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This weekend in European soccer: Previews, predictions for 5 must-see games

Every week, theScore picks the five most exciting matches to watch in Europe and the U.K. This weekend’s slate features a battle of perennial title contenders in England and a meeting of Italy’s two most entertaining sides.

Premier League

Manchester United vs. Everton

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When: Saturday, Oct. 1 (7:30 a.m. ET)
Where to watch: NBCSN (U.S.), DAZN (Canada)

As long as Cristiano Ronaldo is healthy, there’s a chance for Manchester United to win. He hasn’t even needed a high volume of shots to score decisive goals. His 22.7% conversion rate since joining the Red Devils is easily above Ronaldo’s career average. But that could also make it unsustainable. He’s overperforming his expected goals average by 1.3 and therefore prone to a correction.

That’s bad news for United as they struggle to click elsewhere. Mostly desperation has come from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, and while that provides good drama, it doesn’t seem like the making of a Premier League champion.

Last weekend’s 1-0 loss to Aston Villa was troubling not because it came against an opponent United had dominated for many years, but because Solskjaer’s team lost control of its fate even with 60% possession. Only four of United’s 28 shots actually hit the target.

Luckily, Everton are a bit unsure of themselves too. They lost 3-0 to Villa a week prior, and their three victories thus far have come against teams in the bottom five of the table. Rafa Benitez has yet to find the right balance between defense and attack, a vulnerability United know all too well.

Prediction: A high-scoring draw that does neither side any favors.

Liverpool vs. Manchester City

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When: Sunday, Oct. 2 (11:30 a.m. ET)
Where to watch: NBCSN (U.S.), DAZN (Canada)

Liverpool and Manchester City are hoping to enter the international break on a high note after a week of ups and downs.

Liverpool canceled out last weekend’s topsy-turvy 3-3 draw at Brentford with an emphatic 5-1 victory over Porto in the Champions League. But the opposite was true for City, whose 2-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain wiped out all the goodwill from a 1-0 result at Chelsea.

Still, Jurgen Klopp’s side is in first place in the Premier League, with City sitting just a point behind. Sunday’s clash feels like a title-decider, even if it’s too early to significantly impact the final standings.

Liverpool have quietly resurfaced as a legitimate contender on all fronts while overcoming a string of earlier 2021 losses to find their mojo again as an all-action unit. They’re unbeaten since mid-April – a run of 18 matches across all competitions – and Klopp has shown a greater willingness to rotate, giving 25 players 90-plus minutes this season.

If anything, City are the ones facing scrutiny. The frustration in Paris reignited criticism of the club’s transfer policy, and particularly its failure to sign Harry Kane, or any other viable center-forward. Raheem Sterling is still struggling at the domestic level, and even with his winning effort against Chelsea, Gabriel Jesus is fighting for Pep Guardiola’s respect. A lot rests on the creative abilities of Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, and Jack Grealish.

Prediction: Liverpool’s counterattack decides this cagey encounter.

La Liga

Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona

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When: Saturday, Oct. 1 (3 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: ESPN+ (U.S.), TSN 5 (Canada)

Ronald Koeman might not get to coach his last match as Barcelona’s manager. The Dutchman will serve the second half of his two-game suspension Saturday for reaming out the referee during last week’s goalless draw against Cadiz. He’s gone from dead man walking to dead man sitting in the bleachers.

A win over Atletico may not even be enough to save Koeman’s job. The 58-year-old has publicly jousted with club president Joan Laporta, suggesting he hasn’t received enough protection or backing from the higher-ups. All of that may be true, but the on-pitch results are still poor. The players seem demoralized, with Gerard Pique saying recently, “We are what they are.” It feels like there’s no way of reversing the rot.

Koeman himself has urged the fans to be more realistic about Barcelona’s chances of winning anything. But it’s not just about victories. Barcelona need an identity on the field, and Koeman has failed to create one with this rag-tag group.

