superstar.

Verdict: A+

Josko Gvardiol ?? Manchester City

The deal: Reported €90-million fee ?

The rich get richer. There were some twists and turns during this protracted transfer saga, but Manchester City eventually landed their man. Gvardiol, 21, is arguably the best young defender in the game, and his arrival from RB Leipzig immediately makes the treble winners even better. In a point surely not lost on City fans, the Croatian was less expensive than Harry Maguire.

Verdict: A+

Rasmus Hojlund ?? Manchester United

The deal: Reported €75-million initial fee ?

This is a big gamble right now, but it could pay off handsomely for Manchester United down the line – it already has for Atalanta, who turned an enormous profit on the young Dane. Hojlund, 20, shouldn’t be expected to light up the Premier League immediately, but if the club practices patience, the striker has all the tools – particularly physically – to be a scoring machine.

Verdict: B-

Kai Havertz ?? Arsenal

David Price / Arsenal FC / Getty

The deal: Reported €75-million fee ?

Havertz is undeniably skilled – to question his pure talent would be foolish. His fit with Arsenal isn’t immediately clear, though, which isn’t ideal when you’re talking about such a monstrous amount of money. He’s not a pure No. 9, and the spaces in which he best operates – off a striker in playmaking areas – are already occupied by some of Arsenal’s most bona fide starters.

Verdict: B-

Christopher Nkunku ?? Chelsea

The deal: Reported €73-million fee ?

It’s a damn shame that Nkunku was injured playing on a shoddy pitch in a preseason friendly, because he looked set to take the Premier League by storm this season. The French forward scored 36 Bundesliga goals over his last two campaigns with RB Leipzig and, assuming he makes a full recovery from his recent knee surgery, will be an electric presence at Stamford Bridge.

Verdict: A

Dominik Szoboszlai ?? Liverpool

The deal: Reported €70-million fee ?

Szoboszlai has been tipped for a big transfer the last couple years, and it finally materialized when Liverpool triggered the release clause in his RB Leipzig contract. It’s a hefty fee, no doubt, but the 22-year-old Hungarian has the kind of game-breaking ability that can light up Anfield. His stupendous set-piece delivery will be a wicked weapon for Jurgen Klopp’s team.

Verdict: A-

Sandro Tonali ?? Newcastle United

The deal: Reported €69-million fee ?

Tonali is an energetic midfielder who’ll become a fan favorite at St. James’ Park; the Toon Army will love the Italian’s ferocious style of play and the work rate he displayed at AC Milan. Just how much he improves the team relative to his lavish transfer fee remains to be seen, though, as Tonali’s on-ball production from open play is somewhat limited.

Verdict: B-

Goncalo Ramos ?? Paris Saint-Germain

The deal: Loan with €65-million purchase option ?

PSG are putting a lot of trust in Ramos’ breakout season at Benfica and his performances at the World Cup in Qatar. The Portuguese striker is only 22 and should develop into a prolific force who can eventually help replace some of the production lost when Kylian Mbappe inevitably departs. Getting him on an initial loan to skirt FFP regulations was masterful bookkeeping.

Verdict: B+

Mason Mount ?? Manchester United

Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The deal: Reported €63-million initial fee ?

Manchester United are hoping a change of scenery will help Mount, 24, rediscover his best form. His final year at Chelsea was beset by chaos and dysfunction. Don’t let the Blues’ disastrous season cloud your judgment of the versatile Englishman, who’s just one campaign removed from hitting double figures in both Premier League goals and assists.

Verdict: B+

Manuel Ugarte ?? Paris Saint-Germain

The deal: Reported €60-million fee ?

PSG almost definitely overpaid here, but Ugarte will provide the kind of tenacity and bite in midfield that the French club has been accused of sorely lacking for some time. The Uruguayan, 22, showed at Sporting CP that he can kick-start attacks after winning the ball back, and he could supplant Marco Verratti in the center of the pitch as PSG chase an elusive European crown.

Verdict: B

Moussa Diaby ?? Aston Villa

The deal: Reported club-record €60-million fee ?

After watching Diaby shine at Bayer Leverkusen in recent years, it’s not difficult to see why Aston Villa smashed their transfer record to sign him. The rapid winger is a nightmare for opposing full-backs, and his combination of pace, trickery, and composure around the penalty area will add a whole new dimension to Unai Emery’s attack this season.

Verdict: A-

Andre Onana ?? Manchester United

The deal: Reported €55-million fee ?

This one is a balancing act. To play the type of football Erik ten Hag desires and keep moving forward as a club, Manchester United badly needed a new goalkeeper who’s excellent with his feet. Onana emphatically checks that box. But he’s also the third-most expensive netminder in history after his move from Inter Milan and will need to be great for some time to justify that fee.

Verdict: B

Kim Min-jae ?? Bayern Munich

The deal: Reported €50-million fee ?

