The summer of 2020 was unlike any football had ever seen.
Coming off the back of a Premier League season which did not conclude until late July and in the middle of a pandemic which impacted every corner of the globe, many clubs were forced to put their cheque books away, or at least be more frugal than they would be accustomed to.
There was still a lot of money being spent though, in particular by Chelsea, who went on a surprising spending spree and shelled out more than £200 million.
But how have those big-money signings fared? Mirror Football takes a look at the Premier League’s ten biggest – or at least most expensive – signings of the summer.
#10 Donny van de Beek – Ajax to Manchester United £35m
It’s fair to say Donny van de Beek’s first season has been a frustrating one for all parties.
There was excitement among supporters when they signed van de Beek, someone who even at 23 had been an integral part of an Ajax side which reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.
But the Dutchman has been limited to just 12 starts this season and only two in the Premier League, as the midfielder has had to settle for being a sub for much of the campaign.
Former Man Utd star Mark Hughes went as far as to claim van de Beek’s team-mates ‘don’t trust him with the ball yet’ back in February, with Jermaine Jenas questioning whether he was ‘playing with fear’.
There will need to be significant improvement if van de Beek is going to be a success at Old Trafford.
#9 Fabio Silva – Porto to Wolves £35.6 million
It may not have been for the most money but the signing of Fabio Silva for £35 million was arguably one of the most surprising.
After all, breaking your club transfer record for a player who had just turned 18 and only started five senior games is a bit of a risk.
The striker has only managed three goals so far for Wolves but at 18 and in a new country, it is understandable that it may take time for the Portuguese to showcase his talent.
With ten starts and 27 appearances in total, this season has been one of development and adjusting for Silva.
#8 Wesley Fofana – Saint-Etienne to Leicester £36.5m
There were probably a few eyebrows raised when Leicester City spent £36.5m on a 19-year-old centre back many won’t have heard of up until that point. But it didn’t take long for us to see why.
Fofana appears to have everything you would want from a defender and has been integral to the Foxes’ campaign to secure a Champions League place.
Still only 20, Leicester could probably receive double what they paid for him already but his value – both in terms of the transfer market and also to Brendan Rodgers – is only likely to increase in the coming years.
It looks as though Leicester City’s impressive recruitment department have struck again.
#7 Nathan Ake – Bournemouth to Manchester City £40m
How do you analyse someone who has only made six league starts all season?
A lengthy lay-off with a hamstring problem, other injuries and the form of both Ruben Dias and John Stones means Nathan Ake has been limited to just eight starts in and two substitute outings all season.
The former Chelsea youngster was part of the 5-2 thrashing at the hands of Leicester near the start of the campaign but has also helped keep a few clean sheets.
#6 Diogo Jota – Wolves to Liverpool £41m
He may have only started ten times in the Premier League this season but Diogo Jota would probably be considered a successful signing by most Liverpool fans.
The 24-year-old’s switch from Wolves surprised many but there can be no doubt that he is a Jurgen Klopp player.
Jota’s record this season has actually been good. Only three players have a better goals-per-minute record than his 0.75 and he finds himself above the likes of Harry Kane (0.72) and Mo Salah (0.62).
In the Premier League and Champions League, Jota has scored 12 goals in 16 starts and nine substitute appearances.
One of the main problems for Jota though is he was out between mid-December and early March through injury.
But the signs are definitely positive for Liverpool fans.
#5 Thomas Partey – Atletico Madrid to Arsenal £45 million
Thomas Partey has the talent to be transformative for Arsenal.
Physically imposing, an excellent passer of the ball, tactically astute and by all accounts seems to be a good egg; Party has a bit of everything you would want from a central midfield player.
The problem for Partey since his arrival at Arsenal has been his fitness.
The 27-year-old has had three different spells on the sidelines so far and has only started 19 games in all competitions.
It is something which even Mikel Arteta has acknowledged has been a real problem for the Ghanian since his arrival in London.
But after starting six of their last seven matches, Partey is beginning to show signs of the player who became so influential at Atletico Madrid.
If Partey can stay fit next season, he has the talent to lift the Gunners back into those European places.
#4 Timo Werner – RB Leipzig to Chelsea £47.5 million
Big price tag, huge reputation, lots of goals. When Timo Werner arrived at Stamford Bridge, you knew what you were getting.
And in early November, as the striker made it seven goals in six games during a hectic three-week period, it looked as though Werner was ready to challenge the likes of Harry Kane for the golden boot.
However, in the 26 games in all competitions since November 7, Werner has only scored three times and one of those was against Morecambe.
Werner’s self-deprecating interviews and his desire to succeed means you end up having a fair bit of sympathy for the striker.
But the 25-year-old is too often wayward with his passing and, more crucially, with his finishing, especially for someone who is considered to be an elite striker.
There have been signs of improvement of late and in Thomas Tuchel he has a head coach who is clearly fully behind him.
But you can’t help but wonder what Tammy Abraham must be making of all this.
#3 Ben Chilwell – Leicester City to Chelsea £50 million
When analysing Ben Chillwell this season, you almost need to split it into two halves.
In the first half of the campaign, it is probably not an over exaggeration to say the England international was superb and it looked like Chelsea had found their long term heir to Ashley Cole.
Solid in defence, a real threat in attack; Chilwell settled into life at Stamford Bridge seamlessly.
There was the odd game when he struggled in the opening few months – notably against Man City in January – but they were rare occurrences.
However, the 24-year-old hasn’t managed to keep those performance levels up following the appointment of Thomas Tuchel and has gone from being an ever present to only starting half of the matches under the German.
#2 Ruben Dias – Benfica to Manchester City £62 million
Well what can we say about Ruben Dias? I think the fact people no longer ask ‘how will City replace Vincent Kompany?’ probably tells you everything you need to know.
At just 23 years old and moving to a new country for the first time, few could have expected Dias to have the impact he has had at the Etihad, even if he was the third most expensive signing in the world last summer.
Man City have conceded just 24 goals in 33 Premier League games so far this season and Dias – plus the partnership he has struck up with John Stones – has been a huge part of that.
Commanding, aerially dominant, vocal and as with all Pep Guardiola players, he can also play a bit too – Dias has everything it seems.
And with Aymeric Laporte missing half of this season through injury, you wonder whether City might even be more impressive at the back next season once those two have had even more time together.
#1 Kai Havertz – Bayer Leverkusen to Chelsea £71m
The Blues appeared to have secured a real coup when they landed Kai Havertz in the summer, as the Coronavirus pandemic meant a number of clubs who were interested in the player decided against entering into a bidding war.
The 21-year-old had a solid enough start to life at Stamford Bridge, bagging a hat-trick in his third game for the club against Barnsley and grabbing four goals and two assists in his first six matches in total.
But he has largely struggled to show why he is considered by some to be the best German talent of his generation.
Frank Lampard failed to find a position that suited the versatile Havertz, as he the former Bayer Leverkusen star struggled after being bed-ridden by Covid in November.
There has been an improvement under Thomas Tuchel and there have been matches where you could see what all the fuss was about.
But they have been too few and too far between considering his price tag. We can expect a noticeable improvement next season though.
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