Football Features

The European transfer market’s most inactive clubs right now

By Ben Green

Published: 13:52, 15 July 2019

The transfer window is in full swing and as such clubs across the continent have been working day and night to bolster their squads…while others haven’t been quite as active.

Chelsea are currently enduring a two-window transfer embargo, but even they have been more industrious in the market than some clubs, with the permanent recruitment of Mateo Kovacic.

On the other side of the spectrum some managers have been working overtime to spend big, with Real Madrid and Barcelona evoking lavish Galactico memories to courier a combined £474m to clubs across the globe.

But, not all throughout Europe’s top five leagues have the luxury of flexing the eye-watering financial might afforded to Zinedine Zidane or Ernesto Valverde. In fact, some clubs are yet to spend a single penny, while others have struggled to make any sort of a significant inroad in their respective transfer kitties.

So, who are those clubs? Apart from Chelsea, there are six to have only signed one player, while two are yet to make a single investment…

Athletic Bilbao

Players signed: 1

Money spent: £0

The player: Jokin Ezkieta (from Barcelona)

This will come as no surprise as Los Leones have an unwritten transfer policy dictating that the club can only sign either players born in the Basque Country or players who progressed through the ranks at a Basque club.

As such Athletic Bilbao have forged a formidable reputation over the years for their ability to remain a highly competitive La Liga club without having the spending affluence of their competitors. They have made some marquee signings in recent years with Inigo Martinez and Yuri Berchiche commanding a combined £49m fee, but, by and large, Rojiblancos are more renowned for cultivating homegrown talent rather than looking for outside influence.


Players signed: 1

Money spent: £6m

The player: Gabriel Martinelli (from Ituano)

When Arsenal moved from Highbury to the Emirates fans were led to believe the club’s spending prowess would reach unprecedented heights, and yet, 13 years on and the club have fallen behind the traditional big six and seem almost allergic to splurging in the manner of either Manchester clubs.

Unai Emery will no doubt want to bring in at least three key signings this window, though rumours of a £45m budget certainly don’t scream promise for the north London club, while Aaron Ramsey’s successor still seems no closer to joining the club.

Crystal Palace

Players signed: 1

Money spent: £0

The player: Stephen Henderson (from Nottingham Forest)

As things stands Roy Hodgson has been rather tentative in the current transfer window, brining in just the single player, and that was a free transfer to replace club legend Julian Speroni as a backup goalkeeper.

Of course, that number may significantly change should Wilfried Zaha seal his dream move to a club competing in European football, with his monumental fee – combined with Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s – providing the evergreen manager substantial room for reinvestment.


Players signed: 1

Money spent: £1.3m

The player: Sepp van den Berg (from PEC Zwolle)

Jurgen Klopp has already admitted he doesn’t “think it will be the biggest transfer window of all time” this summer as the Reds spent over £100m in 2018/19 to help them win the Champions League, though the Merseyside club have been looking to bring in one or two promising youngsters.

The ‘Baby Van Dijk’ has already pitched up at Anfield, while Fulham’s teenage sensation – aka the Premier League’s youngest ever player – Harvey Elliott looks set for the north west, though the club are currently in a transfer stand-off for the talented tyro with the Cottagers.


Players signed: 0

Money spent: £0

As if a 2-1 defeat to Accrington Stanley wasn’t humiliating enough, Andre Villas-Boas will unlikely sign a single player this summer unless the French club sell, and that is exactly what they have been trying to do if reports of them offering their players around are anything to go by.

Lucas Ocampos has already been sold to Sevilla while Mario Balotelli’s short stint alongside the Mediterranean coast has come to an end, so the former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager certainly has his work cut out for him.


Players signed: 1

Money spent: £19.6m

The player: Gelson Martins (from Atletico Madrid)

Last season was an unmitigated disaster under Thierry Henry as Les Monegasques finished 17th in Ligue 1 and re-recruited Leonardo Jardim, who just managed to stave off the threat of a disastrous relegation.

The Venezuelan-born Portuguese manager will now look to take the principality-club back to the upper reaches of the French top-flight, though he will likely need to bring in more than one player to yield positive results at the Stade Louis II.

Newcastle United

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Players signed: 0

Money spent: £0

The more you look at it, the uglier the situation looks on Tyneside. Things wouldn’t be that bad for the Toon Army had Rafa Benitez remained at the helm, as the Spanish manager proved an astute tactician capable of flourishing in a harsh terrain, working miracles with very few tools.

Unfortunately for the Magpies, the former Champions League winning coach has left St James’ Park, their top scorers last term – Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon – have left and their academy star in Sean Longstaff might leave.

So it’s safe to say, things are looking pretty bleak, especially considering the club has less than a month – yes less than a month – to secure a new manager, a new source of goals and a new sense of belief before they kick off their Premier League campaign against Arsenal on August 11.


Players signed: 1

Money spent: £0

The player: Khephren Thuram (from Monaco)

Patrick Vieira fared much better than ex-Invincibles teammate Henry in the duo’s respective Ligue 1 maiden campaigns in the dugout, with the 43-year-old masterminding a respectable seventh-place finish for Les Aiglons.

That considered, he will now want to push on and make further progress. While he has thus far kept hold of star players in Allan Saint-Maximin and Youcef Atal, the Frenchman will likely need to make more signings than just that of the promising recruitment of Lilian Thuram’s teenage son.