Messi, Ronaldo and Lukaku

The summer transfer window is the most exciting time of the post-season football calendar, where clubs and fans look forward to new acquisitions who will hopefully improve their squad and resurrect their fortunes. 

Nevertheless, this was one of the most difficult transfer windows in recent times due to the lack of funds caused by the global pandemic, and it will be one of the most sensational in history as two of the greatest ever – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – made audacious moves for new challenges. 

Elsewhere, Arsenal spent the most funds in the transfer market as Ben White, Sambi Lokonga, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Nuno Tavares, Martin Ødegaard, and Aaron Ramsdale all joined for a total of £149m.

With the transfer window now officially closed till January, FootballCastle chronicles the biggest losers as well as winners from the just-concluded transfer market. 

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Manchester United 

The American-style business model used in running one of the biggest football clubs in the world has been obvious in the last few months. Despite fierce protests in the final months of the 2020/21 season provoked by their involvement in the creation of the maligned European Super League, the Glazers continue to take huge funds out of United but have successfully deflected the attention of the angry fanbase after such a spectacular transfer window.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side signed Jadon Sancho, Raphaël Varane, Tom Heaton, and the exceptional return of Cristiano Ronaldo and all of the owners’ offences seem to have been forgiven and forgotten by the fans. Meanwhile, the Red Devils would have been better served with a quality defensive midfielder but have now successfully distracted the fans with marquee signings who don’t solve all the immediate weaknesses of the playing squad.

Paris Saint-Germain 

Paris Saint Germain

The French champions are by far the biggest winners of the 2021 summer transfer window having sealed the sensational deal for Lionel Messi, they also secured the signings of Gigi Donnarumma, Gini Wijnaldum, Sergio Ramos, Nuno Mendes, and Achraf Hakimi. With only Hakimi costing a permanent transfer fee (and Mendes on loan) while the rest joined as free agents.

The stellar summer wasn’t over for PSG as they ensured the psychological advantage of keeping Kylian Mbappe having refused Real Madrid’s offer of a world-record fee, and will now make dreams of a wonderful attacking trio alongside Neymar and Messi come true. Mauricio Pochettino’s side became the envy of Europe, and perhaps, everyone’s second-favourite team as they are now well-equipped to win the much-coveted Champions League crown.


An Expectedly tough summer for Spurs proved to be an inspired one as they retained the all-important services of Harry Kane.

The Lilywhites have also secured some impressive additions to the squad as their season got off to a perfect start under new manager Nuno Espírito Santo, who oversaw the signing of Cristian Romero, Pierluigi Gollini, Emerson Royal, and Bryan Gil. Spurs have tied down Heung-Min Son to a new long-term contract and Harry Kane greatly improves their fortunes this season.



Barcelona endured an abysmal summer in the transfer market. (Getty Images)

The Catalans are by far the biggest losers of the 2021 summer transfer window as the Covid-19 pandemic exposed the financial struggles of perhaps the worst-run club in the world. Barcelona’s dire financial situation, largely caused by the mismanagement of former President Josep Maria Bartomeu, forced them to offload key players this summer whilst signing only free agents.

Given a backlog of huge debt, Lionel Messi, the greatest Barcelona player of all time left the club on a free after they were unable to afford his wages due to a salary cap even though he had agreed to a 50 percent pay cut. Yet, senior Barca players had to take further salary cuts so as to register summer signings Memphis Depay, Sergio Agüero, and Eric García.

On deadline day, Antoine Griezmann returned to Atlético Madrid to end a ridiculous spell that was bound to fail tactically and on the financial end. It characterized the story of Barca’s 2021 summer transfer window which had truly brought shame unto one of the biggest football institutions in the world.

Nevertheless, Joan Laporta deserves credit for balancing the books admirably with player sales and a lighter wage bill.

RB Leipzig

It is pertinent to note that the Red Bull-funded club are smooth transfer operators themselves, but the Bundesliga runners-up last season have lost not only their coach, Julian Nagelsmann, to Bayern Munich but also their best defender and captain in Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer respectively.

It is a familiar occurrence in German football that the Munich giants are the only benefactors, and are well on course for a tenth Bundesliga crown in a row having significantly weakened their emerging rivals. They will have only Borussia Dortmund for sustained competition while Leipzig are now expected to make up the list of challengers, unable to build on their highest-ever league finish. 


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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