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Euro 2020 Power Rankings: How do all 24 teams measure up?

With Euro 2020 kicking off in exactly one week, we’re sizing up the field. Taking squad lists, player fitness, and other intangibles into the equation, here’s how we think all 24 teams stack up heading into the competition.

1. France ??

Two years after hoisting the World Cup, Didier Deschamps’ stacked France squad looks poised to win it all again at the Euros, potentially capturing the country’s first World Cup-European Championship double since 2000. Les Bleus are loaded from top to bottom, but most of the focus will be on France’s electric attack now that veteran forward Karim Benzema was brought out of exile to join forces with superstars Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.

2. Portugal ??

Despite finding itself in the veritable Group of Death, Portugal arrives at Euro 2020 with one of the most talented groups of players. Fernando Santos’ 26-man squad is even better than the one he steered to glory five years ago. Cristiano Ronaldo remains the centerpiece of Portugal’s attack, but it’s not only up to him. Andre Silva, Diogo Jota, and Joao Felix bring plenty of ammunition, and Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes are two of the most effective midfielders in the modern game. If Santos can find the right combination, Portugal may have what it takes to repeat as champions.

3. Belgium ??

Belgium’s golden generation is getting older – and the pressure to win ever greater. With 10 wins out of 10, 40 goals scored, and just three conceded, the Red Devils secured their status as a pre-tournament favorite in Euro qualifying. But things have changed since then. Eden Hazard is an injury waiting to happen, midfield talisman Axel Witsel is recovering from an Achilles tear, and creative dynamo Kevin De Bruyne is dealing with facial fractures. If Belgium is to win the Euros, prolific striker Romelu Lukaku – fresh off a title-winning campaign with Inter Milan – has to show up in a big way.

4. England ?gbeng

Laurence Griffiths – The FA / The FA Collection / Getty

Is it coming home? Maybe. On paper, England has arguably the second-best squad in the competition, behind only France. The Three Lions’ (many) detractors will point to tournament history as a reason not to be confident of a deep run; England has never reached the final of the Euros. But Gareth Southgate’s team is certainly talented enough to win it all this summer, with a spectacular array of attackers particularly frightening for the rest of the field. Even if Southgate keeps the handbrake on, don’t sleep on England.

5. Italy ??

This is not your grandfather’s Italy. Unlike previous generations, the Azzurri have a dynamic group of wingers in Federico Chiesa, Domenico Berardi, and Lorenzo Insigne – players who cut in, run at defenders, and wreak havoc in and around the penalty area. Italy’s defense, usually impenetrable, is actually the weakest part of its game. Giorgio Chiellini is well past his intimidating best, and Leonardo Bonucci has never looked more vulnerable. It’s fireworks or nothing for Roberto Mancini’s side.

6. Spain ??

The combination of a rock-solid defense and gifted midfield should give Spain a straightforward path out of what’s considered a manageable group. However, inexperience in attack could be Spain’s undoing against tougher opponents in the knockout rounds. The success of forwards Alvaro Morata and Ferran Torres will likely dictate how La Furia Roja’s European Championship campaign unfolds.

7. Germany ??

Despite its recent hardships – including elimination from the group stage of the 2018 World Cup – Germany still has enough talent to do damage on the international scene. Coach Joachim Low, who’s vacating his post at the end of the Euros, has done his best to put together the strongest possible squad, reintegrating the likes of Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels after extended exiles. Scoring may be a problem, with the misfiring yet hard-working Timo Werner up top, but the team is set up well in midfield and defense. Manuel Neuer is also back to his best in goal.

8. Netherlands ??

PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP / Getty

The Netherlands looked like legitimate contenders before the pandemic, but the team’s prospects took a hit when Frank De Boer replaced Ronald Koeman as manager last September. The Dutch have gone 4-4-2 since the change, and they couldn’t beat direct competition in Italy, Spain, and Turkey over that span. The good news is that star forward Memphis Depay is healthy again. He was set to miss the tournament with a knee injury last summer.

