It’s that magical time of the year when the nights draw closer and the mornings seem colder where every football fan begins the count down in the hope to see what gifts they will receive as the excitement and anticipation grows as the clock ticks towards not the festive winter fun of Christmas… but more importantly, transfer deadline day, August 31st.
Usually over hyped and over anticipated in recent years this summer however has been different with transfer stupidity across the continent as records crumble with anyone costing £50m or under considered a bit part player.
So to the final few hours and during a week that has seen Ousmane Dembele, with three kick ups and a failed heel lift to his name sign for Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund for a second highest ever global fee of €105m. One that has seen Kevin Wimmer, an Austrian International who cost Tottenham £4.3m in 2015 with 5 premier league games for Spurs last season move to Stoke for an incredible £18m, one that has also seen some sensible business with West Brom capturing both Kieran Gibbs and Polish International Grzegorz Krychowiak for only £7m between them. One that has seen Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain refuse big money at Arsenal and Chelsea to sign for Liverpool.
And it’s not over yet… As the Spanish window is set to close tonight the futures of Diego Costa and Phillipe Coutinho could still be decided.
Back on the pitch it’s the September internationals this weekend which usually makes for a boring week of limited action as club football takes a break. After three games and three wins with 10 goals and three clean sheets Manchester United lead the Premier League table with the only 100% record. Liverpool are second following a 4-0 demolition of Arsenal which leaves the Gunners humiliated in 16th.
In Italy there is a five way tie for top after two fixtures with Juventus, Inter, Napoli, AC Milan and Sampdoria all winning their first two games. Internazionale with the performance of the weekend coming from behind to beat Roma 3-1 at the Stadio Olimpico in what was Coach Luciano Spalletti’s second game, beating the club he left in the summer.
In Spain only Real Sociedad, Barcelona and Leganes have 100% records from their opening two matches. Real Madrid needing an Assencio brace to rescue a point verses Valencia on Sunday.
The Bundesliga is also at the two game stage with Dortmund, Bayern, Hamburg & Hannover all sitting pretty with six points whilst in France, AS Monaco are not giving up the Ligue 1 title race without a fight despite them losing out over the haggle with PSG for Kylian Mbappe. The Championnat race is currently head to head with Paris and Monaco on 12 points from 4 with the Principality having scored 14 goals (the same as Paris) conceding four (two more than their rivals).
Without Mbappe, Monaco produced the performance of the week in France beating Marseille 6-1 at Stade Louis II. Two goals from Falcao and an impressive performance by Rony Lopes amongst others helping Leonardo Jardim’s team to an emphatic win.
Because of the transfer activity the weekends internationals despite starting yesterday are yet to whet the apetite although France’s comprehensive victory over Holland last night did raise an eyebrow. England face Malta later today in what will be a routine win before seeing off Slovakia at a half full Wembley on Monday to all but qualify for Russia 2018. Crunch ties however include Spain v Italy on Saturday (I still don’t know how they were paired together?) whilst Hungary & Portugal will hopefully play out something as exciting as they did in Euro 2016. Elsewhere Greece v Belgium or Armenia v Denmark is about as exciting as it gets in European International football… A re-format is surely needed to stop this drivel taking place.
One question to be answered about Ross Barkley and his late night change of heart… As usual the most exciting bit of news on deadline day was a transfer that didn’t happen. Now shut that door and let’s get on with playing football.
Star of the week: Mauro Icardi (The prolific Inter captain never afraid of controversy scored twice to help his side beat Roma on Saturday. Icardi with one Italian cap in 2013 has been picked by Argentina for this weekend’s international campaign to face Uruguay and Venezuala).