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Transfer Review: 20/21 Season

Hakimi and Werner

For our review of the 2020/21 season, we take a look back at the winners and the losers over the two transfer windows, the most significant transfers completed and our transfer efficiency tables for each of Europe’s top seven leagues.

In total, 732 transfers have been considered across the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1, Liga NOS and Russian Premier League. Despite the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, an estimated £5.928 billion (€6.876 billion) was exchanged by the 132 clubs considered. This figure includes both incoming and outgoing transfers for each of these clubs.

As these key transfers were discussed in detail in our previous review here, this review will focus on the success of each of these moves so far.


Least efficient club: Chelsea – -£130.37m (-€151.23m) & least efficient player purchase: Kai Havertz –£45.61m

Whilst Chelsea didn’t make any notable changes to their playing squad over the January transfer window, they retained their place as the least efficient club in Europe’s top seven leagues following the club’s near £250m (€290m) summer spending spree.

In our summer transfer window review, we focused on the two Germans that arrived at Stamford Bridge; Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. Despite our calculations valuing Werner at £65.52m (€76m), a release clause in the player’s contract allowed the Blues to purchase the forward for £47.70m (€53m). In contrast, Chelsea’s joint record signing, Kai Havertz, was valued at £26.39m (€30.61m) due to his limited experience at the highest levels of the international and continental game. This made Havertz the least efficient purchase of the transfer window after being acquired from Bayer Leverkusen for £72m (€80m).

Both players have struggled to adapt to the Premier League so far. In Werner’s final season in Leipzig, he averaged 3.76 shots and 1.90 shots on target per 90 minutes with a conversion rate of 21%. When considering his link-up play, Werner attempted 34.2 passes per 90 minutes with a completion rate of 71.7% as well as 3.54 dribbles with a success rate of 60%.

In the Premier League so far this season, Werner has averaged 2.78 shots and 1.10 shots on target per 90 minutes with a shot conversion rate of just 8%. Whilst Werner’s passing numbers are also down, attempting 30.4 passes per 90 minutes, his completion rate has increased to 77.2%. The German’s dribbling statistics are also down significantly, averaging 2.60 dribbles per 90 so far this season with a success rate of just 39%.

In the case of Havertz, the attacking midfielder averaged 2.12 shots and 0.92 shots on target per 90 minutes with a shot conversion rate of 19% in his final season in Germany. Looking at his passing game, Havertz attempted 51.9 passes per 90 with a completion rate of 85.2%. The midfielder also averaged 4.32 shot-creating actions, 0.95 tackles and 12.3 pressures per 90. Finally, the German averaged 4.21 dribbles per 90 with a success rate of 51.3%.

So far this season, Havertz has averaged 1.46 shots and 0.62 shots on target per 90 with a shot conversion rate of 5%. His passing metrics have remained fairly consistent, attempting 48.7 passes per 90 with a completion rate of 85.9%. His shot-creating actions have dropped to 2.69 per 90, although his number of tackles and pressures have increased to 1.31 and 14.8 respectively. Havertz’s dribbling statistics have also decreased, attempting 2.46 dribbles per 90 with a success rate of 43.8%. 

At Chelsea, both players have seen their overall shooting and dribbling numbers decrease although their passing metrics have remained comparable. Havertz’s defensive metrics have also improved slightly since arriving in London. However, this should have been expected. Back in Germany, Werner and Havertz were the focal points of their respective team’s attacks and therefore often given license to roam freely. This allowed the players to focus on finding and exploiting any spaces left in the opposition defence, which they did to devastating effect, instead of their limited defensive responsibilities.

In South West London, the Blues already had an abundance of attacking and creative talent at their disposal with Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud. This means that the two German arrivals have had to adapt to a cohesive team system, initially developed by Frank Lampard. At both of their previous clubs, Werner and Havertz had systems designed around their style of play to maximise their offensive output.

What this doesn’t explain though is the decrease in both players’ shot conversion and dribbling success rates. This is epitomised by both players’ goal and expected goal tallies. In Werner’s last season in Germany, he scored 28 goals from an expected goal total of 22.3. So far this season, Werner has scored five from an expected total of 9.9. For Havertz, last season he scored 12 goals from an expected goal tally of 9.1. This season, he has scored just once from an expected total of 2.9.