9. Turkey ??

Turkey enters Euro 2020 as the tournament’s youngest team with an average age of just 24.9 years. It also has one of the best defensive corps in Europe. Turkey allowed just three goals in 10 qualifying matches – the joint-fewest along with Belgium – with Leicester City’s Caglar Soyuncu anchoring a young but sturdy back four. Burak Yilmaz, an elder statesman at 35 years of age, provides experience up front and poses as much a threat as any other striker at the Euros after scoring 18 goals for Lille this season.

10. Denmark ??

Denmark is, in a word, solid. The foundations are strong and the midfield is balanced. Longtime leader Simon Kjaer shares center-back duties with Champions League winner Andreas Christensen, and the rugged Thomas Delaney patrols the middle of the park with industrious tackler Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Christian Eriksen is the creative lynchpin, but without a quality striker, Denmark lacks that finishing touch.

11. Poland ??

When it comes to underdogs pulling off upsets and causing chaos for top nations at the Euros, Poland has to be in the conversation. If Paulo Sousa’s team gets out of Group E, Poland – led by superstar Robert Lewandowski and a solid supporting cast – will undoubtedly be a tricky test that top nations will hope to avoid in the knockout rounds.

12. Croatia ??

Jurij Kodrun / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Just two years removed from an appearance in the World Cup final in Russia, it’s entirely possible that Croatia could struggle to get out of the group stage at the Euros. While Luka Modric is still a threat at the ripe age of 35, goals could be hard to come by, especially now that Mario Mandzukic, the country’s second-highest leading scorer, is retired.

13. Switzerland ??

After going several decades without a single appearance at either the Euros or World Cup, Switzerland found its groove in the late 90s and eventually became a tournament regular. It has successfully navigated the group stage, too, emerging from the opening round at the 2006, 2014, and 2018 World Cups and at Euro 2016. But the team, which lacks dynamic players, doesn’t win many style points. It also hasn’t won in the knockout stage. Getting there will be hard enough this time around.

14. Ukraine ??

Paired with the Netherlands, Austria, and North Macedonia in Group C, Ukraine should see itself advancing to the knockout stage. But it must first overcome a lack of firepower. Ukraine has scored no more than once in each of its last 12 matches, and though it managed a respectable draw against France, it also slumped to disappointing stalemates against Finland and Kazakhstan. Ukraine will need some inspiration from former AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko, who’s in his fifth year as manager.

15. Austria ??

Austria is something of an enigma. Franco Foda’s team, headlined by versatile star David Alaba, has a legitimately enticing collection of talent, with Sasa Kalajdzic and Marcel Sabitzer also standing out amongst a group with strong Bundesliga ties. But the style of play, often viewed by Austrian fans as overly conservative, belies the skill within the team. As outlined above, Group C looks wildly forgiving. A place in the knockout stages is there for the taking if Foda and Co. are willing to be adventurous and grab it.

16. Sweden ??

Michael Campanella / Getty Images Sport / Getty

As was the case during a successful qualifying campaign, Sweden can handle business without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who briefly ended his international retirement before picking up a season-ending injury. With Spain the likeliest to top Group E, Sweden will have a battle on its hands against Poland for an automatic spot in the knockout round.

17. Russia ??

Russia’s success relies on 6-foot-4 man-mountain Artem Dzyuba, whose aerial ability and ruggedness in possession can singlehandedly win games. To thrive, the 32-year-old will need service from one of Denis Cheryshev or Aleksandr Golovin, players who can create chances on set pieces and in open play. Former Chelsea defender Yuri Zhirkov, who turns 38 later this year, may also lend his experience to Russia’s backline.

18. Czech Republic ??

The Czech Republic won’t replace Portugal as the European champion, but that doesn’t mean Jaroslav Silhavy’s squad will be an easy task for the opposition in Group D. In fact, the Czech Republic might even fancy its chances of securing a victory over England after beating the Three Lions during the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

19. Wales ?gbwls

Don’t expect Wales to make another fairytale run this summer. Reaching the semifinals at Euro 2016 was as wonderful as it was unexpected, but the makeup of this squad is very different from the one Gareth Bale inspired five years ago. Bale seems much closer to retirement, midfielder Aaron Ramsey appears far from 100%, and Hal Robson-Kanu, one of the heroes of Euro 2016, is no longer with the team. Though a younger generation is coming through, it may not be ready to make a difference at a major tournament.

