These outfits have significantly strengthened their respective squads.
The 2021 summer transfer window will go down in history as one of the best and most astounding transfer windows of all time. From stunning purchases to swirling rumours, transfer spending records and the accompanying frenzy, it had everything. The football world never stood still across the entirety of the two months of the window.
The backdrop of the pandemic meant there was a belief that clubs would be cautious in their spending. But that didn’t stop a few clubs from sending transfer records tumbling.
The total expenditure across Europe’s top five leagues in the transfer window is rumoured to have totalled an astronomical £3 billion in what was arguably the wildest, most captivating summer transfer window ever.
Here are five teams who had the best time at the summer transfer window with their savvy business and the firepower they added to their ranks.
5. AC Milan
The Rossoneri celebrated their return to the Champions League by signing as many as 11 players (including five on loan). They signed Fikayo Tomori and Sandro Tonali from Chelsea and Brescia respectively. Milan made their respective loan deals permanent for a combined €38.5 million.
The club would’ve been hurt by the exit of goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu, who left as free agents. But Milan swiftly addressed their goalkeeper situation by signing Mike Maignan from last season’s Ligue 1 winners Lille for €13 million. They also signed Olivier Giroud for a paltry fee of €1 million.
Milan also signed Brahim Diaz, Alessandro Florenzi and Tiemoue Bakayoko on loan with an option to make them permanent. The seven-time European champions have made some exciting additions to their squad ahead of a possible title challenge and a tough group in their first Champions League campaign since 2014.
4. Crystal Palace
This might come as a surprise to you. But Crystal Palace does merit a spot on this list after having one of the best summer transfer windows in the club’s history. They started by bidding farewell to erstwhile manager Roy Hodgson and appointed Patrick Vieira, who took his first managerial job at the Premier League.
Palace released 28 players after their contracts ended. You read that right, 28 players! Last season, Palace had the oldest squad in the Premier League (average age: 29.8 years). The club needed to build a young team that could play to their manager’s vision and compete in the league.
They signed Michael Olise from Reading, Marc Guehi and Conor Gallagher from Chelsea (the latter on loan), Joachim Anderson from Lyon, and Will Hughes from Watford. They wrapped up the window by signing the promising and prolific Odsonne Edouard from Celtic. Their buys this season has turned Vieira’s side into the fourth-youngest squad in the Premier League.
The South London club has had a characteristically slow start to the campaign by taking two points from their first three games. But once their squad gel together, Palace are expected to become one of the teams to watch in the Premier League this season.
3. RB Leipzig
Another club whose astute transfer business has gone under the radar is RB Leipzig. Die Roten Bullen were raided for their biggest stars by rivals Bayern Munich. Losing both their centre-backs, captain Marcel Sabitzer and manager Julian Nagelsmann in the same window would’ve hurt the club. But they worked on getting young, efficient and promising players.
Leipzig has reinvested the money from their sales in top-class prospects. They signed Mohammed Simakan from Strasbourg, Benjamin Henrichs from Monaco and Josko Gvardiol to shore up their defence.
They also strengthened their midfield by signing Ilaix Moriba from Barcelona and their attack with the €23 million purchase of Andre Silva. The latter stands out in particular as Silva was the second-highest goalscorer in the Bundesliga last season with 28. To put that in perspective, the highest scorer in the league for Leipzig was Marcel Sabitzer with 8.
Moreover, Leipzig have made more than €40 million worth of profit while adding top young talent all across the park. Therefore, with their existing resources, Die Roten Bullen have an electrifying team that will look to challenge Bayern Munich once again for the title.
2. Manchester United
Premier League clubs spent the most this window with a reported bill of £1.1 billion. Once again, Manchester United featured in the top buyers this season. But the Red Devils have spent wisely to strengthen their areas of concern.
They signed Jadon Sancho after a long saga with Borussia Dortmund. They also purchased Raphael Varane from Real Madrid for a fee of £34 million plus £7 million in add-ons.
But undoubtedly their biggest and best signing in this summer transfer window was the sensational return of Cristiano Ronaldo. They would still be concerned about missing out on a top-class defensive midfielder. However, Ole’s side has an exciting mix of youth and experience. It makes them one of the favourites in every competition that they participate in this season.
1. Paris Saint-Germain
The French giants turned the summer transfer window on its head by signing some of the best footballers in the world. PSG’s signings give them the look of some dream team at the moment. Le Parisien were coming from a chastening season where they conceded the Ligue 1 title to Lille. They were also dumped out of the Champions League in the semifinals by Manchester City.
But the club have manned up like none other, signing Achraf Hakimi from Inter before adding Euro 2020 Player of the Tournament Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum and Sergio Ramos as free agents. But their piece-de-resistance was the signing of record Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi (also on a free transfer) that sent the football world into meltdown.
The Argentine will team up with Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappe in the attack. PSG managed to hold on to Mbappe despite concerns that he would become a free agent next summer. But for now, their additions make them favourites to win every competition that they will step foot in.