Notable signings that transformed a club’s history

Several signings from the transfer market have not only brought success to the club, but also changed the club’s history.

The summer off season has always been a time for clubs to make squad reinforcements, or even revamp and overhaul the team from the previous season, especially after a disastrous campaign. Some teams were able to secure notable signings that could be game changers for the club. The most recent examples could have been Erling Haaland at Manchester City last summer and Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool in 2018.

With his goal collection, Haaland has been able to transform the Cityzens into a more lethal offensive team. He broke the Premier League goalscoring record in his season debut and almost instantly transformed Pep Guardiola’s team into a treble winner.

Meanwhile, van Dijk has been able to be the solid rock in Liverpool’s defense and made the difference in his first season with The Reds. The former Southampton and Celtic man helped them reach UCL final three times with one victory in 2019 edition. The Dutchman was also crucial in ending their league title drought in 2020.

There have been some other examples from different leagues and different eras. A few of them even had more crucial role than just winning silverware.

Great signings with vital roles in a clubs’ history

Dortmund & Schalke stars to Bayern in 2010s

Schalke and Dortmund were Bayern’s fiercest contenders in early 2010s. Schalke’s success in reaching UCL semifinal in 2011 – plus Dortmund back-to-back victory in Bundesliga 2011 and 2012 – pushed the idea of luring their stars to Bavaria. Although such transfer strategy is not exactly new for them, it certainly ruined the rivalry in German top flight.

The likes of Manuel Neuer, Leon Goretzka, Alexander Nübel, Robert Lewandowski, Mario Götze, Matts Hummels, and most recently, Raphaël Guerrero, have been signed to ensure Bayern’s long-term dominance. Some of them, including Lewy, were even snatched for free. Since 2013, they have always toppled the league, which has been a record of their own.

Diego Maradona to Napoli in 1984

Maradona’s move to Napoli was unexpected because I Partenopei were not a top team in Italy. Henot only re-shaped the club’s history, but also raised the pride of the despised Southern Italy. The Argentinian talisman led them win two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990, plus the 1988 UEFA Cup and the Coppa Italia a year prior.

They are also the first ever Southern Italian team to lift the trophy, and they could not have done it without their legendary skipper. Maradona has even been cemented as Napoli’s home base name, replacing San Paolo.

The Dutch trio to AC Milan in 1987

When the south triumphed, the north retaliated. I Rossonerri signed Dutchman duo, Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten in 1987, followed by Frank Rijkaard a year later. They quickly rose to prominence as pivotal figures in AC Milan’s transformation in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

They not only helped Milan end an eight-year title drought in Serie A, but they also paved the way for their continental success. AC Milan was dubbed “The Dream Team” back then after winning the UCL trophy three times and finishing runners-up three times between 1989 and 1995, as well as four Scudetti and two Intercontinental Cups.

Ruud Gullit to Chelsea in 1995

Gullit’s adventure in England continued when he joined Chelsea in 1995. The Blues were only a midtable team at the time, and his arrival did not make a significant difference on the pitch. Things changed, however, when he became player-manager in the middle of the season. They played attractive football and won FA Cup 1997.

Moreover, the Dutch boss was able to entice top Serie A players such as Roberto Di Matteo, Gianluca Vialli, and Gianfranco Zola to join him in the Premier League. Chelsea’s new era began and changed their history forever. The Blues have always been associated with big names signings from around the globe ever since.

Johan Cruyff to Barcelona in 1973

The arrival of Johan Cruyff in Catalan after he snubbed Real Madrid offer shaped Blaugrana’s history. On the pitch, the Dutch maestro led them win La Liga title in his first season, the first in 14 years. Off the pitch, he introduced Ajax’s youth development system to Catalan with the establishment of La Masia academy in 1979.

He did not stop there, either. He returned as a manager in 1988. Cruyff made another outstanding contribution for them from 1988 to 1996, winning their first UCL title in 1992, and four consecutive LaLiga titles. To this day, no one has matched his accolades as coach of the Catalonia-based club.

Eden Hazard and Luka Jović in 2019

Hazard and Jović were almost on the top of the world back in 2019. The former was Chelsea’s key man who deserved a big move to Real Madrid, whereas the latter was a prolific young striker at Eintracht Frankfurt. Their arrival was expected to be their next Galacticos after the departure of CR7. Nonetheless, both proved to be Los Blancos’ major failures in the transfer market.

They spent more time on the injury table than on the pitch. Real Madrid simply wasted 146 and 60 million euros respectively on both players. Since then, the side from the Spanish capital has shifted its emphasis to acquiring young players rather than relying on scouting talents in Brazil. They did, however, make one exception while signing Jude Bellingham this summer, though he has already proven his worth.

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