20. Scotland ?gbsct

Europa Press Sports / Europa Press / Getty

A clash with England is the big one circled on every Scotland supporter’s calendar ahead of the June 18 meeting at Wembley Stadium. But Scotland’s Euro 2020 opener against the Czech Republic could be just as decisive – maybe more so – as Steve Clarke’s men will attempt to kick off the country’s first major tournament in over 20 years with three points against a team they beat twice in 2020.

21. Hungary ??

Hungary has been on the most mercurial ride of any nation involved in the Euros. For starters, the Hungarians learned that if they made the tournament at all, they would be grouped alongside juggernauts France, Portugal, and Germany. Undeterred, they reached Euro 2020 after a last-gasp winner from star midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai in their playoff final. And then, just this week, Szoboszlai was ruled out of the event due to injury. It’s been a wild ride, and a ball hasn’t even been kicked yet. Without the RB Leipzig youngster, it’s hard to see Hungary causing any kind of upset in Group F.

22. Finland ??

Finland’s pedigree as a soccer nation is relatively undistinguished. It had never qualified for a major tournament before reaching Euro 2020. But like Scandinavian neighbor Iceland, it has relied on team spirit and compact tactics to get to the promised land. Most of Finland’s players ply their trade outside of Europe’s top five leagues, making this roster thinner than most at the Euros. Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky and Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki are Finland’s only recognized internationals.

23. Slovakia ??

Forget winning a game, Slovakia could struggle to register a point at the Euros despite finding itself in one of the more forgiving groups. If the country’s recent run of form – which includes an embarrassing draw to minnow Malta in March – is any indication, all signs point to Slovakia getting its doors blown off and finishing at the bottom of Group E.

24. North Macedonia ??

Little is expected of this major tournament debutant – we’re clearly guilty of that, too. Despite an overall lack of top-end talent, North Macedonia has proven capable of pulling off the unexpected before, with March’s stunning away victory over Germany in World Cup qualifying still very fresh in the memory. A pair of Serie A-based players, Elif Elmas and beloved 37-year-old captain Goran Pandev, will need to shine for North Macedonia to escape a relatively underwhelming Group C.

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Bundesliga

This weekend in European soccer: Previews, predictions for 5 must-see games

Every week, theScore will pick out the standout matches to watch across Europe. This weekend’s slate features two huge Premier League skirmishes and a high-pressure game for Niko Kovac.

Premier League

Manchester City vs. Arsenal

David Price / Arsenal FC / Getty

When: Saturday, Aug. 28 (7:30 a.m. ET)
Where to watch: Peacock (U.S.), DAZN (Canada)

Mikel Arteta found relief from Arsenal’s Premier League struggles in the League Cup with Wednesday’s 6-0 evisceration of West Bromwich Albion. However, the Spanish tactician named a strong XI for the fixture, while West Brom boss Valerien Ismael completely changed the team that beat Blackburn Rovers in the Championship four days earlier. Six of Valerien’s starters were making their debuts.

In short, don’t read too much into the Gunners’ midweek victory.

A more accurate (and perhaps more sobering) gauge of where Arsenal are at will come on Saturday. Manchester City host Pep Guardiola’s old assistant Arteta at the Etihad Stadium, emboldened by last week’s 5-0 defeat of Norwich City and 10 wins from their last 11 meetings with Arsenal in all competitions.

Two losses and no goals already represent Arsenal’s worst start to a league season in club history. It could get even worse in east Manchester.

Prediction: Arsenal battle hard but fall to another league defeat

Liverpool vs. Chelsea

Visionhaus / Getty Images Sport / Getty

When: Saturday, Aug. 28 (12:30 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: NBC (U.S.), DAZN (Canada)

Thomas Tuchel can do no wrong. The Chelsea squad took to his tactical instructions quickly after his January arrival, and the Blues are now looking to build on last season’s Champions League success. This summer’s signing of Romelu Lukaku will certainly help with that, and other big names will follow.