It should be remembered that the Germans are adapting to a new system of football, in a new league, in a new country (with both players leaving Germany for the first time in their careers) and city with an ongoing global pandemic. Joining a new club always comes with challenges but it could be argued that these challenges are more difficult than ever before.  Whilst the arrival of Thomas Tuchel should help the Germans to settle in London, both players deserve at least another year to adapt to the Premier League and demonstrate their talents on English shores.

Most efficient: Inter – £44.03

Similarly, Inter didn’t make any significant changes to their playing squad over the January transfer window and remained as the most efficient club in Europe’s top seven leagues.

Following the summer transfer window, our review focused on the Nerazzurri’s shrewd off-field business to generate €11.5m (roughly £10m) through selling and then repurchasing Andrea Pinamonti. On the field, the most notable arrivals at the San Siro have been Achraf Hakimi and Nicolo Barella, both of whom have proven integral to Inter’s title charge. In terms of departures, the most notable was Mauro Icardi leaving for PSG but thanks to the partnership of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez with Alexis Sanchez in reserve, Icardi’s departure has hardly been noticed by the Curva Nord.

Starting with Barella, only goalkeeper Samir Handanovic has played more minutes than the Italian midfielder so far this season. It should be no surprise that at just 24 years old, Barella is already one of Conte’s most trusted apprentices as the midfielder epitomises his coach’s philosophy.

Despite his undoubted technical ability, Barella sits atop the Inter stats charts for tackles attempted (44), tackles won (31), pressures attempted (371) and successful pressures (114). Going forward, only Martinez (83) and Lukaku (69) have taken more shots than Barella (29) whilst only Lukaku (80) has completed more shot-creating actions than Barella (78). Finally, only one Inter player has had more touches in the attacking third than Nicolo Barella (609); Achraf Hakimi (624).

Moving onto Hakimi, the former Real Madrid and Dortmund man has cemented his status as one of the most exciting young wing-backs in Europe during his time in Milan. From defence, Hakimi has completed 58 shot-creating actions, with only Marcelo Brozovic (67) as well as the aforementioned Barella (78) and Lukaku (80) bettering this total. In addition, Hakimi’s 74 crosses place him top of the Inter rankings. On the defensive side of the game, only Brozovic and Barella have more attempted and successful pressures than Hakimi’s 343 and 105 respectively and only Milan Skriniar has made more tackles in the defensive third (25) than Hakimi (19).

In the summer, we highlighted Inter’s purchase of Barella as a superb deal as the Nerazzurri had agreed a £22.50m (€26.10m) fee with Cagliari back in 2019, with the Italian initially moving to Milan on loan. At the time of his permanent move, we valued Barella at £33.50m (€38.86m) although his current level of performances mean that this figure will be increasing by the day.

As for Hakimi, he was valued at £28.22m (€32.73m) at the time of purchase, with Inter paying £36m (€41.76m) for the Madrid-born Moroccan. This transfer was considered to be an overspend as Hakimi’s value is slightly restricted due to the Moroccan national team’s relatively low FIFA ranking. However, the Real Madrid Castilla graduate has proven to be worth every penny so far.


Most efficient purchase: Andre Silva – £39.78

The lack of transfers conducted over the January transfer window also meant that Andre Silva retains his position as the most efficient purchase of the 2020/21 season. The Portuguese striker made his initial loan move to Frankfurt permanent for a reported £8.10m (€9.40m) but thanks to his experience in the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, Liga NOS and at international level, was valued at £47.88m (€55.54m) at the time of his purchase. This purchase played a large part in Frankfurt taking top spot in the Bundesliga efficiency rankings after being crowned the most efficient club over the 2019/20 season

Since joining the Eagles permanently, only Robert Lewandowski (32) has scored more Bundesliga goals than Andre Silva (19), with Erling Braut Haaland also scoring 19.

So far this season, Silva has averaged 3.53 shots and 1.74 shots on target per 90 minutes, with a shot conversion rate of 17%. Haaland has averaged 3.24 shots and 1.76 shots on target per 90, with a shot conversion rate of 30%. In terms of passing, Silva has attempted 560 passes with a completion rate of 75% so far this season whilst Haaland has attempted 323 passes with a completion rate of 70.3%. Finally, when looking at dribbling statistics, Haaland has attempted 1.60 dribbles per 90 with a success rate of 66.7% so far this season. As for Silva, he has attempted 2.34 dribbles per 90 although has a success rate of 51%.