Atletico aren’t feeling much better about themselves. They’re only two points ahead of the Blaugrana thanks to a humiliating 1-0 loss to bottom side Alavez, and Atletico has scored only seven goals in five league matches. Antoine Griezmann has yet to register a shot on target in La Liga, but his superb goal against AC Milan in the Champions League should provide a confidence boost.

Prediction: A boring goalless draw seals Koeman’s fate.

Serie A

Atalanta vs. AC Milan

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When: Sunday, Oct. 2 (2:45 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: Paramount+ (U.S.), TLN (Canada)

Milan’s high-octane approach makes them one of Europe’s most fascinating teams, and on Sunday they’ll put their credentials on the line against an Atalanta side hoping to recapture the same attacking spirit that made them appointment viewing in recent seasons.

Milan may have lost to Atletico in midweek action, but that was hardly their fault. Dubious refereeing robbed the Rossoneri of its first win in a Champions League match since November 2013. Their performance still stood out, though, with center-back Fikayo Tomori and midfielders Sandro Tonali and Ismael Bennacer showing incredible poise and energy while down a man.

After struggling throughout the 2020-21 campaign, Rafael Leao is also emerging as a protagonist while helping out defensively and scoring goals in big moments. Unlike his first two years in Milan, the 22-year-old has discovered a newfound appetite for tracking back, and he’s far more purposeful when in possession.

Atalanta used to put opponents in similar trouble. Unfortunately, manager Gian Piero Gasperini has so far been unable to get his players to produce the same intensity that propelled the provincial side to three consecutive top-four finishes. Losing dynamic full-back Robin Gosens to a long-term injury certainly doesn’t help.

Prediction: Leao scores the winner in a back-and-forth affair.

Ligue 1

Lille vs. Marseille

DENIS CHARLET / AFP / Getty

When: Sunday, Oct. 2 (11 a.m. ET)
Where to watch: beIN SPORTS (U.S.), fuboTV (Canada)

Arkadiusz Milik’s return from injury comes at the right time. Marseille fired blanks in two of their last three games, getting little to show for their superior possession.

Contrasting the club’s recent performances with Milik’s from last season, the Polish striker scored nine goals in 15 appearances while converting 21% of shots taken. That should offer supporters hope of a quick turnaround.

Especially against Lille, who have yet to keep a clean sheet in Ligue 1 in 2021-22, despite entering the campaign as defending champions. At 37 years old, Jose Fonte is showing his age, putting more pressure on Sven Botman to shore up Lille’s creaky defense.

Lille, however, can still bank on center-forwards Jonathan David and Burak Yilmaz to produce offense. The two start up top in Jocelyn Gourvennec’s 4-4-2 formation and have notched eight goals between them in all competitions.

Prediction: Milik and David score in a 1-1 draw.

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La Liga

Analyzing 10 sneaky signings you may have missed this summer

Plenty of cash changed hands in the summer transfer window – English clubs broke their own spending record – with some of Europe’s top teams making huge investments. But there has been some shrewd business, too. Here, we examine 10 sneaky deals that could have a big impact now and in the future.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia ?? Napoli

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  • Details: Reported €10M fee from Dinamo Batumi

Already branded “Kvaradona” by adoring Napoli supporters, the Georgian winger is taking Serie A by storm. A relative unknown when he arrived at the club in the summer, Kvaratskhelia has notched four goals in five league matches, showing no signs of the pressure that comes with replacing club icon Lorenzo Insigne. There were concerns going into the season about Napoli’s significant squad turnover this summer, but, led by the electrifying 21-year-old, the new blood has reinvigorated the Partenopei.

Nahuel Molina ?? Atletico Madrid

  • Details: Reported €15M fee from Udinese

Molina’s endured a somewhat tricky start to his Atletico Madrid career. Rest assured, he’ll prove an astute signing in the long run. Capable of playing as a wing-back or in a more traditional back-four, the 24-year-old Argentine international is an ideal fit at the Wanda Metropolitano. With so many clubs seeking help at the position this summer, Atletico managing to secure Molina’s services for a nominal fee could eventually look like a stroke of genius for Diego Simeone and Co., who continue to hoard South American talent.

