The summer transfer window of 2021 will arguably go down in history as the most chaotic one of all time. With Paris Saint-Germain (PSG)'s insane recruitment strategy and Premier League clubs splashing insurmountable amounts of cash, no one could've predicted the sheer variety of transfers that happened this summer.
However, the cherry on the cake has to be Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo securing transfers in the same window. While La Pulga departed Barcelona in unceremonious circumstances after 21 years, Ronaldo staged an unexpected homecoming to Manchester United after three seasons with Juventus.
The biggest transfers of the summer
Despite the two Ballon d'Or winners switching their club allegiances in the same period, their combined transfer fee amounted to just €15 million. The biggest signings that materialized in the summer were all conducted by Premier League clubs. Jadon Sancho's much-awaited transfer to United finally came to fruition for €85 million, while Chelsea welcomed Romelu Lukaku for the second time for €115 million.
However, Manchester City's acquisition of Jack Grealish for a record-breaking fee of €117.5 million turned out to be the most expensive transfer of 2021. Along with a hoard of classy but free signings, PSG also sanctioned the astute acquisition of promising youngster Achraf Hakimi for a sizeable fee of €60 million.
Despite costing a fortune, each of the aforementioned transfers involves either an established superstar or a youngster brimming with potential. Nevertheless, the summer transfer window of 2021 also witnessed a number of risky signings. Case in point: Ben White's €58.5 million move to Arsenal. With the chances of such signings turning sour being a realistic scenario, let's take a look at four superstars who might regret their summer transfers:
#4 Marcel Sabitzer to Bayern Munich
Conforming to their periodic ritual, Bayern Munich yet again announced the signing of a superstar from a direct Bundesliga rival. Having already raided RB Leipzig for Dayot Upamecano and Julien Nagelsmann this year, the Bavarians returned to snatch Marcel Sabitzer away from Die Roten Bullen. Bayern officially completed the transfer of Sabitzer on deadline day, for a nominal fee of €15 million.
While the Austrian's addition will provide considerable depth to Bayern's attacking options, this transfer will have a much more significant impact on Leipzig. The newly-founded German side will dearly miss their talismanic No.7, and Sabitzer is expected to feel the same, considering the sheer level of competition at the Allianz Arena.
Even though the 27-year-old midfielder is set to earn a plethora of titles with Bayern Munich, he will definitely play a much less important role at his new club. Sabitzer is yet to start for Bayern Munich, only making substitute appearances so far. Without a designated job, the playmaker has been used as a utility man, being deployed at various positions.
Viewed as an essential figure at Leipzig, the seasoned midfielder already looks like a squad player in his latest side. A fan of the Bavarians since childhood, Sabitzer's decision to accept a reduced role could end up sabotaging his career.
#3 James Rodriguez to Al-Rayyan SC
It doesn't seem too long ago when James Rodriguez was banging in goals for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup, aged just 23. Such classy performances on the biggest stage in world football propelled Rodriguez to superstardom, confirming his status as a South American prodigy. Owing to his brilliant World Cup run, Real Madrid decided to splash €75 million on the Colombian, signing him at the expense of an experienced Angel Di Maria.
Fast forward seven years, and the Colombia international has recently joined Qatari outfit Al-Rayyan SC at the age of 30. It is safe to say that things haven't gone according to plan for Rodriguez, post his big-money move to Madrid. A two-year loan spell at Bayern Munich did little to recoup his reputation, and James continued to be treated as an outcast at Real Madrid.
In a final attempt at saving his doomed career, Rodriguez joined Everton on a free transfer to train under former coach Carlo Ancelotti. Nevertheless, injuries and Ancelotti's mid-way escape to Madrid compelled the former superstar to join a cash-laden Qatar Stars League.
With this move, Rodriguez has practically signed off on his career at the top level, accepting his fate as a washed-up star. However, his decision to give up European football at such an early age might come back to haunt the Colombian playmaker in the near future.
Also read: 5 players Real Madrid should sell in 2022
#2 Georginio Wijnaldum to PSG
Georginio Wijnaldum has established himself as an absolute workhorse due to his distinguishable style of play. Despite not having the flashy skills to produce attractive football, his presence on the pitch always provided Liverpool with the output of an extra man. Understandably, he was a pivotal cog in Jurgen Klopp's all-conquering side that won the Champions League and the Premier League in two years.
Nevertheless, his switch to PSG has been far from ideal so far. Having ditched Barcelona in the final hour to acquire a much better deal with PSG, Wijnaldum has failed to find his footing in the French capital. With just 529 minutes this season, the Dutch stalwart recently expressed his displeasure over his current situation at PSG. Speaking to NOS, Wijnaldum stated:
"I can't say I'm completely happy. Because the situation is not what I wanted."
Fans' concerns over his game time attained a new level when the 30-year-old midfielder was left on the bench against Angers, despite PSG missing some key members. Wijnaldum has proven with the Dutch squad that he is still capable of leading a top side's midfield.
Nevertheless, his lack of on-field minutes has kicked off a sense of worry in his national coach Louis van Gaal. With Wijnaldum on the wrong side of 30, he could end up regretting his summer transfer if things don't change anytime soon.
#1 Memphis Depay to Barcelona
After almost half a decade of absurd big-money signings, Barcelona showed a real statement of intent when they landed the prolific Memphis Depay on a free transfer this summer. Amidst a hoard of misfiring attackers at Camp Nou, Depay has definitely been a breath of fresh air, bringing some much-needed dynamism to the team. The Dutchman is currently Barcelona's top scorer for the season with three strikes so far.
While the Blaugrana have definitely benefitted from Depay's addition to their sinking ship, the same could not be said for the player. Following Lionel Messi's untimely departure, Depay has been thrust into playing the role of his team's talisman.
However, with an average tactician like Ronald Koeman as their coach, Barcelona have failed to produce any sort of result this campaign. Subsequently, their reputation as an elite-level club has taken some serious damage. Having chosen to take part in such a risky project, that too at the prime of his career, the 27-year-old versatile forward could end up regretting his move.
Depay infamously fended off interest from PSG and Juventus to sign for the Blaugrana. However, as per the current scenario, the former Manchester United star is on course to face the biggest challenge of his professional journey.
Also read: 5 players Real Madrid should have never sold