But what about Liverpool? Their excellence over the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns seems to have been forgotten following last term’s disappointing title defense, and that’s unfair. Virgil van Dijk is fit again and promises to forge one of Europe’s strongest defensive partnerships with new arrival Ibrahima Konate, while other players in Jurgen Klopp’s ranks – namely Thiago Alcantara, Diogo Jota, and Fabinho – improve the first team significantly when they’re out of the treatment room.

Trent Alexander-Arnold also appears to be back to his best, much to the dismay of Liverpool’s rivals.

Saturday’s fixture could prove to be an early sign that a lot of people were foolish to write off Liverpool as one of this season’s strongest Premier League title contenders.

Prediction: Eventful draw

La Liga

Atletico Madrid vs. Villarreal

TIZIANA FABI / AFP / Getty

When: Sunday, Aug. 29 (4:00 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: ESPN+ (U.S.), streaming with TSN (Canada)

Atletico Madrid may have picked up one of the signings of the summer with versatile attacker Matheus Cunha.

At just 22 and with a price tag of €30 million, it’s a mystery why more clubs weren’t competing for the Brazilian’s signature. He has improved immeasurably since he moved to Hertha Berlin from RB Leipzig in search of first-team football in January 2020, using his skill and trickery to bamboozle defenders and his tactical intelligence to drop between the lines, link play, and pull opponents out of position.

He moves to the Spanish capital after helping his country win gold at the Tokyo Olympics, and Atleti fans will be desperate to see him at the earliest opportunity – perhaps as soon as Sunday.

For Villarreal, a trip to the reigning Spanish champions hasn’t come at a very convenient time. The Yellow Submarine have drawn their first two matches of the season 0-0 so may need to look elsewhere for inspiration – perhaps from ultra-confident, free-scoring winger Arnaut Danjuma who recently arrived from Bournemouth – to unlock Diego Simeone’s stubborn backline.

Prediction: Atletico Madrid carve out a classic 1-0 victory

Bundesliga

Wolfsburg vs. RB Leipzig

DeFodi Images / DeFodi Images / Getty

When: Sunday, Aug. 29 (11:30 a.m. ET)
Where to watch: ESPN+ (U.S.), Sportsnet World (Canada)

Mark van Bommel may feel embarrassed for getting Wolfsburg kicked out of the DFB-Pokal after he accidentally made six substitutes against fourth-tier opposition, but he should otherwise be optimistic about a promising season in Lower Saxony.

The former Dutch international kept hold of the players who thrived under predecessor Oliver Glasner, with Wout Weghorst still on the books after last term’s 20-goal haul and Maximilian Philipp turning his loan from Dynamo Moscow into a permanent transfer. Lukas Nmecha, who scored a late winner off the bench against Hertha Berlin last weekend, could also prove to be a wise signing after the 22-year-old notched 14 goals in the past Belgian top-flight term.

Wolfsburg also landed in a Champions League group with Lille, Sevilla, and Red Bull Salzburg. They have a realistic chance of reaching the knockout rounds.

As for this weekend, Wolfsburg have drawn their last four league scuffles with Leipzig. However, the visitors lost their two first-choice center-backs during the offseason, so Wolfsburg should fancy their chances of victory at the Volkswagen Arena.

Prediction: Wolfsburg get a narrow win

Ligue 1

Troyes vs. Monaco

Jonathan Moscrop / Getty Images Sport / Getty

When: Sunday, Aug. 29 (11:30 a.m. ET)
Where to watch: beIN SPORTS (U.S.), Fubo TV or beIN SPORTS (Canada)

The controversy of the Nice-Marseille brawl has dominated the headlines in France, and though no one would approve of those ugly scenes, Niko Kovac will appreciate having the spotlight off him for a few days.

It’s been a rough start to the season for AS Monaco. The principality club has just one point from its opening three Ligue 1 matches and was denied a place in the Champions League group stage by Shakhtar Donetsk.

