PSG's stellar signings, Barca lose Messi and Man Utd put themselves in title contention? The transfer window's winners and losers

By Sports Desk September 01, 2021

The transfer window does not close. It slams shut, and on Tuesday, it slammed shut with a flurry of late activity.

LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid were heavily involved, with Antoine Griezmann re-joining the club on loan from Barcelona while Saul Niguez left for Chelsea.

It marked the end of a difficult window for Barca, who of course lost Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain, who rounded off a stellar three months by not only keeping Kylian Mbappe, but also adding promising left-back Nuno Mendes.

Earlier in the day, Cristiano Ronaldo's sensational return to Manchester United had been confirmed, perhaps putting the Red Devils right in the mix for the Premier League title, while Chelsea - buoyed by Romelu Lukaku's comeback - cannot be ignored.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the winners, and losers, of what has been a chaotic transfer window.

 

THE WINNERS

Paris Saint-Germain

Let's start with the obvious. Achraf Hakimi, Mendes, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georgino Wijnaldum and, of course Messi. Oh, and PSG kept hold of Mbappe, too, rebuffing three bids - the final one reportedly worth €200m - from Real Madrid for the 22-year-old superstar who is out of contract next year. Speaking of out of contract players, Ramos, Donnarumma, Wijnaldum and Messi were all brought in for combined fees of €0, although their wages are sure to be astronomical even by PSG's standards. In Mbappe, Neymar and Messi, PSG have, on paper, what could be the most feared attacking trident of the modern era, not to mention Angel Di Maria in reserve. Mauricio Pochettino's side look suspect defensively but have Ramos to come in, while Donnarumma will compete with Keylor Navas. If they do not win the Champions League this season, will they ever manage it?

Manchester United

It remains to be seen whether United really needed to go out and buy Ronaldo, but the temptation – and reportedly, the requirement to get one over on noisy neighbours Manchester City – was just too much. However, there is no doubting Ronaldo brings a focal point you could argue was still missing from the Red Devils' attack, though with so much quality at his disposal the pressure will be on Ole Gunnar Solskjer to deliver a trophy. United spent big on Jadon Sancho and also brought in a world class defender in Raphael Varane. A title tilt might not be expected just yet, but silverware in some form must be the goal now. After fan protests during the botched Super League proposals earlier this year, the Glazer family seem to have gone all out to prove they want success.

Chelsea

When it comes to Premier League title contenders, Chelsea have surely put themselves well in the running. The European Champions have brought in two major additions in the form of Lukaku and Saul, both players with a wealth of experience at the highest level, and both on the back of title-winning campaigns last season. The Blues did sell Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud and Kurt Zouma, among others, but the strength in depth Thomas Tuchel has to play with is remarkable. A deadline day move for Sevilla's Jules Kounde did not materialise, but Saul adds another fantastic option in midfield to go alongside N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and the in-form Jorginho.

Tottenham

For a long while, it looked as though Tottenham would be one of the big losers from this window. A prolonged managerial search eventually resulted in Nuno Espirito Santo's appointment, but the main saga was over Harry Kane's future. City reportedly made one bid, during Euro 2020, which was dismissed out of hand. The champions never did return with an improved offer, despite huge speculation, and Kane ultimately stayed put. Older players such as Joe Hart, Toby Alderweireld, Erik Lamela and Moussa Sissoko were moved out, while Bryan Gil, Pierluigi Gollini, Cristian Romero and Emerson Royal – a deadline day arrival from Barca – arrived to fill the gaps. Serge Aurier's contract was terminated, while three wins from three means Spurs sat top of the league heading into the international break.

Atletico Madrid

While Saul was a deadline day exit, Atleti have given themselves a great chance of retaining their LaLiga title. With rivals Madrid failing to land Mbappe, as well as losing two of their stalwarts, and Barca seemingly in disarray, there has never been a better opportunity for Diego Simeone's team to really assert themselves as top dogs in Spain. Griezmann's arrival, on a season-long loan with the option for either club to extend the switch, has bolstered a fearsome attack that already included Luis Suarez, Angel Correa, new signing Matheus Cunha and Joao Felix - though the latter may now find chances to play in his preferred position, nominally off the front man, even harder to come by. Saul was struggling to nail down a regular spot in the first team, but Atleti showed greater desire to keep Kieran Trippier, who stayed despite interest from the Premier League. Rodrigo de Paul also arrived from Udinese.

 

THE LOSERS

Barcelona

The chickens have finally come home to roost at Camp Nou. Years of mismanagement, and the impact of COVID-19, has left the club's finances in a shambolic state. Barca had agreed to a new deal with Messi only to then announce the deal could not be completed due to "financial and structural obstacles". Barca ended the window by selling promising youngster Ilaix Moriba to RB Leipzig and shipping off Emerson to Spurs. Then, late on Tuesday, Griezmann, who cost Barca €120m in 2019, was sent back to Atleti. Luuk de Jong, a target man Ronald Koeman worked with during his stint as the Netherlands' coach, was drafted in from Sevilla as a replacement. Memphis Depay seems ready to step up after his arrival from Lyon, while Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero also came in on free transfers, though Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets were among the players who took pay cuts in order for Barca to register their latest acquisitions.

