A busy summer transfer window concluded with an equally hectic deadline day on Friday as some of Europe’s biggest clubs made some major moves in the nick of time.
Manchester United was perhaps the busiest team of all, signing four players over the course of the day: goalkeeper Altay Bayindir, defenders Sergio Reguilon and Jonny Evans and midfielder Sofyan Amrabat. Reguilon and Evans in particular address a need for United in defense after Luke Shaw and Raphael Varane recently picked up injuries.
Other English clubs had notable but less intense days. Manchester City ended their business early by signing Matheus Nunes from Wolverhampton Wanderers, while Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur locked in Cole Palmer and Brennan Johnson, respectively.
Paris Saint-Germain also made headlines by signing Bradley Barcola from Lyon for $54 million, and barely got a deal over the line with Randal Kolo Muani. The club agreed a deal with Eintracht Frankfurt weeks ago but the agreement was nearly canceled because Hugo Ekitike was unwilling to leave the French capital. The parties smoothed things over just in time, though.
Things did not go as smoothly for Bayern Munich, though, who missed out on Joao Palhinha, Trevoh Chalobah, and Armel Bella-Ketchup on deadline day. Bayern ran out of time to land Chalobah and Bella-Ketchup with the window closing in Germany hours before it did elsewhere. The Palhinha deal, though, was nearly done — the player completed his medical and took photos in a Bayern shirt, but with Fulham unable to secure a replacement in time, the deal was called off at the very last minute.
Barcelona managed to complete moves for their two main targets with loans for both Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix getting finished at the very last minute, while earlier in the day they completed the loan of Ansu Fati to Brighton and Hove Albion.
Ultimately though, the biggest deal of the day may have been the one that didn’t happen. Liverpool turned down a gigantic offer for Mohamed Salah from Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad. The deal, for north of $125 million was the latest salvo in an effort by Saudi Arabia to scoop up as many big names as possible this summer. While turning Al-Ittihad down, Liverpool did manage to make a move of their own, landing Ryan Gravenberch from Bayern Munich, despite that fact that Bayern so spectacularly face-planted while trying to bring in his replacement.
Let’s get to some winners and losers of the day:
Loser: Bayern Munich
Bayern’s had a good transfer window overall after grabbing Harry Kane and Min-Jae Kim to reinforce the squad but they were hot on the pursuit of a defensive midfielder and another center back. Pictures were taken with Joao Palhinha in a Bayern shirt with an announcement ready before the deal collapsed to see the Portuguese midfielder trudge back to London to hopefully stave off relegation with the Cottagers. Then, Trevoh Chalobah didn’t join, instead staying at Chelsea, and Bayern couldn’t even agree to a deal for a Championship center back in Armel Bella-Kotchap. It’s a miss that looks even weirder with the Southampton defender then turning around and going on loan to PSV in the Netherlands.
These aren’t moves that will make the difference in Bayern winning the Bundesliga or not, but they will matter in Champions League. After a busy summer of sales, Tuchel has a pretty thin defender corps and will now have to hope that there are no injuries during the season. There was also a hope that in getting a defensive midfielder, that Joshua Kimmich could move to right back which also won’t happen. Now, Bayern will need to figure out a plan b which is something that has been a struggle during the past few seasons.
Winner: Ryan Gravenberch
Getting out of this Bayern Munich team is an excellent 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 during which he wasn’t used in correct roles when subbed on, Liverpool are a team, that can get Gravenberch back to a midfielder that was good for a few goals and five or so assists per season. It may take a bit to adapt to Jurgen Klopp’s pressing, but if Gravenberch can get up to speed, he has the talent to push Liverpool among contenders in the Champions League next season, despite Liverpool’s defensive frailty.
With Unes Unal out until at least January with an injury, Getafe needed to get attacking help any way possible which led to them adding Mason Greenwood on loan from Manchester United. Greenwood was available afterfollowing an internal investigation into alleged sexual assault for which he was arrested, but ultimately not tried. Not having played since January of 2022, this ended up being the best move that a Getafe side that will be fighting off relegation from La Liga. But is Greenwood the player you want to bet your future on? Really?
It took a while but Barcelona got their targets in Cancelo and Joao Felix, and now it’s down to what Xavi will make of them. And while they had to clear wages for it, all it took was Clement Lenglet, Eric Garcia, and Ansu Fati all leaving on loan. Barcelona’s finances have been a large story for the past few summers and they did limit them from adding anyone permanently. Still the moves do plenty to help the current season, while also replacing the production lost from Ousmane Dembele heading to PSG. It remains to be seen whether this is the right plan, but it was the plan Barcelona chose, and they managed to execute it, right at the wire.
TBD: Saudi Arabia
The biggest story of the summer has been the Saudi Pro League disrupting the transfer market, but will they be able to land Mohamed Salah from Liverpool? The transfer window is still open in the Saudi League until Sept. 7, but even without grabbing their guy, PIF’s bids to Liverpool were one of the biggest stories of the day. It’ll come down to if the league has staying power. We’ve seen leagues like the Chinese Super League be in a similar spot, but it wasn’t sustainable. The Saudi league does have better backing than China but it’s all about where they go from here.