Over the next couple weeks, the staff of 32 Flags will be counting down some of the top achievements and moments of this calendar year. 2016 has seen many things in the soccer world from the good to the bad and the ordinary to the extraordinary. Today, we are counting down the top transfers of the Premier League.
It’s that time of year again! With the end of the 2016 in sight, we’re taking this opportunity before the holiday rush to look back over the past year and give some thought to what the hell just happened. Today, we’re looking at the top 10 best transfers in 2016. This can include signings made in the summer as well as during last season’s January transfer window. The only thing they need to be is exceptional. Up first:
10) Leroy Fer (CM)
QPR -> Swansea
A shock addition to the list, perhaps, but an entirely deserving one. Without Fer’s goal contribution this season (6) or his work in the center of the midfield, Swansea would even deeper in a relegation battle. Between him, Gylfi Sigurdsson, and Fernando Llorente, Swansea may survive the drop. It was a close call between Llorente and Fer for who would appear on this list, but it ultimately came down to overall contribution. Fer has notched up more goals and been consistently more influential for Swansea this season.
9) Paul Pogba (CM)
Juventus -> Manchester United
You knew Pogba was going to be on this list somewhere. The world’s most expensive transfer has certainly played well at times this season, but that has been punctuated by times where he has looked completely abject. Much like Zlatan, Pogba has swung wildly from looking world class to looking like a player who’d be picked last for pickup soccer. That said, when he is on, he is absolutely unplayable. Whether it is because of his price tag or the playing style, we just haven’t seen that enough this season to place him higher on the list.
8) Jack Wilshere (CM)
Arsenal -> Bournemouth
Loan (£2m Loan Fee)
Jack Wilshere is a player that definitely needed a change of scenery, even if the transfer is only a loan. Wilshere is getting out of London and just playing consistently again. For a player with his ability, that is essential. At Bournemouth, Wilshere is working in a team capable of playing well and really getting involved in the game. This can’t be overstated with how important it is for both the player and his adoptive club. To this extent, it wouldn’t shock me if this transfer is made permanent at the end of the season.
7) Idrissa Gueye (CM)
Aston Villa -> Everton
Gueye has been instrumental to Everton’s midfield this season. Considering he was one of the sole shining lights to come out of last season’s dismal Aston Villa team, it would appear that Everton made an inspired transfer bringing on the Senegalese midfielder. Gueye brings solidarity and athleticism to Everton’s midfield that had relied on the aging Gareth Barry for too long.
6) Zlatan Ibrahimovic (ST)
PSG -> Manchester United
This one was going to be obvious, wasn’t it? First, I’ll address why he is so low on the list. The fact of the matter is, there have been times this season where he has looked more of a hindrance to Manchester United than a help. That said, he has scored nearly half of their goals in the Premier League this season (9/22) and has been their only genuine attacking threat sometimes. Also benefiting this transfer is the lack of transfer fee. Unfortunately, he’s just been too flakey to place higher.
5) Joel Matip (CB)
Shalke -> Liverpool
What a signing Joel Matip is turning out to be. In one – free – fell swoop, Jurgen Klopp solidified Liverpool’s backline substantially. It is no surprise that Liverpool’s most dominant run of form came while Matip was entrenched in the center of defense alongside Dejan Lovren. Not only is he solid in the air, quick on his feet, and excellent at reading the game, Matip can dribble out of defense better than some midfielders. Seriously, watch him closely next time he plays.
4) N’Golo Kante (CDM)
Leicester -> Chelsea
Much like how the switch to the new formation has benefited David Luiz, N’Golo Kante has come to life in the new setup at Chelsea. At the start of the season, he may have been stuck in two worlds at times, but now, he is a major part of the stingiest defense in the league. The Kante of last season is emerging at Chelsea, and that should be concerning for the rest of the league.
3) Shkodran Mustafi (CB)
Valencia -> Arsenal
In a team crying out for a solid defender, Arsenal turned to one of the most highly rated young centerbacks in Europe. With Mustafi giving Arsenal a platform to build from, Arsenal are making a real push for the Premier League title, currently tied for 2nd with Liverpool. Considering he is only 24, Mustafi still has his best years ahead of him as well.
2) Sadio Mane (RW)
Southampton -> Liverpool
Sadio Mane has been a revelation at times for Liverpool this season. The current top scorer in the top scoring team in the league should be enough, but to add to that, he is an important part of Liverpool’s gegenpress and an outlet for their defense. Liverpool may have gone back to a familiar well when they signed him from Southampton, but his influence on the team has them legitimately challenging for the Premier League title.
1) David Luiz (CB)
PSG -> Chelsea
From punchline to linchpin, the David Luiz deal has to go down as the best transfer of 2016. This will undoubtedly come under scrutiny, because the Sideshow Bob-impersonator in blue has been one of the most reviled defenders in the game today. Despite that, the current formation that Chelsea plays is getting the most out of him, and he is an integral part of the current Premier League leaders.