British transfer deadline day this year had everything one would expect and more — ridiculous rumours, completion of drawn-out sagas, some surprise moves and even managers complaining about the early closure of the summer transfer window in England.
Romelu Lukaku finally got his move away from Manchester United. Inter Milan completed a deal worth £73 million on the final day. United fans who wanted him out won’t miss his unmissable presence soon, especially after the 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea in its first Premier League match of the season. He will feel more wanted at Inter under new boss Antonio Conte, who is a staunch admirer of the big Belgian striker.
There was also the confirmation of the idea that David Luiz and deadline day are soulmates. The Brazilian midfielder switched clubs on the final day of the transfer window for the fourth time in his career when he departed Chelsea for a second time and joined London rival Arsenal. His eccentric presence and the addition of young fullback Kieran Tierney, who was brought in from Celtic on the same day, should help fortify the defence of a team that is overly reliant on its attackers.
Arsenal’s more immediate rival, Tottenham Hotspur, finally dived into the deep end of the transfer market and matched the Gunners on deadline day. Spurs completed the signings of fullback Ryan Sessegnon from Fulham and midfielder Giovani Lo Celso from Real Betis for a combined fee of £80 million. Lo Celso has been roped in on a season-long loan with an option to buy. If Tottenham does buy him, he will be the club’s record signing at £55 million. Manager Mauricio Pochettino still wants more, but he can be content with the fact that he didn’t have to go through another window without any signings.
Philippe Coutinho’s season-long loan move to Bayern Munich could help Barcelona in its continued attempts to bring back Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain. The La Liga club had hoped to include Coutinho in a deal for Neymar, but the Brazilian would have none of it. He gets a chance to revive his career if he impresses at Bayern and the German champion decides to act on the option to buy him at the end of the season.
Barca has pressure from fans as well. Chants of “Neymar! Neymar!” could be heard outside the team hotel before its La Liga opener against Athletic Bilbao. This was before the defending champion lost that match. The chants will only get louder.
PSG is clear in its stand. The Ligue 1 club demands two players and €100 million for Neymar, who left Barca in a €222 million deal in 2017, according to Spanish media outlet AS . Barca’s earlier offer of Coutinho, Ivan Rakitic and €60 million was rejected. With Coutinho out of the picture, Barca may need to include Ousmane Dembele in the deal. PSG’s sporting director Leonardo is a huge admirer of the winger, but Dembele is eager to stay in Catalonia.
Barcelona also has to worry about its arch-rival Real Madrid, which is waiting in the wings to swoop up Neymar. Madrid is aware Neymar would prefer to return to his old club, but with the Brazilian’s relationship with PSG seemingly getting worse by the day, he could consider moving to Madrid if Barca and PSG can’t work things out.
Meanwhile, there has been a U-turn at Madrid. Gareth Bale is not going anywhere. Head coach Zinedine Zidane is now “counting on him” and James Rodrigues, both of whom had looked set to leave this summer. This is barely a month after Zidane hoped the unhappy Bale “left soon” while the Welshman was in talks with Chinese club Jiangsu Suning, which eventually fell through after his club blocked the move. However, Zidane is now forced to rely on him after new signing Eden Hazard picked up a thigh injury that could keep him out for a month.
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