Some rather ineffectual performances from forward Myron Boadu, who cost around €17 million to sign from AZ Alkmaar this summer, is a key area of concern, but it’s still early days.

“We have dominated our games and at the end, we haven’t got the points we should have had. Right now, it’s not positive, but I’m happy with our performances. We’re creating chances, it’s only a question of time,” Kovac said last week before his side lost 2-0 at home to Lens.

Troyes, meanwhile, could hand a debut to Adil Rami. The World Cup winner, 35, joined on a free transfer this week following the termination of his contract at Boavista.

Prediction: Monaco finally get a win on the board … just

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Bundesliga

This weekend in European soccer: Previews, predictions for 5 must-see games

Every week, theScore will pick out the standout matches to watch across Europe. This weekend’s slate features a heated London rivalry and the big Serie A kickoff.

Premier League

Arsenal vs. Chelsea

Darren Walsh / Chelsea FC / Getty

When: Sunday, Aug. 22 (11:30 a.m. ET)
Where: Emirates Stadium

“Yes, I have the No. 9. I am happy and fortunate to be in this situation,” Romelu Lukaku said at his official unveiling, no doubt feeling the weight of expectation after luminaries such as Mateja Kezman and Khalid Boulahrouz wore the same digit at Chelsea this millennium.

Jokes aside, the Blues have brokered the return of a player who, in his words, is “more complete” – and that’s a frightening proposition for title rivals. Lukaku was criminally underrated when he left for Italy in 2019 after 113 goals over 252 Premier League appearances. In Serie A, he scored 47 times in 72 outings and helped fire Inter Milan to their first Scudetto in 11 years.

The timing of Lukaku’s expected debut couldn’t be worse for Arsenal. Ben White’s £50-million price tag was already under scrutiny before he was overpowered in aerial duels during last week’s defeat at Brentford, and Pablo Mari struggled throughout that match under the weight of a high press.

Things could soon look very ugly for Gunners boss Mikel Arteta. A season-opening loss to the Bees and this Sunday’s daunting visit from Chelsea is followed by next weekend’s trip to reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.

Prediction: Chelsea make things worse for their London rivals

Serie A

Inter Milan vs. Genoa

Mattia Ozbot – Inter / FC Internazionale / Getty

When: Saturday, Aug. 21 (12:30 p.m. ET)
Where: San Siro

Antonio Conte and Lukaku, the most important figures of last season’s Scudetto success, are gone. The excellent defensive trio of Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij, and Alessandro Bastoni remain, but otherwise new boss Simone Inzaghi is navigating a turbulent period that is unlikely to end with back-to-back titles for Inter

That doesn’t make the Nerazzurri’s latest campaign any less intriguing for onlookers, though.

Denzel Dumfries’ stock is high after his excellent displays for the Netherlands at Euro 2020, and he could prove a sensible replacement at right wing-back for Achraf Hakimi. It will also be interesting to see if Inzaghi can get the best out of Hakan Calhanoglu, who was often a frustration for AC Milan fans, and if Edin Dzeko can still be a reliable source of goals at 35.

Inter have won each of their past six league meetings with Genoa, scoring 21 and conceding none.

Prediction: Narrow win for Inter

Roma vs. Fiorentina

Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency / Getty

When: Sunday, Aug. 22 (2:45 p.m. ET)
Where: Stadio Olimpico

Jose Mourinho’s second stint in Italian football officially begins this weekend as he makes his league debut on the Roma touchline.

The Giallorossi kick off their new season by welcoming Fiorentina to the capital. On paper, the fixture is easily the most intriguing of Serie A’s opening weekend. There are certainly compelling storylines to follow with the Tuscan club going into the campaign – Dusan Vlahovic’s continued rise, assuming he stays put, is chief among them – but let’s be honest, we’re all here for Mourinho and his antics.

History, and Roma’s explosive preseason, suggest the bombastic Portuguese bench boss will once again be entertaining, even if his shtick has lost its freshness over the years.

