Five done deals you might have missed this week
The 2021 summer transfer window is little more than a week old but there have already been plenty of big moves happening across Europe.
Paris Saint-Germain are unquestionably the runaway winners after securing the signatures of Achraf Hakimi, Georginio Wijnaldum and Sergio Ramos, subsequently boosting their already impressive squad.
Those are naturally high profile acquisitions but on the flip side, there are some that go under the radar. Here are five from this week alone.
1. Mario Balotelli
🔥 Ailemize Hoş Geldin! S U P E R M A R I O B A L O T E L L I #İkiDeli #Balotelli pic.twitter.com/UtQTJPKuH0
— Adana Demirspor (@AdsKulubu) July 7, 2021
To: Adana Demirspor
The last time Italy played in a major international tournament final, leading the line was enigmatic marksman Mario Balotelli who truthfully had a summer to remember. He bagged three goals at Euro 2012, including a sensational brace against Germany in the semi-finals. Since then, he’s enjoyed something of a journeyman career. After leaving Manchester City, where unflattering stories continually followed him, Balotelli returned home representing AC Milan before turning out for Liverpool, Nice, Marseille and Brescia. Last season, he enjoyed a spell at Serie B outfit Monza but the 36-time capped Italy international will now ply his trade at Turkish outfit Adana Demirspor, who are set to play in their first Süper Lig campaign since 1994/95.
2. Dong-won Ji
👋 Welcome home, Ji Dong-won!#KLeague | #K리그 | #지동원 pic.twitter.com/VENHdnVMVd
— K League (@kleague) July 8, 2021
From: Mainz 05
To: FC Seoul
Watching ex-Middlesbrough forward Martin Braithwaite play in a European Championship semi-final must have been jarring for Boro supporters, but he’s not the only former obscure North East-based Premier League player making headlines this week. Dong-won Ji enjoyed a brief stay at Sunderland, where he ultimately registered two goals across 28 appearances in all competitions, but the South Korea international couldn’t secure a long-term future and left for Augsburg and then Borussia Dortmund before returning. He’s since played for Darmstadt, Mainz 05 and Eintracht Braunschweig but from next season onwards, the Jeju-born marksman will turn out for FC Seoul meaning a return to South Korean football after 10 years away.
3. Mike Trésor Ndayishimiye
Welkom, 𝗠𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗧𝗿é𝘀𝗼𝗿! 🇧🇪
🔹 Contract voor vier seizoenen, tot de zomer van 2025
🔹 Komt over van @WillemII
🔹 Razendsnel en dribbelsterk
▶️ https://t.co/glIbyAO297#krcgenk #mijnploeg pic.twitter.com/cGrfx82Rl3
— KRC Genk (@KRCGenkofficial) July 7, 2021
From: Willem II
Among the Eredivisie’s best 10 young players last season, big things were being tipped for Mike Trésor Ndayishimiye who bagged four goals and 11 assists for struggling Willem II, though many felt he’d stay in Dutch football’s top division rather than returning home. But in saying that, he couldn’t have chosen a better club to accelerate his development. The 22-year-old Belgian midfielder signed for Genk, a club notorious for developing some of the game’s standout players, Ndayishimiye will be hoping to enjoy a similar path to Kevin De Bruyne, Leon Bailey, Kalidou Koulibaly and Wilfred Ndidi.
4. Juan Familia-Castillo
📸✍️ #CastilloAnnounced! pic.twitter.com/0XPb5J6lhB
— Birmingham City FC (@BCFC) July 6, 2021
To: Birmingham City
The aforementioned Ndayishimiye never crossed paths with Juan Familia-Castillo last season. Chelsea’s young left-back was an unused substitute in both of ADO Den Haag’s meetings with Willem II but he did end up playing 17 times for the relegated club. The one-time Ajax academy star is once again on the move but will be playing much closer to Stamford Bridge after Birmingham City temporarily acquired his signature.
5. Mattéo Guendouzi
Matteo Guendouzi, 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁’𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘁𝘄𝗲𝗲𝘁. ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/W3r2Ge4wqo
— Olympique de Marseille (@OM_Officiel) July 6, 2021
Another youngster leaving the British capital for pastures new is Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi, albeit he’s joining Ligue 1 giants Marseille on loan. Having signed for the Gunners shortly after Unai Emery’s arrival, the 22-year-old Frenchman hasn’t been able to cement a regular starting berth, playing just 82 times under three different managers. Hertha BSC enjoyed his services last season and Les Olympiens boss Jorge Sampaoli will be hoping Guendouzi is able to play a pivotal role in their quest to end a 12-year championship drought.