Football Features

15 deadline day deals and stories you might have missed

By Ben Green

Published: 20:52, 1 September 2021

In what was arguably the most breathless and unpredictable transfer window football has ever seen, it was only fitting that deadline day delivered plenty of twists and late drama, ensuring the summer didn’t conclude with a whimper.

Where to even begin? The two greatest players in the world moved to new clubs for a combined £17m in actual transfer fees, Cristiano Ronaldo nearly became a Manchester City player, Sergio Ramos and Lionel Messi are now team-mates, plus Jack Grealish is the most expensive Premier League player ever.

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There were plenty of ‘Comunicado Oficials’, gentlemen’s agreements that, as it turns out, don’t mean a great deal, ‘HERE WE GOs’ and reunions, not least Romelu Lukaku back at Chelsea, Ronaldo back at Manchester United and Antoine Griezmann’s return to Atletico Madrid two years after he joined Barca for £107m.

So, as deadline day rolled around, fans could have done with a break to gather a collective breath and take stock. And yet, the final 24 hours proved as frantic as ever, putting the gloss on a historic few months of transfer activity. As the dust settles, we look back on some of deals you might have missed from the last day.

A round-up of notable deadline-day deals

  • Cristiano Ronaldo: Juventus to Manchester United (£17m)
  • Antoine Griezmann: Barcelona to Atletico Madrid (loan with £34.4m obligation to buy)
  • Saul Niguez: Atletico Madrid to Chelsea (loan with £30m option to buy)
  • Eduardo Camavinga: Rennes to Real Madrid (£26.6m)
  • Daniel James: Manchester United to Leeds United (£24m)

1. Emerson Royal

  • From: Barcelona
  • To: Tottenham Hotspur
  • Fee: £25.7m

In what was a summer of carnage for Barcelona, including an exodus of stars like Messi and Griezmann, Emerson’s departure will go slightly under the radar in the long run. But there is a general frustration among Cules as the Brazilian returned to the Camp Nou this summer with a degree of excitement.

The 22-year-old Paulistano established himself as one of La Liga’s finest attacking right-backs during a two-year loan spell at Real Betis, but with Sergino Dest blocking his path to the first team in Catalonia, Spurs have acquired his services for a modest £25.7m, which should prove very savvy business down the line.

2. Ilaix Moriba

  • From: Barcelona
  • To: RB Leipzig
  • Fee: £13.6m

This is another Barca exit from their ill-fated fire sale that will sting. The Guinean wonderkid rose to prominence last season and looked destined to cement a starting berth in Ronald Koeman’s midfield this campaign. Alongside fellow 18-year-olds Ansu Fati and Pedri, Barca’s midfield looked complete for years to come.

However, Moriba’s contract was set to expire in 2022 and, with talks of a renewal hitting multiple stumbling blocks, the teenage tyro has upped sticks for Leipzig, a metropolis for emerging talent and a club whose philosophy centres on the rapid development of youth. It’s a fitting environment for his burgeoning ability.

3. Nikola Vlasic

  • From: CSKA Moscow
  • To: West Ham United
  • Fee: £25m

‘Dithering Dave’ to some, ‘Methodical Moyes’ to others. David Moyes has a penchant for conducting his business late in the transfer window after he has done extensive research on potential targets and explored the market thoroughly. It’s all very Bielsa-esque, but there is certainly a method to the madness.

In Nikola Vlasic, he has acquired a player who has championed the Russian Premier League, comes from good stock being the brother of world champion high jumper Blanka Vlasic, is only 23 and is seen by many in Croatia as the player to carry the nation forward, with The Blazers‘ ‘Golden Generation’ coming to an end.

It was not Jesse Lingard in the end, but Vlasic’s versatility and robustness could remedy and transcend the Man Utd man’s void. Plus, he will be eyeing up Premier League redemption following his forgetful stint at Everton, in which he was never really given an opportunity to shine.

4. Marc Cucurella

  • From: Getafe
  • To: Brighton
  • Fee: £15.5m

Brighton may well be the RB Leipzig of the Premier League (in terms of transfer acumen). They seem to unearth these hidden gems and pull of very astute acquisitions that involve little to no fuss. It’s all very Football Manager-esque, and Marc Cucurella is the archetype of recent Brighton business.

The one-capped Spain international offers plenty of versatility, skill and… hair. He feels like a genuine game-changer for the Seagulls. He was a prominent fixture in Spain’s Silver Medal-winning side at this summer’s Olympic Games and played in the final defeat to Brazil. Graham Potter may have just pulled off a masterstroke.

5. Nuno Mendes

  • From: Sporting CP
  • To: Paris Saint-Germain
  • Fee: Loan

Georginio Wijnaldum, Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Lionel Messi. Nasser Al-Khelaifi channelled his inner Florentino Perez this summer and went on a galactico-style overhaul like no other. Nuno Mendes is one of the more inconspicuous signings, but no less exciting.