Inter

Serie A champions Inter were dealt a blow when, just after ending their 11-year trophy drought, coach Antonio Conte left the club. Financial difficulties meant the Nerrazurri had to cash in on prized assets, and Hakimi and subsequently Lukaku followed Conte out of the door. Lautaro Martinez did stay, however, with Inter reinvesting some of the funds to sign Netherlands right-back Denzel Dumfries, Roma striker Edin Dzeko and Lazio forward Juan Correa. Hakan Calhanoglu, meanwhile, joined from rivals Milan on loan, though it is difficult to see that being enough for Inter to challenge on all fronts this season.

 

Juventus

While Inter were weakened, it has to be said that Juventus – surely their closest rivals in the Scudetto hunt – also had a disappointing window. Like many European clubs, they have been hit hard by COVID-19, though appeared well set to challenge again after reappointing Massimiliano Allegri. However, Ronaldo decided he wanted out late in the window, and Juve did not stand in his way. An initial fee of £12.86m (€15m), payable over five years, was agreed with United, and Ronaldo left just like that. Moise Kean returned from Everton on a two-year loan with an obligation to buy as a replacement, while Manuel Locatelli was their other major acquisition and Weston McKennie's move from Schalke was made permanent. Based on the performance in Sunday's defeat to Empoli, however, Juve are far from the force they were during Allegri's last spell in charge.

Real Madrid

For a time last week, it really did look as though Madrid were going to end the window in sensational fashion. Three bids were lodged for Mbappe, but PSG did not buckle. Madrid did move for another French youngster – Edouardo Camavinga, who joined from Rennes on Tuesday – but overall it must be considered a poor window. Los Blancos allowed Ramos to leave on a free and sold long-time defensive partner Varane - just the eight Champions League winners' medals between them. Martin Odegaard was deemed surplus to requirements by Carlo Ancelotti and sold to Arsenal, though no buyers were found for fringe players Luka Jovic or Dani Ceballos. David Alaba's arrival on a free transfer from Bayern Munich at least softened the blow of Ramos' departure, and Mbappe may well be on board in 2022.

Manchester City

City broke the British transfer record to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, who in turn have made smart acquisitions such as Danny Ings, Leon Bailey and Emiliano Buendia. While another attacking midfielder was more of a luxury than a necessity, City did miss out on Kane and then seemingly saw Ronaldo snatched from under their noses by United, though the club have claimed it is they who pulled out of the deal. Pep Guardiola went into the window wanting an out-and-out number nine following Aguero's departure, but for now the Premier League champions will have to carry on with makeshift forwards, it seems. Not that it did them much harm in 5-0 routs of Norwich City and Arsenal last month. Meanwhile, wantaway playmaker Bernardo Silva is still at the club, though he will remain a first-team regular.

Liverpool 

Unlike their league rivals, Liverpool never seemed focused on spending big. The Reds instead turned their attention to tying down the futures of key players, with Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson, Fabinho and Andrew Robertson signing new deals. Ibrahima Konate came in from RB Leipzig to boost the defence – a clear area of weakness last season during an injury crisis – though Jurgen Klopp's squad does seem weaker. They have started the season well, but it remains to be seen how they cope without Wijnaldum and even Xherdan Shaqiri should injuries trouble them again.

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    James Milner and his team-mates will "rally round" Darwin Nunez after the striker was sent off on his home debut on Monday, Liverpool's vice-captain has said.

    The Uruguayan was dismissed just before the hour mark at Anfield by referee Paul Tierney during Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace after he reacted to being shoved by Joachim Andersen by pushing his head into the Dane's face.

    The Reds were 1-0 down at the time, but still managed to salvage a point after Luis Diaz equalised Wilfried Zaha's first-half opener with a thunderous effort from all of 25 yards at the Kop end.

    The hosts could have won it at the death, with Mohamed Salah and substitute Fabio Carvalho both going close with volleyed efforts, though Zaha also nearly snatched it at the other end.

    Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Milner said Nunez will learn from his mistake, with the help of his team-mates.

    "I didn't see the incident," the 36-year-old said. "Obviously he's going to be disappointed with that and it's down to us to get round him and rally. I'm sure he'll learn from it.

    "I think the reaction [from the team] was the most important thing. The team reacted very, very well and the ground reacted very well – as they always do – they got right behind us and we could've nicked a winner. It wasn't to be but we move on.

    "That's what good teams do, they get together with disappointments and you stick together. We've got a great team spirit at the club and you don't have to say too much about the fans here. They're obviously incredible and always get behind us, especially when things are tough. They did that and we rallied.

