Words by Ava Steed
After two circumspect and difficult transfer windows during the height of lockdown, it appears that the football world, at least, thinks the worst of times are behind us, heralded by this seismic transfer window that has now closed with a resounding thump.
With each coming window, every pundit likes to have a marquee signing to celebrate and gossip about, yet this window seems to have transcended all others, in that there are so many sensational transactions of interest; such as Ronaldo, Messi, Lukaku, Grealish, even this decade’s biggest near-miss of a transfer, Harry Kane.
Let’s start with Harry. He has spent so many years as every Spurs fan’s darling, being a talisman for not only the club, but for England. Harry is the traditional number 9 – big, strong and powerful. But his prolific goal scoring has never shown fruition in terms of trophies won. Inevitably though, a player of Kane’s quality will one day want to look back on his career sprinkled with trophies and his tenure at Tottenham has been barren. And, he claimed this year, that he and Daniel Leavy (the chairman of Tottenham) had previously struck a Gentleman’s agreement in which Harry would be allowed to leave and ply his trade elsewhere in pursuit of silverware, at a time of his choosing. On the face of it, probably not an unreasonable request. Significantly, Man City wanted Harry, and it seemed Harry wanted Man City. When the two sides played each other in the opening game of the season, Kane was rested. Bizarre? The outcome of this is Harry remains at Tottenham, and even issued a gushing statement in which he is delighted to still be there, at the club he loves.
Manchester City also cast their net in the direction of Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the finest footballer of the 21st century. Moving from Juventus, seemingly bound for Man City, at the eleventh hour, Ronaldo signed to the red side of Manchester. There is a lack of information on how hefty his wages are, but all the credible insiders think it is in excess of half a million per week. He will be returning to the number 7 shirt and who can guess at the revenue generated by the sales of that red 7 shirt in the Manchester United megastore. He is the all-time international highest goal scorer, and maybe it is fitting that he returns to the Premier League to finish his illustrious career, given that ours is the biggest stage in world football.
With yet another net, Man City did manage to catch the young Jack Grealish for £100 million, a record-breaking transfer fee for an Englishman. The Birmingham-bred boy has much to prove after leaving his beloved Aston Villa. It would be interesting to see the lengths of celebration (or otherwise) should he score against his old teammates.
Romelu Lukaku left Chelsea in 2014 for £28 million, bound for Everton. He has become a much more complete footballer after a successful spell, playing for Inter Milan, and now finds himself back at Stamford Bridge, being re-signed at Chelsea for £97.5 million. Incredibly, with no accountants being harmed! Scoring on his debut against Arsenal, Lukaku looks promising.
After what feels like a complete career at Barcelona, Lionel Messi has been lured to the bright lights of Paris St Germain, whereupon he will wear the number 30 shirt – the same digits that he once wore as a junior at Barca. There were many tears as he made his exit, but when you are being offered more money than Ronaldo, perhaps you wipe your eyes and grit your teeth.
Arsenal, unfathomably, find themselves rooted at the bottom of the Premiership table, despite having spent the most money in this off-season transfer window. One of their acquisitions is the great prospect from Brighton, Ben White. Transferred for £50 million, the Dorset-born starlet is understood to be on £6 million a year wage at Arsenal.
Despite the pandemic causing a temporary plateau in the rise of transfer fees, football, particularly the Premier League, has bounced back with a vengeance. It is fair to assume that this rise will extrapolate over the next decade and fees could be in excess of £200 – £300 million, with the imminent moves of Haaland and Mbappe potentially eclipsing all that we’ve seen before.