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  • Liyam Yaghoobzadeh and Tapan Sidhwani

2021 Soccer Summer Transfer Window

This year's transfer window was one of the most exciting ones yet. The two biggest moves were Lionel Messi switching to Paris Saint Germain and Cristano Ronaldo switching to Manchester United, the club at which Ronaldo first emerged as a star 15 years ago.

There were also other massive moves such as Sergio Ramos to PSG, Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea, Jadon Sancho to Manchester United, Jack Grealish to Manchester City, and Raphael Varane to Manchester United. After losing Messi, Barcelona also brought in many big names like Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero, and Luuk De Jong.

As shown by these transfers and more, clubs with lots of money and fame brought in many top players. Even so, many world class players like Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland, and Harry Kane, who were rumored to be leaving, stayed at their respective clubs. This window changed the game in ways fans have never seen before, some believing it will have a positive impact and others believing it will have a negative one on the sport.

Let’s start off with some of the biggest news. Lionel Messi to Paris Saint Germain. When Messi first started at Barcelona at the age of 13, the club had helped him tremendously with finances when he moved to Spain from his native Argentina, including his medical bills. Throughout his years on the first team at Barcelona, he racked up 672 goals and 266 assists as well as 6 Ballon D’ors (the trophy given to the best player every year). Messi has also contributed to 34 trophies for Barcelona and given them lots of publicity. Without him, Barcelona wouldn’t be the same club they are today.

Since Barcelona signed so many players this summer and the past year, they were not able to pay everyone's wages. Many players, like Messi, offered to take pay cuts, but still it was not enough. Barcelona was forced to let him go in order to free up some money for the rest of their players.

Fans were upset with this decision, as he was the face of the club for so long. It also felt out of place for soccer fans to see Messi in PSG colors instead of the classic blue and red of Barcelona. This was not the sendoff he deserved from the club, if he was to ever have one. However, there are some positives of this transfer – we get to see Messi perform in a different league, he gets to reunite with his former Barcelona teammate, Neymar Jr., and gets to play with many of his Argentina teammates that are on PSG already.

Messi’s move to PSG was not the club’s only business. PSG were also able to sign Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum, Achraf Hakimi, and Gianluigi Donnaruma for only around $70 million.

A controversy surfaced concerning whether PSG had enough money to pay all these top players. There was also concern that PSG was building a super team, similar to that of basketball’s Golden State Warriors, who had five all stars in their starting lineup in years past. Many people thought PSG would lose Kylian Mbappe, one of the most promising youngsters in the world, to Real Madrid.

However, he remained in Paris instead, despite formal bids from Real Madrid. It almost seems as if their team is unstoppable this year; they represent the clear favorites on paper to win League 1 and the Champions league.

However, the club is getting a lot of hate from fans due to their high spending because of their owner, Nasser Al-Khelaïfi’s, wealth. Clubs with lots of money to spend like PSG and Manchester City are being labeled as “oil money clubs” because their presidents are from middle eastern-countries that profit mainly off oil.

Erling Haaland was also rumored to be leaving his current club, Borussia Dortmund. Clubs that might have lured him included Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Manchester City. However, he stayed at Borussia Dortmund and is tearing up the Bundesliga with seven goals and four assists in five games. Unfortunately, his team has let him down in the past, even though he is doing all he can, so a transfer soon or in the next window wouldn’t be unexpected.

Other big clubs in Europe outside England like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus, and Atletico Madrid all made transfers this summer. However, the bigger and more publicized ones were in the English Premier League. Let’s take a look at those game changing moves, especially Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United.

Having developed greatly as a player and contributing to Manchester United’s Premier League and European successes, Cristiano Ronaldo cemented himself as a Premier League and Manchester United legend after his historic seasons at the club in the early to mid 2000s. After a prolific career that included four Champions Leagues, four Ballon D’ors, and 451 goals scored at Real Madrid alone, the aging Ronaldo left the Spanish club for Juventus in 2018.

From 2018 to 2021, Ronaldo had a successful, yet slightly underwhelming, span at Juventus in which he netted over 100 goals for the club and led them to two Serie A titles. The truth was that the Ronaldo who had made fans from all over the world love the sport was aging and on the decline -- he was no longer the player that he once was. However, in 2021, Cristiano Ronaldo signed with Manchester United, again, for a fee of $17.7 million.

Roughly 20 years ago, Cristiano Ronaldo was a young Portuguese winger trying to make a name for himself playing at Sporting CP, a Portuguese club. Following an eye-catching preseason performance against English giants Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson, United’s manager at the time, made it a priority to sign the young winger after seeing the potential that he had.

Ronaldo, then only 19 years of age, signed for Manchester United within a couple of weeks, and was instantly a fan-favorite. The quick, clever attacker lit up the Premier League in his first few seasons at Manchester United, thrilling viewers with his tricks, goals, and fast feet. Ronaldo was an instrumental piece in the Manchester United side that won 3 consecutive Premier League titles, a Champions league in 2008, and several FA Cups.

It was in the latter stages of his Manchester United career that he saw individual success as well. In 2008, he scored 42 goals in all competitions and won his first ever Ballon D’or. As the world’s best player, Ronaldo expressed a desire to leave the club in 2009, and transferred to Real Madrid. However, the Manchester United fan base retained a great relationship with Ronaldo, as he had developed in the early stages of his career at the club.

When he resigned with the Red Devils in 2021, the fans that had fallen in love with Ronaldo were reunited with their star. Ronaldo has been welcomed back to the club with great support from the fans, players, and staff. Seeing Ronaldo back in the red colors of Manchester United to conclude his career is a fairy tale ending to his story with the club.

Other major transfers have filled the Premier League with title-contending teams stacked with big European names. Also signing to Manchester United were Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, for $100 million and $59 million, respectively. Jadon Sancho, an English youngster who thrived in the German Bundesliga for Borussia Dortmund, had wanted a transfer to the club for a while and finally closed the deal after delivering in his third consecutive successful season for Dortmund.

Raphael Varane, a former teammate of Ronaldo’s at Real Madrid, also joined the Red Devils as his career slowed down but still made a major contribution to the team in Manchester United’s push to achieve English and European titles. Fans have rejoiced at these transfers, as they have been long awaited and could give Manchester United the final piece they needed in building a championship-winning squad.

However, Manchester United were not the only major English club that had made moves this offseason. Chelsea, coming off of a European championship under new manager, Thomas Tuchel, looked to strengthen their team further in order to defend their title. Their main addition was Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku, who is one of the world’s best goalscorers. Coming off of a season in which he scored 24 goals and provided 10 assists to lead Inter Milan to the Italian title, Lukaku was the perfect target for Chelsea, who lacked a natural goalscorer. The European champions also added central midfielder Saúl Ñíguez to improve their squad further.

Manchester City, the current Premier League champions, also spent lavishly in the transfer window in attempts to defend their English title and finally win their elusive Champions League title. Notorious for spending big money, Manchester City bought Jack Grealish, another English attacker, from Aston Villa for $139 million. With all the big clubs in England spending massive amounts of money to better their squads, the title race in the Premier League is set up to be quite a clash this season.

Although this transfer window saw many big names and their transfers fall through, such as those involving Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappe, it still provided many league-altering changes. European giants added to their already dominant squads with the signings of stars like Romelu Lukaku, Sergio Ramos, and Sergio Aguero. The two icons of the sport, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo transferred clubs to PSG and Manchester United, respectively. This transfer window will completely change the scene of world soccer, and will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the biggest windows ever.


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