Erling Haaland to Manchester City. Darwin Nunez to Liverpool. Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid. And Paul Pogba to Juventus. Transfers are happening at a rapid rate. The four mentioned are perhaps as big as any. All of them will change the course of their clubs. There is no doubt that these footballers will all walk into the starting lineup of their new clubs. These are not your "see how it goes" transfers. They will walk out of the tunnel in their team jerseys when first matchday comes around.
In fact, they will neither have any time to settle in. Be rest assured that one bad performance and the media will be on their case. Big names and big transfers are not left isolated or afforded the luxury of time. They must absolutely set the ground running to buy breathing space. And they will need breathing space. It is important to note that not all of them are coming from similar footballing systems. For example, Pogba is a transfer from Manchester United's (lack of) structure to Juventus. Erling Haaland, on his part, was playing in a largely counter attacking system. Pep's style, meanwhile, is anything but counter attacking.
Credit is thus due to the club officials who have worked swiftly in the transfer market. These early transfers will give the players enough time to work on the training pitch. The managers, with a full pre-season, with their new players will now exactly how to tweak the system. With mutual knowledge of skills, ability, strengths and weaknesses, they will be better equipped when the grueling season starts.
Here is an early look at how Haaland, Nunez, Rudiger and Pogba will fit into their new clubs.
Manchester City transfers - Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland is one of the best young strikers in the world, if not the very best already. He is a proven goal scorer. A deadly finisher and a battering ram who can almost run through players, Haaland is a coup for any club at almost any price point. City, though, at release clause have landed a major blow to everyone's title hopes in the Premier League. The Norwegian represents a near knockout punch. City, already among the absolute elites in Europe, have just upgraded their seemingly weakest position on a football pitch.
And they are not stopping either. Kalvin Phillips has come in to bolster the midfield. Further transfers are expected from City's end. However, Haaland's signing is the biggest news coming from England. The potential of the former Borussia Dortmund striker was already frighteningly high. Now, combined with Guardiola's superior tactical acumen, the limit is whatever Haaland can perceive it to be. Perhaps even limitless.
However, there are a few concerns as to the opposing style of Haaland to that of Pep. The City manager seems to function with technical players who can easily glide around a pitch. None of his strikers have, in essence, been number 9s who hog that position. Freedom of movement is an important aspect of his style. Furthered, of course, by the pursuit of Harry Kane who showed a different side to his game under Jose Mourinho.
But, Pep is known to tailor players to his liking. There is no doubt that he will improve Haaland on the ball. His body position while receiving on half turns, his short passing and taking the ball back with movement and understanding of spaces and half spaces, as well as playing with back to goal. All this with Haaland already being a beast on a football pitch. He is tall, strong and quick - almost like Usain Bolt. Over the length of a football pitch, he is quicker to balls than most players and can maintain speed on the counter off the ball than recovering players. Even at full speed, he can finish chances. He is also a proper target man and can chest balls to teammates even if it is above 2 metres high.
Overall, this transfer is a warning sign to every opponent.
Liverpool transfers - Darwin Nunez
Darwin Nunez seems like an upgrade at Liverpool's centre forward position. Jurgen Klopp's team has been experimenting with that number 9 slot. Roberto Firmino, who once formed a fantastic trio, with Mo Salah and Sadio Mane is not a regular any more. A combination of form, lack of goals and alternatives has rendered him as more of a squad player. Diogo Jota replaced him first and then it was Luis Diaz. The latter was more of a Sadio Mane alternative with the Senegalese starting in Firmino's position. Now with Mane a Bayern Munich player, Liverpool was cognizant of the need to replace the goals and impact.
In that way, Nunez is a fantastic transfer. The former Benfica striker is a deadly finisher. Last season, Nunez scored from one out of every three chance, which is extremely impressive. Nunez is not a Firmino in that he will not create space for the wide men but can deliver a cross from wide. Firmino was, in essence, a false nine who allowed Salah and Mane to drift in. Nunez is more classical in his game from that sense. However, when not in the box, he is still dangerous. Not yet a Batistuta, but Nunez can strike from distance very well.
Nunez will also enjoy the fact that Klopp can play the heavy metal football. Of course, the Liverpool manager has evolved in his style. However, Nunez offers that direct, rugged running which almost bulldozes defenders away before applying the finishing touch. Nunez is also a fine dribbler and can act as the start of a press with his energy. Nunez is also great in the air which makes him a fine target man in the box.
Real Madrid transfers - Antonio Rudiger
Antonio Rudiger was always a very good defender. His game under Thomas Tuchel, however, further elevated to reach world class levels. It was clear that he needed a new challenge once the uncertainty at Chelsea unfolded. In fact, in the loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League, one could see Rudiger more charged than usual. It was almost as though he was auditioning to his potential suitors. And despite Chelsea's loss, his game attracted Real Madrid into action.
The German defender is an aggressive ball winner, who is not afraid of going into a tackle. He plays with his heart on his sleeves and is very combative in nature. If Real Madrid fans want to liken him to one of their former own, it would be Sergio Ramos. Like the former Real Madrid captain, Rudiger is quick in recovery too. Very few forwards get away from Rudiger by virtue of pace. He is also a goalscorer at the other end. Further, Rudiger has fantastic passing range. Last season in Chelsea, he would often be seen spraying balls to the right from the left of a three-man defence.
He is almost like a de facto deep lying playmaker on the ball. In fact, not solely aerial balls, Rudiger is very good at breaking lines with his ground passing too. And that will help Carlo Ancelotti's team who dominate possession in La Liga. He fits the system very well, can play a high line with his pace and defend well one-vs-one while running back towards his goal. He will also assist in building from the back with his superior ability on the ball. Furthermore, he is a fantastic ball carrier too, possessing the ability to make forward runs.
Rudiger is also an asset in the air, with strong heading abilities.
Juventus transfers - Paul Pogba
Pogback 2.0 then? The career of Paul Pogba deserves a documentary you say? Well, there is the Pogmentary, which is just that. It revealed his rather damning relationship with Manchester United. He will certainly hope that his return to Juventus is happier. Pogba definitely has better memories of his four years at Juventus than in either of his stints at United. Pogba flourished into one of the finest young players in the world during his previous time in Italy.
Long balls, line breaking lines, slick passes, ground coverage, mind-numbing goals and dictating play. Pogba was consistently world class between 2012 and 2016. He was part of an extremely successful Juventus side. The team won four consecutive Scudettos and even reached the final of the Champions League in 2015. The management at Juve will hope he slots straight in and resumes playing a similar role.
Pogba will likely play on the left side of a three-man midfield or the left side of a midfield diamond. In fact, Pogba showed his versatility at United, starting on left of a front three. He can also play as a number 10. The quality of Pogba will, beyond doubt, lift Juventus in midfield. In Italy, where the intensity of a game is less compared to England, Pogba will perhaps have more time on the ball. A luxury he prefers. And with time, he can pick a pass better than any in the world.
However, the main concern regarding Pogba is his injury record. The Le Havre academy graduate has started more than 30 games in a single season just once in his six years at United. Thus, more than anything else, Juventus will have to device a way to keep him happy and healthy. If those boxes are ticked, they have a world-class player who will certainly make a positive difference.