Roma have been involved in multiple brawls during preseason – one of them was instigated by Porto madman Pepe, in fairness – and had three players sent off in a 5-2 loss to Real Betis. Fireworks follow Mourinho everywhere. He’ll be hoping new signing Tammy Abraham, brought aboard as the replacement for Edin Dzeko, and a fully fit Nicolo Zaniolo can provide pyrotechnics on the pitch this season as Roma look to improve on last season’s seventh-place finish.

Prediction: Slim win for Roma

Ligue 1

Nice vs. Marseille

PASCAL GUYOT / AFP / Getty

When: Sunday, Aug. 22 (2:45 p.m. ET)
Where: Stade de Nice

Marseille have surprised many with their aggressive approach in the transfer market. Their summer outlay is already close to exceeding their spend from the previous two seasons combined as president Pablo Longoria invests in the work of animated coach Jorge Sampaoli.

The shrewder acquisitions have been most impressive so far. On-loan Roma attacker Cengiz Under has scored twice in two appearances on the right flank and American youngster Konrad de la Fuente, a bargain buy from Barcelona’s backup team, has been electrifying down the left.

Longtime OM favorite Dimitri Payet, now 34, continues to be influential, too, with his precise manipulation of the ball and a confidence which borders on arrogance.

Nice can test whether Marseille are for real. Christophe Galtier’s side hasn’t conceded in its opening two matches and Amine Gouiri, 21, could be set for an explosive campaign after his unheralded excellence for much of last season.

Prediction: Entertaining draw

Bundesliga

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Borussia Monchengladbach

DeFodi Images / DeFodi Images / Getty

When: Saturday, Aug. 21 (12:30 p.m. ET)
Where: BayArena

Get ready for some goals.

Whenever Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach face off, they entertain; the two Bundesliga stalwarts have combined for 261 goals in 78 league meetings, good enough for an average of 3.3 tallies per game. Here’s hoping they maintain that pace on Saturday.

Leverkusen will rely primarily on Euro 2020 star Patrik Schick, who settled proceedings the last time the two clubs met in March. Teen phenom Florian Wirtz may also be available after dealing with a groin injury to start the season.

Monchengladbach, meanwhile, will look to build on last week’s solid draw against reigning champions Bayern Munich and have a multitude of scoring options. Watch out for Patrick Herrmann, in particular; the German winger has scored more goals against Leverkusen (six) than any other team and will likely see action off the bench at some point in the contest.

Prediction: High-scoring draw

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Bundesliga

Grading the biggest transfers of the summer so far

The wheeling and dealing is well underway across Europe. Even as the impact of the pandemic endures, cash is being splashed. Below, we’ll grade the marquee deals completed thus far during an eventful summer transfer window.

Jadon Sancho ?? Manchester United

The deal: £73-million transfer (Read more)

Manchester United waited more than a year to sign Sancho, and they saved at least £10 million in doing so. Borussia Dortmund knew they’d have to deal the 21-year-old this summer, or they’d risk losing him on a free transfer in 2022. United – who are usually all too happy to spend big on long-term targets – played the long game, and they played it well.

The English international did his part – he came alive after a difficult start to the 2020-21 season, recording eight goals and eight assists in his final 15 league matches with Dortmund. A right-winger by trade, Sancho played just about everywhere under then-manager Lucien Favre and caretaker boss Edin Terzic, all while supporting Erling Haaland.

Sancho will likely have a more fixed role on the right of United’s front line. With Edinson Cavani leading the way and Bruno Fernandes covering the center of the pitch, he will have to provide sufficient crosses along with a good amount of dribbling. But make no mistake: Sancho will complete United’s at-times sputtering attack.

Rating: A+

Rodrigo De Paul ?? Atletico Madrid

The deal: €35-million transfer (Read more)

De Paul and Diego Simeone are perhaps the greatest match in recent transfer history. De Paul’s relentlessness and versatility fit right into Atletico Madrid’s street-fighting ethos.

The 27-year-old is joining Atletico at the perfect time. A two-way midfielder with snarl and panache, De Paul is just as likely to defend as he is to contribute offensively. Atletico can be more than just a defensively solid unit, and De Paul can help them take that next step. Players like Joao Felix and Angel Correa – who are at times held back by their defensive duties – will benefit from their new teammate’s all-action style.

