With European soccer well and underway, it’s useful to look back on what truly was one of the most exciting transfer windows in recent history, if not ever. Two of arguably the best soccer players of all time, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, transferred clubs, and more of the world’s best players moved for eye-watering sums in highly anticipated transfers.
However, it seems as though the transfers have been relatively hit-or-miss, with some of the most exciting players in the world looking a shell of their former selves at their new clubs. This article will take a look at some of the most significant moves from the summer transfer window and how they performed.
Lionel Messi to PSG from FC Barcelona: Free Transfer
In perhaps the most shocking transfer of the summer, Lionel Messi, arguably the best soccer player in the world, if not of all time, was forced to leave FC Barcelona after 21 years at the club since the Catalonian club couldn’t fit his wage bill into the Spanish La Liga’s strict wage limits. French club Paris Saint-Germain was the first to sign him on a free transfer, reuniting him with old teammate Neymar. PSG sold over 832,000 shirts with Messi’s name in just 24 hours according to some sources, reported to have been an all-time record. However, not all has gone as expected. In Ligue 1, arguably an easier league than the Spanish league, he is yet to score in five appearances and refused to shake his manager’s hand when substituted in one such game. We have seen glimpses of the old Messi in the Champions League, with three goals in three appearances in the tournament. Time will tell if 34-year-old Messi will reach his world-beating form and add to his six Ballon d’Or awards.
Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United from Juventus: $17m
Cristiano Ronaldo made worldwide headlines when he returned to his former club Manchester United after making himself a household name in his first spell from 2003 to 2009. Ronaldo’s shirt sales were reported to have been purchased twice as much as Messi’s PSG shirts, making $45 million in just 12 hours. One of the best players in the world and one of the best of all time has shown his quality that won him five Ballon d’Or awards, with nine goals in just 12 games. With crucial goals to secure results for United, including two goals in his second debut and a last-minute winner in the Champions League, the 36-year-old has been a spark in an otherwise struggling United team. His injection of quality and leadership has reignited the debate between him and Messi for the best player in the world, especially with Messi’s struggles.
Jack Grealish to Manchester City from Aston Villa: $135m
Jack Grealish, one of England’s most exciting young players, made headlines with his £100m (US $135m) transfer to Manchester City after his strong performances for England in the European Championships. While he hasn’t been especially poor, he is yet to light up the Premier League and has just two goals and two assists in 15 appearances for the reigning English champions. It seems as though Man City’s most expensive signing ever will need more time to show his quality.
Jadon Sancho to Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund: $100m
Jadon Sancho was also another hugely anticipated young signing, coming back to England after lighting up the German Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund for a considerable sum of money. However, he has struggled to find his form, as he is yet to score or assist in 13 appearances. His form has not been worthy of being called up to the England squad by England manager Gareth Southgate. Questions have been raised over the 21-year-old’s head, and his manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, has been criticized for not getting the best out of him.
It seems that some of the most anticipated signings this year have not lived up to their initial expectations, with some exceptions. Hopefully, with more time, the players who have struggled will show the form that made their transfers so anticipated and live up to their exciting expectations. The European soccer season still has a long way to go, and with its inevitable twists and turns, there is no way of knowing how players will perform in the future.