Despite the impact of Covid-19 it has been another busy period of comings and goings around the world – but who has had the best, and worst, window?
The madness of the summer transfer window is over for another year.
Despite the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on football clubs around the world, it has been yet another busy period of comings and goings, with almost all of Europe’s top clubs having added to their squads.
There have been some moves that were expected that did not materialise – most notably involving one of the best players ever – but there has still been plenty for fans to get excited about.
But which clubs, players or managers had good windows? And who had a summer that they will want to forget as soon as possible?
Goal breaks down the winners and losers from the 2020 summer transfer window…
The biggest spenders of the summer window, Chelsea put any concerns over how the pandemic would affect their window to bed as Roman Abramovich threw his backing behind Frank Lampard.
In have come Germany superstars Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, Ajax schemer Hakim Ziyech, Leicester’s dynamic full-back Ben Chilwell, much-decorated Brazilian centre-half Thiago Silva and Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy as Lampard looks to re-shape his squad at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues have spent well in excess of £200 million ($260m) to do so, and though results on the pitch are yet to take a dramatic up-turn, the amount of talent now inside the home dressing room in west London means success is surely not too far away.
Quite how successful they prove to be will likely depend on Lampard, with the legendary ex-midfielder entering his sophomore season in charge with increased expectations on his shoulders.
But as long as Lampard does not totally fall flat on his face, this transfer window – coupled with the emergence of their ever-improving homegrown stars last season – has set Chelsea up to be Premier League title contenders for at least the future.
LOSER: Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi could not have been clearer when giving his world exclusive interview to Goal in early September; he wanted to leave Barcelona this summer.
The only reason the Argentine legend remains on the books at Camp Nou is that he did not want to enter a legal battle with the club that he loves so dearly, even if the Josep Maria Bartomeu-run version of the Blaugrana is unrecognisable from the club Messi joined as a teenager.
If being unable to leave was not enough, Messi has also had to watch on in horror as Barca have made moves in the transfer market that almost seem planned to upset the six-time Ballon d’Or winner even further.
Messi’s close friend, Luis Suarez, was allowed to leave – or was “thrown out”, as Messi described it – before going on to join potential title rivals Atletico Madrid, while Arthur Melo being traded for Miralem Pjanic is a deal that, on paper at least, seems to favour Juventus.
Talented U.S. national team full-back Sergino Dest has come through the door, but couldn’t be described as a game-changer likely to return Ronald Koeman’s side to the very top of the European game.
As things stand, the summer of 2020 will be the last Messi spent as a Barcelona player. It could not have gone much worse.
WINNER: Real Madrid & their outcasts
While Real Madrid have been the quietest of any of Europe’s top clubs in terms of incomings this summer, they have instead looked to move on the members of their squad that Zinedine Zidane no longer requires.
Los Blancos have raised over €80m (£73m/$94m) through the sales of academy graduates Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Reguilon and Oscar Rodriguez, though their biggest wins of the summer have arguably come in the departures of two previous big-name signings.
It became clear during the 2020-21 season that neither Gareth Bale nor James Rodriguez were part of Zidane’s long-term plans and as such were free to find new clubs as Madrid looked to rid themselves of the pair’s massive wages.
With money tight around the continent, the Liga champions looked to the Premier League, and the English top-flight obliged as Bale completed a loan move back to Tottenham while James reunited with Carlo Ancelotti at Everton.
Both deals look set to be win-wins, with James already flourishing for the unbeaten Toffees while Bale will step into an ever-improving Spurs team that also signed Reguilon, Carlos Vinicius, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Matt Doherty among others.
Madrid, meanwhile, sit top of La Liga following the opening month of matches, safe in the knowledge that their two expensive outcasts will no longer be burning a hole in their pocket.
Manchester United have become experts at taking one step forward only to take two steps back since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, and they have been up to their old tricks once again over the course of the summer window.
After a post-lockdown run of thrilling, attacking performances and positive results helped the Red Devils secure Champions League qualification, all the talk was of how Jadon Sancho would lead an influx of big-name arrivals at Old Trafford.
What transpired could not be further from the truth.
United did try to sign Sancho but faced stiff resistance from Borussia Dortmund, who set a strict August 10 deadline for the asking price of the England winger to be met and have refused to budge amid continued speculation in recent weeks.
With that move off, the 20-time English champions instead swooped for Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek, paying £35m ($46m) for a player who is yet to start a league game for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
That remained the only new arrival until a flurry of last-minute deals were agreed to bring in free agent Edinson Cavani, Porto left-back Alex Telles and a pair of teenage prospects in Amad Diallo of Atalanta and Penarol’s Facundo Pellestri. Diallo won’t set foot in Manchester until January at the earliest.
However, after Sunday’s 6-1 reverse at the hands of Tottenham, it feels as if the club have yet again failed to address the most glaring issue in their squad: the lack of a world-class centre-back.
