PSG gathered football superstars. How did the top clubs end up with similar stories before?
PSG blew up the transfer market this summer. The French club got several star players at once. And if Inter had to pay € 60 million for Ashraf Hakimi , then Sergio Ramos , Gianluigi Donnarumma , Jorginho Wijnaldum and Lionel Messi himself came to the team as free agents. We do not yet know how many Parisians have given lifting “free” to beginners, but we can already say with confidence that this window will become legendary.
Against the backdrop of a powerful PSG campaign, we recall 10 cases when top European clubs spent insane amounts of money on strengthening. And at the same time, let’s remember what it led to.
- Chelsea (2017) – € 204 million
- Barcelona (2017) – € 223 million
- Manchester City (2017) – € 242.5 million
- Atlético (2019) – € 244.5 million
- Chelsea (2020) – € 247 million
- Real Madrid (2009) – € 253.5 million
- Juventus (2018) – € 258.5 million
- Barcelona (2019) – € 272 million
- Real Madrid (2019) – € 321 million
- PSG (2017) – € 383 million
Chelsea (2017) – € 204 million
Summer 2017. Chelsea had just won the English championship in their first season under Antonio Conte and were about to defend the title. To do this, the club bought Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid for € 66 million, Tiemue Bakayoko (AS Monaco) for € 40 million, Daniel Drinkwater (Leicester) for € 38 million, Antonio Rudiger (Roma) for € 35 million and Davide Zappacostu (Roma) for € 25 million.
When a club spends more than € 200 million in one summer, you expect it to be successful, but there were a lot of nuances. Conte wanted to see Romela Lukaku in the team , but the deal fell through. The Belgian went to Manchester United, and the coach received Morata as a consolation. After a while the Spaniard “swam”. Bakayoko, with whom Monaco had a brilliant season, had to concretize the pivot area – instead, the Frenchman failed to adapt and subsequently began to ride on leases. Buying Drinkwater (and even for that kind of money) initially looked dubious. And so it happened. Danny did not take root in Chelsea and began to get into scandals. Zappakosta outright lost the competition and settled on the bench. A few years later, we can say that only Rüdiger played from that game – and even then not immediately.
Chelsea in the 2017/2018 season was no longer the same team as a year earlier. In the Premier League, Manchester City went rinking, and the Blues even managed not to get into the top 4. They were knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona without any problems. Conte was hooked on the FA Cup, but that didn’t save him from being fired. Probably the money could have been better spent.
Barcelona (2017) – € 223 million
2017 again, but this time Barcelona. In this case, it is very easy to explain the spending: in the summer, the club lost Neymar through its own stupidity . The Brazilian went to PSG for an unimaginable € 222 million (the record is still held), which were written in the contract as compensation, and the blue garnet were left with a lot of money and an urgent need to urgently replace one of their main stars. The choice fell on winger Usman Dembele , who had one bright season behind Borussia Dortmund. The Germans did not want to let the player go, so they had to overpay. As a result, the Frenchman cost € 135 million, which, of course, was not worth (and still is not worth it). Dembele’s company was Paulinho (came from China for € 40 million), Nelson Semedufrom Benfica (€ 36 million) and Barça graduate Gerard Deulofeu , who was returned from Everton for € 12 million. Surprisingly, only Paulinho caught on. Even more surprising: he left after a year.
At Barcelona that summer, the era of Ernesto Valverde began . In the championship, the team took the title and felt confident (14 points from second place), and at the same time won the Spanish Cup. But, you see, the Catalans remember something completely different about that season. Barça dropped out of the Champions League in disgrace, allowing Roma to have one of the greatest comebacks in tournament history. All that was required was to write normal compensation payments in Neymar’s contract.
Manchester City (2017) – € 242.5 million
We return to England. As you can see, 2017 was a busy year in terms of transfers. Josep Guardiola in the first season did not take out the championship race and could not afford such a situation for the second year in a row. The leadership understood this and was not greedy. Came Benjamin Mendy ( “Monaco», € 57.5 mn), Kyle Walker ( “Tottenham», € 53 mn), Bernardo Silva ( “Monaco», € 50 mn) Ederson Moraes (€ 40 mn), Danilo ( ” Real ”, € 30 million) and Douglas Luis (“ Vasco da Gama ”, € 12 million). At the same time, Man City dumped pensioners and other ballast.
Unlike previous examples, this one is a success story. Except for Mendy (turned out to be infantile) and Luis (not taken as a basis), everyone started to play. City moved over the Premier League with a record 100 points and a 19-place lead from second to capture the League Cup. The Champions League was a fly in the ointment, where the townspeople were eliminated in the quarterfinals from Liverpool (the best remedy against that car) with a total score of 1: 5. But the purchase was successful anyway.
Atlético (2019) – € 244.5 million
In the summer of 2019, Atlético found itself in a light version of the situation that Barcelona had fallen into two years earlier. Only this time, the buyer was already blue-garnet. They paid compensation for the main star of the “mattress” – Antoine Griezmann (we’ll talk about this later). Atletico was not taken aback and agreed to pay a record € 127 million for one of the brightest talents at the time – João Felix from Benfica. Also, Madrid were strengthened by Marcos Llorente (Real Madrid, € 30 million), Mario Hermoso (Espanyol, € 25 million), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham, € 22 million), Renan Lodi (Atletico Paranaense, € 20, 5 million) and Felipe(Porto, € 20 million). Luckily for the club, none of the newcomers were overt disappointments.
Just before the coronavirus pandemic, Atlético sensationally knocked Liverpool out of the Champions League, and many started talking about the finest hour of the mattress. It turned out that he had not come. Atlético were eliminated from Leipzig in the quarterfinals. In the Spanish championship, Diego Simeone’s team took the third place on duty after Real Madrid and Barcelona. Judging by the amount spent, you might think that Atlético has poured money into the abyss. But it must be borne in mind that half is Felix’s transfer for the future. In addition, two years later, the purchase bore fruit and the “mattress covers” became champions.
