Football Features

Ranked: The top 10 Premier League signings of the summer so far

By Muhammad Butt

Best Premier League summer signings: the top 10 so far ranked

Published: 17:20, 2 September 2021

With the 2021/22 Premier League in full swing, we’re coming to the end of the transfer season

Every Premier League club has signed at least one player, and there will no doubt be a couple more to come. So far we’ve seen some shrewd purchases, some risky but exciting punts, and some truly colossal superstar signings.

As is tradition, we decided to rank the transfers so far this summer. Players will be ordered by their quality, the value of the deal and the potential impact to the buying club. Disagree with any of our picks? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

10. Ibrahima Konate

  • Signed for: Liverpool
  • From: RB Leipzig
  • Transfer Fee: £36m

Last season every Liverpool defender that wasn’t Nat Phillips was a physical wreck, and Nat Phillips is not quite good enough for Liverpool. The Reds knew they needed to get someone in and went and got themselves an absolute stud. Before everyone started fawning over Dayot Upamecano last season, the Frenchman couldn’t even get into Leipzig’s side because Konate had that spot on lock.

Konate is a miraculous young defender who excels in aerial duels and brings the ball out of the back with his passing. He plays like a halfway house between Joe Gomez and Joel Matip and once he settles in and learns the intricacies of Klopp-ball, he should be a fantastic partner to Virgil van Dijk (or insurance in case the big man goes down).

9. Demarai Gray

  • Signed for: Everton
  • From: Bayer Leverkusen
  • Transfer Fee: £1.7m

Sometimes a signing doesn’t have to be a blockbuster to be absolutely excellent. Demarai Gray returning to English football didn’t generate massive headlines but look at the facts; here’s a 25 year-old with a phenomenal physical profile, impressive range of skill and the kind of hard-working mentality that would make him an ideal fit as a winger in a team managed by Rafa Benitez, a man who always wants wingers to work hard and oh, look, Demarai Gray is playing for Rafa Benitez at Everton! And he cost them less than £2m! In 2021! 2 goals in 4 games to start the season show just how good of a signing this is.

8. Cristian Romero

  • Signed for: Spurs
  • From: Atalanta
  • Transfer Fee: Loan (with buy option)

Atalanta’s miracle machine over the last few years has been known as an offensive juggernaut, but one of their greatest bits of player development has been turning Cristian Romero into a top-class centre-back. The Argentine is a robust defender who is solid in the air and excels in making tackles (especially recovery ones) and of course has the confidence and technique to step out of defence with the ball. He’s the Jan Vertonghen replacement Spurs have needed but with the potential to be even more.

7. Emi Buendia

  • Signed for: Aston Villa
  • From: Norwich
  • Transfer Fee: £30m

What do you do when you’re overly reliant on a chance-creating, dynamic-dribbling winger and he then leaves the club? You go out and buy another! With talismanic skipper Jack Grealish off to Manchester, Aston Villa moved quickly and have signed production machine Emi Buendia to replace him. The Argentine is a sensational talent who is as effective at pressing as he is at perceptive passing. With him on the flank, Villa won’t have to worry about too big of a drop in quality without Grealish.

2021/22 Premier League winner odds with William Hill

  • Manchester City 5/4
  • Chelsea 11/4
  • Liverpool 9/2
  • Manchester United 5/1
  • Tottenham Hotspur 33/1

Odds correct at time of writing (17:15 on 02/09/21) 18+ only. Be Gamble Aware

6. Jack Grealish

  • Signed for: Manchester City
  • From: Aston Villa
  • Transfer Fee: £100m

Captain Jack finally left his boyhood club Aston Villa at the third time of asking, joining the Premier League champions for a British record £100m. This fee is enormous and obviously Grealish’s talent is not in question either. A creative maverick, his ability to dribble, to penetrate and do the unpredictable will make him so valuable to a Man City side that can be quite stale and obvious in attack. The only reason this deal isn’t ranked higher is that while Grealish definitely improves City, they didn’t really need him, and as such the transfer isn’t such a transformative gamechanger.

5. Danny Ings

  • Signed for: Aston Villa
  • From: Southampton
  • Transfer Fee: £25m

One thing Jack Grealish never gave Aston Villa was goals. He scored 32 in his whole time there. Now Villa are moving away from the One Man Band approach, they need a more consistent scorer than Ollie Watkins to offset the lack of Grealish. Enter Danny Ings, the beloved veteran who, when fit, is lights-out in front of goal. Ings scored 46 times in 100 appearances for a struggling Saints side and already has two in two for Villa. Aged just 29, there’s definitely enough time for Ings to become iconic in a Villa shirt.

4. Jadon Sancho

  • Signed for: Manchester United
  • From: Borussia Dortmund
  • Transfer Fee: £73m

There’s many good players joining the Premier League this summer. Some great ones, too. But Jadon Sancho is, because of his age, a uniquely brilliant signing. United should have got him last summer but have finally bagged their man in 2021 and it bodes very well for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

United’s biggest weakness is creating chances in tight situations. Everything runs through Bruno Fernandes and if opponents mark him then United can be easily shut down (as Villarreal did successfully in last season’s Europa League final defeat). Sancho changes all that as a dynamic threat in the final third of the pitch. He can kill you with dribbles, passes, crosses or shots. He can do it all.

