August is here along with a raft of super cups and community shields. The start of the eminent season is imminent but the transfer twister is once again spinning mercilessly around the old continent – and at record velocity. Someone will probably blame the ever-worsening conditions on climate change.
La Liga has so far had a window more of exits than arrivals. A trend that was blown-out-the-water exacerbated last week when a couple of lawyers working on the behalf of a France-based client turned up in Barcelona. The now-completed €222m deal shows the seriousness of PSG’s ambition and the traction the project has gained. Neymar is the first player in their prime to elect to leave Spain’s big two in a long, long time. The prospect was initially met with scepticism before resigned acceptance of the astonishing reality took over. La Liga’s attempt to block the deal by rejecting the first payment was merely a tactic by a jilted partner.
Anyway, some context is needed in all this. Barcelona are now €222m richer and still have Messi and Suarez. A pretty decent barrel to be over. Their problem will now be who to get and how. Market value will be impossible and the list of possible replacements isn’t that long. Extracting Griezmann will be difficult given Atletico’s transfer ban and Monaco and Chelsea aren’t going to want to part with Mbappe or Hazard at this stage. Dybala of Juventus could be explored but the best option might be to hang on to the cash and go shopping next summer. We will have to wait and see.
The incoming transfer of the summer, however, has to be he who never arrived. The 17-year-old apparent wunderkind Vinicius Junior who Real Madrid decided to pluck from obscurity for just £39.6m. Having only made his debut with Flamengo in May Real stumped up the cash and will hope for the best. Presently, he stays in South America to develop. Los Blancos will be sweating over the development reports.
Real have had a busy summer and what’s more are currently in profit for their summer activity to the tune of £24.4m. I know, Real Madrid! Who’d have thought it possible? The rumbling flirtation with Mbappe may put an end to that though. Theo Hernandez arrived from city rivals Atletico for £23m and as did Dani Ceballos from Real Betis – he starred at the European U21 championships. Sales have dominated at the Bernabeu too. Pepe has gone to Besiktas on a free, Morata to Chelsea for £58m and Danilo to Manchester City for £26m.
You would think Atletico Madrid’s transfer ban means there isn’t much to say. You would be wrong. Vitolo joins from Sevilla for £32m but will spend the first six months on loan at Tenerife until Los Rojiblancos can register new players again. The continued speculation about the return of Diego Costa will no doubt persist until September 1st.
The promoted teams are really where the fun begins. Getafe, who came up through the play offs, have signed 14 players. Coming up from the second division is always difficult in Spain and Getafe will have a job bedding all the players together. Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez arrives on loan from Arsenal and Dani Pacheco joins following his release by Real Betis. The rest are a smorgasbord of unknowns.
Girona will compete in La Liga for the first time in their history and bring the Catalonian contingent up to three. Their transfer activity shows something of the its-not-what-you-know-its-who-you-know philosophy. Four players arrive on loan from Manchester City who, if memory recalls correctly, are managed by a man from the parish. Aleix Garcia and Pablo Maffeo should benefit from the loans and hopefully, Girona will too. Man City also have a friendly at the Montilivi after the start of the Premier League season. Cristhian Stuani is another recognisable name having come in from Middlesbrough for £1.5m.
Levante, the Segunda champions, come up too to restore the Valencia derby to our calendars. Six players come in so far with the only real one of note being former Aston Villa-man Antonio Luna.
Valencia continue their underwhelming chaos club act. Penalty maestro Diego Alves has returned to Brazil. He’s replaced by former Juventus reserve keeper Neto. The only other new face is Nemanja Maksimovic from Astana.
One to watch will be Villarreal’s Enes Unal who arrives from Manchester City for £12m. The 20-year-old Turkish striker is highly regarded and the deal no doubt includes a buyback clause. The Yellow Submarine is the ideal place for the striker to develop away from the pressures of the Premier League.
I suppose someone also might want to look out for, perpetual disappointment Adnan Januzaj who moved to Real Sociedad from Manchester United. San Sebastian is again a good place for the winger to find his focus after appearing to get very lost following his debut in red.
The deals are definitely not over for the summer and the biggest questions will, of course, be will Barcelona splash their pieces of Qatari silver and will Real Madrid do a Real Madrid and get Mbappe?
The coming of September will tell all…