Despite the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost every major club in Europe made a big-money signing in the just-closed 2021 summer transfer window, and there were plenty of records broken, with the Premier League leading the way with over £1.1 billion spent.
While Real Madrid weren’t able to get a last-minute deal for PSG’s Kylian Mbappe over the line, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi moved clubs and there was an impressive mix of £100m moves and efficient free transfers. In fact, it’s one of the most exciting windows in football history.
In this piece, TOP SOCCER BLOG brings you the top 10 shocking transfers in the just concluded window.
1. CRISTIANO RONALDO (JUVENTUS TO MANCHESTER UNITED)
The window was already in a crazy mode when rumours of Ronaldo’s desire to leave Juventus started, Man City were initially linked with the Portuguese forward but United swift swung into action to complete the most sensational transfer of the summer that drove football fans into a frenzy. The 36-year-old was signed in a deal that could potentially rise to £20m. CR7 is back home!
2. LIONEL MESSI (BARCELONA TO PSG)
Although Messi handed in a transfer request in 2020, he was forced to stay; with fans expecting him to renew his contract. Barcelona’s new President, Joan Laporta, has a good relationship with Messi and persuaded the Argentine to sign a new contract, both parties agreed on a deal but the club’s past administration’s mismanagement of funds had landed the Blaugranas in huge debt — their situation got worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic. Consequently, the club couldn’t meet up with La Liga’s financial guidelines and the announcement of Messi’s departure sent shockwaves across the football world. PSG immediately pounced and signed him to boost their UEFA Champions League aspirations. Arguably the greatest player of all time was signed for FREE!!!
3. ANTOINE GRIEZMANN (BARCELONA TO ATHLETICO MADRID)
Barca splashed €120m to sign Griezmann in 2019 but the French man failed to live up to the lofty expectations in Camp Nou. He managed 35 goals in 102 appearances in all competitions. With the departure of Messi to PSG, Griezmann was expected to step out of the Argentine’s shadow and lead Barcelona into the Post-Messi era. But due to the Blaugranas’ financial difficulties, the club allowed him make a shocking loan move back to Athletico Madrid on transfer deadline day. A €10m loan fee was agreed, with a €40m obligation to buy clause.
4. SAUL NIGUEZ (ATHLETICO MADRID TO CHELSEA)
Saul is one of Atletico’s most prized assets due to his versatility, talent, and virtue of being a homegrown player. But over the last two seasons, he has slipped down the pecking order due to loss of form. Because he was being played out of position and his limited game time, he wanted a way out of the club. European champions, Chelsea, came calling and his head got completely turned. Athletico were reluctant to let him leave and tried to wave off Chelsea’s advances but got their hands forced on transfer deadline day. Due to their unwillingness to let him leave, only a loan deal was agreed upon. The Blues already boast a very solid midfield, and the addition of Saul will make it better.
5. GIANLUIGI DONNARUMA (AC MILAN TO PSG)
By far the best young goalkeeper in the world, Donnaruma has been followed by the top clubs for a number of years, with Milan resisting all offers. But the club’s inability to agree on a new deal with the Italian saw him run out his deal this summer. His performances at the Euros, which Italy won, earned him the Best Player of the Tournament award. Sensing his disagreement with the Rossoneri over a new contract, PSG capitalised and added him to their squad, which is now the most complete in the world. Signing Donnaruma —who is just 22-years-old — on a free is arguably the best deal of the 2021 summer transfer window.
6. MIRALEM PJANIC (BARCELONA TO BESIKTAS)
Barcelona had their worst transfer window this summer, and their woes got compounded with the loan transfer of Miralem Pjanic to the Turkish side, Besiktas. The Bosnian midfielder was signed from Juventus for €60m but couldn’t establish himself at Camp Nou. He was linked with a move back to Juventus throughout the window, but the Turin giants opted for Ihhareten from PSV at the last minute. Despite the transfer window haven officially closed in the major European leagues, Pjanic still forced a loan move to Besiktas, with Barca left licking their wounds.
7. NUNO MENDES (SPORTING LISBON TO PSG)
PSG were by far the winners of the 2021 summer transfer window having signed the likes of Sergio Ramos, Georgino Wijnaldum, Donnaruma, and Messi on free transfers. They also won the race for the signing of Achraf Hakimi from Inter. The French giants made a last wonderful deal to complete their most fruitful transfer window since the Qatari billionaires (QSI) took over the club with the acquisition of Nuno Mendes from Sporting. The 18-year-old left-back had an €80m transfer fee placed on him at the beginning of the transfer window, which put off potential suitors. But PSG’s luck this summer shone again as they magically signed him for a €7m loan fee with the option of making the transfer permanent for €40m, should he impress enough.
8. EDUARDO CAMAVINGA (RENNES TO REAL MADRID)
18-year-old Camavinga is one of the most sought-after youngsters in the world over the past few years. What prevented the top clubs to sign him was the hefty €100m transfer fee placed on him. With his deal running out next year, he refused to sign a new contract in order to force a move away. Madrid took advantage of the situation and signed him for just €30m, a far cry from Rennes’ valuation of the player.
9. LUUK de JONG (SEVILLA TO BARCELONA)
In a summer that saw the club lose the likes of Messi, Griezmann, and Ilaix Moriba in their front line, bringing in Luuk de Jong from Sevilla is merely a panic buy. The Dutch striker scored just 19 goals in 94 appearances in all competitions for Sevilla.
10. ROMELU LUKAKU (INTER MILAN TO CHELSEA)
After having a fantastic season with Inter Milan in the 2020/21 campaign, where he won the Serie A, and second highest-scorer in the league, Lukaku was declared untouchable by Inter Milan. However, Chelsea came knocking for his signature, and the Blues were very persistent. Shockingly, on 12 August 2021, Lukaku rejoined to his former club Chelsea, for a club record fee of £97.5 million.
Bonus: TAKEHIRO TOMIYASU (BOLOGNA TO ARSENAL)
Arsenal spent the most cash amount all the Premier League clubs this summer, but their fans aren’t so excited. With other clubs bringing in big names, the Gunners seem to be lost and were just piling up youngsters for the future. The trend reached a climax on deadline day with the arrival of a certain Takehiro Tomiyasu for €20m from Bologna to fill up the right-back position vacated by Hector Bellerin.