This past week will be etched into the history of football. The world transfer record was not smashed, but obliterated, and the market is unlikely to ever be the same again.
Just 12 months after Manchester United set a new record by paying Juventus £90 million for Paul Pogba, Paris Saint Germain more than doubled that. The Ligue 1 club triggered Brazilian forward Neymar’s release clause at Barcelona, which stood at 222 million euros (about £199 million/$262 million).
The deal rocked football, but while the French Ligue and the Spanish Liga have been high spending, neither compares with the Premier League. And Neymar’s deal has caused a stir in many English clubs this week.
On Monday, the Brazilian was reportedly asking Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho to join him at Paris Saint-Germain, despite Barcelona wanting Coutinho as his replacement at Camp Nou.
Elsewhere, Nemanja Matic completed his £40 million move from Chelsea to Manchester United, reunited with Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford. Ross Barkley was high in the news agenda as he awaited a move away from Everton, with Tottenham the favorite to sign the England midfielder but he would have to lower wage expectations.
Just 24 hours later, on Tuesday, Jurgen Klopp’s worst fears were founded as Coutinho reportedly told Liverpool he wanted to leave for Barcelona. German newspaper Bild said Klopp saw Bayern Munich’s Renato Sanches as a potential replacement for Coutinho, while also entering the battle for Monaco’s Thomas Lemar, who is wanted by Arsenal.
Antonio Conte was considering replacements for Matic, and the Daily Mail reported that the Chelsea manager had identified Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater as a possible candidate. Having signed Matic on Monday, Mourinho was considering his fourth signing of the summer on Wednesday, and Anderlecht’s Leander Dendoncker was a possible target.
Alexis Sanchez returned to Arsenal training and Arsene Wenger reportedly told the Chilean forward that he would not be allowed to join a rival team, while Leicester was on the verge of signing Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho.
With the news of Neymar’s departure confirmed on Thursday, Chelsea and Liverpool were fearing the repercussions. The Sun claimed that Barcelona saw Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Liverpool’s Coutinho as potential replacements for the Brazilian.
On the south coast of England, Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk was close to forcing through an exit from the St Mary’s stadium, with Liverpool believed to lead the way for the Dutch center back. But on Friday, Chelsea was preparing a £50 million bid for Van Dijk as Conte looked to hijack the deal.
Chelsea was also preparing for a formal request from Spanish striker Diego Costa to leave the club, after Conte told him he would not be part of the Blues’ future. Manchester United saw the possibility of signing Gareth Bale increase as reports from Spain suggested Real Madrid would sell the Welshman in order to sign Monaco sensation Kylian Mbappe.