Transfer News & Odds

Transfer deals you might have missed this week, from an Old Trafford reunion to a Camp Nou homecoming

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 18:00, 22 July 2023

We are midway through July and transfer business continues to be unrelenting with deals seemingly concluded on a daily basis.

The emergence of Saudi Arabia as a transfer destination has changed everything with the Public Investment Fund-backed clubs — Al Ahli, Al Ittihad, Al Hilal and Al Nassr — all making numerous standout acquisitions and there’s reportedly more to come.

Closer to home, the Premier League giants and Europe’s other super clubs, remain active. But for every big story, there are some moves that go under the radar. Here are some examples from this week alone.

Samuel Umtiti

From: Barcelona

To: Lille

Before dealing with a string of niggling injuries Samuel Umtiti was earmarked for greatness. He’s fulfilled much of his potential but there’s still a lingering question of what could have been. His time at Barcelona ended a while ago, with the French centre-back spending last season on loan at Lecce, but this summer it’s an official goodbye. Umtiti returns to Ligue 1, where he shone at boyhood club Lyon, however, the 31-time capped Les Bleus international will be representing Lille.

“The great Sam is back,” said Lille president Olivier Letang. “It’s a strong signal when a French world champion returns to Ligue 1”.

The 29-year-old defender, though, was expected to return to Lyon which he left in 2016 for the Spanish side: “Returning to France, logically I thought of Lyon but in the end I chose to go to a club that wanted me,” he said. “I really want to be successful with Lille, if I am, other things will come with it, I don’t worry about that.”

Taty Castellanos

From: New York City

To: Lazio

The former Universidad de Chile academy graduate previously spent time in Europe with Girona, where he bagged 13 goals across 35 league games, but it’s been his MLS performances with New York City FC (50 goals in 106 appearances) which has seen many stand up and take notice. Looking forward to a first Champions League campaign since 2020, Lazio feels the 24-year-old Argentine forward can provide them with the depth needed to compete on multiple fronts.

“I’d like to sincerely thank everyone at NYCFC and City Football Group for always looking after me so well and for making this move possible,” Castellanos said. “It’s like being part of a family. I’d also like to thank the fans who have always believed in me and supported me every single game.

“I will always be an NYCFC fan. The Club and the amazing people there have played such an important role in my career and my life. It has always been a dream of mine to play in Europe and in the Champions League and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Jake Livermore

From: West Brom

To: Watford

A promising early spell at Tottenham never came to fruition with Jake Livermore enjoying several loan spells from North London before joining Hull City on a permanent basis. The former seven-time England international central midfielder, though, really thrived while donning a West Brom jersey. His time in the West Midlands, where he made over 200 league appearances for WBA, has come to an end but Livermore remains in the Championship with Watford becoming the 10th different club he’s represented.

André Onana

From: Inter

To: Man Utd

David de Gea’s exit immediately opened the door for Andre Onana who is set to become Manchester United’s first-choice goalkeeper. His signing also sees a reunion with Erik ten Hag with both previously working together in Amsterdam where they both played significant roles behind Ajax’s improbable Champions League semi-final run a few years ago. Onana’s ability to play from the back should transform United’s playing style from next season onwards.

“Most important, always for a keeper, is clean sheets and he’s not doing that on his own,” Ten Hag began. “Therefore, you need a very good defensive organisation, [it’s] quite clear. But also the capabilities of a keeper is [about] keeping the goal clean. So this is the first criterion of a good goalkeeper.

“But, nowadays, football also demands good playing from the back, out-playing qualities, and that is a quality Andre has. You need both and you need to cover both areas. So yeah, we’re happy, of course.

“I think with his physical presence and also with his personality, he is so keen on winning. He’s so, so eager to win trophies and he will help the team and he will help the squad to get to higher levels.”

Matt Doherty

From: Atlético Madrid

To: Wolves

It’s often said to never return home, but in the case of Matt Doherty, it’s a welcome one. Since leaving Wolves he’s never been able to recapture his electric form. Tottenham, and their various managers, couldn’t unlock Doherty and the same could be said for Atlético Madrid boss Diego Simeone who hardly utilised the Irish full-back. Now back in familiar surroundings, Doherty will be hoping Molineux inspires him once again.

“He’s the one the manager really wanted when he knew he was available,” sporting director Matt Hobbs said.

“After Spurs and Atletico Madrid, he’s hungry to prove himself again, and will add strength in depth to the full-back area, providing competition and making us better in those positions.

“He knows the club and what it means to play here – he’s been successful at Wolves before and knows what the fans want.”

