Top 10 Under-21 transfers of the summer window

Posted by chrisatkins

The summer transfer window is now complete, with squads now locked firmly in place until January, when the rush will doubtless begin anew. It was the busiest window in memory, with some enormous transfers taking place across Europe, starting with Gareth Bale's move to Real Madrid.

From a youth perspective, it also has been a summer of intense activity, with several of the world's most hotly anticipated prospects having moved to pastures new. For some, as in the case of Gerard Deulofeu and Romelu Lukaku, it was a loan move in search of more playing time -- both of whom, incidentally, have joined Roberto Martinez's Everton side. For many, though, a permanent move beckoned as they continued their rise up the professional football ladder.

The top ten Under-21 transfers of the summer:

10. Dani Carvajal (Bayer Leverkusen—Real Madrid)

The Spanish Under-21 right-back could very easily have become the one that got away for Real Madrid, having left the Bernabeu last summer to join Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen for five million euros.

Los Merengues, though, retained an option to repurchase their youth academy product and, with Carvajal immediately excelling in Germany, they acted swiftly to repatriate him after just 12 months.

An attack-minded full-back with searing pace, Carvajal has a great chance of displacing Alvaro Arbeloa in the Real Madrid first-team by the end of the campaign. If he can do so, a squad place at the 2014 World Cup may well beckon.

Heung-Min Son
GettyImagesHeung-Min Son scored 12 goals last season

9. Heung-Min Son (Hamburg to Bayer Leverkusen)

The Korean forward was one of the revelations of the Bundesliga last season, scoring 12 goals to become joint top scorer for Hamburg from his regular starting position on the left of the attacking unit.

However, with the departure of Andre Schurrle to Chelsea, Leverkusen moved swiftly to secure much sought-after 21-year-old. Thus far, their faith appears to have been well-placed, with Son scoring a debut goal in victory over Freiburg on opening day.

With his direct approach from the flank, impressive dribbling abilities and eye for goal, he should help compensate for the departure of Schurrle and, in turn, help Leverkusen fulfill their aims in the Champions League.

8. Adem Ljajic (Fiorentina to Roma)

Brought in to make up for the departure of Argentine international Erik Lamela, the Serbian attacking midfielder could potentially be one of the bargains of the summer at 11 million euros.

Ljajic came of age in Serie A last season, breaking into double figures for goals for the first time in his career. The Partizan Belgrade youth product, who also had seven assists, was among the most productive players in Italy by the end of the campaign.

Playing from the left side of Fiorentina's attacking trio, Ljajic was a major threat when cutting in onto his right foot, able to beat an opponent and shoot powerfully at goal. From the time of his positional switch in February, his return increased significantly, scoring 10 times in his final 11 games.

7. Marco van Ginkel (Vitesse to Chelsea)

The Dutch midfielder was one of the standout perfomers of the Eredivisie last year, scoring eight league goals for Vitesse from his box-to-box midfield role.

Bought by Chelsea early in the summer, Van Ginkel is seen by many as a long-term replacement for club legend Frank Lampard, with his intelligent late runs into the area reminiscent of his new teammate.

Having started life as an attacking midfielder, Van Ginkel has excelled in his new deeper role, using his strength and deceptive speed to great effect. He may not start immediately for the Blues, but should prove a fantastic long-term addition if given the chance to develop.

6. Lucas Digne (Lille to PSG)

The past 12 months, the Frenchman has come to the fore in his first full Ligue 1 season to become regarded as one of the best emerging left-backs in Europe.

Digne is a typical modern full-back, using his speed to push forward and offer a significant threat on the overlap. With impressive stamina, Digne will push up and down the flank the entire 90 minutes.

At a reported 15 million euros, he would appear to be great value for a player of his potential. The Under-21 international is a real candidate to attend the World Cup next summer and, with PSG looking to challenge in Europe, he has a fine platform to display his abilities.

Marquinhos
GettyImagesMarquinhos spent just one seaosn with Roma.

5. Marquinhos (Roma to PSG)

Paris Saint-Germain weren't holding back in their pursuit of talented youngsters this summer and moved quickly to secure the capture of the Brazilian defender early in the window.

A wonderfully accomplished defender for someone just 19, the Corinthians product is a wonderful reader of the game and showed in his solitary Serie A campaign he is already well equipped to perform at the top level.

While some have said Marquinhos remains too slight for a top-level centre-back, his pace, balance and impressive aerial abilities allow him to compete with much stronger strikers. In time, he will surely be regarded as one of the world's best central defenders.

4. Erik Lamela (Roma to Tottenham)

It will be no easy task to replace the departing Gareth Bale at Tottenham, but that will be the challenge ahead of Argentine international attacking midfielder this season.

In terms of pure talent, though, Lamela is fully capable of becoming an attacking focal point for Andre Villas-Boas' side. Tall, strong and quick, with excellent close control, he will be a handful for any defender in the Premier League and will soon introduce himself to those unaware of his potential.

He may, for now, lack the Bale's power, but there is also a fabulous deftness to Lamela's game that should come to the fore as part of Tottenham's exciting and dynamic forward line.

3. Mario Goetze (Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich)

The epitome of the modern attacking midfielder, Goetze's transfer between the Bundesliga's leading sides ahead caused a minor diplomatic incident ahead of the Champions League final.

His arrival, though, was a major coup for Bayern and, if reports are to be believed, was requested specifically by new manager Pep Guardiola. With his ability to play a number of forward roles, he is an ideal recruit as Bayern seek to explore a different style of play over the coming months.

Goetze thrives upon the type of fast attacking interplay that Guardiola has set about instilling at the club and should thrive among Bayern's similarly minded attacking options. A scorer as well as a creator, he could be a central figure for the Bavarian side for the next decade.

2. Isco (Malaga to Real Madrid)

Real Madrid were quick out the blocks to seal the capture of attacking midfielder this summer, having witnessed the youngster's outstanding showings at the European Under-21 Championship where he helped Spain to success.

Following his 30-million-euros move, he has settled quickly into life at the Bernabeu, scoring three goals with three assists in his first three league appearances.

There will be incredible pressure on the 2012 Golden Boy award winner, with Real Madrid a club like no other in terms of expectations. So far, though, the signs are positive, and the sprightly playmaker could well be a new Spanish star for the Madrileno masses to adore.

JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty ImagesThe capture of Neymar, right, was the highlight of Barca's summer.

1. Neymar (Santos to Barcelona)

It was the most hotly anticipated transfer of recent years, with football fans the world over having heard of Neymar's potential long before his arrival at the Camp Nou this summer.

The Brazilian has incredible potential and, following intense scrutiny in the international media, showed his full potential this summer at the Confederations Cup, where he was named as the tournament's best player.

He will create headlines, whether for his football or not. Neymar attracts both controversy and plaudits in abundance, having had several run-ins with referees in Brazil in his short career. In terms of pure talent and the ability to innovate, though, he is simply sensational.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.