Ryan Gravenberch ?? Bayern Munich

  • Details: Reported potential €24M fee from Ajax

Gravenberch is about to break out in a big way. After impressing in his cameos off the bench early in the season, the 20-year-old midfielder looks poised for more opportunities at the heart of the Bayern Munich midfield. A smooth operator eminently comfortable in tight spaces, the Dutchman is a rare breed who combines silky skill with a strong physical presence. This deal is going to look like an absolute steal in hindsight. Europe’s other top clubs will be kicking themselves.

Charles De Ketelaere ?? AC Milan

Giuseppe Cottini / Getty Images Sport / Getty
  • Details: Reported €35M fee from Club Brugge

It’s hard to be “sneaky” when paying a €35-million fee. Still, there’s always an element of the unknown attached any time a player comes out of Belgium’s top flight. AC Milan made the versatile 21-year-old their No. 1 target of the summer window, and the early returns have been promising. De Ketelaere, comfortable playing as a forward or attacking midfielder, is already forging a strong connection with his Rossoneri teammates. Milan’s recent track record speaks for itself when it comes to scouting young talent.

Renato Sanches ?? Paris Saint-Germain

  • Details: Reported €15M fee from Lille

Sanches’ career is back on track. His struggles at Bayern Munich and Swansea City, and subsequent rebirth at Lille, are a good reminder that development doesn’t have to be linear. Now reunited with Christophe Galtier, the manager who helped him rediscover his joie de vivre, the Portuguese international is in an ideal situation. It feels like ages ago when he rocketed onto the scene at Euro 2016, but Sanches is still only 25 and, without a huge price tag hanging over his head, should thrive at Paris Saint-Germain.

David Raum ?? RB Leipzig

  • Details: Reported potential €28M fee from Hoffenheim

When it comes to making savvy signings, few do it better than RB Leipzig. Their scouting department rarely misses. Raum is simply the latest example. An elite attacking left-back, the German international racked up 11 assists for Hoffenheim last season – his first in the Bundesliga after fine-tuning his skills in the second division with Greuther Furth. His rise has been rapid as he’s already an integral part of Hansi Flick’s national team setup. There’s no reason to believe Raum won’t continue on his current trajectory.

Armel Bella-Kotchap ?? Southampton

Matt Watson / Southampton FC / Getty
  • Details: Reported €10M fee from Bochum

When we look back on the 2022 summer transfer window, this may prove to be one of the best signings, full stop. Bella-Kotchap, 20, has the rare blend of youth and experience. He made 74 senior appearances for Bochum as a teenager before moving to the Premier League, including 22 in the Bundesliga. In no time at all, he’s established himself as the anchor of Southampton’s backline. The Saints will make an enormous profit whenever Bella-Kotchap moves to one of Europe’s top clubs, which already seems inevitable.

Destiny Udogie ?? Tottenham Hotspur

  • Details: Reported potential £18M fee from Udinese

Fabio Paratici’s familiarity with Serie A has served Tottenham Hotspur well so far, and Udogie could end up being the crown jewel of his Italian expeditions. An explosive left-back, the teenager will remain at Udinese on loan for the season and has already scored twice in four matches. Assuming Antonio Conte remains in north London long term, there’s maybe no better manager for Udogie to work with than his compatriot. His ability to craft wing-backs into stars is unmatched.

Conor Coady ?? Everton

  • Details: Season-long loan from Wolves

This isn’t the most exciting transfer. However, that doesn’t matter to Frank Lampard, who succeeded in his search for an experienced player to boost his injury-hit Everton defense. Coady left Wolves as one of the most popular captains in the club’s history, and he’s highly motivated while he eyes a place in England’s World Cup squad. The Scouser, an expert in a three-man backline, will also instigate plenty of attacks with his fine distribution. Combined with their signing of Amadou Onana, Everton actually made some shrewd moves.