From these statistics, the two strikers are fairly comparable, with Haaland having the edge in terms of his finishing and dribbling ability although Silva is clearly more adept with his link-up play and bringing teammates into the attack.

Whilst media speculation surrounds the future of the young Norwegian forward with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City all currently rumoured to be interested, Andre Silva continues to fly under the radar of European giants despite performing at a comparable level. This season, Silva has finally proven to be worth the £34.20m (€40m) that AC Milan invested in the young striker. Unfortunately for the Rossoneri, Silva was let go too soon and Frankfurt have uncovered yet another gem.


PositionLeagueTotal Transfer Fees (£m)Total Transfer Fees (€m)Transfer Variance (£m)Transfer Variance (€m)Percentage of Variance
1Russian Premier League£176.45€204.68£14.14€16.408.01%
2Ligue 1£777.67€902.10£53.76€62.366.91%
4Liga NOS£411.60€477.46-£10.23-€11.86-2.48%
5Serie A£1,320.76€1,532.08-£33.95-€39.38-2.57%
6La Liga£852.59€989.00-£58.68-€68.06-6.88%
7Premier League£1,778.32€2,062.85-£451.40-€523.63-25.38%

For the first time, in this review, significant outliers have been excluded from the figures listed above to improve accuracy.

Despite this change, the Premier League finishes as the least efficient European league in the transfer market for the second time in three seasons. The next lowest-placed league, La Liga, produces a total negative variance of €68.06m, over €450m below the result produced by the Premier League. However, total transfers fees accumulated by La Liga clubs are less than half of their English counterparts.

The Serie A and Liga NOS are the remaining two leagues to return negative variances with these variances equating to 2.57% and 2.48% of the total transfer fees respectively.

The Bundesliga and Ligue 1 are the only members of the top five European leagues to return a positive variance. Compared to the previous season, the Bundesliga has risen from 4th to 3rd in the league efficiency rankings whilst Ligue 1 retains 2nd place.

The Russian Premier League jumps from 7th place in the 2019/20 season to 1st for the 2020/21 season. Whilst Russian Premier League clubs produced a transfer variance of just €16.40m, only €204.68m in transfer fees was exchanged. Therefore, transfer variance equates to 8.01%.

Russian League:

Lokomotiv Moscow top the Russian Premier League efficiency standings predominantly due to their acquisition of Ze Luis, which contributed a positive transfer variance of £9.08m (€10.53m).

Similarly, Dynamo Moscow claim last place due to their sale of Toni Sunjic, who was valued at £6.90m (€8.00m), for just £0.32m (€0.37m).

Efficiency Table PositionCurrent League PositionLast Season’s League PositionPosition ChangeClubVariance (£m)Variance (€m)
142-2Lokomotiv Moscow£10.47€12.15
2710+3Rubin Kazan£5.86€6.79
3148-6Arsenal Tula£3.91€4.54
465-1FK Rostov£3.54€4.11
527+5Spartak Moscow£2.18€2.53
61113+2Akhmat Grozny£1.25€1.44
834+1CSKA Moscow£0.51€0.60
9159-6FK Ufa£0.32€0.37
10512+7FC Sochi£0.09€0.11
111315+2Rotor Volgograd£0.08€0.09
121016+6FK Khimki£0.00*€0.00*
141614-2PFK Tambov-£3.38-€3.92
1686-2Dynamo Moscow-£5.81-€6.74
*= club completed no accountable transfers or the only transfers completed represented outliers

Ligue 1:

The big gainers in Ligue 1 so far this season have been RC Lens. After claiming the final promotion spot from Ligue 2 last season, they currently sit in 6th in the Ligue 1 table. This has been partly due to their intelligent recruitment, with all four players who arrived at the club this season being purchased for less than their estimated market value.   

Saint Etienne’s 1st place finish is in large part thanks to their sale of Wesley Fofana to Leicester City, which produced a positive variance of £28.45m (€33m).

Stade Rennais’ slip down the Ligue 1 table may have been expected. Star players such as Edouard Mendy and Raphinha were allowed to leave the club whilst all five players who joined the club this season arrived for fees in excess of their estimated market values.

