London – Premier League clubs, Tottenham aside, have been busy in the transfer market this summer. Arsenal have made Alexandre Lacazette their most expensive player; Liverpool have broken their transfer record to sign Mohamed Salah (and they want to break it again on Naby Keïta); Everton have made Jordan Pickford the most expensive British goalkeeper ever; and Manchester City have made Kyle Walker the most expensive defender in history. But, despite its vast riches, not every player wants to play in the Premier League. Below we look at the best players who have opted against moving to England to play elsewhere in Europe.
Andrea Conti: Atalanta to AC Milan, £21m
Atalanta did well to convince Alejandro Gómez to pledge his future to the club, but that hasn’t prevented some of their best players from leaving. Roberto Gagliardini joined Inter in January and Franck Kessie moved to AC Milan earlier this summer. Earlier this month, Vincenzo Montella’s side also signed Andrea Conti on the back of his stunning campaign for Atalanta in Serie A. The 23-year-old was directly involved in more goals (13: eight goals, five assists) than any other defender in Europe’s top five leagues last season. Chelsea were linked with Conti earlier in the year and he would have been the perfect fit for Antonio Conte’s side at right wing-back.
Anthony Modeste: Köln to Tianjin Quanjian, £24m
Frenchman Anthony Modeste landed a surprise move to the Chinese Super League earlier this month, despite interest from West Ham. The 29-year-old rattled in 25 league goals for FC Köln last season, while no player won more aerial duels (151) in the Bundesliga. Modeste endured a disappointing stint at Blackburn in 2012 but that did not deter West Ham in their search for a new striker. Only RB Leipzig winger Emil Forsberg (nine) won more of our man of the match awards than Modeste (seven) in the Bundesliga last term, so Slaven Bilic has missed out.
Youri Tielemans: Anderlecht to Monaco, £21m
Monaco acted quickest to sign Youri Tielemans this summer, fighting off interest from Manchester City. Anderlecht’s sporting director, Herman van Holsbeeck, said: “Monaco is the ideal club for Youri. Youri really wanted to go to a club where the coach would love to work with him. Last season, he said to me: ‘I won’t go to Manchester where I am just another number on a list’.” The 20-year-old Belgium international is coming off the back of a number of mature performances for Anderlecht in the league and Europa League. He scored 13 goals in 37 league games for Anderlecht last season as they won the Belgian league and he also chipped in with three more goals in Europe.
Corentin Tolisso: Lyon to Bayern Munich, £37m
Bayern Munich made Corentin Tolisso the most expensive signing in Bundesliga history when they paid Lyon €41.5m for his services. Arsenal had monitored the Frenchman’s situation, though Bayern moved swiftly to sign Tolisso, who scored eight goals from central midfield in Ligue 1 last season. His range of passing makes him ideal for the German champions: he averaged more passes per league game (65.4) than any other Lyon player last season, though an 83.8 percent success rate leaves room for improvement. That being said, Tolisso is only 22 so will refine his skills over time. The Premier League’s loss is Bayern’s gain.
Dani Ceballos: Real Betis to Real Madrid, £14.45m
Dani Ceballos’ move to Real Madrid leaves the European champions inundated with central midfielders. The 20-year-old is a star in the making. He made the third most successful dribbles (81) in La Liga last season and was named the player of the tournament at the European Under-21 Championship this summer. The all-action midfielder was linked with a move to the Premier League earlier in the year but that won’t be happening any time soon: Real Madrid are believed to have included a €500m release clause in his contract.
James Rodríguez: Real Madrid to Bayern Munich, £8.5m loan fee
Dani Ceballos’ move to Madrid left Zinedine Zidane with too many midfielders so he sent James Rodríguez on a two-year loan to Bayern Munich, where the player will work under his former boss Carlo Ancelotti. Despite his limited time on the pitch last season, Rodríguez still made more key passes per 90 (3.4) than other La Liga player. He has just turned 26, and Chelsea and Manchester United will feel aggrieved to have missed out on his signature.
Dani Alves: Juventus to Paris Saint-Germain, free
The one that got away for Pep Guardiola, who was said to be livid when Dani Alves moved to Paris Saint-Germain. The 34-year-old was on the verge of signing a two-year deal with Manchester City, but opted to move to Paris. “I did speak with City officials,” said the Brazilian right-back. “But I have friends here and my wife loves this city. I was a little bit selfish when I went to Juve, I didn’t listen to my wife or friends. This time, I tried to be less selfish and to please everyone. I believe in happiness. That’s why I made the decision to come here. If Guardiola feels wronged, I apologize.” It helped that Paris Saint-Germain were willing to pay him £230,000 a week, nearly double what City offered. Alves made the second most key passes (31) in the Champions League last season and had the best cross accuracy (38 percent) of players to have attempted 50 or more crosses in Serie A last season. No wonder Guardiola was so disappointed. City signed Kyle Walker for £50m instead.
Nelsinho: Benfica to Barcelona, £25m
Barcelona failed to convince Arsenal to part with Héctor Bellerín, so instead turned their attention to Nelsinho, the 23-year-old right-back who had been linked with a move to Manchester United. The Portugal international was the defender with the second more tackles (93) and assists (six) in the Primeira Liga last season, so Barcelona will be hoping they have finally found a long-term replacement for Dani Alves.
Douglas Costa: Bayern Munich to Juventus, £5.3m loan fee
Liverpool and Tottenham were both linked to Douglas Costa, but the lure of Juventus was too strong for the Brazilian. “This is the perfect club for me at the perfect moment,” said Costa when explaining his decision to leave Bayern Munich on loan. “Ancelotti is a nice guy. He treats everyone the same, but I need to play. I need to evolve. There is one year left until the World Cup, I need to be on the pitch helping my team.” Costa made more successful dribbles (148) than any other player in the Bundesliga in the last two seasons – and he will have more time on the pitch at Juventus, where he hopes to provide “many assists” for Gonzalo Higuaín.
Leonardo Bonucci: Juventus to AC Milan, £35m
Arguably the biggest deal of the summer came in Italy as Leonardo Bonucci made a tremendously nostalgic move, leaving Juventus to join AC Milan for £35m. Manchester City and Chelsea were both linked with a move for Bonucci; Pep Guardiola once described the center-back as “one of my favorite ever players” and Antonio Conte has been keen to link up with a player he coached at Juventus and Italy. However, his raking long passes – Bonucci made more accurate long balls (230) than any other player in Serie A last season – are unlikely to ever grace the Premier League.
The Guardian Sport