The summer transfer window has been incredible, as the top clubs around Europe spent millions — nay, billions — to try to strengthen their sides.
According to Transfermarkt, clubs across the English Premier League spent a colossal €2.79 billion during the window — the most ever — and there were some huge moves, including Declan Rice (€116m) to Arsenal, Moisés Caicedo (€116m) to Chelsea, Josko Gvardiol (€90m) to Manchester City, Rasmus Højlund (€75m) to Manchester United and Dominik Szoboszlai (€70m) to Liverpool.
In Europe’s other top leagues, things weren’t quite as busy, but Jude Bellingham (€103m) to Real Madrid, Harry Kane (€100m) to Bayern, Randal Kolo Muani (€80m) and Manuel Ugarte (€60m) to PSG topped the list.
Clubs across Europe, in Italy’s Serie A (€850m), France’s Ligue 1 (€900m), Germany’s Bundesliga (€747m) and Spain’s LaLiga (€439m) spent a total of €2.93bn. And Saudi Arabia made themselves a real player with the €90m capture of Neymar from PSG, alongside the €40m signing of 21-year-old star Gabri Veiga from under the noses of Europe’s top clubs.
But who did well? And who did poorly?
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By getting their No. 1 one target, Rice, for a club-record €116m fee early in the transfer window, Arsenal were already well on track to bolster a side that was hardly in need of wholesale changes. While Jurriën Timber was unlucky to rupture his cruciate ligaments before his Premier League career could really begin, with a successful recovery the quick and versatile defender/defensive midfielder is destined to be a great resource for Mikel Arteta.
The jury is still out on €78m forward Kai Havertz, but the reasoning behind accommodating the German in a “floating role” in the final third is easy to understand: With time, his undoubted qualities may reveal themselves to a greater extent than they did at Chelsea. Arsenal also managed to fetch a respectable €30m fee for Folarin Balogun, who joined AS Monaco. — Tor-Kristian Karlsen
Having won the Treble, one might have thought City’s window would be all about minor adjustments, but they’ve steadily and stealthily undertaken an unexpected mini revamp. Departing big hitters in Riyad Mahrez, Aymeric Laporte and Ilkay Gündogan have been replaced without a drop in quality. One might even argue that €90m defender Josko Gvardiol — widely considered one of the most promising U21 players in world football — clearly represents a defensive upgrade, while Jérémy Doku, the flying Belgian who completed an average of 6+ dribbles for Rennes (per 90 min) last season should, through his directness, eventually offer a new dimension to Pep Guardiola’s attack. In addition, Matheus Nunes and Mateo Kovacic are highly useful reinforcements in midfield. — TKK
If you want to strengthen the core of your team, why not go for two of the best options around? Out-and-out centre-forwards don’t come with better goal-scoring guarantees than Harry Kane. Landing the England captain for €100m was not only a major sign of strength for the club, but also a triumph for the Bundesliga (though it further solidifies Bayern’s monopoly on the league title).
The €50m paid to Napoli to sign Kim Min-jae was also smart — there were few better centre-backs in Europe last season — while RB Leipzig midfielder Konrad Laimer and Borussia Dortmund left wing-back Raphaël Guerreiro carry plenty of experience as free transfers. Oh, and they somehow managed to offload Sadio Mané to Al Nassr for €30m, while recouping a further €100m for Lucas Hernández, Benjamin Pavard, Marcel Sabitzer and Yann Sommer. The one negative mark against them was in their chase for a No. 6, as the €65m capture of Fulham’s João Palhinha fell through late on. — TKK
The Ligue 1 champions may have seen two world-class stars leave this summer, but neither Neymar (€90m, to Al Hilal) nor Lionel Messi (free, to Inter Miami) ever seemed particularly happy to jostle for centre stage with Kylian Mbappé. With Mbappe eventually staying — despite the fact he has yet to actually pen a new contract amid links to Real Madrid — PSG have built cleverly around the main protagonist to the tune of around €250m.
Manuel Ugarte, an industrious defensive midfielder from Sporting CP (€60m), and wide attacking midfielder Bradley Barcola (€45m from Lyon) are two particularly exciting young signings. Bayern’s Hernández (€45m) and Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé (€50m) add France international experience, while the free transfers of defender Milan Skriniar (Inter Milan) and Marco Asensio (Real Madrid) were too good to pass up.
Somehow PSG also managed to land Benfica’s much-coveted Goncalo Ramos on loan (with an €80m fee deferred until next summer) and worked out the €80m (plus €15m) signing of Randal Kolo Muani from Eintracht Frankfurt. AND they recouped €141m from exits. Wow. — TKK
As a result of Saudi Arabia’s unprecedented push to promote football, an array of world stars have already left European football to join the Pro League’s ranks. Neymar, Karim Benzema, Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Riyad Mahrez, Aymeric Laporte, Kalidou Koulibaly and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are only some of the household names that have linked up with Cristiano Ronaldo on the Arabian peninsula.