Cucho Hernandez ?? Columbus Crew

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  • Details: Reported $10M fee from Watford

Hernandez is lighting it up in Major League Soccer. The Colombian attacker has eight goals – all from open play – in just 11 appearances since joining Columbus for a club-record fee from Watford. After bouncing around with five different teams between 2017-21, mainly on loan, the 23-year-old seems to be relishing the opportunity to lay down a foundation and act as the focal point of the Crew’s attack for years to come. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, a rarity in the transfer market.

Honorable mentions: Enzo Fernandez to Benfica, Kevin Mbabu to Fulham, Mikkel Damsgaard to Brentford, Perr Schuurs to Torino, Mohamed Camara to Monaco

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Biggest winners and losers of the summer transfer window

And … breathe. After a flurry of deadline-day moves, theScore picks out the winners and losers from the most unpredictable summer transfer window of our time.

Winner: Real Madrid

While winning all there is to win in the European game in recent years, Real Madrid slowly amassed young talent, knowing the time would come to replace the stalwarts who’ve led them to glory. The club planned in advance, signing replacements before they were needed. Vinicius Junior signed his contract one year before Cristiano Ronaldo departed, Ferland Mendy served his apprenticeship under Marcelo as the Brazilian’s career was winding down, and Eder Militao took notes from Sergio Ramos before the longtime captain left for Paris Saint-Germain.

Madrid took the same approach with Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni, signing the French midfielders as eventual replacements for Casemiro and Toni Kroos. Fede Valverde, another young player signed from South America, is also carving a role for himself as Luka Modric’s potential successor.

Tchouameni, though, is the headliner. With the 22-year-old already part of the squad, having joined from AS Monaco in July for a fee of up to €100 million, Madrid president Florentino Perez knew he could afford to sell Casemiro to Manchester United. The club even received a sizeable €70 million for the 30-year-old midfielder. Madrid have managed to set themselves up for the future while recording a net transfer profit over the last two years.

Loser: Cristiano Ronaldo

Matthew Ashton – AMA / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Everyone knew Ronaldo wanted out of United. The problem was finding a club willing to take him. No such outfit emerged, leaving the five-time Ballon d’Or winner with no choice but to stay in Manchester and forgo a year of Champions League football.

Publicly, United boss Erik ten Hag insisted Ronaldo was always part of his plans. The 37-year-old also quashed rumors online, denouncing many of them as “lies.” But reports of his discontent only grew louder. Longtime agent Jorge Mendes reportedly met with Bayern Munich, Chelsea, AC Milan, and PSG, among others, but returned each time empty-handed. The summer came and went without anyone making a real attempt to bring one of the greatest players of all time onboard. It’s hard to believe.

Or is it? Most of Europe’s top clubs had already secured quality strikers by the time Ronaldo reached for the exit. Adding him would’ve simply disrupted what these teams had built. And in ironic fashion, Ronaldo could yet disrupt what Ten Hag is trying to build at Old Trafford: a system that requires a substantial amount of work off the ball, his only glaring weakness.

Loser: Leicester City

Brendan Rodgers cut a despondent figure all summer. Leicester City’s financial situation made for grim reading – they lost £120 million over the last three seasons – and Rodgers soon accepted he’d have to coach more or less the same squad that finished in a disappointing eighth place last term.

If anything, Leicester are worse off following the departures of longtime captain Kasper Schmeichel and talented defender Wesley Fofana. Even with £70 million banked from Fofana’s move to Chelsea, the Foxes couldn’t make any significant signings. The club could only stump up a reported £15 million for Wout Faes, who was brought in to be Fofana’s replacement.

“With the greatest respect, we have not had the help in the transfer market that this team has needed,” Rodgers told BT Sport after Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Manchester United.

Fortunately, Rodgers can still call upon the likes of Youri Tielemans and James Maddison. The two midfielders drew admiring glances from several Premier League rivals, including Newcastle United, who reportedly made multiple bids for Maddison. But that’s no consolation. Leicester are stuck with one of the oldest squads in the English top flight and remain heavily dependent on a 35-year-old Jamie Vardy.