Whether that or a Sancho alternative can be addressed during the next two weeks, with United still able to negotiate with EFL clubs until October 16, looks highly unlikely in what has been another bewildering summer at the Theatre of Dreams.
WINNER: Bayern and Dortmund
Lucien Favre’s side look capable of challenging for silverware having kept hold of Sancho while adding an array of talent elsewhere in the squad.
Sancho, Erling Haaland and Gio Reyna have been joined by another superb young talent in the shape of Jude Bellingham, while there is hope that Real Madrid loanee Reinier will also prove a difference-maker once he is up to speed.
The arrival of Thomas Meunier on a free transfer from PSG will add vital experience to their defence, meanwhile, as they aim to close the gap on Bayern Munich.
That is likely to again prove difficult, though, with Hansi Flick’s treble-winners having added Leroy Sane, Douglas Costa, Tanguy Kouassi, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Marc Roca to a squad that is so supremely talented that they may not even miss Thiago Alcantara all that much.
The strength of both Bayern and Dortmund does not bode well for the rest of the Bundesliga, particularly with RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen having lost their best attacking players in Werner and Havertz respectively.
Expect the German top-flight to yet again be a two-horse race, at best.
It has not been a great few months to be a Lazio supporter.
Almost unstoppable before Covid-19 brought the world to a standstill, a glut of injuries saw their form fall off a cliff post-lockdown, with Simone Inzaghi’s side eventually finishing fourth in Serie A having been Juventus’ closest challengers for much of the campaign.
Despite that, Champions League football was secured for the new season, and soon thoughts turned towards new arrivals at Stadio Olimpico.
One such potential signing looked to be David Silva, with the Manchester City playmaker having agreed terms to join Lazio after his contract at the Etihad Stadium came to an end.
The Biancocelesti were as surprised as anyone, then, when Real Sociedad announced that they had in fact signed Silva in a move so surprising it crashed the Spanish side’s website.
“I learned about David Silva’s transfer to Real Sociedad and I have great respect for the player, but not for the man,” Lazio director Igli Tare said in the aftermath of a move that sparked a summer-long scrabble for a playmaking midfielder.
The club eventually settled on a loan move for Manchester United outcast Andreas Pereira, who – while a player with some potential – does not have the same ability, experience or star-power as the man many in Rome thought would be playing behind Ciro Immobile this term.
WINNER: Antonio Conte
Following Inter’s defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League final, Antonio Conte dropped a bombshell that if end-of-season talks with the club’s board did not go well then he would be forced to walk away from the Nerazzurri.
The former Chelsea boss was convinced to stay at San Siro, with reports quickly confirming that Conte would now have much more control when it came to transfer policy.
That has been borne out over the summer, with Inter taking the approach of adding experience to their squad despite the likes of talented youngster Sandro Tonali previously being close to completing transfers.
Instead, Conte has welcomed in the likes of Arturo Vidal, Aleksandar Kolarov and Matteo Darmian, while also making Alexis Sanchez’s loan move from Manchester United permanent.
The squad is now far more in Conte’s image, and it has been further boosted after Barcelona failed to raise the cash required to activate Lautaro Martinez’s release clause.
It might not have been a summer that has excited the Inter fanbase, but Conte certainly seems far more at ease with his squad as he plans another assault on the Scudetto.
Valencia have lurched from one crisis to the next over the past decade, but none of that could have prepared their supporters for the events of the past summer.
Financially crippled by the effect of the coronavirus, the decision was made early in the window that Los Che would have to sell a number of their prized assets in order to avoid economic meltdown.
Out the door went attacking talisman Rodrigo Moreno to Leeds United, star academy graduate Ferran Torres to Manchester City and key midfield duo Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin to Villarreal.
In a normal market it would be expected that those four players alone would bring in well in excess of €100m, but the reality of Valencia’s situation meant that the club banked barely half that.
New manager Javi Gracia has not been able to spend either, with the former Watford boss having to rely on young players from the club’s academy to plug gaps in his squad.
All in all it has been a pretty miserable window for those at Mestalla.
Beating the champions Liverpool 7-2, arguably the most stunning result in the history of English top-flight football, demonstrated that Dean Smith’s side should be far, far clearer of the relegation dogfight this season than last.
With new signing Ollie Watkins picking up his first Premier League hat-trick in that game, it also shattered any perceptions that the £30m ($39m) Brentford signing would struggle at the highest levels.
Chelsea’s Ross Barkley was signed on loan, which looks an astute piece of business, while new goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez proved for Arsenal last season that he is more than good enough for the Premier League and has finally been given a starting slot.
Add to the mix the skills of Bertrand Traore and the dependable Matty Cash and you can see Villa have had an off-season to be excited about.
But the best piece of news Villa fans have had might be in the extension of the contract of captain and talisman Jack Grealish. He was one of those linked with a move away – to Manchester United – but put pen to paper on a fresh five-year deal in the same month he made his England debut.