Aside from experienced high-flyers, the Saudi spending spree has surprisingly also seen younger performers — who could theoretically be transferred back to Europe for substantial fees in the future — such as Rúben Neves and Veiga. There might even be more star names to arrive — Mohamed Salah? — as the transfer window stays open for another three weeks until Sept. 20. — TKK
David Moyes’ side may have lost Rice, but Edson Álvarez and James Ward-Prowse are quality additions who should go some way towards making up for the void left by the England midfielder. Mohammed Kudus — a 23-year-old Ghana attacking midfielder who cost €43m from Ajax — can, with his creativity and flair, turn into a fan favourite.
West Ham also did well to recover a fair part of the money they spent on Italian flop Riccardo Scamacca (who joined Atalanta) and they’ve started the season brilliantly. — TKK
On the plus side, deals for goalkeeper André Onana (€52m) and attacking midfielder Mason Mount (€64m) have strengthened two of the main areas of concern for United. In particular, the exit of David de Gea on a free transfer made the signing of a new No. 1 a priority, and Onana’s passing style will certainly suit Erik ten Hag. Meanwhile, Altay Bayindir can do a job to replace Dean Henderson as his backup.
The loan signing of defensive midfielder Sofyan Amrabat from Fiorentina will bring tenacity and desire to a central area that was sorely lacking it in spells last season, though a €10m loan fee was far beyond the €2m United originally wanted to pay.
However, the rest of United’s planning has seemed scattergun at best. Injuries to left-backs Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia caused a late rush for Tottenham’s Sergio Reguilon on loan, while failure to land top striking target Harry Kane saw them splash out €75m on the relatively untested Rasmus Hojlund from Atalanta, which is a gamble that could backfire up front. And there are still a number of players on the books who shouldn’t be. — Jonathan Molyneux-Carter
Very much true to form, Todd Boehly & Co. picked up where they left off in January, adding an array of predominantly youthful signings on long contracts to take the club’s spending in the past three windows beyond €1 billion. Defensive midfielder Caicedo (€100m) is arguably the cream of the crop, but once back from injury in the new year, €60m forward Christopher Nkunku should also prove a top-quality reinforcement.
Despite the stockpiling of illustrious prospects brimming with potential, the main question for Chelsea remains: Does their squad feature enough experience to back up the talent? And can such a young squad find the consistency to bring the club back into the mix for a Champions League spot? It’s hard to say, but it will be fun to find out.
In another summer of transition, Chelsea also managed to move players on to the tune of €250m, which should alleviate any immediate FFP concerns. — TKK
Lose seven first-team players, sign four. The numbers don’t add up. Even though Liverpool managed to stave off Al Ittihad’s interest in spending €200m to sign Salah for now (though Saudi Arabian clubs have three weeks to still cause waves), the Reds still look short. The club made decisions to let Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita leave on free transfers, as well as allowing Fabio Carvalho to join RB Leipzig on loan, but they would not have wanted to see the back of Fabinho (€46m, to Al Ittihad) and Jordan Henderson (€14m, to Al Ettifaq).
Yes, they made some good signings with Dominik Szoboszlai (€70m) and got a bargain deal for Alexis Mac Allister (€42m), but they started the window saying they wouldn’t spend €100m on one player, pulled out of the race for Jude Bellingham who joined Real Madrid soon after for €103m, then made a €125m bid for Moisés Caicedo only to see him choose Chelsea. The trick was repeated as secondary target Romeo Lavia (€62m) then chose Stamford Bridge and they were forced to settle for Wataru Endo (€20m) instead.
A late €40m move for Bayern’s Ryan Gravenberch won’t appease the fans, given they could have taken less of a gamble by signing him on loan. And if Jurgen Klopp loses any more players to Saudi Arabia — in particular, Salah — in the next few weeks, there could be a crisis looming at Anfield. — JMC
Imagine taking a plane to a different country to start a new life and a new job. You arrive, complete two rounds of medical tests, take pictures with your new club’s shirt and get ready to be announced. Then, for some reason, you have to go back home again.
Poor Palhinha. A €65m deal to Bayern collapsed in the final hours of the window and left the tough-tackling Fulham midfielder embarrassed and on a plane back to London. It’s going to be a long few months until the January window opens again. — JMC
Upheaval just three days before the start of the new season saw Wolves sack manager Julen Lopetegui and appoint former Bournemouth coach Gary O’Neil.
The club’s transfer kitty was heavily compromised by having to exercise the €50m clause to sign striker Matheus Cunha permanently from Atletico Madrid. Whatever was left after that was mainly spent on unproven talent (Enso Gimenez, Boubacar Traore), while experienced Premier League operators such as Ruben Neves, Raul Jimenez, Joao Moutinho and Adama Traore parted ways. Matters were not improved by losing arguably their top player, Matheus Nunes, to Manchester City for £53m on deadline day. — TKK
Though a £30m move to West Ham looked on the cards, the England centre-back remains at Old Trafford for at least another half a season. Contracted for another two years, the £80m (then a world record fee for a defender) signing from Leicester in 2019 only started eight Premier League games for Manchester United last season and has seen himself drop further behind in the pecking order. Mainly due to his lack of agility and abilities on the ball, the prospects of Maguire resurrecting his career under Erik ten Hag seem slim at best. — TKK