Efficiency Table PositionCurrent League PositionLast Season’s League PositionPosition ChangeClubVariance (£m)Variance (€m)
214+3LOSC Lille£20.82€24.15
314140Stade Brest£12.75€14.78
4620+14RC Lens£12.29€14.26
537+4Olympique Lyon£11.74€13.61
61918-1Nimes Olympique£9.80€11.37
81813-5FC Nantes£7.85€9.11
9136-7Stade Reims£7.74€8.98
102016-4Dijon FCO£4.07€4.72
1249+5AS Monaco£1.31€1.52
13715+8FC Metz-£1.26-€1.46
14125-7OGC Nice-£1.29-€1.50
171011+1SCO Angers-£5.15-€5.98
181719+2FC Lorient-£8.19-€9.50
2083-5Stade Rennais-£27.53-€31.93


Eintracht Frankfurt top the Bundesliga efficiency table for the second season running although the success story of the Bundesliga season so far has been VfB Stuttgart.

After securing 2nd place in the 2. Bundesliga last season, Stuttgart now sit in 8th place in the Bundesliga. A key cog in this team is Wataru Endo, who is the only outfield player to start every Bundesliga match for Stuttgart so far this season. Endo joined Stuttgart for just £1.53m (€1.70m) despite having an estimated market value of £9.86m (€11.44m). 

Schalke, Gladbach and Hertha BSC have each fallen six places from the previous season. Schalke have not made any significant changes to their playing squad this season whilst Gladbach and Hertha BSC are found to have conducted inefficient business this season.

In Gladbach’s case, two youngsters (Kouadio Kone and Joe Scally) were purchased. Whilst Joe Scally arrived for slightly below his estimated market valuation, the £8.10m (€9.4m) paid for Kone contributed a negative variance of £6.24m (€7.24m).

Of the eight transfers completed by Hertha this season, only one (the purchase of Deyovaisio Zeefuik) returned a positive variance.

Efficiency Table PositionCurrent League PositionLast Season’s League PositionPosition ChangeClubVariance (£m)Variance (€m)
149+5Eintracht Frankfurt£37.15€43.10
314140FC Koln£14.35€16.65
41315+2FC Augsburg£9.27€10.75
5711+4Union Berlin£7.16€8.30
6820+12VfB Stuttgart£4.14€4.81
101519+4Arminia Bielefeld£0.00*€0.00
121216+4Werder Bremen-£2.80-€3.25
13110Bayern Munich-£3.80-€4.41
1652-3Borussia Dortmund-£15.55-€18.04
171610-6Hertha BSC-£24.19-€28.07
1823+1RB Leipzig-£24.59-€28.52
*= club completed no accountable transfers or the only transfers completed represented outliers

Liga NOS:

In Portugal, Sporting CP currently sit atop the Liga NOS despite finishing 3rd in the efficiency table. However, this is largely due to the fact that both Stefan Ristovski and Marcos Acuna were allowed to leave for transfer fees significantly below their estimated market values. In total, these two transfers contributed a negative variance of £15.63m (€18.13m). If these sales were discounted, Sporting would have also claimed 1st position in the efficiency rankings.

Famalicao have seen the greatest fall in position from the previous season, dropping from 6th to 11th in the Liga NOS table. Despite Manuel Ugarte arriving for £1.78m (€2.06m) below his estimated market value, Famalicao still finished in the bottom half of the efficiency table due to their sale of Pedro Goncalves for £4.01m (€4.65m) lower than his estimated market value. Goncalves was purchased by Sporting CP to replace Bruno Fernandes and has already established himself as one of the best players in Portugal. The midfielder is currently the top scorer in Liga NOS, with 15 goals and four assists in 21 appearances so far this season.

