Believe it or not, we are already into our third international break of the 2021/22 season. It doesn’t seem that long ago, (or does it?), that we were all witnesses to one of the most wild summer transfer windows that the football world has ever seen.
A lot of big names made some very big moves, and a lot of of big money was spent. (Or not spent, in PSG’s case). So with club competition on a temporary break, what better time than the present to see how some of these big money moves started, and then see how it’s all going. So far, at least.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona to PSG)
How It Started: Widespread shock was felt worldwide when Barcelona announced that their biggest star, most devoted player, and one of the greatest to ever play, was packing his bags. You would truly have to be heartless if you had watched Lionel Messi’s tear-jerking, handkerchief-sniffing, goodbye press conference without feeling any sort of sympathy for the guy. But, PSG made sure to welcome Messi to Paris with enough fans, fireworks, and one of the glitziest ceremonies to ever have graced a pitch. Any heartache that Messi was probably experiencing was surely short lived. (Hopefully).
How It’s Going: As much as Messi defenders would want to, there is no way to sugarcoat that Lionel Messi is currently struggling. It is his worst start to a season in 15 years. The Argentine has scored three goals in the Champions League so far, but zero in Ligue 1. That’s right, zero. Messi has been used as the sacrificial player to lay down behind the wall on a free kick. He’s been substituted off by Mauricio Pochettino with plenty of minutes still left on the clock. He’s missed six games already this season due to pain and discomfort in his left leg and knee. Of course, one should never count out one of the greatest in the game, but I’d be willing to bet that most of the PSG fanbase is currently feeling underwhelmed.
Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan to Chelsea)
How It Started: Coming off Inter’s Scudetto win from last season, everyone expected the team’s main striker to stay. It was in Serie A where Lukaku finally found good form, scoring 64 goals in 95 appearances. But, when the Champions of Europe come calling, how can one say no? Lukaku headed back to England for his second stint with Chelsea for a slightly overpriced tag of $135m.
How It’s Going: Not a bad start for the Belgium international. He has scored 3 goals in his 7 Premier League appearances this season. It probably would be more had he not been out since the middle of October due to an ankle injury. He currently remains behind at Chelsea instead of participating in international duty. Thomas Tuchel will hope to have Lukaku back and fully recovered by break’s end.
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa to Manchester City)
How It Started: Aston Villa was another fan base alongside Barcelona that wasn’t quite ready to let go of their star man. Especially since their star man’s new club was willing to spend so much money on a position that they already had a plethora of. But, nevertheless, Jack Grealish still left his hometown club for a record fee of $139m, becoming the most expensive British player of all time.
How It’s Going: Man City is another fan base alongside PSG that might be a little underwhelmed at the moment. Grealish has found a way to become a consistent starter in Pep Guardiola’s lineup for the most part. However, he has only scored 2 goals in his 15 games total. Granted, like any player coming to a new team, Grealish still needs time to adjust. But it won’t be too long before City fans start to wonder if their club should’ve instead signed a real striker this past summer. In particular, Harry Kane.
Ben White (Brighton & Hove Albion to Arsenal)
How It Started: You’d be lying if you said that you did not raise your eyebrows when this deal was announced. Ben White has clearly been one of the young, up-and-coming, English defenders that is worth keeping an eye on. But for $69.5m? With very little experience and still a lot left to prove? Just another example of how the price tag for a young English kid going to an old English club is ridiculously inflated. (Rant for another day…)
How It’s Going: White started his season with the Gunners on the rocky side. His first match with Arsenal in their defeat to Brentford was abysmal. Social media was immediately filled with jokes of the defender asking his agent to send him back to Brighton. (Fake news, obviously). For their next match against Chelsea, White missed out due to testing positive for Covid-19. Since then however, the defender has stepped up with his surging runs and convincing performances. In Arsenal’s win against Watford this past weekend, White led the team in touches, clearances, and interceptions.
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid to PSG)
How It Started: Did you seriously ever think that the world would see the day where Sergio Ramos would wear any jersey that was NOT Real Madrid’s? Because I sure didn’t!! This one is still a little hard to believe, but even a long-time veteran such as Ramos is left with no choice but to walk away when the club you’ve fought hard for for 16 years refuses to give you a good deal. Ramos ended up saying goodbye to Spain and signing a two-year contract with PSG.
How It’s Going: Is it even going? The legendary defender has yet to play a single minute for PSG, a problematic calf injury being the reason. Rumors are already swirling that this may lead to an early termination of contract, but Ramos’s brother and agent has come out denying those claims. Time will tell, I guess?
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus to Manchester United)
How It Started: In the very last few days of the transfer window, Ronaldo finally made it clear to Juventus that he did not want to be there. You could say that Juventus minded, and were probably a little peeved at the last minute decision, but Juve had no room to say no when they are a club that is in desperate need of some revenue. So with that, Manchester United welcomed back the star striker for his second stint, not because they really needed him, but mostly so their city rivals, Manchester City, would not get their hands on him.
How It’s Going: For all the times it was left up to Ronaldo to bail out Juventus in must-win matches, that has only proven to be good experience for #7, as he now does the same for United. The Red Devil ride this season has been nothing but a rollercoaster, and Ronaldo has had to play Superman and come to the rescue at least twice. Maybe three? I’ve lost count. But United have pretty much already ruled themselves out of the Premier League title race, and if they fail to finish the season in the top four, will Ronaldo’s move have all been worth it?
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