The top five best 2018 transfers of the year

It's a rich man's world Signing a new player is strange. Fans go wild at pretty much every new name, regardless of whethe

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It’s a rich man’s world

Signing a new player is strange. Fans go wild at pretty much every new name, regardless of whether or not the player is good.

Everyone looks for a bargain, everyone is obsessed with big fees. It’s a peculiar world, the transfer market, but one we’ve come to adore.

Here – in no particular order – are our top five transfers of 2018…

Virgil van Dijk

Southampton to Liverpool, €85m (£75m)

Last season, before Virgil van Dijk’s Premier League debut for Liverpool, the Reds conceded 28 times in 23 games and kept nine clean sheets.

After Van Dijk’s first league appearance for the club, they conceded 10 goals in 15 games and kept eight clean sheets. All while making a run to the Champions League final.

Much of the improvement this season – Liverpool have looked more solid than ever at the back – has been attributed to Alisson but the real turnaround came before the goalkeeper arrived and Van Dijk is to thank.

What makes the Dutchman’s success even more delicious is how the fee spent on him was derided when it was announced last December (though he didn’t move until January, so this is still a 2018 deal!)

The £75m (€85m) fee Liverpool paid for Van Dijk is the most anyone has ever spent on a defender and he was worth every penny.


Grêmio to Barcelona, €31m

Too often, clubs get hung up on finding the ‘new’ version of a club legend. You can’t just replace those guys like-for-like.

Unless you get lucky.

Barcelona may just have found the new Xavi.

Arthur joined from Grêmio for around €31m but plays like he was educated at La Masia, shining in both LaLiga and the Champions League.

The midfielder is an excellent dribbler and an even better passer. The game seems to stand still around him. Get ready to watch the 22-year-old dictate games at Camp Nou for a long time.

Lucas Torreira

Sampdoria to Arsenal, €30m (£26m)

Arsenal’s terrier in midfield, the Uruguayan looks like he was born to play in the Premier League.

An all-action central midfielder, Torreira has instantly won over Arsenal fans with his dogged determination and exceptional reading of the game.

The diminutive midfielder is still just 22 but you would never  guess it with the confidence he exudes each week.

Though his penchant is aggressive midfield play and smart passing, Torreira’s handy in front of goal too.

A first Arsenal goal came in the north London derby defeat of Spurs, a second was an acrobatic bicycle kick against Huddersfield. Is there anything he can’t do?

Cristiano Ronaldo

Real Madrid to Juventus, €100m

A 33-year-old for 100m? That’ll never work!

But Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t a normal 33-year-old.

After a slightly slow start with Juventus, the Portuguese has lift off.

During his time at Real Madrid, Ronaldo was widely criticised for selfishness but his success in Italy so far has been underpinned by a strong on-field relationship with Mario Mandžukić.

Goals, assists, you name it. Nobody knows how much longer he can keep it up but, for now, Ronaldo remains reliable as ever.

Paco Alcácer

Barcelona to Borussia Dortmund, initial loan (€23m next summer)

Not long ago, Alcácer was sitting on the bench for Barcelona. Sometimes, not often, he’d get on for a little while.

In desperate need of a striker in the summer, Borussia Dortmund struck an loan deal for the Spaniard with the option to buy him at the end of the season. They exercised that option before December.

At the time, Alcácer had started just two Bundesliga games yet he’d manage to score eight times in Germany’s top flight.

The Spaniard’s incredible start to life in Germany has earned him a Spain recall … and he’s netted a few times for the national team since then too.

In this day and age, signing such a prolific goalscorer for just €23m is jaw-droppingly good business.