Winner: Edwin van der Sar

OZAN KOSE / AFP / Getty

Ajax chief executive Van der Sar sold Lisandro Martinez and Antony to former club Manchester United for a whopping €157 million in guaranteed money, comfortably padding the coffers with enough cash to see the Dutch champions through the next decade and beyond. Even if Martinez and Antony succeed at United, it will prove a ridiculous sum.

It isn’t the first time Van der Sar has secured a king’s ransom for his most coveted players. The Dutchman has developed a sneaky reputation as one of the most proactive CEOs in European football. Instead of lamenting Ajax’s role as a selling club, Van der Sar has embraced it. He wants to maintain the club’s status as a port of entry for some of the world’s best young talent, and to do that, he has to continue to sell players at staggering value. Each transfer paves the way for the next prodigy to come through.

Ins and outs in recent summers

Year Income Expenditure Net Spend (+/-)
2019 €218M €59M +€159M
2020 €109M €63M +€46M
2021 €46M €18M +€28M
2022 €216M €105M +€111M

Given United’s usual desperation at this time of year, Van der Sar couldn’t have played the situation better. Ten Hag really wanted Martinez and Antony, and United really wanted to please their new manager. Van der Sar rejected multiple bids before accepting United’s €100-million offer for Antony. He must’ve known the Red Devils would come back every time with a better figure. And they did.

Winner: Joan Laporta

At around this time last year, Laporta revealed that Barcelona had accrued a scarcely believable €1.35 million in debt. Even with the departure of Lionel Messi, the club struggled to create enough cap space to register new signings. Barcelona’s spending limit stood at minus-€144 million. It couldn’t have been worse.

So Laporta had to take action. After setting up a line of credit worth €550 million, the 60-year-old began to sell off assets for immediate cash payments in the hundreds of millions. Barcelona ended up with a staggering lump sum of €667 million after trading away future income from domestic television rights and selling 24.5% of its production studio.

Armed with a war chest to tackle the transfer market, Laporta sanctioned deals for Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Franck Kessie, and Andreas Christensen, committing around €150 million in fees and even more in wages to sign the quintet. Barcelona also offloaded Philippe Coutinho and Oscar Mingueza for €23 million and further trimmed their payroll by allowing several players – including Sergino Dest, Nico Gonzalez, Clement Lenglet, and Samuel Umtiti, to leave on loan. Other outcasts terminated their contracts entirely.

Laporta had to mortgage the future to get everything done, but the fact he managed the situation at all is worth celebrating.

Loser: Chelsea

Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Chelsea spent an estimated £242 million this summer. Somehow, they didn’t improve their squad.

Although Thursday’s last-minute move for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang solved a glaring need at the center-forward position, the Blues barely did enough to cover the positions each of their departing players had vacated. Todd Boehly, who replaced respected figure Marina Granovskaia as sporting director after taking over as co-owner, showed no interest in negotiating anyone down from their asking price. In the end, Chelsea overpaid for Fofana after facing resistance from Leicester and stumped up an amount not even Manchester City would match for Marc Cucurella. Boehly also put a lot of faith in Raheem Sterling, a player who tends to dither in possession and miss chances in spectacular fashion.

Chelsea missed out on several targets as well. Kounde, Matthijs de Ligt, and Nathan Ake slipped through their fingers, Barcelona commandeered negotiations for Raphinha, and reported target Gabriel Jesus opted to join Arsenal. Factor in the players they lost – including Christensen, Antonio Rudiger, Romelu Lukaku, and Timo Werner – and it doesn’t feel like Thomas Tuchel has secured any definitive upgrades. They’re not worse than the side that finished runners-up to Liverpool in the League Cup and FA Cup finals, but they may not be any better either.