Knowing Lucas Hernandez was on his way out – he’s since joined PSG – Bayern Munich moved quickly to add another defender. In Kim, they’ve acquired last season’s standout center-back in Serie A, as the South Korean was vital in helping Napoli win the Scudetto. But Bayern have also just spent big on a player who was available last summer for roughly €20 million.

Verdict: B

James Maddison ?? Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur FC / Tottenham Hotspur FC / Getty

The deal: Reported €46-million fee ?

Maddison was always going to leave Leicester City after their relegation from the Premier League – it was simply a matter of where he would land. Tottenham won the race. In doing so, Spurs landed a clever playmaker who fills a clear need; the team was disjointed and lacked a creative midfielder to bridge the gap to the forwards last season.

Verdict: A-

Axel Disasi ?? Chelsea

The deal: Reported €45-million fee ?

Disasi is a very good defender. You don’t crack the loaded France squad and make three appearances at the most recent World Cup by accident. But Chelsea’s backline is getting bloated, even with Wesley Fofana sidelined. For a team not playing in Europe this season, and one that needs to give Levi Colwill significant minutes, this deal may create more issues than it solves.

Verdict: C+

Harvey Barnes ?? Newcastle United

The deal: Reported €44-million fee ?

After his most prolific Premier League season, Barnes, like former teammate Maddison, was destined to leave Leicester. He won’t provide the same type of razzmatazz as dribbling extraordinaire Allan Saint-Maximin, the winger he’s replacing on Tyneside. But his game, while simple and based heavily on the classic give-and-go, is arguably more rounded. A solid deal for the Magpies.

Verdict: B

Lois Openda ?? RB Leipzig

The deal: Reported €43-million initial fee ?

Based on their excellent scouting department and track record in the transfer market, this deal should work out very well for RB Leipzig and eventually net them a healthy profit. The Belgian, 23, is coming off a breakout Ligue 1 campaign in which he led Lens to a second-place finish with 21 league goals. He’ll help fill the scoring void left by Nkunku.

Verdict: B+

Alexis Mac Allister ?? Liverpool

The deal: Reported €40-million initial fee ?

Considering some of the astronomical figures being thrown around in the immediate aftermath of Mac Allister’s successful World Cup campaign with Argentina, this feels like a good bargain for Liverpool, even if the deal ultimately rises to €63 million after add-ons. Mac Allister, 24, profiles as the type of player that Klopp is going to adore.

Verdict: A-

Micky van de Ven ?? Tottenham Hotspur

Yui Mok – PA Images / PA Images / Getty

The deal: Reported €40-million initial fee ?

New manager Ange Postecoglou wanted a left-sided center-back before the Premier League season began, and he got his wish. But this is a lot to pay for someone who was in the second tier of Dutch football just two years ago and who is yet to feature for the senior national team. The deal, by all accounts, will likely reach €50 million. Spurs need Van de Ven, 22, to develop quickly.

Verdict: C

Jurrien Timber ?? Arsenal

The deal: Reported €40-million initial fee ?

Their proximity on this list makes it even easier to question Van de Ven’s signing. In contrast to their north London rivals, Arsenal have gone out and landed a more versatile defender – Timber can comfortably play multiple positions – who is the same age and has already established himself as a contributor for the Netherlands.

Verdict: B

Lucas Hernandez ?? Paris Saint-Germain

The deal: Reported €40-million fee ?

It’s much better than the roughly €80 million that Bayern Munich reportedly wanted to sanction for the French international’s move, but spending half that is still a big gamble considering Hernandez’s unstable injury history. The 27-year-old defender spent a lot of time on the treatment table in Germany and is still working his way back from a torn ACL suffered at the World Cup.

Verdict: C

Tino Livramento ?? Newcastle United

The deal: Reported €37-million initial fee ?

Our concerns about Hernandez’s deal are echoed here: Spending significant sums on full-backs coming off ACL tears is probably not advisable. Livramento, 20, has shown flashes of excellence in his young career but missed most of last season with a serious knee injury. This deal gets a slightly higher grade because of his potential, but it’s another risky transfer.

Verdict: C+

Nicolas Jackson ?? Chelsea

The deal: Reported €37-million fee ?

Any time a 21-year-old scores 12 La Liga goals in just 26 appearances, people are going to take notice. That breakout campaign at Villarreal earned Jackson his move to Chelsea, who desperately need more firepower after finding the net just 38 times during their miserable 2022-23 campaign. The Blues have spent impulsively under Todd Boehly, but this deal looks a judicious one.

Verdict: B

Lionel Messi ?? Inter Miami

The deal: Free transfer ?

We’re breaking the rules with our final entry to include Messi, who’s taken North America by storm since joining Inter Miami. The Argentine icon has seven goals in his first four appearances for the club, including some vintage free-kicks that came right out of a movie script. Everyone is talking about Messi, and, crucially for MLS, people are tuning in. By every possible metric, this is obviously a slam dunk. An “A+” rating doesn’t even do it justice.

Verdict: A+

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