10 sizzling summer signings
With the EHF Champions League Men just over a month away, it is the perfect time to start comparing squads and figuring out who made the best moves in the transfer market.
There was no shortage of big-name moves this year, but the 10 listed below are guaranteed to make a big splash in one way or another for their new clubs in Europe’s top flight.
10. Borut Mackovsek (Telekom Veszprém HC to MOL-Pick Szeged)
The Slovenian international makes the big move between Hungary’s big dogs, having found himself surplus to requirements among the loaded left back position at Veszprém.
Two seasons ago, Mackovsek proved how valuable he could be at both ends of the court and he should be able to fit nicely into Szeged’s system. It will be exciting to see how he develops under Juan Carlos Pastor’s tutelage.
9. Adrià Figueras (BM Granollers to HBC Nantes)
Here is a man who understands that good things come to those who wait. He only got a chance to establish himself in Spain’s ASOBAL league at age 26, he made his national team debut two years later and he will turn 32 before getting an opportunity to prove himself at club handball’s highest level.
The two-time EHF EURO champion has already displayed his abilities at the highest international level and this looks like an inspired signing by Nantes, needing to replace the attacking threat on the line provided by the departing Nicolas Tournat. Providing Figueras settles quickly into a club with a strong Spanish contingent, seeing him perform in the EHF Champions League will be a treat.
8. Mads Mensah Larsen (Rhein-Neckar Löwen to SG Flensburg-Handewitt)
It feels like Mads Mensah Larsen has been competing at this level so long that it is difficult to believe he is only turning 29 this month and after a six-year spell with Löwen, he goes north to join Germany’s Scandi gang.
Although he can be quite erratic at times, Mensah Larsen is a proven winner and enjoys hitting form for big occasions. Responsibility will rest on his shoulders as he forms a new left back pairing with Lasse Møller and he certainly has the potential to become a new crowd favourite in Flensburg.
7. Jorge Maqueda (MOL-Pick Szeged to Telekom Veszprém HC)
Another player making the big switch in Hungary, this time going from Szeged to Veszprém. Jorge Maqueda may not be the most spectacular of the many signings Veszprém have made in recent years, but he could be one of the most significant.
In his time with Vardar and Szeged, the Spanish right back has proven his worth time and time again, particularly when his team needed somebody to take a game by the scruff of the neck. Right back was a problem position for Veszprém last season and this signing could provide perfect balance to the star-studded back court.
6. Stas Skube (HC Vardar to HC Meshkov Brest)
Two years ago, Stas Skube joined what many thought was a sinking ship at Vardar, but he ended that season by guiding his team to the top of the podium in one of the most remarkable stories in handball history.
Speed, vision, passing and surprising power are some the attributes which made the Slovenian so special in Skopje and now he takes his talents to Brest, a team in desperate need of some inspiration and a new direction – sounds like the perfect challenge for Skube.
5. Nicolas Tournat (HBC Nantes to PGE VIVE Kielce)
After a season away from Europe’s top flight, it will be fascinating to see big Nicolas Tournat back in action, terrorising opposition defences on the line, but now in the yellow of Kielce.
There is no doubting his ability at this level, as shown by three seasons in the competition with Nantes and helping them reach the final in 2018. Still a bit rough around the edges, but coach Talant Dujshebaev seems to enjoy working with that. If Tournat can hit the ground running, he and Artsem Karalek could form one of the most fearsome line player duos in Europe.
4. Luc Abalo (Paris Saint-Germain HB to Elverum Handball)
Perhaps the most sensational signing of the summer. Once the news had landed that Luc Abalo was moving to Elverum, everyone knew the Norwegians had pulled off something special.
If not for the Tokyo Olympics being pushed back a year, Luc Abalo’s club career may well have been at an end, but with that swansong now a year away, the French right wing needed a new club competing at this level and Elverum made their move. It will be a tough task for this much-changed Elverum squad to compete with the big boys, but they will put on a good show and Abalo will play an integral role.
3. Blaz Janc (PGE VIVE Kielce to Barça)
This is a brilliant signing by Barça. With the sad retirement of Victor Tomas, they could do no better than bringing in the EHF EURO 2020 All-star right wing.
At the age of 23, Janc has already established himself as world class on the wing, making his pairing with EHF Champions League All-star right wing Aleix Gomez a frightening prospect. However, he has proven himself a very good right back as well, making him an incredibly valuable addition to an already impressive Barça squad.
2. Dainis Kristopans (Füchse Berlin to Paris Saint-Germain HB)
Finally, Dainis Kristopans is reunited with Raul Gonzalez, the coach who helped turn him into the well-rounded world class player he is today.
The pair worked wonders together at Vardar, bringing the club their first EHF Champions League title, can they do it again at PSG? Beyond his clearly visible abilities, Kristopans is grounded and committed to the cause, which will be a great influence on the squad which has yet to hit the right notes when it matters most in Europe.
1. Sander Sagosen (Paris Saint-Germain HB to THW Kiel)
It would be impossible not to put Sander Sagosen at the top of this list. The move has been at the front of everybody’s mind since it was first announced in March 2019 and no move this summer can compete.
The 24-year-old enjoyed his best season yet in 2019/20. Taking the reins in attack for PSG and flourishing, before hitting new heights at EHF EURO 2020, leading the championship in goals and assists. The Norwegian does not mince his words when it comes to his ambitions and his rise to becoming the best player in the world at this time will be confirmed if he can help bring THW Kiel back to the top of the EHF Champions League.