News Matches
Cristiano Ronaldo

Barcelona, Ronaldo, Pulisic and the winners and losers of the transfer window

4:16 AM EDT 9/2/22
GHP_RONALDO-WHAT-NOW_16-9
It has been a dramatic summer across Europe as billions have been spent and clubs have scrambled to get deals done

So that’s it for another summer. The circus can stop, the rumours can slow and the football world can finally sit down and take a deep breath.

The transfer window is closed, for a few months at least. Managers now know which players they will be able to count on for the first part of the campaign, while supporters can line up new heroes - and villains. 

In England, around £2billion (€2.3bn/$2.3bn) was spent on signings, a new record which makes a mockery of the idea, floated by some not so long ago, that the coronavirus pandemic would bring about a moment’s pause and force clubs to reconsider their approach to the transfer market.

Across Europe, however, the picture looks a little more bleak, as talent continues to drain away from Italy, Germany, Spain and France and towards the Premier League. How do these leagues hope to compete with a competition that is set to earn upwards of £10bn (€11.6bn/$11.6bn) in TV rights over the next three years alone?

With all that in mind, GOAL takes a look at the winners and losers from a dramatic window…

  • Robert Lewandowski Barcelona 2022-23

    Winner: Barcelona

    Forget how they did it, just for a moment. Instead, let’s focus on what Barcelona have done in this window.

    Strengthening an already-talented squad with the likes of Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Franck Kessie, Andreas Christensen and Hector Bellerin is one thing, but adding Robert Lewandowski to the mix? No wonder Xavi has smiled his way through the opening weeks of the campaign.

    Sure, there have been plenty of losers from the Catalans’ lever-powered dash through the market - Martin Braithwaite, for example, or Memphis Depay - but in purely footballing terms, Barca have managed to assemble one of the most exciting sides around.

    Somehow.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United 2022-23

    Loser: Cristiano Ronaldo

    This was not how Cristiano Ronaldo’s dream homecoming was supposed to play out.

    The Portugal legend has spent the summer trying - and miserably failing - to secure a move away from Manchester United, having quickly discovered the Old Trafford grass is not quite as green as when he left in 2009.

    All of Europe’s top clubs have been offered the chance to sign Ronaldo, but none were willing to take the plunge on a player who still knows where the net is, but who will be 38 in February and has shown himself not only to be a player around whom a cohesive tactical system is difficult to build, but who seems as though he creates division and uncertainty inside the dressing room with his behaviour.

    United may well get some good moments out of him this season, but anyone who thinks his return to Manchester has been a success is deluding themselves.

  • Jesse Lingard Nottingham Forest 2022-23

    Winner: Nottingham Forest

    It has been a remarkable couple of months at the City Ground, with the newly-promoted Premier League side bringing in no fewer than 21 new players, at a cost of more than £150m (€175m/$175m).

    Those include the club-record signing of midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White from Wolves, a pair of Nigerian international forwards in Taiwo Awoniyi and Emmanuel Dennis, goalkeeper Dean Henderson and England forward Jesse Lingard from Manchester United and, perhaps most eye-catching of all, the loan capture of Brazil left-back Renan Lodi from Atletico Madrid.

    Whether such investment pays off remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure; manager Steve Cooper is going to have some major selection headaches in the coming weeks and months.

  • AC Milan 2021-22

    Loser: Serie A

    Matthijs De Ligt, Franck Kessie, Ivan Perisic, Fabian Ruiz, Dejan Kulusevski, Lorenzo Insigne, Cristian Romero, Dries Mertens, Alexis Sanchez, Kalidou Koulibaly, Giorgio Chiellini, Fernando Bernadeschi, Gianluca Scamacca, Aaron Hickey, Mikkel Damsgaard, Nahuel Molina, Remo Freuler, Cesare Casadei.

    The list of talented players - young and old - to have left Italy this summer is a long one. Serie A had the best title race in Europe last season, but its biggest stars continue to jump ship, most of them seduced by the money on offer in the Premier League.

    ]New ones will emerge, no doubt, and the league should be ultra-competitive again this season, but it looks unlikely that we will see an Italian side competing for Champions League glory any time soon.

    And how sad is that, given their history in the competition?

  • antony-ajax-manchester-united-transfer

    Winner: Ajax's bank balance

    OK, so losing two of your better players is rarely a positive, but when you’re a club like Ajax you get used to the idea of turning over talent for a profit. And this summer, they’ve done it superbly.

    The Eredivisie champions earned more than £130m (€152m/$152m) from Manchester United alone, selling centre-back Lisandro Martinez and exciting forward Antony.

    Throw in the sales of Sebastien Haller (to Borussia Dortmund), Ryan Gravenberch (Bayern), Perr Schurrs (Torino) and Nicolas Tagliafico (Lyon) and the Dutch giants have recouped close to £200m (€233m/$233m), some of which has already been reinvested in the likes of Steven Bergwijn, Calvin Bassey, Brian Brobbey and Owen Wijndal.

    Don’t be surprised to see some of those move on for big fees in the next couple of years, either. It's what Ajax do - and what they do better than most clubs around.

