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Saturday, September 18, 2021

From Messi to Ronaldo to Lukaku: A new window for big deals and bigger players

The likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Romelu Lukaku were among some players who secured moves in a captivating transfer window that saw Premier League clubs spend £1.35 billion.

Written by Shashank Nair | New Delhi |
Updated: September 2, 2021 7:53:40 am
PSG's Lionel Messi, Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku and Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo with their new club jerseys. (Twitter)

The two GOATs of football, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were on the move this transfer window, as were an array of other stars. And there were those like Kylian Mbappe and Harry Kane who tried but couldn’t engineer moves in what has been a captivating transfer window that saw English clubs spend a whopping £1.35 billion.

A new home for Leo

Wantaway, but eventually choosing to stay has been the Lionel Messi transfer saga for the past few years. But when a move finally did happen, neither Barcelona nor Messi had wanted to part ways.

Messi had agreed to stay with Barcelona and a contract had been formalised as well. But LaLiga’s salary rules, along with the club’s astronomical debt of $1.39 billion, meant that the Argentine was forced to move to Paris Saint Germain.

The cash-rich French club are reportedly paying their latest recruit $41 million per year, including bonuses, in a two-year contract with the option of a third. On the field, Messi will team-up with former Barcelona mate Neymar, and talented youngster Mbappe, to push the club’s bid for a first ever Champions League title.

Ronaldo a phone call away

The Portuguese star returned to his old stomping ground 12 years after playing his last match for Manchester United. It took phone calls from his former United teammates along with a call and text from Sir Alex Ferguson to end the short tussle between the two Manchester clubs looking to sign Ronaldo.

According to the Daily Mail, the forward was keen on a return to England so that his children could have an English education. It also helped that Juventus were looking to sell, after being unable to utilise the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. They eventually settled for a price of €15 million, to be divided into five instalments. Further performance-related bonuses could earn the Italian club €8 million more.

There is also the matter of the multi-million contract Ronaldo will enjoy. According to Sky Italia, Ronaldo was offered a £480,000 a week contract to play for United.

Chelsea breaks the bank

Chelsea had one pressing concern before the start of this window and it was to procure a prolific striker. In came Romelu Lukaku, a striker they had once sold and have now paid a club record £97 million to re-sign from Inter Milan. Along with a coach Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea now has all the means necessary to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title.

The Blues also signed Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez on a year’s loan deal. Niguez operated in the Spanish club’s midfield where his primary role had been to pick the best opposition player and disrupt their game. He stood in the 99th percentile of midfielders who tackled opposition team dribblers, making 1.59 successful tackles per 90 minutes – 1.64 of his 2.0 tackles won per game came in the defensive third of the pitch, putting him in the 97th percentile for midfielders.

Gunners search for answers

Arsenal spent more than £140 million in the transfer market, adding Ben White, Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Aaron Ramsdale, Martin Odegaard and Takehiro Tomiyasu to their squad. Other than Tomiyasu, who was a deadline day signing, all other players have taken part in Arsenal’s matches until now and have been part of the worst ever start to the Premier League that the Gunners have faced. In three league matches, they’ve conceded nine goals, scored none and have lost all three of their games.

While most of these players have been bought in the hope that they can be developed into top footballers, the long-term project does not help an already under-fire coach Mikel Arteta.

Griezmann back at Atletico

The transfer that truly broke the camel’s back was not Messi but Antoine Griezmann. Barcelona paid Atletico Madrid €120 million two years ago to take the French World Cup winner after taking a short-term bank loan worth €35 million and mortgaged €85 million from future income, according to the Athletic. But Griezmann didn’t quite settle.

On transfer day deadline, Barcelona managed to offload Griezmann from their books for a one-year loan deal with Atletico that will likely be converted to a full contract. The deal would be worth €40 million in case Atletico decide to keep the French forward.

In numbers

£1.35 billion – the amount top English clubs spent in the summer transfer window this season.

£97 million – the amount Chelsea spent to re-sign Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan.

£30 million – what Lionel Messi’s net pay per year will be at Paris Saint Germain for the next two years.

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