The transfer window has been open for a few weeks now and there have already been some huge deals, with Erling Haaland, Paul Pogba and Raheem Sterling among the big names to have new clubs this summer.
But what are some of the best transfers that may have flown under the radar? We take a look.
This will be hard to beat as the best value deal of the summer. Despite Kamara being watched by Champions League-level clubs, Aston Villa pounced to secure the services of one of the most exciting midfielders in Europe after his Marseille contract expired. Mainly deployed as an out-and-out defensive midfielder, with relatively sparse attacking contributions, the versatile Kamara has also deputised as a centre-back and right-back. In addition to his movement around the pitch and impressive 5.5 ball recoveries per game, the former France under-21 international is safe in possession and excels when operating as a link-up player between defence and midfield. It will be interesting to see how Villa boss Steven Gerrard fits him into an area of the team where there’s already decent competition.
Southampton had kept tabs on Bella-Kotchap for a year-and-a-half, but finally landed him for €10m. His father Cyrille was a Cameroon international forward, but Armel has made his name at the other end of the pitch — and for a different country in Germany‘s U21s — since making his league debut at the age of 18 in April 2019. While Bella-Kotchap is strong and 6-foot-3 tall, he’s also improved technically, tactically and mentally during his debut season in the Bundesliga. The 20-year-old, who could soon be selected for Germany’s senior side, was among the top one-vs.-one defenders in the Bundesliga last season and won an impressive 71% of his duels — 75% from aerial challenges.
It will be intriguing to see how the United States international copes with the jump in level from the relatively uncompetitive Austrian league — Salzburg have won nine league titles on the trot — to the English Premier League. For all his work-rate, energy and diligent pressing, will Aaronson be able to stand out in a league where his trademark attributes are, to a certain extent, the norm? The midfielder is more than just a runner though; his fine technique and speed of thought (he’s excellent at quickly putting his ideas into action) is coupled with an innate ability to time his off-the-ball movement to perfection. American boss Jesse Marsch knows him well and can get the best out of him alongside fellow USMNT star Tyler Adams. (Aaronson was also named the 34th best male U21 player by ESPN earlier this year.)
To see a player moving directly from domestic Paraguayan football to the Premier League is rare and, at a reported €11m, the move doesn’t come free of risks either. The former Libertad forward is arguably the most promising Paraguayan teenager since Juan Iturbe and already has six senior caps to his name. Able to play in any position across the front — though he prefers cutting in from the left — Enciso is nimble, explosive, has a low centre of gravity and is capable of finishing well with both feet. Stylistic comparisons with Man City and Argentina legend Sergio Aguero have been made, though that’s an enormous amount of pressure to put on a young player. While making an immediate impact at Brighton might be setting the bar too high for the Paraguayan, his intelligence and off-the-ball running could see him gain minutes this season.
Not only was the Mali international among the top central midfielders (along with his Lens teammate Seko Fofana) in Ligue 1 last season, but he seemed to play better as the opposition improved — he was excellent in both fixtures against PSG, while also running proceedings in the 2-0 away win at Monaco. Though predominantly a defensive midfielder, Doucoure can appear to be absolutely everywhere on the pitch. He gets into attacking areas and, with his frequent forward running, can also play as a No. 8. In addition to being a solid ball-winner (five ball recoveries per match last season), he’s also positive in his passing — always looking to initiate a quick transition when regaining possession. A reliable, crafty midfielder who rarely has an off-day, Doucoure has the quality to become instant hit at Selhurst Park.
By signing the England international goalkeeper — along with centre-back Sven Botman and left-back Matthew Targett (after his loan was made permanent) — Newcastle have rebuilt their defence to hopefully avoid any repeat of last year’s relegation battle. Pope’s mental alertness and ability to time his interventions outside the penalty area make him an ideal goalkeeper for a high-pressing side (which very much seems to be manager Eddie Howe’s tactical plan for the season.) He is quick off the mark, agile and keeps improving year on year, while he also has good coordination and lightning-quick reflexes. At Newcastle, Pope will also make more frequent use of his fine distribution skills and playing out from the back is expected to be a regular feature of his game.
The 6-foot-3 anchor man may cut an unorthodox figure in central midfield, but what he may lack in pace or mobility, he makes up for with a first-class understanding of the game and positional sense. Usually most effective playing alongside a more attack-minded and agile No. 8 in midfield, Palhinha takes on the more menial tasks in midfield; making tackles on the ground, challenging well in the air, or simply outmuscling his opponents. He is also hard to dispossess and protects the ball well. Although not the most creative in possession — he habitually keeps it simple — the Portugal international offers Fulham boss Marco Silva a dependable presence in midfield.