The 2022 summer transfer window is approaching. English Premier League open for business from 10 June, with most of the rest of Europe waiting for 1 July to be fully operational.

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We have had some very unusual years given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on finances around the world. Megastars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have switched clubs, free transfers have had a huge impact and Premier League summer spending decreased on an annualized basis since 2019.although according to Deloitte it is still passing the €1.3 billion mark in 2021.

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All in all, European leagues spending is minuscule compared to that of the Premier League – Serie A was in second place with €550m in 2021 – but despite the economic fallout from the war in Ukraine, the cost of living crisis and the pandemic continues, the world of football, seems to work in its own bubble.

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So what will the transfer market look like this summer? We’ve already seen some evidence that clubs are willing to spend big, but what does that mean for the rest?

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€100 million transfers are back, but is more needed?

More than two years ago, former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeneß suggested that “transfer fees in excess of €100m will be a thing of the past for the next few years” due to financial problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This period seems to have ended well and indeed.

In 2021, Manchester City broke the British transfer record by signing Jack Grealish from Aston Villa for €117m, while Chelsea spent €115m to re-sign striker Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan. But already this summer, with the window not even fully open, two deals were announced within a week that broke the €100m mark: Monaco midfielder Aurelien Chuameni was signed by Real Madrid for an €80m transfer fee. , plus another euro. €20m in bonuses, then Benfica striker Darwin Nunes moved to Liverpool for €75m plus €25m in performance bonuses.

Add to that Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland’s €60m move to Manchester City after his release clause went live and despite global financial troubles, Europe’s biggest clubs are still willing to spend hefty transfer fees. on young players who have the potential to grow. It is no coincidence that Haaland is 21 years old, and Nunez and Chuameni are 22 years old.

While Real Madrid, Man City and Liverpool are three of the most successful and wealthy clubs of recent times, others could follow suit in an attempt to close the gap on their rivals and there are a few players who could move for a bigger fee to this year. summer.

With 35 goals and 19 assists in 50 games for RB Leipzig last season, you can expect 24-year-old midfielder Christopher Nkunku to get massive offers from clubs like Manchester United or Paris Saint-Germain. And while RB Leipzig always seem to get a decent transfer fee when they decide to let a player go, it’s usually worth it as you’re almost guaranteed a well-developed star that can make an immediate impact. However, reports in Germany suggested the player has agreed to a new contract with a €60m buyout clause that will take effect next summer, so it’s possible he’ll stay where he is for now.

Dortmund are also great at signing players on the cheap and transferring them for big profits. While there is little to suggest that 18-year-old Jude Bellingham is desperate to leave, or even that the club is willing to listen to offers, Real Madrid have been linked with a €100m move to lure the England midfielder out of the Bundesliga. although this is likely to happen in 2023.

One of the top defensive midfielders in the Premier League, West Ham’s Declan Rice is reportedly followed by Chelsea and Manchester City, but the 23-year-old could possibly surpass Grealish’s fee. Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong could get a little cheaper if they decide to sell him for around €80m plus surcharges, with Manchester United reportedly leading the charge in chasing him, although it could still prove too expensive on their taste.

Clubs are looking for potential

As shown above, the voluntary regime of signing the best players under a certain age is becoming more common in Europe. Not so many years ago, club owners would have approached the transfer market with more courage and less strategy, but now potential seems to be key. While we’re not talking about a nine-figure fee, other top players in their 20s and 20s, such as AC Milan striker Rafael Leão, Bayer Leverkusen winger Moussa Diaby and Sevilla centre-back Jules Kunde, could very well be on the radar. clubs for about €. 60m as they can develop and possibly increase their total transfer value in a few years.

Thus, even if the market turns out to be calm, there is every reason to watch for major changes involving players aged 18 to 23.