Signing such a well-rounded player for a relatively modest €35 million is another victory. Few midfielders on the market possess De Paul’s tactical and physical qualities. Just last summer, Atletico sold a similar player in Thomas Partey for €50 million. The capital club is gaming the transfer market once again.

Rating: A

Raphael Varane ?? Manchester United

Denis Doyle / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The deal: Reported £34-million transfer (Read more)

Varane is an excellent signing on multiple levels: He’s in his prime at 28 years of age, a leader by example, and a serial winner. He’s also the perfect partner for Harry Maguire, who can rely on the Frenchman to bail him out if and when he ventures out of position. (Which, as we know, can happen quite a lot.)

Some pundits, including former United defender Rio Ferdinand, question whether Varane can handle the Premier League’s intensity. But the defender has four Champions League titles and a World Cup to prove he can. Varane played in the gauntlet that is the Santiago Bernabeu and held his own beside club legend Sergio Ramos. The Frenchman has shown he can meet the demands that come with defending in high-stress situations.

United only had one considerable need to address after signing Sancho, and now that they’ve covered the center-back position, they could mount a serious challenge for the title. The Red Devils haven’t looked this balanced on paper since Sir Alex Ferguson retired as manager in 2013.

Rating: A

Patson Daka ?? Leicester City

The deal: Reported £23-million transfer (Read more)

This may end up being the greatest deal of all when we look back on this transfer window in the near future.

Leicester City being able to pry Daka away from the Red Bull umbrella was a masterstroke. RB Leipzig deciding not to step in and put a stop to it remains baffling, but their loss is the Foxes’ enormous gain. The 22-year-old Zambian striker was a scoring machine during his time with Red Bull Salzburg in Austria and has all the tools to excel despite the massive jump in competition level he’ll face in the Premier League.

This isn’t someone who will wither under the increased pressure and spotlight.

One reason for that is because he won’t be thrown to the wolves right away. Daka can play understudy to Jamie Vardy and the resurgent Kelechi Iheanacho this season as he adapts to a new league and country. And that can’t be overstated – many talented players don’t succeed following a big transfer simply because the club hasn’t considered the acclimation process. Leicester deserve credit, not only for identifying an elite young talent but also for putting him in a position to thrive.

Rating: A

Achraf Hakimi ?? Paris Saint-Germain

The deal: Reported €60-million transfer (Read more)

Taking advantage of another team’s financial misfortune – or poor planning – is as important as identifying skill in the transfer window. When a golden opportunity arises, you have to pounce. Paris Saint-Germain did exactly that in plucking Hakimi from Inter Milan.

The flying Moroccan wing-back was an essential piece of Antonio Conte’s title-winning side last season, but the Nerazzurri’s cashflow problems made him an obvious candidate to move. PSG, which started Alessandro Florenzi, Mitchel Bakker, and Abdou Diallo at full-back over two legs of their Champions League semifinal defeat, desperately needed an upgrade at the position and scooped up arguably the most exciting possible option.

The 22-year-old gives PSG yet another electrifying attacking outlet, which will only free up space and make life easier on star duo Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. Hakimi could very well lead Ligue 1 in assists this year, and he may be the final piece the free-spending French giants need to get over the Champions League hump.

Rating: A

Gianluigi Donnarumma ?? Paris Saint-Germain

Shaun Botterill – UEFA / UEFA / Getty

The deal: Free transfer (Read more)

It became clear very early in the summer that Donnarumma would leave AC Milan on a free transfer. But few, if any, clubs could offer him more than the reported €8 million in wages that the Rossoneri were prepared to pay him. Credit must then go to his agent, the notorious Mino Raiola, for finagling a deal worth around €12 million per campaign with PSG.

Donnarumma is a generational goalkeeper and most certainly worth the money. The 22-year-old won Euro 2020 with Italy and claimed the tournament’s MVP award. If he continues to win titles, he could even go down as one of the very best, alongside the likes of Gianluigi Buffon and Manuel Neuer.