Loser: Christian Pulisic

Pulisic needed a fresh start. Tuchel only started him 13 times in the Premier League last season and offered no indication the American would get more playing time at Chelsea. When Manchester United emerged as a potential destination for the 23-year-old, it seemed like a good opportunity for him to shine, even on loan, in the months leading up to the World Cup. Anything but the status quo looked attractive.

Now, Pulisic is stuck on the fringes of Tuchel’s squad. That’s less than ideal for him and the United States men’s national team, and it’s a concern for fans who’d hoped Pulisic would lead the country into the knockout rounds of the World Cup for the first time since 2014.

But Pulisic won’t start for Chelsea if Sterling is healthy. Hakim Ziyech is also competing for minutes on the right wing, leaving the former Borussia Dortmund star with little hope of breaking into Tuchel’s side before the World Cup kicks off in November.

Winner: Jose Mourinho

ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP / Getty

Mourinho is happy. That says it all.

Roma have put together a competitive squad with a relatively tight budget, relying on free transfers to bolster Mourinho’s options in virtually every position. Paulo Dybala, the crown jewel of the Giallorossi’s transfer campaign, has already been celebrated as the club’s biggest-ever signing, having drawn tens of thousands into the streets for his unveiling. While less spectacular in stature, Nemanja Matic and Andrea Belotti add much-needed depth, and Georginio Wijnaldum will bring energy to Roma’s midfield when he returns from injury.

Mourinho finally has a team that can compete for a berth in next season’s Champions League. Whisper it quietly, but his squad could even make a dramatic push for the title.

Winner: PSG

PSG decided they had enough star power. It was time for them to add substance to their stylish outfit. With talent-spotter Luis Campos replacing Leonardo as sporting director, Les Parisiens targeted players who’d bring balance to their top-heavy squad. And they arrived in the form of Vitinha, Fabian Ruiz, Carlos Soler, Renato Sanches, and Nordi Mukiele. PSG also exercised their option to buy promising left-back Nuno Mendes for €40 million and sold off players who had no future in Paris.

The club finally recognized that success in Europe only comes with a solid core, not a collection of bloated egos. It now has a team of players who will push each other and compete for minutes. Newly appointed manager Christophe Galtier will have enough players to rotate when necessary. After spending so many years chasing some of the world’s brightest stars, PSG spent money in a far more democratic way.

Loser: The rest of Ligue 1

Soccrates Images / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Ligue 1 lost a ton of star power, and the gap between PSG and the rest has widened. Lille, who seemed like the only club willing to stand up to the capital club, sold a number of their protagonists, including Sanches, Sven Botman, Amadou Onana, and Zeki Celik. Lyon shipped promising Brazilian playmaker Lucas Paqueta to West Ham United, and AS Monaco surrendered up-and-comer Tchouameni to Real Madrid. While Ligue 1 once again proved itself as fertile ground for talent, it’s now facing a barren run before it harvests its next crop.

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Transfer Deadline Day Live: Breaking down all the major deals, rumors

Transfer deadline day is in full swing. We’re providing live quick-hit analysis of the biggest deals – and rumors – until tonight’s 6 p.m. ET deadline.

The unwanted superstar

Cristiano Ronaldo wanted something more. He wanted to supplement his goals tally in the Champions League rather than venture to the more unfashionable corners of the continent in the Europa League. He was also apparently unimpressed with Manchester United’s recruitment and embattled defender Harry Maguire keeping the captain’s armband.

But while news of Ronaldo’s ask to leave Old Trafford reverberated around the globe, it didn’t rouse a European giant into action. Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea quickly ruled themselves out of signing the Portuguese forward. Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn said acquiring the 37-year-old wouldn’t “fit with our philosophy.” Atletico Madrid fans protested when their club was linked with Ronaldo. Real Madrid and Juventus, two of his former employers, kept quiet.

It’s been two months since his transfer request, and with hours left of the summer window, it appears Ronaldo is going nowhere.

