At 11pm GMT on August 31, the 2021/22 summer transfer window slammed shut. To call it the wildest and most eventful one in this era wouldn’t be an exaggeration. Who would’ve imagined Leo Messi to play for a club other than Barcelona? Who would’ve thought that Cristiano Ronaldo might return to England? And what about […]
At 11pm GMT on August 31, the 2021/22 summer transfer window slammed shut. To call it the wildest and most eventful one in this era wouldn’t be an exaggeration.
Who would’ve imagined Leo Messi to play for a club other than Barcelona?
Who would’ve thought that Cristiano Ronaldo might return to England?
And what about those unexpected deadline day transfers?
It’s been one for the ages, as European clubs now take stock of their final squads for the new season.
At the end of the window, here are, what we think, have been the top 10 transfers.
European champions Chelsea broke the bank to sign their former striker from Inter Milan. At £97.5m, the Belgian became the record transfer for the London club, who had already invested heavily in their squad last year. Lukaku adds to the already impressive depth of Thomas Tuchel’s UCL-winning squad, joining the likes of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, N’Golo Kante and Mason Mount in the dressing room.
Speaking of big numbers, Jack Grealish deserves a special mention. He also became a club record signing, albeit for Manchester City, who paid £100m for the stylish midfielder. The former Aston Villa man became Pep Guardiola’s marquee signing of the summer, as Tottenham Hotspur were able to hold on to their star striker and England captain Harry Kane, who was heavily linked with the Etihad outfit.
Arsenal were the biggest spenders in England this year. They armed their FA Cup-winning manager Mikel Arteta with half-a-dozen reinforcements, paying £50m to Brighton and Hove Albion for Ben White’s services. The defender has unfortunately been forced out injured for the season’s opening games as the Gunners are bottom of the EPL table after the third gameweek.
The former Manchester United forward had left the riches of the EPL, a few years back, to reestablish his reputation in world football. He was able to get back into the groove playing for Lyon in the French League, and earned a transfer to Barcelona under fellow Dutchman Ronald Koeman’s management, on a free transfer.
Despite incomings like Memphis and Sergio Aguero on free transfers, Barcelona lost their talismanic number 10, marking the end of a two-decade-long association. The Argentine completed a move to Paris Saint Germain on a two-year contract, where he reunited with his former Barca teammate Neymar Jr. Messi has been reported to be offered number wages amounting to more than 70 million euros per year.
As the window drew to a close, the Catalan club were in for one more shocking departure from their frontline. French forward Griezmann packed his bags on deadline day to return to his former club Atletico Madrid on a loan with an obligation to buy for a reported fee of 40m euros. It was yet another case of balancing the books at the club, under tremendous financial stress.
The return of Griezmann to Madrid coincided with the exit of his former teammate Saul on deadline day. He added to the muscle of Chelsea’s ever-increasing bench strength, with a loan fee of around five million euros, with no obligation to buy.
Another high-profile move from the Spanish capital to England saw four-time Champions League winner Raphael Varane complete a switch to Manchester United. The former Real Madrid defender commanded a fee of around £40m, including add-ons and has already impressed Old Trafford loyals with a sparkling debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The Red Devils’ busy summer also witnessed the arrival of the long sought-after right-winger from Borussia Dortmund in Germany. The club’s most expensive acquisition of the year, he costed them slightly above £70m and plugs a gaping hole in Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s squad.
Manchester United fans however are most excited after the shock return of their former number seven, 12 years after first departing the club for Real Madrid. The Portuguese international ‘comes home’ after collecting a bunch of personal and team accolades with the Los Blancos and in Turin. His return to Manchester could just be what was required to bring back glory to the 20-time English champions.
Honourable mentions: Gigi Donnarumma (AC Milan to PSG), Achraf Hakimi (Inter Milan to PSG), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid to PSG).
Images: Instagram/Cristiano Ronaldo, PSG