Real Madrid’s recent season was anything but great – third place in La Liga, defeat in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey against archrivals Barcelona, knocked out by Ajax in the Last 16 of the Champions League and beaten by city rivals Atlético Madrid in the Uefa Super Cup.
These disappointing results have prompted Real Madrid to open their chequebook in search of strengthening the squad ahead of the new season. By Friday, the Spanish giants had spent €303 million (R4.9 billion) on five players: Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Éder Militão, Ferland Mendy and Rodrygo.
For Mendy, who joined from Olympique Lyonnais, the move was a dream come true after having been told as a teenager that he would not be able to play again after surgery left him in a wheelchair for months.
“At the beginning, I just couldn’t believe it. This is a great club and being able to sign a contract with them is something absolutely incredible. Fantastic. I’m absolutely overjoyed and, hopefully, everything will go well here,” the French international said.
Hazard is – so far – the most expensive signing in Europe, having joined Los Blancos from Chelsea for €100 million. Jovic cost €60 million, which proved a real bargain for Eintracht Frankfurt, who made use of a buy-out clause in their loan agreement with Benfica Lisbon.
The Bundesliga club paid about €8 million for the Serbian international, with the club’s chief executive for sport saying that they were always keen on signing the 20-year-old.
“Luka’s development with us has been very pleasing. For us, there was no doubt that we wanted to tie him to the club. He’s a player with exceptional ability,” Fredi Bobic said a few weeks before they sold him to Real for a huge profit.
It seems quite likely that Real’s spending spree is not over, as they are said to have a number of other players in their sights.
But the Uefa Financial Fair Play Regulations have made clubs wary, and Real know they have to offload some players. Marcos Llorente has already joined Atlético; and James Rodríguez, Raúl de Tomás and Mateo Kovacic are probably leaving soon. Gareth Bale’s future with the club also seems to be in doubt.
Real, of course, is not the only club that has invested heavily for the new season.
La Liga champions Barcelona have bought Frenkie de Jong from Ajax and are being linked with the midfielders’ former team-mate Matthijs de Ligt.
Bayern Munich, who won the double in Germany, but fell short in the Champions League, have lured two French World Cup winners to Bavaria. Benjamin Pavard joined the club from Stuttgart for €35 million, while Lucas Hernández cost a staggering €80 million from Atlético.
Borussia Dortmund, who were pipped to the Bundesliga title by Bayern, have also made a number of signings, including highly rated German international Julian Brandt for €25 million from Bayer Leverkusen, Hazard’s brother Thorgan from Borussia Mönchengladbach, Matts Hummels from Bayern and Nico Schulz from Hoffenheim. They have also bought Paco Alcácer after the striker spent time on loan to them.
There has been a slow start to transfer movements in the Premier League. Chelsea signed Christian Pulisic from Dortmund in January and has sold Eden Hazard to Real.
So far, the biggest transfer fee has been paid by Wolves, who signed Mexican Raúl Jiménez from Benfica, although the forward had been playing with the Premier League club on loan.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has made his first signing as a Manchester United coach, bringing Swansea’s Daniel James to Old Trafford for €20 million. Solskjær is also keen to sign Crystal Palace defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka, but the €60 million price tag would leave him with just €20 million to spend on other signings.
It seems highly likely that Premier League clubs will – in the next few weeks – open their chequebooks in moves that will see players move from club to club, and from country to country for literally hundreds of millions of euros.