By: Anshuman Dixit
In this article, we will discuss the transfers which had an ugly angle to it, whether it is financial, personal, or statistical.
- Lionel Messi:
Unarguably, the biggest name in this transfer window was one of the Greatest Of All Times (G.O.A.T), Lionel Messi. After spending 21 years of his life in Barcelona, he finally bid adieu in one of the most shocking transfers in the history of club football.
Last year, Messi wanted to leave the club as he was promised by the president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, that he can leave the club whenever he wants to. When Messi requested to leave in August, the Barcelona Board discarded the request. Messi didn’t take Barcelona to court because of his love and respect for the Blaugranas.
This year, Messi didn’t want to leave but Messi’s contract was going to end this year, and due to financial debt which the club is in, Barcelona was not able to renew his contract which meant he became a free agent. He gave an emotional speech at his farewell on 8th August 2021.
Messi won his last trophy with Barcelona after defeating Atletic Bilbao 4 – 0 in the Copa Del Rey final this year. During the international break, he finally managed to win an international trophy after defeating Brazil in the final of Copa America. He was also the top scorer last season with 30 goals in the league with an outstanding xG of 25.64.
He scored a total of 38 goals and assisted 12 goals in the previous season. At the age of 34, he is a top contender for winning the Ballon D’or to be held later this year. PSG took advantage of the situation and signed Messi for free to increase the strength of their midfield and are the bookie’s favorite for winning the Champions League this year.
- Gianluigi Donnarumma:
The 6’5”, 22 year old, Gianluigi Donnarumma left AC Milan after serving 6 years in his home country of Italy. He is called the next Buffon for Italy. He made his debut with Milan at the age of 16 and showed promising talent. Within a year, he became the first goalkeeper of the team and had a great span in Milan but never won a piece of hardware during his tenure.
Donnarumma’s Save% has been consistently over 70% most of the time. During his second season, at the age of 17, he made 144 saves in the 36 league matches he played.
In 2019, during his U-19 game, fans threw fake money at Donnarumma to show their anger towards the goalkeeper’s decision of leaving Italy for the big clubs who were approaching the prospect. But Donnarumma didn’t leave that season and continued to play for Milan till 2021 when he moved to PSG for free. The veteran, Keylor Navas will have to make way for Donnarumma. He won his first international trophy at Euro 2021 in July.
- Sergio Ramos:
5x Laliga winner, 4x Champions League winner, 2010 World Cup winner, 11x FIFAPro World XI and 8x UEFA Team of the year, Sergio Ramos has left Spain for the very first time in his career since 2003 to complete a surprising move to PSG. Ramos is considered as the most aggressive center back in the world. His style is more fluid, involving counter attack runs, scoring goals, and even taking penalty kicks and free kicks. El capitan of Real Madrid, left Los Blancos after winning 4 Champions League with them, the most recent in 2018.
His stats show his percentile among all the center backs(CBs) in the world for the last 365 days.
He is a CB who likes to create chances, take deadly headers on corners, and score winners. His long pass % percentile is 98, which makes him a crucial player at PSG, who also have pacers like Mbappe, Neymar, and Hakimi. He doesn’t like to play the ball back or give the keeper possession like other CBs around the world. He likes to participate in the attack and then tracks back quickly for defence. His tackle percentile is highest when his team is attacking. This shows his unique tactical play compared to other CBs. At the age of 36, he can end his career at a high point in PSG, as they have created a fantasy team this year.
- Antoine Griezmann:
The EURO-2016 sensation, Antoine Griezmann is back at Atletico Madrid after spending just 2 seasons with Barcelona. He was the most talked about soccer player in 2019, when he made a move from Atletico to Barcelona for €120m. The expectations were really high from him, as he was the highest goalscorer for Atletico every year since 2015. But the tactical gameplay of Barcelona never suited Griezzman, as it was centered on Lionel Messi. He was getting less chances and his goal scoring form got worse each year.
His performance clearly declined after his switch to Barcelona in 2019. He was averaging over 0.8 goals+assists per 90 minutes he played. He was crucial in Atletico’s performance in UCL when they qualified for the finals for the 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons. They were beaten by their rivals Real Madrid on both of the occasions.
He was unimpressive in his first season at Barcelona, giving his worst performance in quite a few years. During his 2 seasons with Barca, he never won the domestic cup, as the last season was won by his former club Atletico.
Barcelona was facing a huge financial problem this year, so they wanted to get rid of some players who have a large salary. So they decided to offer Griezmann back to Atletico on loan for €40m + buy option. It was a great business for Atletico, as they made a profit of €80m from Griezmann in just 2 years. Although Suarez and Joa Felix are in great form for Atletico, an addition of Griezmann makes their bench a lot stronger than ever before. The answer for why his performance declined at Barca can only be answered after this season. Is it because of the tactical gameplay change or his form? We will find out soon!
- Miralem Pjanic:
After spending almost 10 years and performing at a very high level, Pjanic was involved in a swap deal last year from Juventus to Barcelona. Nobody knows why Barcelona gave Athur Melo, a 24 year old, to take Pjanic, a 30 year old, to increase the strength of their midfield. Nobody can understand the decision’s of Barcelona Management.
He spent a year at Barcelona playing just 19 matches compared to 30+ matches he was playing at Juventus for many years. He didn’t score a goal in the Blaugrana shirt and didn’t even give an assist in the 627 minutes he played last season.
This data compares Pjanic’s stats for creating chances of shot creation in the last season with other top midfielders around the world. We can see that he is not even close when it comes to making an impact in a match for Barcelona. That is the reason why Pjanic wanted a move this summer and was even ready to accept pay cuts for it. Finally, after the window when nobody bought Pjanic after studying his nightmare at Barca, the club decided to give him on loan to the Turkish league winners, Besiktas.
In his debut at Besiktas, he gave an assist ending his drought after a year. So we can officially say that Barcelona is involved in bad/ugly transfers for a few years now.