·26 September 2023
·26 September 2023
Some big deals have already been set in stone for 2024 and 2025
Brighton’s latest exciting deal is sorted for 2024, La Liga’s giants sealed Brazilian forwards early, and Spurs will have a teenage giant ready in two years.
Endrick (Palmeiras to Real Madrid) Endrick Felipe Moreira de Sousa was placed into an arranged marriage with Real Madrid during the Qatar World Cup. Two months before, he made his professional debut as the youngest player in Palmeiras history at 16.
If it feels like a couple of stages in a laborious transfer saga have been skipped there, consider this a mere continuation of a growing Real transfer trend. Deals to sign Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo were put in place more than a year in advance of them actually being completed, and in both cases the Brazilian teenagers had barely kicked a ball at senior level.
Things are no different with Endrick. Real put down an initial £30.4m to sign him, with £21.7m in potential add-ons which, going by the forward’s reputation, should be achieved in no time.
Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Milan and Paris Saint-Germain were also interested but the player always seemed bound to the Bernabeu by fate; Ajax and Borussia Dortmund were among those to accept defeat in the chase early as Endrick wanted to skip the stepping-stone stage of his career. Erling Haaland is in the mud yet again.
The move will officially go through when Endrick turns 18 next July. He has helped Palmeiras win the Brazilian and Sao Paulo state championships in the meantime, as well as adding a Super Cup to his growing collection of individual accolades. His brother Jeff must be incredibly proud.
Vitor Roque (Athletico Paranaense to Barcelona) Not to be outdone, Barcelona subsequently secured a prodigious teenage Brazilian forward of their own. A suitably childish reaction to their sibling getting a shiny new toy.
Committing up to £52.2m and a seven-year contract with one of those ludicrous release clauses, Barca avoided any unseemly transfer race – and uncomfortable questions over which economic lever they were going to pull to finance the deal – by letting Roque stay at Athletico Paranaense for one more season. Manchester United and Spurs both tried and failed with €100m bids if agents are to be believed. Which they often aren’t.
Roque has used the extra time in South America wisely, scoring 20 goals in 42 games and making his Brazil debut in March. Roque and Barcelona might have feared the worst when he was stretchered off in tears against Internacional but his ankle injury is not thought to be too serious.
Xavi will hope so, having publicly expressed his desire to have Roque rock up at the Nou Camp in January after the Brazilian league campaign concludes. It would be worth it just to see how quickly Real try and expedite Endrick’s arrival in response.
Luka Vuskovic (Hajduk Split to Tottenham) The Transfer Window Trophy has become so pivotal that clubs are no longer content with just striking the first blow a year in advance; they want to steal a march on their rivals for the summer of 2025.
At least that gives Vuskovic time to come round to the idea of joining Ange Postecoglou’s Premier League champions after a couple more seasons of development with Hajduk Split.
The 6ft 4in 16-year-old has already featured 11 times for the first team, becoming the youngest debutant in Croatian league history in February and appearing in their cup final success against Sibenik three months later.
‘It is a great honour and privilege to be part of this great club,’ Vuskovic said upon the announcement of the £12m deal. ‘I will work and train hard to play for Tottenham one day.’ Two more years of passing it out from the back on the Croatian coast ought to do it.
Kamil Grabara (Copenhagen to Wolfsburg) While the goalkeeper recently attracted attention for a social media post claiming Copenhagen ‘deserved all three points from that s*** hole’ after a Champions League draw with Galatasaray – which was subsequently quickly changed to lament how they should have won ‘that s*** game’, presumably on the advice of a panicking agent or club executive – Grabara was in the news earlier this month after his latest career move.
With one eye on the upcoming departure of Koen Casteels, the first-choice Wolfsburg keeper for the last seven-and-a-half seasons, the Bundesliga side formalised their succession plan early. Grabara, after one more year in Denmark, will join in summer 2024.
It is welcome news for Liverpool, who negotiated a 20% sell-on clause in their £3m sale of Grabara two years ago. The Reds stand to earn about £2.3m from the deal, or enough to loan Arthur Melo for a few more months.
Maarten Vandevoordt (Genk to Leipzig) Former Liverpool goalkeepers who never actually made a senior appearance for the club and have their long-term futures organised well in advance is a curious but prevalent niche. Peter Gulacsi has two years remaining on his Leipzig contract but the 33-year-old might spend the last of those helping his replacement bed in.
The Bundesliga side announced all the way back in April 2022 that Vandevoordt would join in summer 2024. The Belgian has become the youngest keeper in Champions League history since, helping Genk win the Belgian Cup while racking up a daft number of international caps at youth level.
“Maarten Vandevoordt’s transfer allows us to secure a top transfer for the future at an early stage and fill the incredibly important goalkeeping position with an excellent prospect in our long-term squad planning,” said Leipzig’s technical director at the time. That was so long ago that Christopher Vivell has left both the Germans and Chelsea since but the Vandevoordt plan remains active.
Adrian Mazilu (Farul Constanta to Brighton) The name won’t sound familiar now but then neither did Alexis Mac Allister, Moises Caicedo, Evan Ferguson, Kaoru Mitoma, Julio Enciso, Simon Adingra and Facundo Buonanotte when Brighton signed them. And the hope is that Mazilu follows in those same footsteps.
The Romanian winger has already won a league title as a regular starter with Farul Constanta and played 35 games, scoring nine goals and assisting four. Three days after a sublime effort in a Europa Conference League qualifying win, Brighton arranged for the 18-year-old to join for £2.6m in January.
“Adrian is a player we have been watching for a while, and we are now looking forward to him joining us next year,” Seagulls technical director David Weir said. “We have reached an agreement with Constanta, and we will watch his progress through until January and then decide on his next steps.”