We’ve all heard the right-on clichés about how we should do things better, and we should end things we don’t like with a bit of dignity. That’s great if you’re a celebrity or a politician, but what about the rest of us? Whether it’s a relationship, a job, a hobby, or a TV show, it’s hard to walk away from something we’ve fallen in love with.
On the morning of my departure for the States, the weather turned to the point where it was overcast and pouring rain. It could have been so much worse, but I was glad I decided to go home the night before to apply the finishing touches to my suitcase. As I was getting ready to leave, I found a letter tucked inside my mirror. It was written by my friend to me, and it was the sweetest, most thoughtful letter I have ever received.
As the summer transfer window closed on Friday night, Premier League teams had spent £1.17 billion on more than 1,000 transfers. Yet, it is the second year in a row that transfer spending has dropped on these shores, having reached its highest mark just one year ago, when clubs splashed out £1.34 billion.
On deadline day, Cristiano Ronaldo, Daniel James, Nikola Vlasic, and Emerson Royal were among the players who moved.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s surprise return to Manchester United on transfer deadline day helped boost Premier League teams’ expenditure over £1 billion for the second year in a row, although total spending is down for the second year in a row.
Before England’s summer window closed at 23:00 BST on Tuesday, the Portugal forward’s eye-catching Old Trafford homecoming was one of the first transfers to be rubber-stamped.
The most significant transfer was Nikola Vlasic’s £26.8 million transfer from CSKA Moscow to West Ham United, while Chelsea signed Saul Niguez on loan from Atletico Madrid late.
However, there will be no late move for Kylian Mbappe after Paris St-Germain turned down two Real Madrid offers for the France World Cup winner.
During the transfer window, which lasted from June 9 to August 31, Premier League teams spent a total of £1.1 billion on transactions. That amount was 11% less than the previous summer’s total of £1.3 billion, which was down 9% from 2019.
This is the lowest collective gross expenditure by Premier League teams since 2015, according to financial services company Deloitte, and the first time there has been a continuous drop since the global financial crisis between 2008 and 2010.
The following are some of Deloitte’s other major conclusions from the window:
- For the sixth summer in a row, Premier League teams have spent more than £1 billion on deadline day activity, totaling £150 million.
- Premier League teams recruited 148 players in the summer of 2019, compared to 132 in the summer of 2020 and 128 in the summer of 2019.
- Free transfers accounted for 22 percent of all players recruited by Premier League teams this summer, up from 20 percent in summer 2020.
- Only four Premier League teams did not sign a free agent in the summer of 2019, compared to eight in the summer of 2020.
- The Bundesliga in Germany is the only one of Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues that has increased its gross expenditure this year.
- The Premier League’s net player transfer expenditure of £560 million outstripped La Liga’s (£55 million), Serie A’s (£50 million), and Ligue 1’s (£15 million).
“This has been a fantastic transfer window,” said Dan Jones of Deloitte’s sports business department.
“Club spending records have been smashed, player transfers have dominated the headlines – including the two best players of their age [Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo], and Premier League teams have spent more than £1 billion for the sixth summer in a row.
“Perhaps most impressive is that all of this was accomplished with less expenditure than in the prior two summers.”
What were the last-minute signings?
Tottenham paid £25.8 million for Barcelona fullback Emerson Royal, while Leeds paid £25 million for winger Daniel James.
Marc Cucurella of Spain joined Brighton from Getafe for approximately £15.4 million, while Abdallah Sima of Senegal joined the Seagulls from Slavia Prague before going on loan to Stoke.
In addition to Vlasic, West Ham signed Spartak Moscow midfielder Alex Kral on loan. Leicester have signed RB Leipzig winger Ademola Lookman on a season-long loan.
Burnley signed Wales international Connor Roberts from Swansea in a matter of days, making him their second full-back in as many days. Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard was sold to Crystal Palace for £15 million.
Arsenal completed their hectic summer transfer window by acquiring Japanese defender Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna, while letting Hector Bellerin and Reiss Nelson to join Real Betis and Feyenoord, respectively, on loan.
Salomon Rondon joined Everton on a free transfer shortly before the English transfer window closed at 23:00 BST.
Fans of the 2005 film Goal will recognize Newcastle striker Santiago Munoz, whose name is remarkably similar to the fictitious figure who played for the Magpies in the film.
Major agreements are being made all across Europe.