Of course, this does not mean that clubs will shun available world-class players. Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, 33 with a year left on his contract, will compete with Haaland for the most attractive transition of the summer if he fulfills his wish to leave, which Barcelona and PSG are interested in. However, while the Poland international could have received a fee of €100m a few years ago, his age and contract status mean Bayern are now lucky to receive around €40m.

Will Manchester United become the top spender?

While a number of top players from the first XI have already left Old Trafford on free transfers, including Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic and Edinson Cavani, as well as Ajax’s principled new head coach Eric ten Witch has arrived, it looks like Manchester United have another summer of big spending ahead of them.

The downside of finding a new head coach relatively late – and not having a properly functioning sporting director (like the figure of Monkey at Sevilla or Fabio Paratici at Tottenham with clear authority to take charge of the transfer business) – is that ” United are on the sidelines when it comes to persuading potential players to join a new project.

Real Madrid have been on Chuameni’s trail for months, Manchester City passed Haaland in April, Liverpool followed Nunez with lightning speed, and Tottenham Hotspur have already agreed three deals (Yves Bissuma, Ivan Perisic and Fraser Forster), but Manchester United are still struggling to get out of the starting blocks when it comes to rookies. A long-discussed deal to reunite Barcelona midfielder De Jong with his former boss ten Hag seems to be getting expensive to the point that it begs the question of whether the club should pick a player like Wolves’ Ruben Neves or PSV’s Ibrahim Sangaré.

However, rivals Arsenal and Chelsea have yet to start either, and despite the lack of incoming activity at Old Trafford, ten Hag is expected to receive substantial financial backing to begin rebuilding his team. Watch this space.

Small clubs waiting for the trickle down effect

Further down the food chain, the outlook is not so optimistic. While transfers in the €10m to €40m range used to be fairly commonplace, mid- to low-ranked teams from the larger European leagues may be hesitant to invest early in the market, such as with Aston Villa (€50m). on Diego Carlos from Sevilla, Boubacar Camara from Marseille, Robin Olsen from Roma and Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona) and Leeds United (40 million euros for a pair of Salzburg Brenden Aaronsohn and Rasmus Christensen) are two notable exceptions.

However, the general feedback from second or third line clubs playing in the top leagues is that the landscape has not changed drastically from previous transfer windows. Asceticism is still the main mantra coming from owners and CEOs; the best many can hope for is to replace the player who left, or develop short-term or seasonal loan agreements (potentially with a reasonable option to sign them permanently at the end).

The only silver lining is that big spending at the top will eventually benefit the leagues as a whole as wealth at the top starts to trickle down, though it may take a while to have its full impact.

Fear of free transfers

Lots of reasons for more high-profile free transfers – Messi, David Alaba, Sergio Ramos and Gianluigi Donnarumma (last summer); Pogba, Antonio Rudiger, Paulo Dybala, Frank Kessy and Ousmane Dembele (this summer) have been featured in previous Sportzshala coverage.

However, it is worth noting that the fear of losing a player for free in 2023 will drive potential transfers. Lewandowski, whose contract expires in 2023, will likely get the move he wants so that Bayern can recoup the fee for one of the best players in the world, and they could use that €40m to sign Liverpool striker Sadio Mane, who is in a similar situation. The situation at Anfield. Liverpool would not like it if the same thing happened to Mohamed Salah, although contract negotiations with the Egyptian are more advanced.

While Kylian Mbappe has decided to forego Real Madrid and stay at PSG, Rudiger has already left for Madrid this summer for nothing, and Pogba is also set to leave United to return to Juventus. Barcelona will win (by signing AC Milan midfielder Kessy and Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen) but could lose (if winger Dembele does not agree to new terms) due to this trend. So the top clubs are all too aware that they will eventually have to let go of one of their best players.

Top players whose contract ended in 2023 include Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, Bayern Munich’s Serge Gnabry, Leicester’s Youri Tielemans, Inter’s Milan Skriniar and Valencia’s Carlos Soler. So, whether you like it or not, they will be of interest until they write new terms.

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