Atletico Madrid and AS Roma are having a stellar transfer window
The transfer window opened a month ago, but it's often more difficult to sign players during a major tournament. That doesn't lower the importance of buying and selling players to keep a squad fresh. A good window can define your season. So can a bad one.
Agents haven't made the process easier, either. The best know how to play the media to drive up demand for their clients.
That said, clubs such as Manchester United and Liverpool have made early signings. Others, like Chelsea and Real Madrid, have been preoccupied with managerial issues. Meanwhile, AS Roma and Atletico Madrid's frantic wheeling and dealing has flown under the radar.
Here's what they've been up to.
Atletico Madrid were freed from their transfer ban for improperly signing youth players in January. They immediately signed Diego Costa from Chelsea for a fee around £60 million. Then they won the Europa League and finished second in La Liga, above city-rivals, Real Madrid.
This summer, they have an opportunity to renovate the squad. Los Colchoneros believe they are just a player or two from competing for the Champions League.
Antoine Greizmann was heavily linked to Manchester United and Barcelona for two windows. The main characteristic of a great club is not to sell their best players. The club made sure their talisman stayed.
That strikes the need for a striker off their shopping list. Griezmann and Costa showed what they can do after joining forces in 2018. Next season should be even better.
The Madrid club has also extended Lucas Hernandez's contract. The French international had a wonderful season providing versatility in the backline. Now, he's playing an active role in the World Cup for Les Bleus.
If you are picky and don't count the in-house business, the Wanda Metropolitano club has just signed two players: Thomas Lemar and Rodri.
Lemar is an interesting prospect. With Yannick Carrasco and Nicolas Gaitan leaving the club, he would walk straight into the playing XI. He is just 22 and a fee around £60-£70 million, depending on who you listen to, is handsome business in this inflated market.
Diego Simeone’s midfield is deep and rich. Koke, Saul Niguez and Thomas Partey are the new generation in the middle of the park To add depth, they have bought back Rodri for £18 million. The 22-year-old impressed last season with Villareal, earning himself the title of ‘next Sergio Busquets’. Peekaboo.
Apart from its social media head, Roma is also famous for its new Sporting Director. It has been just a year since Ramon Rodríguez Verdejo, aka Monchi, took over. Roma paid his €5 million buyout clause and so much has changed at at the Stadio Olimpico. They have just announced the ninth signing in this window. Absolute madness.
Monchi’s main aim for the Romans is to invest in youth. He is the same man to have discovered Dani Alves and Sergio Ramos for Sevilla. On the veteran side, the club sold Rajda Naingollan but quickly acquired replacements in Javier Pastore and a couple of young midfielders. Monchi is quick to point out Roma are not just a selling club these days.
Roma is not a supermarket, Roma is a team that will represent Italy in Europe.
Keeper Antonio Mirante has been signed from Bologna for Lukasz Skorupski and €5 million. Mirante played regularly last season and is expected to lower the pressure on Alisson’s shoulders. Naingollan was sold for €24 million and full-back Davide Santon and talented youngster Nicolo Zaniolo.
For €25 million, a younger but similar player to Naingollan has been signed, Bryan Cristante of Atlanta. He will be joined by Justin Kluivert, the second-generation star arriving from Ajax. Youngster Ante Coric of Dinamo Zagreb is labelled as one of the best emerging talents by Monchi himself. He has also been signed for €6 million.
William Bianda, Antonio Mirante and Iván Marcano are other players who have been given a deal. All this with a net spend of around €40 million. This is incredible business for the Giallorossi.
They are also eyeing up a bid for Hakim Ziyech, with Ajax confirming transfer talks for €30 million.
One thing fans are hoping is Alisson Becker stays. Several European powerhouses have the Brazil international on their transfer radar. Monchi’s true test will be persuading him to remain. The Spaniard has been coy on the topic.
"Alisson? Up until now we have not received any offers. We must wait for the World Cup to end."
Monchi has begun to leave his mark in Rome. This transfer frenzy isn’t going end too soon.