The summer transfer window has come to a close all across Europe after an exciting and at times dramatic two months. Its grand finale, the #DeGeaGate, helped get us through a pretty uneventful couple of days just ahead of the deadline.
The arrivals of Sterling and De Bruyne to Manchester City, Benteke to Liverpool and Pedro to Chelsea could greatly improve the squads in question, while the rebuilding of Man Utd continues, with six new signings and three times as many departures. Still, the big guns didn’t have it all their way this summer.
The ever-richer Premier League seems to have entered a completely new phase, as higher levels of TV revenue are spreading the power more equally across the division. These new tendencies were showcased by Everton, who stubbornly defied multiple Chelsea approaches for defender John Stones, and West Brom, who declined four successive offers for striker Saido Berahino.
To fully understand the power shift you don’t need to look any further than this summer’s transfer figures: Man City is the only top-10 team among the seven biggest net-spenders in the league. The joint net-spending of Man Utd, Arsenal, Tottenham and Southampton (23 million pounds) is easily outmatched by that of two newly-promoted sides, as well as four teams that made up the bottom half last season.
The Premier League’s overall spending in this calendar year supassed a billion pounds for the first time, but Spanish football has gone back to pulling out the big bucks as well.
Even though their two heavyweights were unusually quiet in the market (especially Real Madrid, considering their managerial change), the rest made up for it and managed to break the eight-year record.
Atletico, Valencia and Sevilla, La Liga’s “other three“, went through some major team changes and all of them seem a bit stronger compared to last season, while Real Betis, back after a bout in the Segunda, were quite involved in the market, in order to ensure they avoid another drop.
On the Mediterranean coast, we witnessed a transfer frenzy along the Cote d’Azure, where Marseille and Monaco went through full-scale changes, with a combined figure of nearly 70 players traded in and out. Lyon managed to keep their dynamic duo Lacazette – Fekir, but faced multiple other changes. Paris Saint-Germain succeeded in hanging on to all of their key players and Angel Di Maria might just be the piece they needed in the team’s challenge for European glory.
One worrying fact is that top French talent keeps leaving for richer leagues across the Alps and Pyrenees, and especially across the Channel to the Premier League. Some of the latest additions from Ligue 1 have already made their mark in England, like former Marseillaise duo Andre Ayew (Swansea) and Dimitry Payet (West Ham). On the crest of this wave is Anthony Martial, the ex- Monaco forward whose late arrival at Man Utd was met with shock, due to the enormous transfer fee involved (50 million euros potentially raising to 80 million).
The Germans, likewise, were less than impressed with their clubs’ inability to prevent young Bundesliga stars from moving to England, even more so after seeing many of their fine talents ending up at bottom half clubs in the Premier League.
One club that doesn’t have any financial concerns is Bayern Munich, where Pep Guardiola continues his experiment, having added Arturo Vidal to the mix. If Wolfsburg’s chances of challenging the Bavarians look diminished after the departures of De Bruyne and Perišić in late August, Dortmund looks completely refreshed and back to its attacking best under new manager Thomas Tuchel. The former Mainz head coach together with Leverkusen’s Roger Schmidt are keeping the Bundesliga firmly on top of the list for football hipsters across the world.
Italy’s Serie A is still far from their 90’s heyday, but it seems that the dark days are over.
After four straight titles and the UCL final this May Juventus was left fragile without three key players, but still managed to keep their biggest star Paul Pogba, who is perenially shortlisted by the continent’s biggest clubs.
Juve have already been beaten by an ambitious Roma side, who are expected to seriously challenge for the title this season. This time the league is set to be much more open than in the more recent past, with both Lombardian giants, Internazionale and AC Milan, entrusting their managers (long time co-workers and close friends) Mancini and Mihajlović with copious amounts of money for reinforcements.
Elsewhere in Europe there was a lot going on in Turkey, where the new league rules allowing more foreign players and additional TV revenue combined to make the perfect platform for some big money moves, which included Robin van Persie and Luis Nani leaving Manchester United for Fenerbahce, and Lukas Podolski signing for Galatasaray from Arsenal.
A hectic football autumn now awaits and the transfer window will be open again as the new year begins. Until then however, clubs across Europe will have to deal with their current squads.