- European transfer window has closed
- PSG amongst those teams to have strengthened
- Premier League fringe players offloaded to Italy, Spain, Turkey
- Flurry of loan deals in England’s lower leagues
The transfer window may have closed some time ago in the Premier League, but Monday marked the culmination of transfer business around Europe’s top leagues. All eyes were fixed on the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris St-Germain, as they looked to finalise their squads for the rest of the campaign. Can they overcome Liverpool to win the Champions League this season?
PSG have had a busy transfer window, adding Ander Herrera and Idrissa Gueye from the Premier League to their midfield, and they decided to make further additions to their team on deadline day. Experienced goalkeeper Keylor Navas arrived from Real Madrid on a permanent deal with fellow keeper Alphonse Areola going in the other direction on loan. Sergio Rico also arrived on loan from Sevilla, competing with Navas for a starting berth this season.
There’s no worry of PSG neglecting their forward line either, as Mauro Icardi arrives on loan from Inter Milan. With Neymar seemingly set to stay, could the two of them work in conjunction with Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe to bring more success to the club? The Neymar saga has been dragging on for months now, Barcelona offering almost all of their players in exchange at one point or another this summer. The Catalan club have been relatively quiet in the latter stages of the transfer window, deals for flagship signings Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann getting done and dusted back in July.
It’s not just Neymar who’s staying put on this occasion; Gareth Bale, Christian Eriksen and Paul Pogba remain at Real Madrid, Tottenham and Man United respectively. Los Blancos may have got their man in Eden Hazard, but their squad reminds some way off what manager Zinedine Zidane would desire. For the Red Devils, it’s probably for the best that Pogba remains at the club for the time being, after the losses of Sanchez, Herrera and Romelu Lukaku, amongst others.
Premier League and the Italian Job
The Premier League window might have closed, but there were some fairly low-key departures, often to a resurgent Serie A. Full-back Matteo Darmian ended his stagnant spell at Man United to join Parma, and Fernando Llorente has joined Napoli on a free transfer from Tottenham. The swap deal involving Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan was one of the main stories of the January 2018 transfer window, but it’s fair to say that neither have exactly set the world alight in the year and a half since. They’ve been loaned to Inter Milan and Roma respectively, in a bit to revive their careers. Sanchez’s United teammate Chris Smalling is also in Italy, linking up with Mkhitaryan at Roma. Then there’s Chelsea’s Baba Rahman – remember him? He’s been loaned to Real Mallorca in La Liga, bucking the England-to-Italy trend.
Who moved from the top-six to Serie A?
Ola Aina – Chelsea to Torino
Davide Zappacosta – Chelsea to Roma (loan)
Fernando Llorente – Tottenham to Napoli
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Arsenal to Roma (loan)
Aaron Ramsey – Arsenal to Juventus
David Ospina – Arsenal to Napoli
Romelu Lukaku – Man United to Inter Milan
Alexis Sanchez – Man United to Inter Milan
Chris Smalling – Man United to Roma (loan)
What else is going on?
With all the drama around Europe, it’s easy to forget that the transfer window was still open in Scotland and in England’s League One and League Two. Crisis club Bolton Wanderers, fresh from three consecutive 5-0 defeats, have signed a number of senior players as they bid to reduce the gap caused by their points deduction, including Liam Bridcutt and Daryl Murphy. Sunderland wanted winger Scott Sinclair from Celtic, but he ended up staying put in Glasgow. And of course, there was the usual smattering of loans and free transfers, teams vying to bolster their squads right at the death. Perhaps the most notable Scottish deal was Ryan Kent’s move to Rangers from Liverpool, after the 22-year-old winger spent a loan spell there last term.
Travelling to the other side of Europe, Turkey’s Süper Lig is also worthy of a mention. Radamel Falcao has been one of the greatest strikers of the past decade – spells at Man United and Chelsea notwithstanding – and the Colombian has left Monaco to join Galatasaray, last year’s champions. They have also secured loan deals for Brighton’s Romanian forward Florin Andone and Southampton’s Gabonese midfielder Mario Lemina.
A summary of European football
So, what does all of this mean for the European football landscape? It’s hard to argue that any Premier League side has been majorly affected by any late transfers, as for the most part only fringe players have departed. As much as Arsenal might miss Nacho Monreal, say, it’s not the sort of transfer that will make or break a season.
Perhaps it will finally be the year that PSG win that elusive first Champions League. That forward line is fearsome, particularly if wantaway forward Neymar can keep his head down and focus while he remains in Paris. Keylor Navas has plenty of experience in winning the Champions League too, after spending the last few years at Real Madrid. They may face an increased challenge from Italian sides, however, as they might be the strongest they’ve been as a collective since the Calciopoli. Juventus, Napoli, Inter Milan and Atalanta will all be bidding to progress in Europe, and will be hoping that the likes of Llorente (Napoli) and Simon Kjær (Atalanta) will help them to achieve that.