Summertime always brings amazing and surprising transfers in the world of soccer. This is when teams go out to look for players that will help them with their respective leagues’s upcoming season. This transfer season was like no other, with, arguably, the biggest thing to happen in years: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo moving clubs in the same transfer window for the first time.
Honestly, this is one of the strangest things that has ever happened in sports history, as it seemingly came out of nowhere. At least, Ronaldo’s transfer did. As a Barcelona fan, Messi leaving after being the clubs’ best-ever player and spending 20 years at the club was a difficult thing to witness.
Starting with the transfer that happened first, — Lionel Messi’s transfer to Paris Saint-Germain — it was heartbreaking for me not only as a Barcelona fan, but as a soccer fan. Messi was viewed as one of the most loyal players, as he played for and broke multiple records for the club for 20 years. For La Liga, he had the for most league goals, most goals in a season, most trophies, most goals for Barcelona, the list goes on. It was hard to see him go. I can not say I didn’t see it coming, though. Barcelona has been pretty wasteful in past transfers, over-paying players and then giving players new contracts with wages they could not afford, all leading to Messi not being able to resign when he actually wanted to, due to Barcelona already being over the wage limit that La Liga rules have.
The players that were purchased did not seem like the right moves — for example, the purchase of Antoine Griezmann the French Winger came from Athletico Madrid in 2019 for €120 million (almost $142 million). Griezmann was about to turn 30 at the time; there were other, younger players who were available at the same time for a cheaper price. It’s not that I don’t think Griezmann is a great player, it’s just that I don’t believe he was needed in the club — especially with players like Dembele, who they also overspent on and has had injury problems in the past, but is still a young player with room to grow. The club also brought in players like Pjanic, Paulinho, Braithwaite, Turan, and Coutinho, who were not needed at the time and were bought at a large cost. This caused Barcelona to incur a massive debt of over $1.6 billion.
It was not just over-paying for players and their salaries that contributed to their debt; it was also giving up too early on players. They gave up players like Malcom, Digne, Gomez, Luis Suárez, and, most recently, Emerson. They were players who would have grown and improved, which is something that Barcelona could use right now. The biggest player out of this lost list was Suárez, who left last transfer window to Atlético Madrid for just over $6 million. That is an insult to the type of player he is and how much he is truly worth. To make matters worse, Luis Saurez would have 21 goals in La Liga, as he would help Atheltico lift the title over both Real Madrid and Barcelona.
So for Barcelona to not be able to re-sign Messi, even though he wanted to, due to all the bad business in transfers, contract renewal with overpriced pay, and lack of management, just shows how atrocious this club has been, especially financially, in the past years. They had to let the best player to ever play in the clubs’ history go on a free.
As for what Messi brings to PSG — well, they finally have their set playmaker. PSG already had two of the best attacking options in football with Neymar and Mbappe, but adding Messi, who can play in the middle of the field, to this attacking force just adds more danger. Of course, this adds more pressure for PSG to win everything available to them — not just the usual French trophies up for grabs, but that elusive “Champions League” trophy that they can never seem to get their hands on. As for Ronaldo, I did not see this coming at all, but I understand why he left. So, what are my thoughts on both situations? It’s certainly not simple.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer was more of a surprise than Messi’s. Ronaldo left the Italian club Juventus this summer, returning to Manchester United for €15 million (almost $18 million). Ronaldo returns to the club that started it all for him — United was the club in which we saw him skyrocket his success and start to make a name for himself as one of the world’s best players. This time, he returns as a 36-year-old, reaching the later part of his career.
This transfer really comes as a surprise since Juventus are not in as bad of a situation as Barcelona, but the recent fall of success and dominance may have been a factor. Juventus won nine Serie A titles in a row; they finally lost the dominance in Italy after Inter Milan won Serie A in the 2020 – ‘21 season. The continuing failure in the Champions League is what made Ronaldo have enough of this team. What is surprising, though, is that Juventus have been building a team around Ronaldo, but just couldn’t seem to make it work.
So Ronaldo returned to Manchester United, where he won three Premier League titles, one Champions League trophy, and the Ballon d’Or in 2008, also scoring over 118 goals his first season with the club. With his return to Manchester, he brings his skillset as an experienced striker and one of the best attacking players in the world. For Manchester, the expectation now is to win the Premier League — something that they have not won since 2013, which is unacceptable for a club of their stature. As for Champions League, Ronaldo said it himself: in order for this team to be able to compete for titles, “the team needs to be mature to win the league and Champions League,” so they might not have that expectation at the moment.
As for both players’ debuts, Messi came on as a substitute on Aug. 29, when PSG played Reims, where he played for 30 minutes and looked as if he still needed time to adjust to the team. As for Ronaldo, as a Newcastle United fan, I wish to forget his second debut. He played with Manchester on Sept. 11 against Newcastle United, where he played the full 90 minutes and was able to bag himself a brace; he looked comfortable enough to return to this club.
While I don’t doubt that these two will do great in their new club, I probably won’t be paying attention if they perform badly. Instead, I will enjoy them playing the sport because who knows how much longer they have.
PHOTO COURTESY OF Getty Images/David Ramos