However, PSG re-signed goalkeeper Keylor Navas only a few months earlier, and with Navas likely to make way for Donnarumma, the squad could split into two camps. Several players – including newcomer and former Real Madrid teammate Ramos – count Navas as a friend. So, while Donnarumma was as close to a no-brainer as you’d find in the transfer market, his arrival could create unnecessary drama.

Rating: A-

David Alaba ?? Real Madrid

The deal: Free transfer (Read more)

Addressing an area of sudden weakness, Real Madrid were preemptive in convincing Alaba to shun plenty of other suitors in favor of the Spanish capital. Good thing, too.

While the brass may have known all along that iconic captain Sergio Ramos was on his way out, the aforementioned Raphael Varane’s departure was more of a surprise, and it made the existing decision to recruit Alaba on a free transfer even more critical.

The supremely versatile Austrian footballer figures to slot directly into the heart of Real Madrid’s defense this coming season, with the left-back role already belonging to Ferland Mendy. If Alaba’s previous spell working with Carlo Ancelotti at Bayern Munich is any indication, the 29-year-old is going to play a lot of minutes under the Italian tactician, who is clearly an admirer.

Rating: B+

Memphis Depay ?? Barcelona

The deal: Free transfer (Read more)

Barcelona’s crippling debt has forced the club to hunt for bargains this summer and perhaps well into the future. The financial situation at Camp Nou is, in a word, dire. And yet, they still managed to add an outstanding attacking piece in the form of Depay, who should provide the spark that Antoine Griezmann has never truly delivered since his arrival.

The Dutch forward, 27, is coming off an excellent campaign with Lyon where he put up gaudy raw numbers and, crucially, backed them up with dominant underlying figures. Not including penalties, his expected goals plus assist total last season (25.5) was fifth-best across Europe’s top leagues. Depay was behind only Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski, Erling Haaland, and Romelu Lukaku in that category. That’s some decent company.

And now Depay gets to play for a manager who clearly values his talent and will entrust him with plenty of minutes.

Rating: B

Ben White ?? Arsenal

David Price / Arsenal FC / Getty

The deal: Reported £50-million transfer (Read more)

After making several blunders in their defensive recruitment over the years – don’t spend €20 million on Sokratis Papastathopoulos, kids – Arsenal appear to have finally done something right in this space, signing White from Brighton and Hove Albion.

There’s been distress amongst the fan base over the £50-million price tag – especially as the team completed the deal around the same time United secured World Cup winner Varane’s services for far less – but it’s important to remember the variables at play. At 23, White is younger, had multiple years remaining on his contract, and didn’t publicly push for a move away, putting Brighton was in a position of negotiating strength. The premium for Premier League ability, especially within the league, is very real, too.

That’s not to say there isn’t risk involved – £50 million is a lot of money, of course – but if the English center-back develops into a mainstay over the coming years, the Arsenal brass will be vindicated.

White’s speed makes him an ideal fit for Arsenal’s high defensive line, but perhaps his comfort on the ball and distribution range, with both feet, are even more vital than his innate abilities at the back. The deal was a little bit rich, but White makes the Gunners better right now and has upside for the future.

Rating: B-

Sergio Ramos ?? Paris Saint-Germain

The deal: Free transfer (Read more)

PSG had no problems giving Ramos a multi-year contract but refused to extend an offer to Thiago Silva, a fan favorite and former club captain. Sporting director Leonardo preferred to reward a 35-year-old who’s coming off an injury-ravaged campaign.

None of it makes sense.

Maybe PSG have a case of seller’s remorse. Silva went on to win the Champions League with Chelsea, showing plenty of the leadership that PSG lost when they allowed the Brazilian center-back to leave on a free transfer.

Ramos should fill some of the void, but it’s unclear how effective he’ll actually be on the pitch. The Spaniard suffered many setbacks last season, including several knee and muscle injuries that limited him to just 15 starts in La Liga – his fewest since the 2003-04 campaign with Sevilla.

Rating: C-

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