Image via Sports Illustrated
We’ve seen Messi and Ronaldo do unthinkable things on the pitch time and time again, but this time they’ve grabbed the headlines for something other than their performances. Arguably two of the best players ever have both moved to new teams in the same transfer window. It’s very rare to see two players of their caliber decide to begin a new chapter in their careers in the same summer. Then again, this summer has been one for the ages in the football world both on and off the pitch.
After last summer’s debacle between Messi and Barcelona, many thought Messi was ready to leave Barcelona again this summer. This was not the case…until Barcelona learned that they could not register Messi under La Liga’s financial fair play system. This opened the door for the Argentine to move to a new club after having spent 21 years at the club. In the end, Paris Saint-Germain won the race for Messi’s signature. Not only did PSG bolster their squad with the six-time Ballon d’Or winner. They also added Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Euro player of the tournament, Gianluigi Donnarumma. These were all for free. Free in the sense that there were no transfer fees involved for the players, instead they all will receive lofty wages. Along with that, PSG spent 60 million euros (71 million USD) on Achraf Hakimi and secured the loan of Nuno Mendes with an option to buy rumored to be 40 million euros (47 million USD) according to Fabrizio Romano. As mentioned in my previous futbol finance article, players and clubs across Europe were left scratching their heads about if Financial Fair Play would step in after the immense transfer window from PSG. With the FFP system looking to be revamped by UEFA, there is currently no measures in place for it. This has allowed PSG to sign all of these players and pay them hefty wages to try to build a team that can finally conquer the Champions League that has avoided them since Nasser Al-Khelaifi took over the club.
PSG had the biggest transfer window of any club, but the Premier League had the best window for any league. Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo was the biggest transfer in terms of hype. The all-time leader in international goals is returning to Old Trafford where he enjoyed a successful spell in the mid 2000s in which he captured his first Champions League trophy and first of five Ballon d’Or trophies. Manchester United were able to acquire the Portuguese forward for only 15 million euros (18 million USD) before add ons. On the other side of Manchester, Manchester City broke the record for most expensive English player ever when they secured the signing of Jack Grealish for 100 million pounds (139 million USD), which broke the previous record set by Manchester United in their signing of Harry Maguire. The most expensive transfer in the Premier League belongs to Chelsea in their signing of Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku for 115 million pounds (160 million USD). The top scorer in Belgium history became the most expensive player ever in terms of transfer fees across a career at a total of 288 million pounds (400 million USD).
In a time where clubs claim to have been strapped for cash due to the pandemic, it doesn’t seem like the spending has slowed down much, if at all. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who was named the chairman of the European Super League, claimed that Madrid had no money to spend due to the pandemic. This was part of the reason as to why the Super League was created, to create more revenue for big clubs like Madrid. For a club with no money, Perez had no problem offering 200 million euros (238 million USD) for French star Kylian Mbappé, who had only one year left on his contract. This is a huge sum of money for a player in general, let alone a player who’s contract is going to expire next summer and is looking more and more likely that he will not sign a new contract to stay in the French capital. Madrid did secure the signing of another young French player in Eduardo Camavinga, the youngest player to appear for France since 1934.
What we’ve seen this summer may not be replicated for a long time. Two of the biggest stars the game has ever seen both moved to new clubs in the same summer. Transfer records were broken, and a lot of money was thrown around although most clubs have been “affected” financially due to empty stadiums for the past year. This has set up for one of the best title races in Premier League history along with what should be one of the most entertaining Champions League’s in history.
Greg Termolle can be found on Twitter @Gregterm.