    "It was disappointing not to get the winner but I think the reaction was incredible from the boys – 10 men and kept pushing."

    Liverpool have already lost ground in the race for the title, sitting four points behind champions Manchester City after two games, but Milner is not concerned given the campaign is still in its infancy.

    "It's not the ideal start but you see the readiness for the season and it's obviously a long, long season," he said. "It's not the start we would want but you see the fight there.

    "We've had a week of tough things that have gone on [injuries] and preparation hasn't been ideal. I think it's disappointing but you see the fighting spirit was there and no-one can deny that. We fought until the end."

    Liverpool went into the break 1-0 down despite having 17 shots on goal to Palace's four in the first half, but Milner heaped praise on Diaz for the quality of his leveller in the second.

    "When we had the chances we had and the moments around the box and didn't quite get the break, sometimes you need that moment of brilliance," he added.

    "Obviously when you've got players like [Diaz] on the pitch that can create something out of nothing, it was an incredible goal and hopefully there'll be many more to come this season from him."

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    Jurgen Klopp has said he will speak with Darwin Nunez after the big-money striker was sent off as Liverpool drew 1-1 with Crystal Palace on Monday. 

    The Uruguayan had already endured a frustrating home debut after having five shots with none on target, before seeing red both figuratively and literally just before the hour as he threw his head into Joachim Andersen's face after the Dane shoved him.

    Liverpool dominated proceedings at Anfield despite playing more than a third of the game with 10 men, but were frustrated by a resolute Palace side who could have even taken all three points after Wilfried Zaha missed a late chance.

    Zaha gave the visitors the lead in the first half after running onto a through ball from Eberechi Eze and placing his finish past Alisson into the far right corner.

    Luis Diaz equalised for Liverpool shortly after Nunez's dismissal, beating several players down the left side before cutting inside and smashing a shot into the same corner of the net Zaha had found earlier.

    Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Klopp said Nunez knew he made a mistake, but added he will have to get used to the physicality of defending in the Premier League and react accordingly.

    "He knows that now himself [that he made a mistake] and I will talk to him," the Reds boss said. "It doesn't make too much sense that I speak about it in public. It is absolutely not the reaction you want to see. Centre halves in the Premier League will do that to him, he's a handful himself and yeah, that's not the reaction."

    Klopp was happier with the contribution of his other South American forward, Diaz, whose goal brought Anfield to life as the hosts tried to force a winner, with Mohamed Salah and substitute Fabio Carvalho both hitting volleys narrowly wide in the closing stages.

    "Luis played a super game, especially after the goal, he played like three or four players," Klopp added. "Incredible goal and of course, we needed that, then we had from the edge [of the penalty area] two nice opportunities, one with Fabio, one with Mo, but in the end it's a point."

    The German coach was philosophical despite the fact his team still await their first win of the season, and already sit four points behind rivals Manchester City in the Premier League table.

    Klopp has a number of players missing through injury, including Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip, meaning Nat Phillips had to start in defence with Joe Gomez only fit enough for a late cameo from the bench, while Thiago Alcantara, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino are also currently unavailable.

    "[A point is] not exactly what we wanted before the game of course but after this game and all the things that happened, we have to take it," he said.

    "Honestly, the real feeling I have in the moment is I'm proud. Everything that went against us in the week is crazy, it was like a witch was in the building. Every time somebody else had [injury] problems, and putting in such a performance, especially in the circumstances, I am really proud of that."

  • Allegri 'not worried' about Di Maria injury, coy on Paredes transfer Allegri 'not worried' about Di Maria injury, coy on Paredes transfer

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    Di Maria opened the scoring on his debut and provided an assist for Dusan Vlahovic in the 3-0 triumph, where the striker also won and converted a penalty.

    After a slow start, it was largely plain sailing for Juventus after Di Maria's debut goal, but concern was raised after the former Paris Saint-Germain ace limped off in the second half with a suspected adductor injury.

    Juventus also saw Denis Zakaria pick up an injury during the match, but Allegri insisted that he was not concerned about the prospective setbacks.

    "I am not worried. We'll see what the tests say tomorrow," he told DAZN.

    "Unfortunately, these things happen in football. He had this adductor issue a week ago too, perhaps I should've taken him off when we were 3-0 up, but he was enjoying himself out there. 

    "Zakaria just had a cramp, nothing more. The important thing is that we won a game that we really wanted to win, which was by no means simple."

    Juventus' may make further additions before the close of the transfer window on September 1, with Di Maria's compatriot and former PSG teammate Leandro Paredes heavily touted to make a move to Turin.

    The midfielder was shown on social media to be following the game but Allegri played down the significance.

    "They are friends, both from Argentina, so that's natural. I don't know if they can play together, I have to work with the players at my disposal," he added.

    "The club has done well, we lost important players and brought in good replacements."

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