We are tired of hearing that it is really hard to find a bargain in the current state of the transfer market. And even though it is true, if you know where to look, you will always end up coming across many market opportunities in every league for under 30 million.
Thanks to the help of my friend @elzurdofutbol on Twitter, one of the most knowledgeable people when it comes to international football and upcoming gems, we have found five players (along with an extra one) in different price ranges, positions and leagues who could be helpful to almost any team.
Since everything shold be done from the ground up, we will start the list from the goal and will finish it off with an attacker.
Five signings and a bargain on the transfer market:
Arnau Tenas (worth five million):
A product of FC Barcelona’s academy and one of the best players for Spain in the U21 Euros (especially in the final). This is the extra bargain, the +1 that was mentioned in the title, and he could land in any team on a free deal.
After a bureaucratic mistake from Barça, the 2001-born player became a free agent and can now make his way to any first-division team to showcase his potential. At 22 years old he is one of the most interesting Spanish goalkeepers. It is also worth noting that it is especially hard to earn a starting spot in goal.
He may not be your traditional keeper, but his reflexes and footwork make him stand out. He deserves a chance in LaLiga, and this could be his chance to establish himself in professional football.
He would be the ultimate bargain and a really interesting fit for a team lacking security in goal like RC Celta.
Caleb Okoli (worth 10 million):
Atalanta’s center-back is the kind of defender that any traditional manager loves: physically superior and strong defensively but limited when bringing the ball up the pitch. Okoli is a defender that defends.
Despite being poorly ranked in ball possession and shot creation percentiles, his defensive and physical data are outstanding.
At 21 years old, he is a center-back with potential to develop and settle in the European landscape. He may not be the most consistent defender as a result of his age and profile, but he has consistently shown great flashes that prove his potential and physical gift.
He is worth 10 million and Atalanta is asking for 15 to let him go, most likely because the Italian side usually prefers defenders with good touch who contribute in the buildup of the play. One of the most interesting prospects in Italian football for the upcoming years is available for a fee of 12-13 million.
Yukinari Sugawara (worth 6.5 million):
He is quite the opposite of Okoli, an offensive full-back that has not been forced to show his tools on defense while playing in the Eredivisie.
The Japanese has been the main input of @elzurdofutbol for the list. The defender was one of the best right-backs in Europe last season, managing 14 goal contributions.
He has been heavily linked to Stade Rennes (who achieved the second place in Ligue 1 last season) and could be the next discovery of the side coached by Brune Génésio. Rennes have a good eye for signings, proven by their investments in Openda and Fofana, who have helped them reach a second position that seemed impossible years ago. A great comeback for the team.
Sugawara is, most likely, the best offensive right-back of the season. The 23-year-old Japanes can play as a winger since he is capable of structuring the attack from the back, possesses great technical qualities and is a great decision-maker in the last meters of the pitch thanks to his marvelous right foot.
There is an obvious context to his statistical performance and judgement should be careful when referring to a league like the Eredivisie, but he has also performed really well in AZ’s matches in the Conference league.
Whoever manages to sign him will have a full-back that slices through defenses and is able to easily create advantageous situations for the team. He can contribute to pretty much any team for a fee close to the 10 million mark.
Eric Martel (worth nine million):
He is a 21-year-old pivot who could not find playtime in RB Leipzig despite being one of the most prominent players in their academy. After his great performance while on loan at FK Austria Wien, he has impressed at FC Köln, who signed him as a bargain for three million last summer.
He has not played much in the U21 Euros (as he has only appeared in 53 minutes), but he stands out, mostly, for his performance in the defensive facet of the game. It is hard to find specialists in this area at such a young age. With the passing of time, he will probably improve his lacking buildup play.
It is the case of a player that still has to develop a lot, but he could turn out great if given the confidence and enough minutes.
Lucas Robertone (worth seven million):
He is our bargain for LaLiga EA Sports. Robertone has been Almería’s star player and would have a much heavier price tag if he was on a team that attracted more attention from the media.
A very well-rounded midfielder, with good pace and who is quality on every parameter that involves possession of the ball. He stands out for his set pieces and, throughout his whole career (since his Vélez days), for the chances he creates while playing behind the striker.
He played a huge part in helping the Andalusian team avoid relegation with two goals, seven assists and countless chances created.
Robertone is among the top 1% of midfielders who draw the most fouls, in the top 15% when it comes to creating plays that end up with a shot and in the 12th percentile in interceptions.
In spite of his seven million value and 40 million release clause, Feyenoord is looking to sign the Argentinian. The final fee of the transfer could be closer to 20 million if the Dutch want Almería to let him go (which would be a fatal mistake for that bargain of a price).
Mehdi Taremi (worth 18 million):
The striker position has been the one that motivated the creation of this article. It is probably the market that has the most to offer (even though is not as cheap as others) when it comes to profitable investments.
Goal-scoring has always been deemed the most expensive skill in football, wich is mostly true, but with the exception of Mehdi Taremi.
There were a lot of young players who could have made the list in the attacker position, but in a price to performance ratio, none of them beat the Iranian.
He has managed 117 goal contributions (76 goals and 41 assists) in 129 games played in the Portuguese league, just shy of recording a generated goal per match.
And even if the Portuguese league is not as competitive as other European competitions, his numbers in the Champions League speak for themselves: eight goals and four assists in 19 matches.
These are his stats for every season he has played at Porto:
- 2022-2023: 31 goals and 14 assists.
- 2021-2022: 26 goals and 17 assists.
- 2020-2021: 23 goals and 18 assists.
He is a very complete striker who, at 31 years of age, could still perform at a high level in the top European leagues for at least three years.
Taremi also has the ability to make his team play, getting involved on offense outside of just finishing. He is among the top 5% of strikers outside of the big leagues who record the most key passes.
Porto’s asking price is 20 million (an absolute bargain) and it seems like Milan would be interested on making a bid. I believe he could be a perfect piece in a team like Atlético de Madrid, who are still on the hunt for a striker to play alongside Griezmann.
Other potential bargains in the attacking department:
Aside from Taremi, there are also younger (yet more inexperienced) options with more potential who have also been taken into account: Montpellier’s Wahi, who Chelsea are thinking of acquiring for a fee that could reach the 30 million mark after he scored 19 goals in France.
Balogun, who recorded 21 goals and three assists in Ligue 1 for Stade Reims (while on loan from Arsenal), since the Gunners might try to send him away for 30 million to make up for the huge investment they have made this summer.
Gift Orban, the most exotic and unknown bargain on the list. After landing at Genk in January for just 3.5 million, he managed 20 goals in 20 matches (including the fastest hat-trick in any European competition in the round of 16 of the Conference League) in the span of half a season. He also recorded 19 goals and seven assists with Stabaek.
A total of 39 goals and nine assists in 46 appearances this year, a goal contribution every 88 minutes. It seems kind of obvious why Lille are very interested in his signing (30 million). The French club could be the next step on the way to reaching a top-tier club on an even bigger move.
Translated by Nuño Alonso.
Main image: @FCPorto.