Efficiency Table PositionCurrent League PositionLast Season’s League PositionPosition ChangeClubVariance (£m)Variance (€m)
142-2SL Benfica£10.73€12.44
314+3Sporting CP£6.37€7.39
41417+3CD Nacional£1.88€2.18
5330SC Braga£1.12€1.30
679+2Santa Clara£0.36€0.42
101310-3Gil Vicente£0.00*€0.00*
1195-4Rio Ave£0.00*€0.00*
12513+8Pacos de Ferreira-£1.65-€1.91
1721-1FC Porto-£10.47-€12.15
1867+1Vitoria Guimaraes-£11.86-€13.76
*= club completed no accountable transfers or the only transfers completed represented outliers

Serie A:

Parma have seen the greatest decline in league position from the previous season and also claim 19th place in the efficiency table. They completed 14 transfers, more than any other Serie A club. Their biggest acquisition this season was the purchase of Roberto Inglese, whose move from Napoli was finally made permanent in the summer after spending the previous two seasons on loan at Parma. Last season, Inglese was restricted to just under 900 minutes of first-team football as he was plagued by injuries. This restricted his valuation to £6.52m (€7.56m) yet Parma paid £16.20m (€18.79m) for Inglese’s services. This season, the Italian’s battle for fitness has continued and he is yet to find the net for Parma since signing for the club on a permanent basis.

Despite finishing 20th in the efficiency table, Milan’s recruitment actually proved to be efficient. Of their five purchases this season, only the acquisition of Jens Petter Hauge produced a negative variance and this only amounted to -£2.20m (-€2.56m). The Rossoneri cemented their status at the bottom of the efficiency table by allowing the aforementioned Andre Silva, in addition to Ricardo Rodriguez and Gustavo Gomez, to leave the club for considerably less than their estimated market values.

Efficiency Table PositionCurrent League PositionLast Season’s League PositionPosition ChangeClubVariance (£m)Variance (€m)
3990Hellas Verona£21.01€24.37
665-1AS Roma£2.94€3.41

La Liga:

Getafe’s first-place finish in the efficiency table this season was thanks to their purchase of Marc Cucurella. The former Barcelona man spent last season on loan with Getafe and only goalkeeper David Soria played more minutes than Cucurella for the Madrid-based side. During last season, the full-back also received his first call-up to the senior Spanish national team. This provided Cucurella with a valuation of £23.37m (€27.11m) although Getafe were able to purchase the La Masia graduate from Barcelona for just £9m (€10.44m).

Barcelona’s struggles in the transfer market continued this season, finishing 20th in the efficiency table despite the club’s ongoing financial difficulties. Pjanic, Trincao, Dest and Matheus Fernandes all moved to Catalonia for fees in excess of their estimated market valuations whilst Carles Perez, Ivan Rakitic and the previously mentioned Cucurella all departed for less than their estimated market valuations.

Efficiency Table PositionCurrent League PositionLast Season’s League PositionPosition ChangeClubVariance (£m)Variance (€m)
31613-3Real Valladolid£7.43€8.62
487-1Granada CF£6.17€7.15
531-2Real Madrid£6.04€7.01
71017+7Celta Vigo£4.58€5.32
856+1Real Sociedad£3.21€3.72
91310-3CA Osasuna£2.30€2.67
1311110Athletic Bilbao-£0.94-€1.09
15615+9Real Betis-£3.92-€4.54
1713+2Atletico Madrid-£12.52-€14.53
20220FC Barcelona-£61.24-€71.04

Premier League:

Finishing with the Premier League, Tottenham topped the efficiency table due to their purchase of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. The Danish midfielder joined the Lilywhites from Southampton for £14.94m (€17.33m) yet was valued at £30.24m (€35.08m) at the time of his purchase.

Perhaps surprisingly, current league leaders Manchester City occupy 19th position in the efficiency table. Of the Citizens seven purchases this season, only Ferran Torres and Nahuel Bustos arrived for transfer fees below their estimated market values. In addition, Tosin Adarabioyo and Leroy Sane were both allowed to leave Manchester for less than their estimated market valuations.

Efficiency Table PositionCurrent League PositionLast Season’s League PositionPosition ChangeClubVariance (£m)Variance (€m)
61114+3Crystal Palace-£1.79-€2.07
7516+11West Ham-£2.14-€2.48
81218+6Leeds United-£6.15-€7.13
1035+2Leicester City-£11.95-€13.86
111713-4Newcastle United-£13.72-€15.91
1319190West Brom-£17.91-€20.78
14209-11Sheffield United-£24.19-€28.06
16917+8Aston Villa-£44.64-€51.78
1723+1Manchester United-£45.55-€52.84
1912+1Manchester City-£73.45-€85.20


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