Overtime: Transfer Frenzy


PSG’s acquisition of Messi highlighted the drama of an unprecedented transfer window. (Courtesy of Twitter)

One of the biggest aspects of soccer is the transfer window, where clubs spend millions upon millions to get new players to bolster the squad and fit their ambitions. It is a hectic time, with various clubs fighting to sign key targets. The recent transfer window was no different.

There are two main types of moves: loans and transfers. In a loan, a player is loaned out to a different team for a set amount of time. Each loan may have an option or even an obligation to buy the player if the team is impressed with their performance or a certain condition is met. In a transfer, the player is sold for a fee that both teams agree to. However, there are transfers that occur without any fee, called free transfers. Out-of-contract players are free agents, and no fee is given. 

The most recent transfer window will be remembered for the quality of players that moved clubs. One of the biggest names in the sport, Lionel Messi, left his boyhood club Barcelona in a shocking move. Both sides were happy to sign a new agreement but unable to due to the leagues’ financial restrictions. Messi ended up joining the French side, Paris Saint Germain (PSG), on a free transfer. And PSG was only getting started.

PSG also signed Real Madrid defender and captain Sergio Ramos on a free transfer. Ramos is widely considered one of the best defenders in the world, with four Champions Leagues, two European Championships and a World Cup among his various accolades. In addition to these star acquisitions in attack and defense, PSG also signed Liverpool midfielder Georgino Wijnaldum without a fee and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma from AC Milan. The 21-year-old goalkeeper was named Young Player of the Tournament at the 2020 European Championships and is viewed as one of the best in the world. 

Let that sink in. A single window handed PSG an attacker, midfielder, defender and goalkeeper. Each of them is considered one of the best in the world at their position. This not only puts them as heavy favorites to win the French league but one of the favorites to win the Champions League as well, which features clubs from all of the biggest European leagues fighting to become continental champions.

There were many other rumored transfer stories about players linked to big money moves that never materialized. The main one involved Harry Kane. He wanted to leave Tottenham and there were endless rumors of him joining Manchester City, who were in desperate need of a striker after letting Sergio Aguero leave for Barcelona. Tottenham refused any bids, even to the tune of 174 million euros. Instead, City spent 117.5 million euros on Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, breaking the record for the biggest fee for a British player.

Another saga includes PSG’s Kylian Mbappe. He had been linked to Real Madrid for years, and they finally acted on it. Madrid sent several bids, one reportedly up to 200 million euros, but PSG blocked all of the offers and kept Mbappe. Next year, the Frenchman will be a free agent which makes it even more surprising that PSG turned down 200 million euros for someone who could leave for free in 11 months. PSG had made various contract offers to Mbappe, who turned all of them down. 

In addition, Chelsea paid 115 million pounds to bring in forward Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan. This marks a return to Chelsea for the striker after he was sold in 2014. This is Chelsea’s biggest transfer in history as Lukaku is undoubtedly one of the best forwards on the planet. Switching from the top of Series A and joining the European Champions is a perfect match for Chelsea’s ambitions to win the league.

Another team that won big in the market was Manchester United. They landed Jadon Sancho for 85 million euros from Borussia Dortmund. This move was in the making from the start of last year and they were finally able to get the 21-year-old. In addition to that, they signed defender Rafael Varane from Real Madrid for 40 million euros. 

But they saved the biggest win for last. Cristiano Ronaldo was at Juventus and wanted to leave. With days left in the window, Manchester City appeared to be the only team interested in signing him. This felt like an absolute betrayal to them, as Ronaldo was a United player from 2003 until 2009, where he became a star and a worldwide name. 

However, in a span of 24 hours, City pulled out of negotiations and United hijacked the deal to bring him home. United will pay an initial fee of 15 million euros that can rise up to around 23 million if certain circumstances are met. The transfers made by Chelsea, United and City have all made them title favorites for the Premier League if they were not already.

This is one of, if not the greatest transfer window that has ever occurred. We saw both GOATs switch teams as well as teams break the bank to sign their players. I cannot wait to see how the rest of this season plays out as these teams and their new signings fight for both domestic and continental success.