Football Features

The next Van Dijk arrives? Nine transfer deals you might have missed this week

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 18:19, 22 July 2021

Another week has gone by and the 2021 summer transfer window is taking shape nicely.

Ligue 1 powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain continue to be the biggest movers having acquired the services of Euro 2020 hero Gianluigi Donnarumma on a Bosman (free signing).

But, of course, they are not the only club making deals. Here are 14 potentially notable signings that might have gone under the radar over the past week or so.

1. Kristoffer Ajer

From: Celtic
To: Brentford

Brentford are not messing around in bolstering their squad for the Premier League, recruiting highly-rated defender Kristoffer Ajer from Celtic. The 23-year-old spent five years at Celtic after joining from Norwegian club IK Start and helped the Bhoys win three league titles, three League Cups and two Scottish Cups. Naturally, comparisons have already been made between Ajer and Virgil van Dijk who also left Celtic to make it big in the Premier League, though the Norwegian actually brought more money in to Celtic Park in his departure.

2. Lewis Bate

From: Chelsea
To: Leeds United

Although Chelsea had started to give playing time to some academy graduates, a number of promising young players are looking elsewhere for first-team opportunities, not trusting the route at Stamford Bridge. One of those is Lewis Bate, a well-liked midfielder among those who have watched him for Chelsea’s youth teams and one who made three appearances on the bench for the first team (albeit without coming on). The 18-year-old has joined fellow Premier League side Leeds United on a three-year deal and will initially link up with their under-23s for 2021/22.

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3. Justin Kluivert

From: Roma
To: Nice

Jose Mourinho is in charge at Roma and the outgoings have started, including Justin Kluivert’s move to Nice on loan. The Dutch winger hasn’t had the greatest of times in Rome since his move from Ajax in 2018 and spent last season on loan at RB Leipzig with little success. However, it is hoped Kluivert can refind his form in France now with Nice also holding an option to buy the 22-year-old next summer.

4. Asmir Begovic

From: Bournemouth
To: Everton

Everton have been busy this summer and in the past few days alone have brought in Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend. And those two moves may have overshadowed another, with Asmir Begovic joining the club.

The 34-year-old, who failed to gain promotion to the Premier League with Bournemouth last season, is now at his 11th club and will play back-up to Jordan Pickford next season – though he insists he is at Goodison Park to take the Englishman’s number one jersey.

5. Taiwo Awoniyi

From: Liverpool
To: Union Berlin

Taiwo Awoniyi joined Liverpool in the summer of 2015 but leaves the club six years later having failed to gain a work permit. The Nigerian, still only 23, had spent those six years out on loan at FSV Frankfurt, NEC Nijmegen, Royal Excel Mouscron, Gent, Mainz and Union Berlin, re-joining the latter on a permanent deal this week. Last season for Union, Awoniyi scored five goals and recorded two assists to help the Berlin side finish seventh in the Bundesliga and secure European football for the upcoming campaign.

6. Wayne Hennessey

From: Crystal Palace
To: Burnley

Wayne Hennessey was recently linked with a move to Chelsea as a third-choice goalkeeper, but the Welshman has instead moved to Burnley on a free transfer. The 34-year-old has not played Premier League football since June 2020, restricted to just one first-team appearance for Crystal Palace last season, which came in a 11-10 penalty shootout defeat to Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup, with Hennessey missing a penalty.

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7. Christian Atsu

From: Newcastle United
To: Al-Raed

Christian Atsu left Newcastle United at the end of the 2020/21 season, ending a five-year association with the Magpies which started with an initial loan move. The Ghanaian international played 121 times for Newcastle across all competitions, scoring eight goals, but has now left to join Saudi Arabian club Al-Raed – the first time he has played outside of Europe in his club career.

8. Kevin Gameiro

From: Valencia
To: Strasbourg

Thirteen years after leaving, Kevin Gameiro has returned to the club where it all began for him, joining Strasbourg from Valencia on a free transfer. The French striker came through Strasbourg’s academy but made his name away from the club at the likes of Lorient, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and finally Valencia, where he spent three years.

9. Alireza Jahanbakhsh

From: Brighton
To: Feyenoord

Alireza Jahanbakhsh became Brighton’s club-record signing when he joined from AZ Alkmaar in 2018, a record he still holds, but the Iranian struggled to make an impact on the south coast. Jahanbakhsh played just 61 times for Brighton across three seasons, scoring four goals with two of those coming against lower league sides in the League Cup. He did, however, produce a moment to remember in January 2020, scoring a late equaliser for Brighton against Chelsea with a bicycle kick that would go on to win Goal of the Month.

And from last week…

10. Kjell Scherpen

From: Ajax

To: Brighton & Hove Albion

The departure of Mathew Ryan, who joined Real Sociedad after spending the backend of last season on loan with Arsenal, opened up a goalkeeping vacancy at Brighton & Hove Albion. And that has been immediately filled by the acquisition of Kjell Scherpen. The Netherlands U19 international had been with Ajax since 2019 but only played two Eredivisie matches under Erik ten Hag, who preferred Andre Onana and later Maarten Stekelenburg between the sticks.

He’s likely to be Robert Sanchez’s understudy next season with appearances initially restricted to domestic cup outings. If Scherpen makes a Premier League appearance, he will become (roughly) the joint-tallest player in the competition’s history at 6ft 8in, alongside former Sunderland ‘keeper Costel Pantilimon and Lacina Traore, a striker who made one solitary appearance on loan for Everton.

11. Kamaldeen Sulemana

From: Nordsjaelland

To: Stade Rennais

Widely considered to be the most exciting talent in Denmark’s top division, a host of clubs including Manchester United and Ajax were reportedly keeping tabs on Ghanian winger Kamaldeen Sulemana. The Amsterdammers were thought to be close to securing a deal, but Sulemana’s demands proved to a stumbling block. Their potential loss could be Stade Rennais’ gain. Sulemana, who does not turn 20 until February 2021, bagged 10 goals and created four more across 29 league matches for Superligaen outfit Nordsjaelland last season.

12. Calvin Stengs

From: AZ

To: Nice

The season just gone was Calvin Stengs’ most productive in an AZ jersey having netted seven goals in 30 league matches. However it was also fair to say the 22-year-old winger’s development took a back seat. Stengs wasn’t as explosive or unpredictable as previous campaigns — which subsequently earned him an international call-up with the Netherlands — so maybe this move to Ligue 1 outfit Nice, who have in recent years built a reputation for getting careers back on track, could be what the doctor ordered, as he seeks a place in Oranje’s squad for their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.

13. Carlos Bacca

From: Villarreal

To: Granada

The last few weeks have seen Carlos Bacca sort out his club future after becoming a free agent this summer following a lengthy spell at Villarreal, whom he initially joined on loan from Milan, where he managed 34 strikes across 77 matches in all competitions. He’s set to remain in La Liga, with Granada becoming his fifth different European team since joining Club Brugge from Atletico Junior in 2011. Bacca goes into the new season having previously bagged 62 goals across 182 games in Spain’s top division.

14. Mitchel Bakker

From: Paris Saint-Germain

To: Bayer Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen seem to have a type as Mitchel Bakker is the fourth Dutch full-back to join them since 2019 after Daley Sinkgraven, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Jeremie Frimpong. The 21-year-old seemed to be part of Mauricio Pochettino’s plans but that has changed, with Bakker now seeking to become Die Werkself’s first choice left-back in the forthcoming season. He should also have one eye on breaking into the Netherlands national team picture, though whomever succeeded Frank de Boer will not have a shortage of left-back’s to select from.