Barca on track and Real Madrid hunt Pogba while Dortmund worry over exits
With Euro 2016 over, focus shifts back to domestic football. ESPN FC’s club bloggers across the top European leagues assess their summer so far …
BARCELONA: The champions can be happy with their work so far this summer, already securing the return of midfielder Denis Suarez. Based on his flattering comments about Andres Iniesta, he could well be seen as the long-term heir to the Catalan side’s mercurial No.8.
Both Barca and Lyon have also confirmed a €25 million deal is in place for France international Samuel Umtiti to move to La Liga next season. There’s genuine excitement around the club that — at long last — they’ve signed the centre-back they have craved for years.
However, they’ve lost two players against their will in the form of Marc Bartra and Dani Alves — and both on the cheap. Alves exercised a clause in his contract to leave for Juventus on a free, while Borussia Dortmund snapped Bartra up for €8m after his release clause dropped due to a lack of participation last season.
Luis Enrique is thought to still want more backup for the Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez front three but signing players to strengthen the starting lineup will be tough, if not impossible given the club’s budget. Improving the squad is still seen as necessary.
Rating: 6/10 — Sam Marsden
REAL MADRID: After Real Madrid’s Champions League success secured another season at the helm for Zinedine Zidane and some rare holiday season stability, new signings were put on hold. The manager took himself off to India while the majority of his players went to the Copa America and Euro 2016. When Zidane’s pleasure break concludes, business will begin in earnest.
Real have inevitably been linked with the likes of Paul Pogba and Robert Lewandowski in recent months, the summer Galactico transfer saga as much a part of Madrid life as the August exodus from the capital’s searing heat.
Zidane will be keen to tie up all ins and outs before the end of July, with a central defender and a defensive midfielder likely to be top of his shopping list. To date, Real have only made one purchase, 18-year-old Paraguayan Sergio Diaz, the latest bright young thing off the Latin American conveyor belt of diminutive forwards in the Sergio Aguero and Angel Correa mould. However, Diaz will probably start off at Castilla, given that his namesake Mariano has already been promoted from the reserves to the first team for 2016-17.
Rating 4/10 — Rob Train
ATLETICO MADRID: Atleti, for the second season in a row, have started the summer with real intent. Not content with merely snapping up Nicolas Gaitan and Sime Vrsaljko for a combined €40m, they have managed to convince Antonine Griezmann to commit his long-term future to the club in addition to handing Fernando Torres a new one-year deal.
However this smart business should not detract from the fact the club need a top quality striker to share the goal scoring burden with Griezmann. It was often their Achilles heel last season and success on domestic and European fronts this campaign may well depend on whether they can lure a Gonzalo Higuain or Edinson Cavani type figure to the capital.
Rating: 7/10 — Joe Walker
BAYERN MUNICH: Welcome presents were already sorted for new supremo Carlo Ancelotti even before another domestic double was done and dusted and the departing Pep Guardiola had had time to clear his Munich desk. Mats Hummels returns to his roots and the 18-year-old prodigy Renato Sanches arrives from Benfica — both on five-year deals for fees in the region of €35m apiece. Both impressed at Euro 2016 and the Sanches signing is already looking an inspired piece of business. Bayern’s summer business will be funded by the whopping profit on the sale of Sebastian Rode to Borussia Dortmund and shipping out disgruntled players, such as Mario Gotze and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
Rating: 8/10 — Mark Lovell
BORUSSIA DORTMUND: The club is steering into uncertainty as they have lost their three best players. They have already signed six hot new talents which has cast excitement, but in the bigger picture Dortmund’s summer may hurt the club. However, CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke says they will continue their shopping spree with their Henrikh Mkhitaryan millions.
Rating: 3/10 — Stefan Buczko
JUVENTUS: With the arrival of both Alves and Miralem Pjanic, Juventus have greatly improved their squad, adding both skill and experience in two important roles. However, the loss of Alvaro Morata was hard to swallow, especially considering the impact he made for Spain at Euro 2016. Considering Simone Zaza may also be allowed to leave, the club have to look at purchasing a world class striker.
Rating: 6/10 — Mina Rzouki
INTER MILAN: These are exciting times for Inter, with the club’s recent sale to the Suning group taking up most of the headlines in Italy. Though it is unlikely to have an impact on the club’s transfers, it looks set to promote the Inter brand all around the world. The Nerazzurri have bought smartly so far, with playmaker Ever Banega, full-backs Cristian Ansaldi and Caner Erkin and (loaned) winger Gianluca Caprari all promising players.
Rating: 8/10 — Edo Dalmonte
AC MILAN: It’s been a promising start to the summer for AC Milan. Not only do they have an excellent new coach in Vincenzo Montella, but club president Silvio Berlusconi has confirmed that the sale of the club to a Chinese consortium will go ahead and he’s demanding significant investment from them. Expect things to get even better when the transfer strategy is in full swing, with more new faces joining Leonel Vangioni and Gianluca Lapadula at the club.
Rating: 7/10 — Sumeet Paul
ROMA: Uncertainty has been the watchword for Roma so far this summer, with coach Luciano Spalletti unsure of the squad he will be managing come the start of the season. The club also had a brief spat with a member of Rome’s incoming city council, who threatened to block their ambitious new stadium plans from being passed on to regional authorities for final approval. Roma seem unsure of their transfer targets — not great news for a team that has sold their star midfielder to Serie A champions Juventus and needs defenders following the departure of Maicon, left-back Lucas Digne’s probable return to Paris Saint-Germain and Germany international Antonio Rudiger’s anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Rating: 4/10 — Terry Daley
PARIS ST-GERMAIN: The summer has been busier than expected so far, with Unai Emery finally in place as coach and four new players through the door already. President Nasser Al-Khelaifi insists no move has been made for Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez but it feels like the team is still missing a player or two in attack and departures before the end of the transfer window are inevitable. The French champions’ success in the Champions League this season may well depend on who the capital club bring in to compete with Edinson Cavani in attack.
Rating: 6/10 — Jonathan Johnson
The original version of this story which was published by ESPN can be viewed here.
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