The 2023 summer transfer window has now closed for the majority of leagues in world football, with Europe’s top five divisions unable to make any more signings until the January window opens.
It was a historic summer that saw the emergence of the Saudi Pro League as a significant force in global football thanks to their huge sums of investment.
READ MORE: Deadline Day: Every confirmed transfer around Europe
Lionel Messi and Neymar were among the players to move clubs this summer, while the Premier League broke its own record for spending in a single window – €2.84 billion.
FootballTransfers ranks the 20 best transfers of the 2023 summer transfer window.
READ MORE: Premier League 2023/24 summer transfers: All the Done Deals
20. Moussa Diaby – Bayer Leverkusen to Aston Villa (€55m)
Aston Villa were required to fight off competition from Champions League Newcastle United and the riches of Saudi Arabia to land Moussa Diaby from Bayer Leverkusen.
The Frenchman was one of the Bundesliga’s leading marksmen during his time in Germany and was a statement signing as Unai Emery’s side look to push on and achieve regular European football.
19. Ansu Fati – Barcelona to Brighton (Loan)
In 2020, Ansu Fati came second in the Golden Boy award, only losing out on the prestigious prize to an unknown Norwegian forward by the name of Erling Haaland.
He was touted as the heir to Lionel Messi at Barcelona, but injury problems over the past few years have hampered his progress. Fati hasn’t shown the blistering form that saw him burst onto the European stage as an 18-year-old, but this loan move is low risk for Brighton and has the potential for huge upside.
18. Mohammed Kudus – Ajax to West Ham (€43m)
After selling Declan Rice, there were fears over how West Ham would spend their new pot of money. However, the Hammers operated brilliantly in the summer market and the addition of Mohammed Kudus is splendid.
The Ghanaian was scouted by the likes of Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea, while Brighton agreed a deal with Ajax before he decided to join West Ham. With 18 goals and seven assists in his final campaign in the Netherlands, Kudus has arrived in London with a burgeoning reputation.
17. Gabri Veiga – Celta Vigo to Al-Ahli (€40m)
Much of Saudi Arabia’s focus has been on signing some of the biggest names in football – many of whom are past their prime or were unable to seal a move elsewhere.
Things were different with Gabri Veiga, however. The 21-year-old was linked with a move to PSG, Liverpool and Chelsea earlier in 2023, and rejected a transfer to Serie A champions Napoli in order to join Al-Ahli.
After a breakout year at Celta Vigo – in which he contributed 14 goals and assists in La Liga – Veiga has immediately become the best young talent in the Saudi Pro league to the anger of Real Madrid star Toni Kroos.
16. Sandro Tonali – AC Milan to Newcastle (€64m)
After securing Champions League for the first time in 21 years, Newcastle United’s statement summer signing was that of AC Milan star Sandro Tonali.
The Italy international played a key role in the Rossoneri’s run to the semi-finals of the Champions League last campaign and was dubbed as the club’s future campaign. To snatch him away from San Siro was a serious coup.
15. Manuel Ugarte – Sporting CP to PSG (€60m)
PSG’s business over the past decade has typically focused on star name attackers, without much regard to talented youngsters in other areas of the pitch. But, the addition of Manuel Ugarte is one of many deals over the past 12 months that has signalled a change of strategy in the French capital.
The former Sporting CP man is a midfield engine and will provide PSG with the athleticism and quality to compete in the latter stages of the Champions League. At €60m, it’s a great signing.
14. Moises Caicedo – Brighton to Chelsea (€115m)
Chelsea spending €115m on Moises Caicedo is a huge overpayment – which is why it’s not higher in our list – but it’s fixed the biggest issue in their spot and provided Mauricio Pochettino with an elite central midfielder to play alongside Enzo Fernandez.
Caicedo can do it all and his athleticism and defensive work complements Enzo’s qualities perfectly. It’s a very expensive midfield pair, but Chelsea now have two of the best in the business.
13. Ilkay Gundogan – Man City to Barcelona (Free)
Ilkay Gundogan was Man City’s clutch player in many of their Premier League triumphs and he was arguably their second-most important player in their run to the Treble last season.
Barcelona have landed the German on a free transfer and he will immediately fit in alongside the talented Spain duo of Pedri and Gavi, while providing some much-needed experience to a fairly young Barca squad.
12. Andre Onana – Inter to Man Utd (€52.5m)
David de Gea was a great servant for Man Utd, but it became evident in his final few seasons at Old Trafford that he was a player who could be upgraded.