Chelsea (2020) – € 247 million
The most recent case. Last summer, as clubs were counting every penny after a lockdown and looking for ways to save money, Chelsea put on a frenzy ride. The Blues accumulated a large amount of money during the transfer ban, and they began to spend it: Kai Havertz (Bayer, € 80m), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig, € 53m), Ben Chilwell (Leicester, € 50 million), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax, € 40 million), Edouard Mendy (Rennes, € 24 million).
The roster was almost half updated, so the game did not improve immediately. In the middle of the season, the team changed its head coach altogether – instead of Frank Lampard , Thomas Tuchel was appointed . And it worked. Chelsea won the Champions League for the second time in history, and at the same time reached the FA Cup final and finished in the top 4 in the Premier League (although it was not without luck).
Real Madrid (2009) – € 253.5 million
Nothing unusual, just Florentino Perez returned to the presidency of Real Madrid. As in the first run, he decided to collect the “galacticos”. It turned out like this: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, € 94 million), Kaka (Milan, € 67 million), Karim Benzema (Lyon, € 35 million), Xabi Alonso (Liverpool, € 34.5 million), Raul Albiol (Valencia, € 15 million), Alvaro Negredo (Almeria, € 5 million, immediately sold to Sevilla), Estebano Granero (Getafe, € 4 million), Alvaro Arbeloa (“ Liverpool “, € 4 million). Manuel Pellegrini trained all this beauty .
Instant success did not work, although in Spain, Real Madrid issued a championship season. The team scored 96 points and would have taken the title if not for Guardiola’s Barcelona, who had three points more. Out of the Champions League, Real Madrid, out of habit (then it happened every year), flew 1/8 of Lyon. Kaka’s transfer turned out to be controversial, but the purchases of Ronaldo and Benzema completely cover it.
Juventus (2018) – € 258.5 million
In 2018, Juventus set out to win everything they could. After two Champions League finals in three years, Turin wanted to see it through to the end and bought the chief specialist for this European Cup – Cristiano Ronaldo . The Portuguese at that time was 33 years old, nevertheless, Real Madrid still received € 117 million for the transfer. Juventus also acquired João Canselo (Valencia, € 40 million), Douglas Costa (Bayern, € 40 million ), Mattia Perina (Genoa, € 14 million), and also returned Leonardo Bonucci from Milan for € 35 million and made a couple of less significant transfers. Promising? Sure.
Juventus once again became the champion of Italy, but did not reach the main goal, losing in the Champions League quarterfinals to the sensational Ajax. Then the club went all bad, appointed first Maurizio Sarri , then Andrea Pirlo and stopped winning even what he was supposed to. Now Allegri has returned to the team, so you can imagine that all this was not.
Barcelona (2019) – € 272 million
Let’s go back to 2019. That summer, Barcelona continued to look for a footballer to replace Neymar. It didn’t work out with Dembele, we decided to try with another Frenchman – Griezmann. Blue Garnet paid compensation in the amount of € 120 million and took away the world champion from Atlético. Barça also acquired Frenkie de Jong (Ajax, € 86 million), Neto (Valencia, € 26 million), Pedri (Las Palmas, € 20 million) and Junior Firpo (Betis, € 20 million).
The season went on, things didn’t work out, so Barça decided to replace Valverde with Kike Setien . But instead of an extravaganza in attack and harmony in the center of the field, it got a failure on all fronts. Second place in Example, leaving the Cup at the quarter-final stage and the most disgraceful match with Bayern (2: 8), because of which they had to forget about the Champions League. Pedri shot from transfers two years ago, de Jong cannot be called an unsuccessful purchase either. But why Barcelona Griezmann is still interesting.
Real Madrid (2019) – € 321 million
All the same, in the summer of 2019, Barcelona was not alone – it was overtaken by Real. President Perez brought Zinedine Zidane a wagon of money to reinforce the train. The main stake was made on Eden Azar . The Belgian was supposed to be the new Ronaldo, so Chelsea was given € 115 million for him without hesitation. The rest of the transfers were also serious: Luka Jovic (Eintracht, € 63 million), Eder Militao (Porto, € 50 million), Ferlan Mendy (Lyon, € 48 million), Rodrigo (Santos, € 45 million).
That transfer campaign of Real Madrid was rather unsuccessful than vice versa. The most expensive purchases – Hazard and Jovic – are a complete failure. Militao did not start playing immediately and now does not inspire one hundred percent optimism. Due to his age, Rodrigo still has time. Perhaps the only truly successful deal is Mehndi.
PSG (2017) – € 383 million
Cherry on the cake. The story of how PSG outraged financial fair play. How to make the fewest purchases in this rating, but take the first place? That’s how. Paris fooled Barcelona, and Neymar bought his contract for € 222 million. That would have been enough for PSG’s campaign to enter the top 10 most expensive. But the club also signed Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe . Yes, formally it was a lease with an obligation to buy out, but everyone understood everything: it was impossible to take a football player for a run-in and then pick him up for € 145 million. There was also Yuri Berchiche from Real Sociedad for € 16 million, but we will just mention him so as not to be offended.
PSG at that moment was struggling with the stigma of a Euro-loser. The stars in the attack should have contributed to this, but it did not work out. Paris was eliminated from the Champions League in 1/8 and the same thing happened a year later. Although the title of champion of France has not gone anywhere.
The transfers of Neymar and Mbappe cannot be called a failure. Both players played in the team and brought results. But the owners of PSG were clearly counting on something more.