As the transfer window winds to close everywhere outside of England, it’s safe to say that any high-profile moves have been completed, unless English clubs are stupid enough to offload their best players to Spain and not find a replacement that is. That aside, we can look back at a tumultuous transfer window and dissect who we think both won and lost this window.
This one’s obvious, but who cares, they have Ronaldo. As if Juventus haven’t already monopolised Italian football already, they went and signed Ronaldo. They’ve already locked up the Scudetto for this season, no team in Italy will challenge them, the only thing that is left for them to win the Champions League and acquiring the man who’s the all-time leading scorer, and the winner of five in total should help them out. They did make an error in giving up Matteo Caldara and Gonzalo Higuain to bring back Leonardo Bonucci, but they did well to nab Emre Can for free, and their squad is ready now to make another push for European glory.
Losing Thibaut Courtois in nasty circumstances to Real Madrid wasn’t ideal, after the Belgian shotstopper refused to train and forced himself a move to Spain, but Chelsea managed to strengthen their midfield and get Mateo Kovacic in return. Stealing Jorginho from underneath Manchester City was stellar, as he will do wonders for their structure under Maurizio Sarri. While signing Kepa for £71m was a panic-buy in order to replace Courtois, he still is a talented keeper and will man the goals for years to come. Keeping Eden Hazard as well was vital, as their squad looks in better shape than last season.
Ernesto Valverde will finally release the shackles on his Barcelona team and allow them to play the style so synonymous with the Catalan club. Malcolm is going to be a terrific player and will provide the needed depth in the attacking positions. Arturo Vidal and Arthur will bolster an ageing midfield and fill in the void left by the legendary Andres Iniesta. Philippe Coutinho also is coming off a great World Cup and is settled, and Ousmane Dembele looks to be recovered from his injury-ridden season last year, rendering them both as practically new signings. Barcelona have simply strengthened where they have needed and should be set for another big season.
If you were to say where Liverpool were weak last season, you would immediately say they lacked a goalkeeper, a defence and a midfield. While, yes, they didn’t improve their defence opting to stick with the same backline that has been anchored by the colossal Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool filled out every other positional need exceptionally. Alisson will be the world class keeper that they have sorely lacked, after Loris Karius’ calamitous showing the Champions League final, and Naby Keita and Fabinho will bolster a weak midfield and offer their defence some much needed protection, while driving attacks forward. Even the maverick Xherdan Shaqiri, while not world class, will offer the necessary backup their attacking triumvirate needs. They were unlucky to miss out on Olympique Lyon’s Nabil Fekir, but overall Liverpool have been excellent this window.
Atletico Madrid, Everton, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Inter Milan.
They lost Ronaldo, plain and simple. Their greatest player of all time, their talisman and face of their club for a decade has up and left them, and they couldn’t find a replacement. Madrid were linked with Eden Hazard, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar and got none of them. On top of this, they also lost Zinedine Zidane as he decided to step down for the manager’s role, leaving Julen Lopetegui with a lot to figure out in his first season. Los Blancos did sign Thibaut Courtois, but Keylor Navas was a key component of their European success, they didn’t need to sign another keeper, and their attack is empty now without Ronaldo, being led by the declining Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, whom although world class, has a horrendous injury record.
Jose Mourinho clearly identified his needs for his squad: midfielders, fullbacks and centre backs, major areas of weakness. They only managed to sign two players, Fred and Diogo Dalot. While Fred is talented and Dalot could be the fullback of the future, there is still a lot to be left desired. It’s no secret United lack central defenders, as Eric Bailly aside it is their weakest area. Mourinho spent half of the preseason bemoaning the board for not pursuing his defensive targets hard enough and based on last season’s showings he might have a point, as had it not been for David De Gea’s superhuman performances in goal there’s no chance the Red Devils would’ve finished 2nd. Their rivals all made a number of signings, meanwhile their weakest area remains a gaping hole and a point of concern for another season, who knows how long before Mourinho implodes as it is evident he and his superiors are not on the same page.
Already another loser from the Premier League, and it may have something to do with their early close of the window, not affording clubs like Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur enough time to close out any deals. But Spurs flat out signed no one. Man City added Riyad Mahrez to an already complete squad, Chelsea brought in Jorginho and Kovacic, Liverpool and Arsenal both improved their weakest areas, and even United throughout their struggles still managed two signings. Tottenham literally made no improvements. As their rivals all got relatively stronger, Tottenham plateaued massively. Yes, inking Harry Kane to a big contract was huge, but it doesn’t solve their midfield. They openly had Mousa Dembele available on the market in order to cash in while he slowly ages, but no team picked him up. On top of this, they didn’t bring in another robust midfielder to replace the Belgian’s output. Their depth in the centre of the pitch is sorely lacking, and it may show, and we may see some slight regression from the Lilywhites this season.
Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, AS Roma.