After some intense overhauls and jaw-dropping signings, the summer transfer window has drawn to a close – the clubs are now ready to battle it out in the new season with renewed vigour of being crowned champions of their respective leagues
In the hopes of dominating the Champions League this season, the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Atlético Madrid have made some big money signings. At the same time, there have also been clubs who have made cheaper yet very smart purchases that might prove to be the best as well as most efficient buys of the summer. While many of them might not grab the headlines like some of the more well-known players across the world, they can still have a big impact on their team's fate in the ongoing season.
Now, with the transfer window being shut until January, we take a quick look at the top five teams that have managed to fill in the required deficit without making much noise.
On May 31, Antonio Conte was roped in as the new manager of the Italian club. Led by Sporting Director, Beppe Marotta – the man also behind building Juventus as a superpower in Serie A – Inter Milan spent the months of June, July and August carefully analysing the players they would need to acquire to lift the league title for the 19th time. Following a raid at Manchester United dressing room, bringing in both Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to the Nerazzurri, Internazionale now looks like a formidable unit to close the gap to the top of the Serie A table and mount a push for the title.
They have also managed to rope in Diego Godín after his contract with Atlético Madrid expired. He has added to Inter's already stellar list of centre-backs. The Uruguayan will bring bags of experience along with composure. He's a proven leader and will be keen to help his new team claim the league title. At 33, he may not be available for all games but will have a greater role to play if Inter is to be crowned Italian champions this season. The signing of Cristiano Biraghi has also added quality to the bench, in case of any injury to the back three.
Exiting young talents in Lucien Agoumé and Nicolò Barella have now given Conte more options to switch, but securing a spot at San Siro won't be an easy task with several top players vying for positions. Stefano Sensi will act as a vital link between the attack and defence as the league heads towards the business end.
Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku are the prime highlights of Inter's summer signings. Sanchez will suit Conte's style of play and there is no doubt on Lukaku's ability to churn out goals in some way or the other.
Atlético Madrid seemed to have lost everything in the early days. Their main stalwarts often claimed to be one of the best defensive lines – Filipe Luís, Juanfran and Diego Godín – were about to depart. They were also about to lose Rodri and Antoine Griezmann. From there on, what the management has achieved deserves applause – truly masterful.
The team's defence has been restored with the arrival of Tottenham full-back Kieran Trippier, centre-back Felipe signed from Porto and highly-rated Spaniard Mario Hermoso from Espanyol. Trippier's cross to score the solitary goal in their opening fixture would relax some nerves in Simeone's camp. Marcos Llorente seems to have filled in the void of Rodri after crossing the Madrid divide to reinforce the midfield. The Benfica wonderkid, Joao Felix, was signed at €126 million. Ahead of the transfers, his 20 goals and 11 assists in the last season had caught the eyes of Europe's top clubs. If he performs as expected, Griezmann's absence won't be felt much and there are now enough reasons for fans to be optimistic even without the services of key players from the last season.
With three wins in as many games this season, Atlético Madrid seems to have transitioned quite well and are expected to throw in some serious fights against giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.
After being comprehensively beaten in the Europa League final last term, the Gunners realised on the flight home that they had to whip out the cheque book. It was a busy 2019 summer transfer window for Arsenal. Six arrived, but a number were allowed to leave including the likes of Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey on free transfers, while Alex Iwobi joined Everton and Henrikh Mkhitaryan joined Roma on loan for the campaign. There's been an influx of new faces to the club, including the signing of Ivory Coast international, Nicolas Pépé, who joined from Lille at €72 million.
During the early days, Arsenal briefed the media about their measly transfer budget of £45-50 million. But what followed since then has been extraordinary. Kieran Tierney, David Luiz, Dani Ceballos, Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pépé combined for a €138 million deal. Having said that, Unai Emery's squad can now genuinely pose a challenge for a top-four position. Considering the position they were in, this is quite an effort. The new squad at the Emirates has a real mix of Premier League experience and youthful fearlessness.
A series of costly defensive errors late in the campaign last season allowed Bayern to pip the Yellow Brigade to the top. Mats Hummels, Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt, and Nico Schulz have all arrived at Borussia Dortmund to join Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho & Co, in trying to push Bayern Munich even harder in the Bundesliga title race.
Having played 300 Bundesliga games for two of the league's biggest clubs, lifting the Meisterschale six times (four with Bayern, two with Dortmund) and also two DFB Cups, Hummels has been the most exciting signing for Dortmund. Hummels' role will be to add needed experience to a rather young defence, guiding and nurturing the still relatively raw talent of fellow centre-backs Manuel Akanji, Abdou Diallo, Dan-Axel Zagadou and Leonardo Balerdi.
It's has also been a big summer for the Hazard family. Eden is fulfilling a long-held wish to join Real Madrid while Thorgan is continuing his upward trajectory. Sancho and Reus are assured of two of the three places behind the lone forward, but with Christian Pulisic, Raphaël Guerreiro and Jacob Bruun Larsen having shared the other spot between them, Dortmund has been crying out for a full-time occupant of the role for some time and now seem to have found the answer in Thorgan Hazard.
Julian Brandt and Nico Schulz have also added further artillery to the mid-field armoury of the second-best German club and the management would now be hoping to get hold of arch-rival Bayern Munich even towards the later stages of the league.
Manchester City and Pep Guardiola will be looking for a third consecutive Premier League crown, but it won't be a straightforward journey ahead. This summer, there hasn't been a flurry of activities from the Citizens but had there been something of that sort, it would have raised many eyebrows for a team that has accumulated 100 and 98 points respectively in their last two seasons. What made them stand out has been their consistency throughout the season and a 'three-peat' is definitely on the cards.
City analysed very quietly and filled all the small holes that could cause them some problem sooner or later. With Benjamin Mendy injured, they bought back Angelino from PSV Eindhoven so ensure there is no hurry of Mendy's recovery. They have also managed to secure Spaniard Rodgrio as Fernandinho's long-term successor. The Portuguese star, Joao Cancelo, has also joined the Men in Blue. With Kevin De Bruyne back, they are now stronger than last year and it would need some serious force to stop the Citizens from lifting the PL crown for the third consecutive time.
A criticism for City has been the lack of a pathway for their homegrown youngsters; that is seemingly set to change with the 19-year-old Phil Foden. He has been wobbling on the brink of nailing down a regular starting berth which could not be much away in the ongoing season but won't be as easy as it seems in a squad full of world-class players.
With four games into the season, City now sits at the second position and remains undefeated alongside Liverpool and Leicester City.
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