Even though Real Madrid failed in their effort to acquire Mbappe, the biggest clubs in Europe were busy on transfer deadline day.
Instead, the Spanish giants bought Rennes’ Eduardo Camavinga, a highly regarded France midfielder.
Juventus re-signed Italy forward Moise Kean from Everton on a two-year loan after losing Ronaldo to Manchester United.
In order to alleviate financial problems, Barcelona sold Ilaix Moriba to RB Leipzig before loaning Antoine Griezmann back to Atletico Madrid late in the season.
With the exception of Germany’s Bundesliga, all of Europe’s other ‘big five’ leagues – England, Italy, Spain, and France – have seen their total transfer expenditure fall for the second year in a row.
With £475 million, Serie A is the second most expensive league behind the Premier League. The overall gross transfer expenditure of Premier League teams is still more than twice that of Serie A clubs.
What were the summer’s major transfers?
The two most expensive Premier League acquisitions of the window were Jack Grealish and Romelu Lukaku.
Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea were the four most expensive Premier League teams in terms of total expenditure, as well as the four most expensive individual deals in this window.
Manchester City broke the British transfer record by signing Jack Grealish from Aston Villa for £100 million, making it the largest single transaction of the summer.
Chelsea were not far behind, re-signing striker Romelu Lukaku for £97.5 million from Inter Milan.
Manchester United also paid £73 million for Jadon Sancho from Dortmund and £34 million on Raphael Varane from Real Madrid.
Arsenal spent approximately £140 million on players such as Ben White from Brighton (£50 million), Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid (£30 million), and Aaron Ramsdale from Sheffield United (£24 million).
Liverpool were relatively quiet in the transfer window, paying £36 million for RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. They did, however, get new contracts for a number of important players, notably captain Jordan Henderson, who signed a four-year contract on the day of the deadline.
The most eye-catching transaction of the summer was a free transfer, with Lionel Messi crying as he announced his departure from Barcelona after 21 years to join Paris St-Germain.
Those that eluded capture
Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane, and Jules Kounde were all connected with lucrative transfers that never materialized.
The transactions that did not materialize during the summer transfer window of 2021 will most certainly be remembered.
Manchester City spent the summer chasing England captain Harry Kane, only for him to pledge his future to Tottenham Hotspur.
Real Madrid attempted to acquire Mbappe twice, but both of their offers of more than £100 million were rejected by Paris Saint-Germain.
Chelsea were interested in defender Jules Kounde, another France international, but Sevilla refused to sell him for less than his 80 million euro release clause.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles used social media to attempt to persuade Arsenal to let him go, but he ended up staying. After a permanent transfer to West Ham fell through, Jesse Lingard will battle for his position at Manchester United. Wolves also dropped a late bid for Renato Sanches, a Lille midfielder.
The Mbappe story demonstrates where financial power is concentrated.
Simon Stone of Sport provides an analysis.
Where does European football’s financial power currently reside? Perhaps the greatest example of this is a transfer agreement that fell through this summer.
Despite their well-publicized financial problems as the transfer season approached the deadline on Tuesday, Real Madrid were able to offer more than £100 million for Mbappe.
Despite the fact that Mbappe is known to yearn for a transfer to the Bernabeu, and despite the fact that his contract expires in less than a year, he could join Real for free next summer and sign a pre-contract deal as early as January, his club PSG has said no.
The choice is irrational from a financial standpoint. But it was the correct decision from a footballing standpoint for a team that had acquired Messi and Sergio Ramos, among others, this summer in a concerted attempt to win the Champions League.
PSG declined to join the ill-fated European Super League. They weren’t required to. They didn’t need the additional funds.
The six Premier League representatives might be said to be in the same boat. Despite the coronavirus pandemic’s enormous effect, Manchester City nevertheless spent a British record £100 million on Jack Grealish, Chelsea nearly as much on Romelu Lukaku, and Manchester United more than that on Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, and Raphael Varane. Spurs were able to reject City’s offer for Harry Kane, and Arsenal were the biggest spenders of all, with six new players.
There may be some snickering about Arsenal’s current predicament at the bottom of the Premier League standings with 0 points and no goals after three games, but that scenario will not continue.
And, if this summer is any indication, the only difference between the current environment and the European Super League – and Project Big Picture before it – is that there are now fewer teams capable of competing on that scale than the 15 who would have been given admission to the Super League.
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