The Red Devils have achieved that with the €52.5m addition of Andre Onana from Inter Milan. The Cameroon ‘keeper is an elite passer and will allow Erik ten Hag to finally implement his attractive style of football. Plus, he’s a great shot-stopper.
It hasn’t been the best summer for Man Utd, but the arrival of Onana is a very positive one.
11. Benjamin Pavard – Bayern to Inter (€30m)
Benjamin Pavard was wanted by Man Utd, but he pushed for a move to Inter with the likely promise of playing centre-back as he wishes.
The San Siro outfit may have lost Milan Skriniar to PSG, but signing a World Cup winner and one of Bayern’s most consistent players is a brilliant statement of intent as they look to push for the Serie A title again.
10. Nicolas Jackson – Villarreal to Chelsea (€37m)
With the striker market not a particularly fruitful one, Chelsea’s €37m purchase of Nicolas Jackson is likely to be looked back on as a bargain in a few years’ time.
The Senegalese international starred in the second-half of the 2022-23 campaign for Villarreal and has begun life at Chelsea in impressive fashion. His movement, pressing and ability to link play has been displayed in full effect, regular goal-scoring is next.
9. Kim Min-jae – Napoli to Bayern (€50m)
Kim Min-jae was arguably the best centre-back in world football last season and he has arrived at Bayern to bolster a backline that already contained Matthijs de Ligt and Dayot Upamecano.
The Korea Republic defender is an exceptional player and at €50m, Bayern have signed him for a relative snip.
8. Josko Gvardiol – RB Leipzig to Man City (€90m)
While Bayern Munich have landed one of the best centre-backs in the world, Man City have signed the best young centre-back on the planet – Josko Gvardiol.
The Croatian has cost a pretty penny (the largest fee ever paid for a defender in football history) but Pep Guardiola now has an elite talent at his disposal. Given the Spaniard’s track record of developing and nurturing talent, Gvardiol is highly likely to be a hit in Manchester.
7. Neymar – PSG to Al-Hilal (€90m)
Neymar is the big, marquee signing from Saudi Arabia and he is the division’s all-time record signing at €90m.
His time at PSG was punctuated by injuries, but when he actually featured, Neymar was still a joy to behold and he could be a snip at €90m. More importantly, though, he’s a huge name and a player capable of lighting up the Saudi Pro league.
6. Harry Kane – Tottenham to Bayern (€100m)
After weeks of negotiations, Thomas Tuchel finally got his man when Bayern agreed a €100m fee to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham.
He has immediately become the best player in the Bundesliga and has provided the Bavarian outfit with the ammunition to launch a Champions League bid.
5. Karim Benzema – Real Madrid to Al-Ittihad (Free)
Karim Benzema won the Ballon d’Or in 2022 and less than 12 months later, he left Real Madrid on a free transfer.
His start to life at Al-Ittihad has been problematic – with rumours of an exit already – but the Saudi side have one of the best forwards in the world
4. Declan Rice – West Ham to Arsenal (€116.6m)
In Declan Rice, Arsenal have purchased an England regular, who captained West Ham to European silverware last season and has years of Premier League experience under his belt. Oh, and he’s still only 24 years old.
Rice is an exceptional player and to beat Man City to his signature was a real coup for Mikel Arteta’s side as they bid to end Guardiola’s dominance in the English top flight.
€42m for a World Cup winner in a position with a distinct lack of options is a great fee and Alexis Mac Allister’s move from Brighton to Liverpool can certainly be called a bargain.
The Argentine is a classy operator and considering the fee Chelsea paid for Caicedo, to acquire his services for €42m is great business.
2. Jude Bellingham – Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid (€103m)
Jude Bellingham’s first four games at Real Madrid saw him net five goals (including a 95th minute winner vs Getafe) and provide one assist – if that doesn’t prove his worth then nothing will.
Los Blancos have added the best young midfielder in the world to the best crop of young midfielders on the planet and Bellingham is destined for big things in Madrid.
1. Lionel Messi – PSG to Inter Miami (Free)
Lionel Messi’s move from PSG to Inter Miami is FootballTransfers’ number one transfer of the 2023 summer window.
The Barcelona legend arrived at the David Beckham-owned side on a free transfer and won the club their first ever trophy within a month as he scored 10 goals in seven games to guide the side to Leagues Cup glory.
Furthermore, he has changed football in America already and will continue to break new records in MLS as the sport begins to attract millions of new viewers.