The World Cup is no longer fresh in the memory. Images of Ivan Perisic karate kicking a Croatian equaliser against England in the semis, Kylian Mbappe putting on the after-burners against Argentina, Ahmed Musa running the Icelandic defence ragged, etc. all seem long gone now. A new season is upon us. And of course we first have to negotiate the transfer window, weeks of rumours, denials and unveilings. But it’s close to shutting now, as the window enters its final month, for the Premier League its final couple of weeks. Deals have been completed, though, and they’ll always be central right before the ball rolls in a new campaign, not least for these teams:
The Premier League champions have only made one addition to their record-breaking squad, sought-after target Riyad Mahrez has been snapped up from Leicester. Pep Guardiola has hinted that City may be done with their transfer business, but he’ll be no doubt be irked by the fact that the Mancunians missed out on Jorginho. The failure to lure the Italian midfielder to the Etihad means Fernandinho is just about the only man in the holding midfield position, and the Brazilian is already on the young side of 30. A low-key window is likely to equate to an even more cohesive squad, and may well mean more opportunities handed to youngsters, the likes of whom Brahim Diaz and Phil Foden have impressed in pre-season.
Jose Mourinho has expressed his dissatisfaction at United’s transfer activity, despite the arrivals of Fred, Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant. The rumours involving Anthony Martial departing haven’t abated, and the supposed wage fine of the Frenchman won’t keep him out of the headlines just yet. United are still linked with a few centre-backs, meaning Mourinho isn’t content over his sometimes unconvincing options at the heart of the defence
New manager Maurizio Sarri has brought with him from Napoli midfielder Jorginho, snatched from the jaws of Manchester City, whose likely to reduce Ngolo Kante’s defensive workload. That, alongside the arrival of veteran goalkeeper Robert Green, is the only bit of business at Stamford Bridge so far. They continue to be linked with Juventus centre-back Daniele Rugani, but constant reports Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard with the exit means Chelsea perhaps need to be more worried about what’ll go out than what’ll come in.
The headline-spenders in this window, the Reds have gone big with their acquisitions. Alisson Becker is the goalkeeping upgrade the side has long-needed, while midfield duo Naby Keita and Fabinho will ensure much more security in the middle, and the arrival of Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke is definitely a plus, not least in terms of squad depth. Their summer outlay means a title challenge is the expectation at Anfield.
Unai Emery is the new manager at the Emirates, replacing Arsene Wenger. The transfer business has been swift so far, experienced right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner (on a free from Juventus) will add much-needed nous and leadership in the side, Bernd Leno is a significant addition in between the sticks, Lucas Torreira is the defensive midfield signing that has been long overdue at the Emirates, same goes for Sokratis Papasthatopoulos at centre-back. Funds are still tight despite interest in a few more signings, but suspect areas have been bolstered.
The Italian champions made the headline act of this transfer window, signing Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid. Gigi Buffon has left, but Wojciech Szczesny is a capable goalkeeping replacement, and will face competition from new signing Mattia Perin. The signing of Emre Can will bolster, as will the return of Leonardo Bonucci in defence, the Italian centre-back re-joins after a year at AC Milan, with Gonzalo Higuain moving the other way. The signing of right-back Joao Cancelo means Stephan Lichtsteiner is unlikely to be missed.
The European champions have lost Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, and, under new management, haven’t quite made any major signings, by their previously lofty standards, yet. Youngster Vinicius Jr. finally joins from the Brazilian League, while full-back Alvaro Odriozola joins from Real Sociedad. The signings show continuance in the youth project going on at the Bernabeu, but it’s not to get a sense of worry over where those previous game-saving goals will come when all isn’t going well, a feature of Ronaldo’s time at the club.
Andres Iniesta has gone, so has Paulinho- after just a season at the club, but, unlike last season, there’s no crisis feared to happen at the Nou Camp, no real sneer over the new signings. Clement Lenglet is an excellent defensive addition from Sevilla, Arthur Melo and Malcom are welcome additions, and the expected signing of Arturo Vidal, from Bayern Munich, will give Los Cules the bite and nous lost with the departures of Iniesta and Paulinho. Proper squad depth looks to be added now, while some deadwood has been cleared, in the exit of Lucas Digne, with more expected to follow.
Paris St. Germain
It’s been a quiet summer for the French champions so far, who seem more occupied by constantly denying reports associating Neymar with an exit than making purchases of their own. As expected, Kylian Mbappe has had his loan move turned to a permanent transfer; the sale of Javier Pastore will hardly be felt, but the departure of Yuri Berchiche means they’re short on cover at right back. Thiago Motta’s retirement also has Le Parisiens needing reinforcements in defensive midfield.
Under new management, Bayern have continued their knack of making business early, Leon Goretzka had been confirmed to join from Schalke even before last season came to a close. It’s been rather quiet on the arrival front, new manager Niko Kovac seemingly more focused on the loan returnees, i.e. Renato Sanches and Serge Gnabry. Kovac has said Sanches is part of his plans for the new season, which means the Portuguese youngster will suffice for the loss of Arturo Vidal to Barcelona.