A busy summer transfer window ended on Friday with an equally hectic deadline day, with some of Europe’s biggest clubs making some important moves in the nick of time.
Manchester United were perhaps the busiest team of all, signing four players during the day: goalkeeper Altay Bayindir, defenders Sergio Reguilon and Jonny Evans and midfielder Sofyan Amrabat. Reguilon and Evans in particular address United’s needs in defense following recent injuries to Luke Shaw and Raphael Varane.
Other English clubs had notable but less intense days. Manchester City ended their deal early by signing Matheus Nunes from Wolverhampton Wanderers, while Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur signed Cole Palmer and Brennan Johnson respectively.
Paris Saint-Germain also made headlines when it signed Bradley Barcola from Lyon for $54 million and barely got a deal over the finish line for Randal Kolo Muani. The club had agreed on a contract with Eintracht Frankfurt weeks ago, but it was almost canceled because Hugo Ekitike did not want to leave the French capital. However, the parties smoothed things over just in time.
However, things didn’t go so smoothly for Bayern Munich as Joao Palhinha, Trevoh Chalobah and Armel Bella-Ketchup were ruled out on deadline day. Bayern lacked time to land Chalobah and Bella ketchup and the window closed hours earlier in Germany than elsewhere. However, the Palhinha deal was almost completed – the player completed his medical and took photos in the Bayern jersey, but as Fulham were unable to find a replacement in time, the deal was canceled at the very last minute.
Barcelona managed to complete the moves for their two main targets, with the loans of Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix being completed at the very last minute, while earlier in the day they completed the loan of Ansu Fati to Brighton and Hove Albion.
Ultimately, however, the biggest deal of the day may have been the one that fell through. Liverpool rejected a huge offer for Mohamed Salah from Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad. The deal, worth more than $125 million, was the latest salvo in Saudi Arabia’s efforts to land as many big names as possible this summer. While rejecting Al-Ittihad, Liverpool still managed to make a move of their own and bring in Ryan Gravenberch from Bayern Munich, despite Bayern being so spectacularly tarnished in their attempt to bring in his replacement.
Let’s look at some winners and losers of the day:
Loser: Bayern Munich
Bayern had a good transfer window overall, having signed Harry Kane and Min-Jae Kim to strengthen the squad, but were in the market for a defensive midfielder and another centre-back. Pictures were taken of Joao Palhinha in a Bayern jersey, with an announcement ready before the deal fell through, showing the Portuguese midfielder returning to London to hopefully avoid relegation with the Cottagers. Then Trevoh didn’t join Chalobah but stayed at Chelsea, and Bayern couldn’t even agree a deal for a Championship centre-back in Armel Bella-Kotchap. It’s a miss that looks even stranger when the Southampton defender then turns around and goes on loan to PSV in the Netherlands.
These aren’t moves that will make the difference between Bayern winning the Bundesliga or not, but they will matter in the Champions League. After a busy summer of sales, Tuchel has a fairly thin defensive corps and will now have to hope that there are no injuries over the course of the season. There was also hope that Joshua Kimmich could switch to right-back by signing a defensive midfielder, which also won’t happen. Now Bayern have to find a plan B, which has been difficult in recent seasons.
Winner: Ryan Gravenberch
Leaving this Bayern Munich team is a great chance for Gravenberch to flourish and show why he was one of the most sought-after midfielders in the world when he left Ajax. After a season in which he wasn’t used in the right roles when he came off the bench, Liverpool are a team that can turn Gravenberch back into a midfielder who was good for a few goals and around five assists per season. It may take some time to get used to Jurgen Klopp’s pressing, but if Gravenberch gets up to speed, he has the talent to make Liverpool one of the Champions League contenders next season, despite Liverpool’s defensive weaknesses.
With Unes Unal out until at least January due to injury, Getafe needed attacking support in any way possible, which led to Mason Greenwood being brought in on loan from Manchester United. Greenwood was available after public outrage led to United not reintegrating him into the first team following an internal investigation into alleged sexual assault, for which he was arrested but ultimately not brought to trial. Having not played since January 2022, this was ultimately the best move by a Getafe side battling relegation from La Liga. But is Greenwood the player you want to stake your future on? Really?
It took a while, but Barcelona achieved their goals with Cancelo and Joao Felix, and now it’s a matter of what Xavi will do with them. And although they had to pay the wages to do so, Clement Lenglet, Eric Garcia and Ansu Fati, who were all sent out on loan, were enough. Barcelona’s finances have been a major problem in recent summers and they have prevented them from signing anyone permanently. Nevertheless, the changes are a great addition to the current season and at the same time replace the loss of production that Ousmane Dembele suffered on his way to PSG. It remains to be seen whether this is the right plan, but it was the plan Barcelona chose and they managed to put it straight into action.
TBD: Saudi Arabia
The biggest story of the summer was that the Saudi Pro League disrupted the transfer market. But will they manage to sign Mohamed Salah from Liverpool? The Saudi League transfer window is open until September 7th, but even without signing their man, PIF’s offers to Liverpool were one of the biggest stories of the day. It depends on whether the league has staying power. We have seen leagues like the Chinese Super League find themselves in a similar situation, but it was not sustainable. The Saudi league may have better support than China, but it just depends on what happens next.