If you combine all of history’s greatest fiction writers, from George R.R Martin, to J.R.R Tolkien, even they would struggle to come up with the plot twists and U-turns the world has laid witness to during the European Transfer Window.
From the unthinkable of Lionel Messi leaving the comfort blanket of his boyhood club Barcelona, to his greatest competitive rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, returning to Old Trafford under the noses of United crosstown rivals Manchester City. This could go down as one of, if not the most, remarkable transfer window’s not only in the 21st century, but potentially of all time.
The shockwaves of this window ultimately built up to one of the most fascinating deadline days in recent history. With Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez swapping the Spanish capital for the English capital in a finalised loan deal to Premier League giants Chelsea. Perhaps more remarkable is Barcelona’s €120m Antoine Griezmann re-joining his former club Atletico Madrid for the remainder of the season on a loan deal, with an obligation to permanently sign him for €40m at the end of the 21/22 season. A staggering €80m lesser than what Barcelona paid for the French forward less than 2 years ago, in what is ultimately an utterly bizarre piece of business from the Catalan giants.
From the bizarre to the shrewd, French giants Paris Saint-Germain are ultimately the biggest winners from this window, with their ‘completion’ of world football. Playing as if football was a simulation, the Ligue 1 club produced some of the best business the footballing world has ever seen, bringing some of the world’s best footballing talent to the French capital without paying their previous clubs a penny. The big name of course is Lionel Messi, but amazingly enough his former bitter rival, and competitor, Sergio Ramos has also joined the Parisians having left Real Madrid after 15 years at the club. The former La Liga superstars are joined by both box-to-box midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum formerly of Liverpool, and Italian European Cup hero Gianluigi Donnarumma, who also arrived as free transfers. It wasn’t all free transfers for the French club though, with Moroccan right-back and Serie A winner Achraf Hakimi leaving Inter Milan for a fee of €60m.
The biggest spenders of this transfer window came unsurprisingly from England. With the top 4 spenders all coming from the Premier League. You could be forgiven then, for being surprised to hear that of all the clubs in the world, North London club Arsenal have spent the most of any club, with a mammoth spending of €165.6m. The Gunners have managed to put pen to the paper in their signing of Ben White from fellow Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion for a fee of €58.5m. The North London club have also managed to turn their loan of former teen sensation Martin Ødergaard to a permanent deal from Real Madrid for €35m.
The most expensive transfer of the European summer came with Manchester City’s signing of Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish. The midfielder’s move from the West Midlands club to the Etihad came with a jaw-dropping price tag of €117.5m and accounts for a mind boggling 92% of City’s total net spending this summer.
Grealish wasn’t the only Englishman moving to the city of Manchester this summer, with fellow national teammate and former Borussia Dortmund ace Jadon Sancho completing an €85m move to cross town rivals, Manchester United. The Red devils also looked to shore up their defensive leaks, having splashed the cash to bring in 4x UCL and World Cup winner Raphael Varane from Real Madrid for €40m. Unsurprisingly, however, the biggest deal of their summer came with the return of club hero Cristiano Ronaldo, the now top international goal scorer of all time. Being primed to join rivals City, with a deal seemingly struck and the move solidified a few phone calls from former teammates along with United and world football legend Sir Alex Ferguson saw the Portuguese captain instead make a last-minute decision to return to Old Trafford, where he initially announced himself on the world stage.
Ronaldo’s return wasn’t the only big signing for an English club, with Belgian international Romelu Lukaku re-joining his former London club, Chelsea. After leading the line for Italian champions Inter Milan, the physical striker returns to the Premier League for €115m, looking in better form than ever, and having tidied up the weaknesses in his game, he will be seeking to provide the goals needed for Chelsea’s title charge as well as helping the club successfully retain the Champions league.
German champions Bayern Munich have continued to poach players from their nearest rivals. After the signing of RB Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann, the club has also pilfered the East German club of their centre back Dayot Upamecano for €42.5m, as well as Austrian midfielder and club captain, Marcel Sabitzer for €15m. Leipzig however, have spent the money the German giants provided wisely, bringing in the likes of striker Andre Silva from Eintracht Frankfurt for €23m, and centre back star Mohamed Simakan of RC Strasbourg for €15m, before confirming the permanent signing of Angelino for €18m from Manchester City.
With the summer window officially closed as of the 1st of September, and all European competitions underway, the players moved in this explosive window will all be looking to make their marks at their respective clubs, and no doubt the clubs themselves will be hoping their gambles pay off. We the fans are preparing ourselves to have witnessed what will go down as arguably the greatest transfer windows of all time. And what will hopefully be a close and exciting season ahead.