Milos Kerkez

From: AZ

To: Bournemouth

As touched upon, Lazio is preparing for life back in the Champions League, at one point it seemed AZ’s teenage left-back Milos Kerkez would be joining the Serie A runners-up. But they were seemingly caught napping with Bournemouth acquiring his signature.

Yet to celebrate his 20th birthday, Kerkez has already won eight senior international caps for Hungary, and last season was arguably his breakthrough having registered three goals and one assist in 33 Eredivisie matches.

“An athletic and attacking full-back, Milos will be an excellent addition to our exciting squad,” Bournemouth chief executive Neill Blake said.

“Milos [is] a talented young player with a great deal of potential. He was being tracked by a number of clubs in Europe but was very keen to join us after hearing about our plans and ambitions for the future.”

Xavi Simons

From: PSG

To: RB Leipzig

There’s more than one way to develop as a footballer. Xavi Simons, a pupil at Barcelona’s esteemed academy, saw first-team opportunities limited, which led to him joining Paris Saint-Germain, and though he made senior minutes a regular starting berth wasn’t forthcoming. Simons would subsequently join PSV last summer, though negotiated a buy-back clause in his contract, effective this summer which they’ve activated.

It comes following a breathtaking campaign where Simons bagged 19 goals across 34 league appearances which saw him share the Eredivisie top scorer award with Anastasios Douvikas of Utrecht. The 20-year-old Dutch forward has signed a four-year contract at PSG but will spend the 2023/24 season on loan at RB Leipzig.

“The Bundesliga is one of the best leagues in Europe and RB Leipzig are one of the best teams in the Bundesliga,” Simons told Die Roten Bullen’s official website. “Coming to Leipzig is the right step for me because RBL constantly show how to develop young players and be successful with them,” he added.

Oriol Romeu

From: Girona

To: Barcelona

Speaking of going back, unlike Doherty and Wolves, you can argue former La Masia graduate Oriol Romeu never got a fair crack at Barcelona where Sergio Busquets dominated his position for the better part of 15 years. Leaving for Chelsea proved to be a short-sighted decision but the Ulldecona-born defensive midfielder turned it around during a seven-year spell at Southampton and following an impressive season with Girona coupled with Busquets’ departure Romeu has been presented with an opportunity to really make it at his boyhood club.

“Arriving here after Busquets is a beautiful challenge, but fulfilling everything he was doing on the pitch is a big deal”, Romeu said. “Returning now to Barcelona is, I think, the most exciting moment of my career.”

And he will be afforded chances given current boss Xavi went to bat for him, much to Romeu’s delight, who is ready to repay his manager’s faith.

“Xavi is a role model for anyone who loves football,” he said. “I received his call when I was on holiday. He told me they have been discussing my name with the executive board, and that he has decided I have to be the signing for the club. I was thrilled with his call. It’s comforting to see a former player such as him speaking so highly of you. Now it’s time for me to repay Xavi’s confidence with performances on the pitch.”

Juan Cuadrado

From: Juventus

To: Inter

It’s not uncommon to see a player move between Juventus and Inter with the likes of Lucio, Edgar Davids, Fabio Cannavaro, Patrick Vieira and Zlatan Ibrahimovic crossing the divide before. The latest joining this exclusive club is Juan Cuadrado who recently ended an eight-year association with Juve but his Inter switch hasn’t gone down well.

As soon as it became clear the multifunctional Colombian would join Simone Inzaghi’s team on a free transfer Inter’s infamous Curva Nord ultras made their feelings known. Animosity has existed between Inter fans and Cuadrado, who has in the past fought with several Inter players, those supporters recently hung a banner near Inter’s facilities that read, “Up until now you’ve done everything to make us hate you, if you want something else it’s up to you to demonstrate it.”

Kim Min-jae

From: Napoli

To: Bayern Munich

Someone that Inter and Juventus will be glad to see the back of is Kim Min-jae; the South Korean centre-back was a key cog in Napoli’s imperious run to Scudetto glory last term, his colossal performances though guaranteed he’ll spend one season in southern Italy with Manchester United and PSG among those linked. In the end, Bayern Munich will be Kim’s third European team with Fenerbahçe being his first (again one season there).

“Bayern is a dream for every footballer,” he said. ” I’m really looking forward to what’s to come”

“It’s a new beginning for me. I’ll continue to develop here. In discussions with the club, it was made clear to me from the start how interested they are in me.”

His arrival offers the prospect of forging a monster centre-back pairing with another Serie A alumni in Matthijs de Ligt.