The teenage full-back burst onto the scene last season as Sporting CP won the Primeira Liga title with just the single defeat on their CV, and Mendes was aptly named in the ‘Team of the Year’. Capped five times by Portugal already, the Lisbon-born defender is a star in the making.

6. Luuk de Jong

  • From: Sevilla
  • To: Barcelona
  • Fee: Loan

From Messi-Suarez-Neymar in 2016, to De Jong-Depay-Braithwaite in 2021. In all seriousness, this very much has a Odion Ighalo-to-Man Utd feel about it, a last-minute stop-gap to alleviate Griezmann’s exit. The only discernible Barca quality that De Jong appears to have is that he’s Dutch.

7. Takehiro Tomiyasu

  • From: Bologna
  • To: Arsenal
  • Fee: £15.5m

A busy day in north London, as Arsenal also sought defensive reinforcements. After Ainsley Maitland-Niles scolded Arsenal on social media for not letting him leave, the Gunners have, not only kept him against his will (though it now seems Mikel Arteta has cleared the air), but they signed another player in his position.

He had fallen behind both Cedric Soares and Calum Chambers in the pecking order at right-back, and Tomiyasu, a centre-back by trade, comes to the Premier League as a versatile defender who can also play as a No.2, adding further depth to the position.

8. Salomon Rondon

  • From: Dalian Pro
  • To: Everton
  • Fee: Free

Rafa Benitez worked with Rondon at Newcastle and he was exceptional. The Venezuelan is still only 31 (albeit turning 32 later this month) and is better than most at playing the lone striker role, offering some competition for Dominic Calvert-Lewin up front. 

9. Hector Bellerin

  • From: Arsenal
  • To: Real Betis
  • Fee: Loan

An exceptionally talented right-back on his day, Bellerin has had his fair share of injury issues and problems with consistency in recent times. Throw Arsenal’s own complications with consistency into the mix, and Bellerin’s career has not only plateaued, but taken a backwards step. Still only 26, the former Barcelona academy whizkid will be looking to rejuvenate his career back in familiar pastures.

10. Odsonne Edouard

  • From: Celtic
  • To: Crystal Palace
  • Fee: £14m

The Frenchman has long been linked with a move to the Premier League, a bit like Moussa Dembele before him, and no doubt Kyogo Furuhashi next summer (actually, who are we kidding: this January). A robust forward who knows where the back of the net is, Edouard should be more than prepped for the Premier League having toughed it out on unforgiving terrain and the rough and tumble of Scottish football over the past four years.

11. Alex Kral

  • From: Spartak Moscow
  • To: West Ham United
  • Fee: Loan

It just wouldn’t be a transfer window without West Ham signing a Czech player. Exceptional scout and occasional footballer Tomas Soucek endorsed the purchase of Vladimir Coufal last summer, and Moyes has now heeded his advise with the signing of Kral. A technically-superb passer and midfield buffer, Moyes has brought in the 23-year-old to ensure Mark Noble is not the only central midfield back-up.

12. Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa

  • From: Fulham
  • To: Napoli
  • Fee: Loan

He went out on loan to Villarreal last time Fulham were relegated, and now he has joined Napoli. We’ll see him back at Craven Cottage for a year in the Premier League next season, no doubt. An extremely underrated talent, Anguissa has it all, an exceptional footballing palette that will seriously boost Napoli this season.

13. Moise Kean

  • From: Everton
  • To: Juventus
  • Fee: Loan

Good enough for PSG. Good enough for Juventus. Not good enough for Everton. Kean never really endeared himself to the Toffees and it would appear Benitez rates a 31-year-old has-been coming in from the Chinese Super League over him. No doubt he will score a bucket-load in Serie A, appear in the latter stages of the Champions League, and have every social media account worth their salt tweeting about ‘how he’s technically still an Everton player but scoring against Barca’. Oh, how we will all laugh!

14. Reiss Nelson

  • From: Arsenal
  • To: Feyenoord
  • Fee: Loan

Arsenal have been farming out talented ‘youngsters’ for yonks now but no matter what they do, they’re still not given a chance, which begs the question: what’s the point? Joe Willock scored in seven consecutive games on loan for Newcastle but was still deemed surplus to requirements and sold; Maitland-Niles has been kept on board as a squad player despite impressing with West Brom; even Serge Gnabry was sold despite all his promise. Reiss Nelson had a very productive stint at Hoffenheim under Julian Nagelsmann but has been sent packing once again. Score 50, and he might earn an FA Cup appearance against Accrington Stanley next season.

15. Ademola Lookman

  • From: RB Leipzig
  • To: Leicester
  • Fee: Loan

Ademola Lookman was very good for Fulham last season (Panenka-missing penalties aside). There will be a growing hope that under a more experienced coach in Brendan Rodgers and in a less chaotic, more choreographed team, the promising winger can truly take off and fulfil his once burgeoning potential. I say promising, he’ll be 24 next month! Time to kick on.