In our final article for all things 2020, we analyze some of the most important transfer dealings of the year. We analyze signings that changed the outlook of their team, made them stronger and more competitive in their various leagues. From top money transfers to free transfers, we look at the size of the impact and not the size of the transfer fee. The list covers the two transfer windows within 2020. It covers the winter transfer window of 2020 and the summer transfer window of 2020.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Free Transfer
The Swede returned to the Rossoneri and he has become the focal point of a very interesting Ac Milan attack. He signed an initial 6-month contract in December of 2019 and his impact on the field and off it has been so good that the Milan club extended it till the summer of 2021. At the age of 39, Ibrahimovic is still going strong and even though he may not possess the speed he once had, his target-man play allows Milan to play off him when starting attacks. Milan sit on top of the Serie A table, they have only lost one game this season, and it was in the absence of their talisman. His goals are as important as his hold-up play, scoring twice in the Derby della Madonnina and against Napoli.
Zlatan’s mentorship has also been important for the younger ones like Rafael Leao and Jens Petter Hauge who look up to him. His authoritative presence and mentality have been a driving force for this Milan team looking to mount a proper Scudetto challenge for the first time in almost a decade. The signing of the self-acclaimed lion was the beginning of this run for Milan. His impact on the pitch is important and off the pitch it is immeasurable. It will be an incredible feat if he lifts the title with this young side. One final great achievement for one of the finest strikers to grace the game.
Bruno Fernandes, Sporting CP to Manchester United
The Portuguese midfielder made our XI of 2020, his impact on Manchester United has been unbelievable. From fashioning chances to scoring goals, the midfielder does it all. He was a big factor in United’s last-minute surge to take 3rd place in the league last season and he is as important to where United sits now on the league table (2nd). Bruno Fernandes scored 8 goals and recorded 7 assists in the Premier League after arriving in January. He was a major reason why Manchester United secured Champions League football. The midfielder provided the missing link between midfield and attack. This season, he has 11 goals and he has assisted another 7 while creating 10 big chances in the EPL.
He changed the outlook of this Manchester United side by providing sharp movement of the ball while not afraid to attempt spectacular passes. This was the major problem for Paul Pogba at Manchester United. While he can produce magnificent passes, his ball movement can be tedious at times. Oftentimes, he slows the buildup play with unnecessary dribbles, wayward passes, and in general, wrong pass selections. Bruno Fernandes moves it quicker, faster, allowing the speed of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to come to the fore. He brings in good numbers too and his work-rate is exemplary. Add his leadership skills and strong mentality and you have one very fine signing.
Ruben Dias, Benfica to Manchester City
Manchester City made the mistake of assuming that their squad could handle the departure of Vincent Kompany, but the disorganization in City’s defense as Liverpool cruised to the title proved otherwise. Pep Guardiola and Txiki Bergiristain knew they needed to cover their base with experience and technical know-how. They first tried for Jose Gimenez but Atletico Madrid set an incredulous price to scare them away. Then they tried for Sevilla’s Jules Kounde but the move did not materialize, they decided to sign Portuguese defender Ruben Dias and in him, they have found a successor to their former captain.
Ruben Dias is a known quantity, he has been at the heart of the Portuguese defense for a while now, partnering stalwarts Pepe and Jose Fonte. Perhaps this is why he shows leadership and composure beyond his years. He has also been a consistent choice in Benfica’s defense and has won titles with the national team and his club.
Dias has won 63% of his ground duels and 66% of his aerial duels. The defender has brought solidity and composure to City’s backline but he is not the only reason why. John Stones has been in good form and Pep’s switch to a pivot offers more protection to the rearguard. Manchester City have conceded only 13 goals so far making them the best team in the league defensively. They conceded a single goal in their UEFA Champions League group. City have been resolute and Dias is a major reason why.
Burak Yilmaz, Free Transfer
For a free transfer, Burak Yilmaz’s impact on Lille has been blockbuster. The Turkish striker has 9 goals and 4 assists in 15 starts for the French club in Ligue 1. Lille were top of the table for most of the first half of the Ligue 1 season and the man who was signed for free after his contract expired with Besiktas is a major reason why (not the highly-rated 20-year-old big money signing Jonathan David). He has done a fantastic job of replacing Victor Osimhen for Christophe Galtier. Just a few days ago, Burak Yilmaz scored the only goal of the game to give Lille a 1-0 win over Nimes and go third in Ligue 1, one point away from leaders Lyon.
At the ripe age of 35, he continues to show why he is one of the finest Turkish strikers of all time. He has scored 3 in his last 3 and they are Lille’s last 3 goals in the league. Burak Yilmaz has been a difference-maker and his impact on the side has been incredible.
Erling Haaland, RB Salzburg to Borussia Dortmund
This kid is a phenom, combining speed, physicality, and devastating finishing to make one special talent. Haaland scored 16 goals in 14 league games for Salzburg in the league. Haaland scored 8 in 6 UEFA Champions League games for the Austrian side. He moved to Borussia Dortmund in January 2020 for only 20 million Euros and in 15 Bundesliga games, he scored 13 goals. The Norwegian added to Champions League goals playing for Dortmund during the campaign. Haaland’s 10 Champions League goals in seven games make him the quickest player to reach double figures in the competition’s history. He is the first Dortmund player ever to score on his debut in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, and the Champions League.
This season, Haaland has scored 12 goals in 10 Bundesliga games for Dortmund. He has scored 6 goals in 4 Champions League campaigns. There is no stopping this big freak of nature. The fact that Dortmund paid such a cheap price for him is still hard to believe considering how he burst into the scenes. This kid has a special career ahead of him barring any injuries or irregularities that the cruel football world can cough up.