Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marc Cucurella, Joe Bryan? The weird transfers from the summer window

Records were broken in the most recent transfer window as, according to Transfermarkt, clubs in the English Premier League spent a whopping €2.24 billion – including massive deals for Antony (€95m to Manchester United), Wesley Fofana (€80m to Chelsea) and Darwin Nunez (€75m to Liverpool). Italy’s Serie A (€749m), France’s Ligue 1 (€557m), Spain’s LaLiga (€505m) and Germany’s Bundesliga (€484m) together spent a total of €2.67bn.

But among all that money changing hands, there have been some really strange movements. Here, ESPN’s writers rank the weirdest summer transfers that have them confused the most.

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I mean what the hell?! Nice fans have rightly asked: who is Joe Bryan and what is he doing in a team aiming to challenge for the Ligue 1 title in the Europa Conference League this season? The left-back, 28, was loaned out from Fulham having previously played for Bristol City, Plymouth and Bath (the latter two on loan). For a club like Nice with big money and big ambitions it didn’t make sense to sign an average player like him. He probably couldn’t believe his luck.

Overall, most of Nice’s transfer business has been odd this window. The club’s obsession with signing British or former Premier League players was very strange. In addition to Bryan, they also signed former Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey (31, free transfer), Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (€35.1m), ex-Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley (28, free transfer) and the 27-year-old winger Nicolas Pepe is on loan from Arsenal and 23-year-old defender Mads Bech Sorensen is also joining for the season from Brentford. 12th in Ligue 1 after three losses in seven games suggests the gamble may not have worked – Julien Laurens.

Chelsea have always faced a difficult task in this window given two key factors: British government sanctions against former Russian owner Roman Abramovich, preventing them from speaking to potential new players until the takeover was completed at the end of May, and the new ones Club owners are taking time to immerse themselves in football and are filling a void left by the departure of key transfer staff. However, all of this doesn’t entirely absolve them of criticism of potentially paying £63million to sign Brighton left-back Cucurella.

The Spanish defender is a good player and has room for improvement but Manchester City pulled out of a deal because they didn’t want to pay a price tag of around £50m. However, Chelsea ended up paying £56m, with a further £7m in add-ons, partly because they only wanted to loan Levi Colwill out in exchange rather than allow him to join Brighton on a permanent basis. As an agent suggested to ESPN, Chelsea were therefore effectively paying their own loan fee.

To top off the surreal feeling, Cucurella submitted a transfer request when City was interested and tried to force his exit from a club managed by Graham Potter…only to end up at a club now managed by Graham Potter. — James Olley.

I wasn’t an odd signing in the sense that Chelsea needed to bring in a recognized goalscorer after allowing Romelu Lukaku (loan to Inter Milan) and Timo Werner (€30m to RB Leipzig) to leave the club, but every other aspect of the deal just doesn’t add up.

First and foremost, this was 100% a commitment from Thomas Tuchel. Tuchel developed a strong working relationship with Aubameyang at Borussia Dortmund between 2015 and 2017, and despite the former Arsenal striker’s reputation as a difficult player to manage – the Gunners terminated his contract in February, allowing him to join Barcelona on a free transfer as manager Mikel Arteta was losing patience with his lack of discipline – Tuchel believed he was a risk worth taking.

But less than a week later, Tuchel was sacked as Chelsea manager. So why did the board approve a deal for a player that would likely be incompatible with a new boss’ plans? Aubameyang is anything but a team player. If he doesn’t score, he doesn’t contribute. When he’s not acting, he contributes even less and brings all sorts of other drama to the table. How Potter handles him remains to be seen, but it was an odd move. Very strange. — Markus Ogden.

Billy Gilmour, Chelsea to Brighton £7.5m

Poor Gilmor. The 21-year-old midfielder was heading from Chelsea to Brighton to work under Potter and then saw Potter leave Brighton for Chelsea a few days later. Gilmour is highly rated but has reached a stage in his career where he needs to play regularly and a move to Brighton could still work. But it begs the question as to why Chelsea were willing to let him move knowing that Tuchel would be sacked and replaced by Potter.

There is an indication that Chelsea didn’t want him to leave, but the Scotland international argued working under Potter was too good an opportunity to turn down. Again, if that’s the case, and Chelsea knew at the time that Potter would most likely end up at Stamford Bridge within days, then Gilmour has every right to feel offended. The only thing he can do now is prove Chelsea wrong and fulfill his potential at Brighton. – Rob Dawson.

Soler’s departure from Valencia came as no surprise – the club had announced they would have to let one or two of their best players go as Wolves’ €33m for Goncalo Guedes wasn’t enough to even the books – but both the target PSG and a meager fee of €18m for the midfielder caused a stir even though his contract only has one year left. The 25-year-old was one of Valencia’s captains and the team’s creative hub. Now he is said to be a minor part-player at PSG, where he hasn’t even made it off the bench this season.

Another confusing move was Valencia’s attempt to assuage fans’ anger at Soler’s departure by signing 35-year-old Edinson Cavani on a free transfer. Manager Gennaro Gattuso has been forced to admit that the age-related risk of injury has left the striker unable to train hard – having left Manchester United on a free transfer this summer – and the Uruguay international is yet to play in any capacity. — Alex Kirkland.

De Tomas scored 17 La Liga goals for Espanyol last season; only Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas (18) and Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema (27) scored more. His performances earned him four caps for Spain and during the transfer window he has been linked with Man United, Bayern Munich, Sevilla and many other clubs competing in European competition. It’s all the more confusing that he ended up signing for his former club Rayo Vallecano… after the window closed.

Yes, de Tomas has a move to Rayo this week for a reported £8m. But he won’t be able to play for Rayo until January as he can’t be registered. Any hopes of providing Spain’s squad for November’s World Cup appear to have been dashed.

What makes the move even stranger is that Rayo president Martin Presa last week filed charges against an agent of De Tomas for headbutting him during negotiations to sign the forward. Though both seem to have been able to separate personal matters from business matters to get the deal through the line. — Sam Marsden

https://www.espn.com/soccer/soccer-transfers/story/4745096/pierre-emerick-aubameyangmarc-cucurellajoe-bryan-the-weird-transfers-from-the-summer-window Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marc Cucurella, Joe Bryan? The weird transfers from the summer window

Emma Bowman

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