Kieran Cleeves – PA Images / PA Images / Getty

Unless a miraculous 11th-hour move happens, it’s difficult to know where his increasingly labored gait fits into Erik ten Hag’s plans. United belatedly kickstarted their season with a 2-1 home win over hated rivals Liverpool, with their aggression and tempo unsettling Jurgen Klopp’s side. Would the Red Devils have played with the same intensity with Ronaldo up front? Probably not.

True, Ronaldo scored 18 goals across 30 Premier League appearances last season, but there’s a reasonable argument that the likes of Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho would’ve played more freely without the veteran constantly demanding service from inside the 18-yard box. Indulging Ronaldo worked for Ronaldo, but it didn’t work for United, who finished sixth in the Premier League and suffered early exits from the Champions League, FA Cup, and League Cup.

Whatever happens, it promises to be a fascinating few months while Ronaldo prepares for what will likely be his last World Cup this winter.

DONE DEAL: Man Utd unveil Antony ?

Other areas of Erik ten Hag’s probably needed attention before United recruited another wide attacker. How about a right-back? Or a deep-lying midfielder to complement or compete with Casemiro? The club will apparently sign Martin Dubravka as David De Gea’s backup, but shouldn’t it sign a higher-profile goalkeeper who can seriously challenge the Spaniard for the No. 1 jersey?

Nevertheless, United signed Antony. No doubt he’s entertaining through his array of party tricks, and along with Rashford and Sancho, he could help forge a fluid, unpredictable, and dangerous attack. Plus, the Brazilian star is only 22.

But analyzing this deal will always come back to the fee. Transfermarkt currently values the winger at €35 million – just over a third of what the Red Devils actually paid. Ajax chief executive and former Red Devils ‘keeper Edwin van der Sar may have pulled off a masterstroke in raising almost €170 million through the sales of Antony and Lisandro Martinez to United, giving him the chance to rebuild the Dutch giants.

DONE DEAL: City bolster backline with Akanji ?

Manuel Akanji’s departure from Borussia Dortmund appeared inevitable when he slipped down the pecking order following the summer arrivals of Niklas Sule and Nico Schlotterbeck. He’s yet to make an appearance this campaign, with his last outing being Switzerland’s Nations League win over Portugal in June.

And there was also the looming prospect of him leaving Dortmund for free when his contract expired next June – that’s why Manchester City got the defender for such an affordable price on deadline day.

Tom Flathers / Manchester City FC / Getty

Where Akanji quite fits in at the Etihad Stadium remains to be seen. Pep Guardiola already had four senior center-backs to choose from, two of whom are right-footed (Ruben Dias and John Stones) while the other two are left-footed (Nathan Ake and Aymeric Laporte). There was balance, but perhaps Akanji’s arrival hints at a more serious injury for Laporte, who’s yet to play this season.

Akanji is right-footed but is almost equally comfortable with his left, and his physicality and distribution at the back should suit the Premier League.

Klopp getting desired midfield help

Just days ago, Jurgen Klopp urged Liverpool’s owners to “risk a bit more” in the transfer window in search of a midfielder that could bolster the squad and help alleviate the club’s injury crisis at the position. Klopp has unquestionably built up enough trust at Anfield to warrant the backing of ownership, and it seems as though they listened.

The Reds are on the verge of signing Arthur Melo on a season-long loan from Juventus, according to Fabrizio Romano. The deal is not expected to include a purchase option.

A high-volume passer who operates at the base of midfield, the Brazilian footballer’s career has badly stagnated since he moved to Italy as part of the now-infamous swap deal with Miralem Pjanic in 2020. Injuries slowed his progress almost immediately in Turin, and he could never fully integrate himself into either Andrea Pirlo’s or Max Allegri’s plans.

If the deal is strictly a dry loan, it’s a very low-risk move for Klopp and Liverpool, who badly needed another body in central midfield to at least weather the current storm.

Other deals to watch today …

  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Chelsea
  • Anthony Gordon to Chelsea
  • Hector Bellerin to Barcelona
  • Douglas Luiz to Arsenal
  • Sergino Dest to AC Milan
  • Francesco Acerbi to Inter Milan

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