Since 2006/07 only 10 times has a player recorded 15+ goals and assists in a single top five league season. Of those 10, five entries belong to Lionel Messi, Eden Hazard appears twice, while Luis Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo appear once each. That’s literally the best player perhaps in all of football history plus three of the top 10 players over the last decade (and Suarez and Cristiano are two of the top five). The tenth guy on that list is Jadon Sancho in 2019/20. When he was a teenager.

It’s impossible to explain just how absurd a talent Sancho really is. Playing in the Bundesliga has seen him bizarrely underrated by some parts of the English media and, indeed, the English national side, where even his eventual failure in the Euro 2020 final gives hope when one recalls the fairly-established tradition that Man Utd wingers have of responding to international disappointments, following up with superhuman seasons.

The fee of £73m is good business for a player of Sancho’s immense talent and promise. This kid is a genuine phenomenon and the Premier League has no idea what is about to hit them.

3. Raphael Varane

  • Signed for: Manchester United
  • From: Real Madrid
  • Transfer Fee: £42.7m

As far as trophy cabinets go, they do not come much more decorated than Raphael Varane’s. The medal-hoovering Frenchman is a four-time Champions League winner, World Cup winner and domestic cup magnet. He is a world-class centre-back in every respect, defensively modern and perhaps most importantly, he is only 28, arguably the peak year of a footballer’s career.

That a club who have largely proven profligate in the market post-Sir Alex Ferguson managed to acquire a galactico for a very un-galactico price (by today’s standards, anyway) is quite exceptional. The prospect of a Varane-Harry Maguire centre-back partnership is enough to make any Manchester United fan weak at the knees. It is a world-class signing for a position of need. A Football Manager fantasy made reality.

With Varane having entered the final 12 months of his contract at the Bernabeu, United have been able to bring him to Old Trafford for around just £40m. Not a paltry sum by any means, but when you factor in his age, the club he spent the last decade representing (Real Madrid), his actual footballing ability and the man you’re at the negotiating table with (Florentino Perez), this has been a transfer masterstroke from arguably last decade’s most prodigal club in England.

2. Romelu Lukaku

  • Signed for: Chelsea
  • From: Inter
  • Transfer Fee: £97.5m

Romelu Lukaku first signed for Chelsea in 2011 as a rising star who wanted very much to be the next Didier Drogba. That didn’t work out for him in more ways than one and he ended up leaving Stamford Bridge a few years later. But luckily for Lukaku, Roberto Martinez and then Antonio Conte helped take his game to the next level at Everton, Belgium and finally Inter Milan (with a brief and strange sojourn in Manchester in the middle). The result is one of the world’s best strikers right now.

This is a man who has been world-class for a good couple years now, a man who has dominated knockout games at World Cups and European Championships, a man who has equalled and even bettered goalscoring feats from the great Ronaldo, a man who fired Inter to their first title in over a decade, a man who won Serie A MVP and on his second debut for Chelsea, announced how different things were going to be when he, in a beautiful tribute to Didier Drogba, mercilessly bullied the entire Arsenal defence in a massive Chelsea win, a man whose goalscoring prowess is going to compliment the peerless defensive domination Thomas Tuchel has coached into this Blues side and make them genuine contenders (if not outright favourites) to win the Premier League and maybe retain the Champions League.

This is a man. A grown man.

Honourable Mentions: Patson Daka, Ben White, Emmanuel Dennis, Martin Odegaard, Ryan Bertrand, Sambi Lokonga, Boubakary Soumare, Aaron Ramsdale, Jannik Vestergaard, Kristoffer Ajer, Junior Firpo, Frank Onyeka, Romain Perraud, Adam Armstrong and Joe Willock

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

  • Signed for: Manchester United
  • From: Juventus
  • Transfer Fee: £21.4m

When Harry Kane committed himself to Spurs for the coming season, Manchester City turned their attention to signing Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus. The Portuguese wanted to leave to better compete for honours and Juve were happy for him to go and reduce their wage bill.

On Thursday 26th August, rumours were swirling. Phrases like “in the coming hours” and all their variants were out in force. It seemed City would indeed be signing one of the game’s greatest-ever goalscorers to add a lethal touch to their already devastating attack; and the Manchester United fans were most definitely not impressed.

However, things changed, literally overnight. On Friday 27th August, suddenly Ronaldo was going to sign for United. Various rumours circulated about what caused the change of heart, with a supposed phone call from Sir Alex Ferguson being the centre-piece. Former teammates Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra also openly admitted to pressuring the Portuguese to choose United over City, and lo and behold, that’s what happened. By Friday afternoon, a deal had been announced and Twitter exploded.

For denying their rivals such a key player in such incredibly dramatic fashion, Ronaldo’s signing would rank highly. But when you consider that United are signing one of the most potent and dangerous strikers in all of football’s history, it goes to another level.

Words are not needed. Just look at the result of his actions: 674 goals in 897 games at club level, 109 goals in 179 games for Portugal, more Champions League trophies as a player (5) than United as a club (3). The numbers speak for themselves. Even at 36, he is still so deadly. Moreover he is already a literal legend at Manchester United thanks to his previous spell there and half the squad grew up watching and idolising him, so his arrival will inspire them to do better before he even kicks a ball.

Signing of the summer, without question.

2021/22 Premier League top scorer odds with William Hill

  • Romelu Lukaku 10/3
  • Cristiano Ronaldo 9/2
  • Mohamed Salah 5/1
  • Harry Kane 13/2
  • Bruno Fernandes 14/1

Odds correct at time of writing (17:15 on 02/09/21) 18+ only. Be Gamble Aware