  • Christian Pulisic Chelsea 2022-23

    Loser: Christian Pulisic

    It’s been a good summer for a lot of USMNT players, with the likes of Tyler Adams, Brendan Aaronson, Chris Richards, Matt Turner and Malik Tillman all picking up decent moves.

    The biggest American star of all, though, faces an uncertain future. Christian Pulisic is one of a number of players left in limbo at Chelsea, clearly not deemed first-choice by Thomas Tuchel but unable to secure a move away, either permanently or on loan, during the summer.

    The fact the Blues were willing to pay more than £50m (€58m/$58m) for Anthony Gordon, a player with half Pulisic’s pedigree, said plenty. It could be a tough few months for the 23-year-old.

  • Mane de Ligt Bayern

    Winner: Bayern Munich

    You’d be a brave person to bet against an 11th straight Bundesliga title for Bayern, but then you knew that already.

    Julian Nagelsmann’s side may have lost their talisman, Robert Lewandowski, to Barcelona, but in they have added quality and experience in Sadio Mane and Matthijs De Ligt, and in Ryan Gravenberch and Mathys Tel they have picked up two of Europe’s best Under-21 prospects as well.

    Having won the league at a canter last time out, it would be no surprise if the margin was even greater this time around. The bigger question is can Mane and Co. deliver Champions League glory?

  • Brendan Rodgers Leicester 2022-23

    Loser: Brendan Rodgers

    It’s not that long ago that Leicester looked the team most likely to upset the established order at the top end of the Premier League.

    Smart recruitment and the coaching skills of Brendan Rodgers led the Foxes to the FA Cup in 2021, and they were twice desperately unlucky to miss out on Champions League qualification.

    Fast forward to 2022, though, and all is not well at the King Power. Leicester did not make a single first-team signing until the final days of the window, when they brought in Wout Faes from Rennes, and lost star defender Wesley Fofana to Chelsea as well as their captain, Kasper Schmeichel, to Nice.

    Meanwhile, Youri Tielemans is into his final year, Harvey Barnes and James Maddison are being linked away and Jamie Vardy, their talisman, will be 36 in January. The chairman, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, has admitted financial constraints mean big investment just isn't possible.

    Having started the Premier League season poorly, the heat is already on Rodgers and his fading side. It would be a surprise if he were in situ come Christmas.

  • Romelu Lukaku Timo Werner GFX

    Winner: Chelsea's striking rejects

    They say you should never go back, but when the alternative is the Stamford Bridge strikers’ graveyard then perhaps that age-old phrase should be reconsidered.

    Chelsea offloaded two of the most expensive signings in their history this summer, allowing Romelu Lukaku to return to Inter Milan on loan and selling Timo Werner back to RB Leipzig.

    Both, naturally, wasted little time in rediscovering the goal touch which deserted them in London, and both, you would imagine, will find life a lot happier away from Tuchel’s attacking merry-go-round. The same might go for Callum Hudson-Odoi, who has joined Bayer Leverkusen on loan for the season.

  • Frenkie de Jong Barcelona 2022-23

    Loser: Frenkie de Jong

    Just what must the Dutchman be feeling, after a summer in which Barcelona have tried every trick in the book in a bid to either force him out of the club, or to agree to a drastic cut in his salary?

    While the Catalans have spent big on new signings, the likes of Frenkie De Jong - not to forget less-heralded names such as Martin Braithwaite - have been prodded, provoked and painted in the media as villains. All for the temerity of wanting what’s owed to them.

    De Jong, who was wanted by Chelsea and Manchester United over the summer, could well end up playing a lot of games for Barca this season, but why he’d want to is anyone’s guess.

  • Gabriel Jesus Richarlison GFX

    Winner: North London

    Something is stirring down at Arsenal, and Tottenham aren’t looking too bad either.

    Spurs’ recruitment has been stellar, following on from their positive end to the January window, when they picked up Cristian Romero, Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur, with the captures of Ivan Perisic, Richarlison, Clement Lenglet and Yves Bissouma, among others.

    Arsenal, meanwhile, did brilliantly to lure Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko from Manchester City, while adding the promising Fabio Vieira and bringing the impressive William Saliba into the fold after two seasons out on loan.

    Time will tell if the Gunners’ blistering start will last, or indeed whether Antonio Conte’s men can improve on their fourth-placed finish of last season, but they both look strong at this moment.

  • Haaland Alvarez Manchester City 2022-23

    Loser: Manchester City's rivals

    What do you get for the team which has everything? How about the South American footballer of the year, a tried-and-trusted Premier League midfield star and a striker who looks ready, willing and able to break just about any kind of goalscoring record you put in front of him?

    Manchester City were already favourites for the title this season, but having added Julian Alvarez, Kalvin Phillips and the brilliant, relentless Erling Haaland to their ranks, Pep Guardiola's side look like they will be unstoppable - domestically at least. Throw in Manuel Akanji and Sergio Gomez, a pair of squad-padders signed late in the window, and all looks rosy at the Etihad.

    Bad news for Liverpool, who moved on deadline day by signing Arthur Melo, the Juventus midfielder, on loan, and for Chelsea, whose scattergun approach to the market this summer perhaps betrays the naivety of new owner Todd Boehly. Time may prove us wrong, but neither look capable of sustaining a challenge to City this season.