It's that time of the year again when clubs look to make new additions to their squads and look to jettison players surplus to requirements. As mandated by FIFA regulations, the transfer window is the registration period during which clubs can bring in players from other teams and sell off some of their own.
For most major European leagues (which start around August - September, and end in May), there are two such uninterrupted periods - the longer one (usually eight to ten weeks) between the end of a season and the commencement of the next one, and the shorter one (about four weeks) in the middle of the season. Usually, the summer transfer window is a period of busy activity for most European clubs.
Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic this year, most major European leagues in 2019-20 ended as late as in August, with the new season set to commence this month after a shorter-than-usual turnaround.
FIFA permitted football associations to open their summer transfer windows four weeks before the end of the 2019-20 league season and to have split transfer windows during this period. While none of the top five leagues in Europe chose to open their summer transfer windows early, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Premier League have opted for split windows.
The German Bundesliga, one of the earliest major European leagues to conclude after the COVID-19 outbreak, reopened its transfer window on 15th July after it opened for a day on 1st July to allow players and clubs to complete registrations.
Ligue 1, which closed prematurely with ten matchdays remaining, opened its domestic transfer window for a month from 8th June to 9th July before reopening on 15th August.
The Premier League's summer transfer window opened on 27th July, while the La Liga's and Serie A's did so on 4th August and 1st September respectively.
All these five major leagues across Europe will harmoniously close their windows for international player transfers on the 5th of October, with the Premier League to keep theirs open for a further 11 days but only for domestic transfers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit club's finances hard as most of the leagues across Europe concluded with no fans in attendance. As a result, most clubs have looked to avoid big-money transfers, instead opting for loan and player-swap deals with other clubs.
Nevertheless, the ongoing 2020-21 summer transfer window has seen a few clubs splurge their cash to bring in new players. On that note, let us look at the five most expensive signings of this transfer window as on 4th September 2020.
NOTE: Swap deals like Miralem Pjanic - Arthur and the imminent arrival of Kai Havertz at Chelsea have not been considered.
#6 Nicolo Barella (Cagliari to Inter Milan): €25 million
Italian midfielder Nicolo Barella has been signed by Inter Milan for €25 million. The 23-year-old had arrived from Cagliari on loan during the 2019-20 season before the Nerazzurri splashed the cash to make the deal permament this summer.
Barella, touted to be one of the most promising young midfield players in Europe, featured in 41 games for Inter in all competitions last season and scored three goals.
The player has earned plaudits from illustrious former Italian footballers like Andrea Pirlo and Alessandro Del Piero. Barella, a box-to-box midfielder, is versatile and can operate in a bevvy of roles in the middle third of the pitch, although he prefers to play as a mezzala, offensive-minded central midfielder.
#5 Gabriel Margalhaes (Lille to Arsenal): €26 million
22-year-old Brazilian defender Gabriel Magalhaes helped Lille to a fourth-place finish in the truncated 2019-20 Ligue 1 season before Arsenal beat competition from a number of clubs to secure his services.
Magalhaes is a left-footed centre-back who is adept in both a three-man or a four-man defence. Known for his pace despite his relatively diminutive stature, the Brazilian has been lauded for his ball-distribution and aerial prowess.
Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta welcomed the arrival of Gabriel Magalhaes after the Gunners' defensive frailties meant that the club finished a lowly-eighth last season.
"We welcome Gabriel to Arsenal. He has many qualities which will make us stronger as a defensive unit and as a team. He has proved with Lille that he is a defender with many outstanding attributes and we are looking forward to watching him grow as an Arsenal player,” said Arteta.
#4 Donny van de Beek (Ajax to Manchester United): €39 million
23-year-old Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek has arrived at Manchester United after a €39 million transfer from Eredivisie side Ajax.
The central midfielder scored at least ten goals for the 2018-19 Champions League semifinalists in each of his last three seasons at the club.
As described by Goal.com, Van de Beek is a player who has "excellent control and a great eye for a pass as he links up with the attack and is dangerous as he makes runs into the box."
The young Dutchman is a welcome addition to the Man United midfield where the duo of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba formed a formidable partnership last season, especially after the resumption of football after the COVID-19 outbreak.