Ikem Nnadi ’24
Coming off a year plagued by uncertainty, disease, and unrest, the last nine months have been a long ‘rebuilding’ phase with no end in sight. This has been quite evident in the world of soccer. The game’s biggest clubs strengthened and re-formed, while smaller teams pulled off steals to recruit much needed talent. In ten years, fans of the sport will look back towards this window and marvel at how unbelievable some of these transfers were.
The club with the most talk is Paris Saint Germain (PSG). After snagging Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid, the French club recruited Achraf Hakimi, one of the world’s best right backs, from Inter Milan for 88 million CAD. However, that did not satisfy the game’s richest team. They continued to bolster their ranks with the signing of Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, the ex-Liverpool player. Those three signings alone made the Parisians challengers for the UEFA Champions League, but that was not the end of it.
On August 10, 2021, Lionel Andres Messi left FC Barcelona after 16 years of service and came to PSG. Many tears were spilled, and the tabloids were saying it was the end of an era, that soccer would never be the same.
While the soccer world had its eyes on Paris, England’s Manchester United were silently working away at securing Cristiano Ronaldo’s signature. It was a hard battle; Manchester United’s civic rival Manchester City was so close to getting Ronaldo. Some sources had even “confirmed” the transfer. However, on August 27, 2021, the Portuguese marvel silenced the doubters and returned to the club that made him an icon. Despite the doubts of being too old or finished, in trademark fashion, he has risen to the occasion and scored five goals in seven appearances.
Ronaldo’s return stole the headlines, but Raphael Varane’s signing from Real Madrid to Manchester United cannot go unnoticed. The World Cup and four-time Champions League winner is one of the most decorated defenders of all time, and his 6’3” frame is as imposing as the next.
So yes, you could say PSG and Manchester United ‘won’ this transfer window. However, there were still several large signings. Englishman Jack Grealish moved to Manchester City for 171 million CAD, and Romelu Lukaku had a king’s return to Chelsea for 170 million CAD. Jadon Sancho also moved to Manchester United for 145 million CAD, but he has failed to impress in the early going.
This summer was truly an experience for soccer diehards and casuals alike. Transfer sagas were sprouting up like weeds, and all fans were kept on their feet. It will be interesting to see how these players perform.
Photo Credit: Africa Top Sports