Not a Chinese fake. Europe’s best clubs have gone on the hunt for ‘second tier’ players

Imagine working in a big club, guiding the player you need for a long time, following his progress, negotiating, but in the end he chooses another team. All right, it happens. There are still some players in football who can be called indispensable, so there will always be a worthy alternative, the main thing is to choose it correctly.

In that regard, it’s interesting to look into this off-season’s most expensive transitions and try to find options for those who haven’t gotten the sweetest pieces of the summer pie.

Declan Ricefrom West Ham to Arsenal for 116 million euros

Alternative – Pierre-Emil HuybjergTottenham

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Rice can keep up with the offense, he’s great at interceptions (he returned the ball on average more than nine times per game – an insanely high figure), but the cost, given the large number of contenders, was simply cosmically huge.

For those without Declan, you can take a closer look at the Spurs midfielder with the unpronounceable last name. He’s a little older, but he costs twice as much. In the previous Premier League season he scored as many goals as Rice (four goals each), but gave up three more assists (five to two). Højbjerg has rich Premier League experience, handles the ball no worse than Declan and is not far behind in tackling – on average 7.4 interceptions per game.

Jude Bellinghamfrom Borussia D to Real for 103 million euros

Alternative – Bruno Guimaraes“Newcastle”

Initially, in Dortmund, the Englishman played deeper in midfield, and only over time he was tried closer to the attack, which bore fruit in the form of an increase in Bellingham’s performance – from three to eight goals. But the change of emphasis in the game led to the fact that he helped his partners less often, so there was no jump in the “goal + pass” system – only +1.

Some will say that in the first full season with Newcastle, the Brazilian did little, as he scored one goal less than in the second round of the previous one. But it is more probable that Guimarães is not the finisher, but the one who sets the vector of the attacks, he directs them to the right areas, where the opponent is as vulnerable as possible, he moves the ball – a kind of metronome. And in this regard he is simply magnificent, which has manifested itself in the increase in the number of assists made.

Kai Havertzfrom Chelsea to Arsenal for 75 million euros

Alternative – Jonathan David“Lilac”

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The second half of the season turned out to be disappointing for the German, as, indeed, for all of Chelsea. But Kai also cannot boast of personal statistics: according to the “goal + pass” system, he is second xG AND xA, Havertz was expected to score 18.3 points but was actually awarded only ten. However, Arsenal have still received a terribly technical player who can threaten other people’s goals in a variety of ways.

Some will say that the Lille striker is a different type of player, and they will be partly right. In fact, David is more goal-oriented than Havertz, as the statistics show: last season he scored 24 times, and in just three years in the north of France – 58. However, there is a feeling that Jonathan can play a larger role in the attacking group, and not just act as a spearhead.

Dominik Soboslaifrom Leipzig to Liverpool for 70 million euros

Alternative – Carlo DeQuetelare“Milan”

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Dominic is only 22, but his progress is already impressive. Having moved from the Austrian Bundesliga to the German Bundesliga, the Hungarian not only did not slow down, but only, it seems, raised them. Last season in different tournaments Soboslai scored ten goals in total and provided 13 assists, and the number of scoring chances created with his direct participation is amazing – 103.

The choice of De Ketelare, we will make a reservation right away, is extremely risky. The fact is that the youngster failed in Milan, but he remains a very interesting talent who knows how to distribute precise passes and puts great pressure. The whole question is whether it is possible to pick it up at a good price.

Mount Massonefrom Chelsea to Manchester United for 64 million euros

Alternative – Serge GnabriBavaria

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Last season for Mount turned out to be a failure, but the Red Devils took him not for what he was in the last year, but for how well he played before: 11 + 10 on the “goal + pass” system, participation in almost all dangerous attacks of the club and willingness to play effectively in any position in midfield and in the attacking group made him a tidbit in the transfer market.

Bayern had a clear imbalance in the roster last season, when there was a huge number of players in the attacking group, but there were almost no clean forwards. Because of this, Serge spent a lot of time in an unusual role for himself, but coped with it perfectly, scoring 17 goals in all competitions. Gnabry’s ability to play in almost any position up front, as well as the possible desire to try somewhere else after five years in Monaco, make him an even more attractive option than Mason at a roughly comparable price point.

Christopher Nkunkufrom Leipzig to Chelsea for 60 million euros

Alternative – Ademola Lookman“Atalanta”

FC Chelsea

Injuries prevented the 25-year-old Frenchman from continuing to progress, but when he was on the pitch he remained the same deadly and dangerous striker as before. The penultimate season, Nkunku scored 35 goals and 16 assists in different competitions. And if we talk only about the German championship, then last season, in terms of time spent, Christopher scored even more often.

The Atalanta striker is the same age and the previous draw in Serie A proved to be a turning point for him. Ademola is very good at dribbling, so he knows how to create chances on his own. Lukman, of course, has never been a match for Nkunku, but he could claim to be a cheaper alternative.

André Onanafrom Inter to Manchester United for 50 million euros

Alternative – Frederic Ronnow“Berlin Union”

Manchester United

Erik ten Hag has the kind of goalkeeper he needs. David de Gea was the exact opposite, as he represented a kind of endangered goalkeepers: goal-line jumpers. But in recent years he was more and more wrong and was saved less and less. Onana acts not so brilliantly, but effectively, moreover, he plays brilliantly with his feet: his average of 47.2 touches of the ball in terms of 90 minutes is a chic indicator for a goalkeeper.

Frederik has long been a substitute goalkeeper at Eintracht, Schalke and then Berlin Union, but he had a chance last season, which he made full use of. The Dane proved to be exceptional on the line, but also excellent in passing: 50 touches per 90 minutes on average would have made him last season’s best player in both the Premier League and La Liga. But in the Bundesliga he was only fifth.

Kim Min Jaefrom Napoli to Bayern for 50 million euros

Alternative – Dayo UpamecanoBavaria

Bayern Monaco

Kim showed himself brilliantly in Naples: a confident passing game and excellent martial arts driving efficiency (66% were won) made him pay attention to all of Europe, although a year ago few people knew about this Korean. Bayern, despite the big names, had problems with defense last season, so the switch is quite logical.

Upamecano will be just one of those Bayern players whose place in the base could be in question. Dayo’s last season was unstable and some mistakes were very noticeable. His risky style of play may not be very suitable for top clubs who demand high reliability and stability from defenders in the first place.

From the foregoing, we can conclude that the leading clubs in Europe are not always worth chasing an expensive pie in the sky. Sometimes it’s worth taking a closer look at players in the middle price category – the result can exceed all expectations.


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