There have been some big moves so far this summer. Suarez moving to Barca. Kroos going to Real. Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker coming in at QPR. Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw moving to United. Fabregas and Costa going to Stamford Bridge. Lallana and Rickie Lambert going to Liverpool. PSG have signed Side Show Dave for £50m. And Southampton have sold their entire first team.
For me, the two best defensive signings have come in at QPR. The idea of playing in front of Rio and Steven really excites me, and I can’t wait for the start of the season. But here are my pick of the top midfielder and striker deals – have a read and then vote on the poll.
Barca and Real must have decided that they didn’t have enough world-class midfielders, because they were on the phone to me all summer. When I said I was settled in London, they went out and picked up two other superstar midfielders – James Rodriguez and Ivan Rakitic.
Pub fact: James Rodriguez registered 12 assists last season in Ligue 1 – more than any other player.
After his displays at the World Cup, Rodriguez was always likely to move on from Monaco. How much fun can it be playing in front of an average home crowd of 9,400? The figures attached to the move are spectacular: he cost 80million quid, 45,000 people turned up for his ‘unveiling’ ceremony and within 48 hours of him signing Real sold 345,000 replica shirts with his name on. But his performance stats are what count – he scored 6 goals and laid on 2 assists in five games at the World Cup. He made more assists (12) than any other player in Ligue 1 last year. He knocked in nine goals. He created 85 chances. And completed 81.46% of his 1,636 passes. You’ve gotta feel that he will fit in beautifully into a fluid, free-moving front four with Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo.
Pub fact: Rakitic was the only midfielder last season in La Liga to register 10+ goals and assists
While it was Rodriguez who stole all the headlines in La Marca, over in Catalonia Barca signed their own midfield genius – Ivan Rakitic. He isn’t a marquee signing like Suarez or Rodriguez, but he is a true class act. While captaining Sevilla last year he scored more goals in La Liga than Rodriguez managed in the far easier Ligue 1. He made more passes (1,740). He had better shooting accuracy (18.75%) and was only marginally behind in the chances created (78), assists (10) and dribbles (72). But where he really stands out for me is the way he combines the creative aspects of his game with the destructive, combative elements. He made 27 clearances, 63 interceptions and 55 tackles in La Liga last year. For me he looks the complete midfielder, a leader, a general and a maestro all in one. After the death of tica-taca at the World Cup maybe that is what Barca needs.
Pub fact: Suarez scored 10 times in December, becoming the first Premier League player to reach double figures in a single month.
Despite taking a chunk out of Chiellini’s arm at the World Cup and being banned for four months, Barca were still happy to pay £75m for Chewy Luis. We all know he has a few problems with aggression on the pitch, but he is one of the best goalscorers I’ve ever seen. Last season, and in the Uruguay v England game in Brazil, he was practically unplayable. He knocked in 31 league goals, laid on 12 assists and formed a great partnership with Sturridge. If he can behave himself, and get a little expert help, he will form a scary partnership with Messi and Neymar. Especially with Rakitic behind them.
Pub fact: Romelu Lukaku scored 32 Premier League goals before turning 21, only Fowler, Owen and Rooney have ever managed more.
He didn’t have a spectacular World Cup. He didn’t fancy playing the odd League Cup game at Chelsea. But he did fancy moving to my boyhood club – Everton. He knocked in 15 goals on loan for them last season and was a big part of their success, and the attractive and stylish way they played. With 20.55% of his shots going in he was more accurate than Suarez, he chipped in with six assists and because of his height he comes back into the box for corners and helped out with 18 clearances. He’s still only 21 years old so he has the ability to become a great player and a huge asset for Everton.