The European transfer window is closed, climaxing with a number of last-minute deals on a frantic deadline day across the continent.
Regardless of whether coaches and directors are happy with their squads, there is little that can be done now until January.
With so much business having taken place, we take a look at the European sides that prospered in the market and those that failed to use the opening to their benefit.
Manchester United enjoyed arguably their best transfer period in some time. Louis van Gaal was criticised for spending big on signings that failed to live up their hefty price tags. On the surface there is little to suggest that is the case in Jose Mourinho’s first window at Old Trafford. The headline arrival was the world-record signing of Paul Pogba from Juventus in a deal worth up to €110million. The supplementary arrivals have also strengthened the spine of the team. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has already made a significant impact, as has Eric Bailly, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s ability is in no doubt despite him not yet starting a Premier League game. With United doing their business early there were no last-minute incomings to the red side of Manchester.
A turbulent pre-season saw heavy defeats to Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Tottenham precede Roberto Mancini’s sacking. However, Inter have come out of it looking rather rosy despite picking up just one point in their first two Serie A matches. New boss Frank de Boer can count on Argentina international Ever Banega, who arrived from Sevilla on a free transfer, while Antonio Candreva provides an extra threat in the wide areas. Furthermore, the Nerazzurri captured two of the brightest prospects on the market in Gabriel Barbosa and Joao Mario and also managed to retain the services of Marcelo Brozovic.
— João Mario (@joaome17) August 29, 2016
Dortmund have lost three of their best talents, but they have no reason to be downcast. Ilkay Gundogan followed Mkhitaryan to Manchester, though he has signed for Manchester City, while centre-back Mats Hummels left for arch-rivals Bayern Munich. However, BVB brought in Andre Schurrle from Wolfsburg and secured the return of Mario Gotze from Bavaria, with Sebastian Rode also joining from Bayern. Add in young trio Ousmane Dembele, Raphael Guerreiro and Emre Mor, as well as Marc Bartra, and without much of a net outlay, the Signal Iduna Park chiefs can be happy with their business.
Additional depth was the target at Camp Nou and that appears to have been achieved in all outfield positions. Lucas Digne’s arrival from PSG will provide Jordi Alba with competition, while Samuel Umtiti could be the long-term answer to their ever-troublesome centre-back shortage. Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez come with LaLiga experience and the capacity to play the passing style demanded at Barca, while Paco Alcacer’s deadline day move provides Luis Enrique with the central striker he desired. The coach now has a first-choice substitute whenever Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez or Neymar need to be replaced. And, although Claudio Bravo left for City, Jasper Cillessen is a more than competent replacement.
It’s not often that a club’s best addition was already on their books. That is the case for Monaco, who have opted to retain Radamel Falcao after two disappointing loan spells at Manchester United and Chelsea. There have been signs of a revival for the Colombian as he scored in both legs of the Champions League play-off against Fenerbahce, and if he can rediscover his best form Ligue 1 could receive a much-needed shake up. The likes of Joao Moutinho, Fabinho and Bernardo Silva have all stayed, while promising full-backs Djibril Sidibe and Benjamin Mendy have been plucked from Lille and Marseille respectively and Kamil Glik provides experience in defence.
— AS MONACO (@AS_Monaco) August 30, 2016
After a record-breaking 36-goal season in Serie A, Gonzalo Higuain’s departure left a big hole at the San Paolo. Although the €90m fee received from Scudetto rivals Juventus provided the funds to raise the bar in more than one position, it looks like Napoli have failed to do so. An initial €32m for Arkadiusz Milik from Ajax seems steep, while the likes of Amadou Diawara, Piotr Zielinski and Lorenzo Tonelli are unlikely to excite the fans in the short term. Loan moves for Nikola Maksimovic and Marko Rog could prove astute, but it’s difficult to see Maurizio Sarri’s men running Juve close for the Scudetto again this season.
A lack of activity early in the window forced Steve Bruce out of the KCOM Stadium and a permanent replacement is yet to be appointed. Influential midfielder Mohamed Diame dropped back down to the Championship after Newcastle United reportedly triggered his release clause, with Hull not making any signings until the day before deadline day. The club-record deal for Ryan Mason is seemingly smart business, while the loan of Dieumerci Mbokani could prove positive. David Marshall, Markus Henriksen, James Weir and Will Keane have all been added, but there remains a significant lack of depth in interim boss Mike Phelan’s squad.
The return of Alvaro Morata from Juventus was the big deal at the Santiago Bernabeu in the close-season, but not much followed in an uncharacteristically quiet window for Madrid. Their courting of Pogba proved fruitless as he instead opted for a return of his own by heading back to United. Youngsters Mariano Diaz and Marco Asensio look like promising additions to the first team, but Madrid’s overall movements look lacklustre when compared to those of title rivals Barca. Jese Rodriguez leaving for PSG smacks of the situation surrounding Morata’s initial departure, too.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) August 15, 2016
With Unai Emery replacing Laurent Blanc as coach and playing a role in the arrivals of Hatem Ben Arfa, Thomas Meunier, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Giovani Lo Celso and Jese, there was cause for optimism at the Parc des Princes. However, with no direct replacement for the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who left on a free transfer after becoming the club’s record goalscorer, they cannot be considered stronger than last season. Add the deadline day departure of David Luiz to Chelsea and they look short on bodies in the centre of defence, full-back Serge Aurier having to fill in during the 3-1 defeat to Monaco before the Brazilian had even left!
Joe Hart and Axel Witsel
Before the transfer window, Joe Hart was Manchester City and England’s number one goalkeeper. After a disappointing Euro 2016, where he made errors in the group-stage match against Wales and the humbling last-16 defeat to Iceland, and the arrival of Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium, he ends it at Europa League-chasing Torino and a long way from the eye of new national team coach Sam Allardyce. There was a similar tale of disappointment for Axel Witsel, who was consistently linked with a move from Zenit to Juve. That never materialised, though, and the Belgium international will remain in Russia until at least January.
The longer the wait, the bigger the reward. Life goes on. ✌
— Axel Witsel (@axelwitsel28) September 1, 2016
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