After two weeks of Real Madrid dominating the transfer window with their failed pursuit of Kylian Mbappe it was Atletico Madrid who dramatically won deadline day in Spain by taking Antoine Griezmann back from Barcelona.
Cash-strapped Barça were the big losers because not only did wage-bill pressure force them to farm-out Griezmann but they were only able to bring in Luuk de Jong (Sevilla’s third choice centre-forward) as a replacement.
Saul Niguez was the third man in the deadline day drama – it was his loan departure to Chelsea that freed up salary space to sign Griezmann.
Deadline day began with huge doubts over whether Saul would be able to join Chelsea. His representatives had met with Atletico Madrid on Monday morning when they were told the player would not be able to leave on loan to Chelsea. Coach Diego Simeone did not want an important player departing on the last day of the window.
But through Tuesday it became clear that Griezmann was growing increasingly confident that he would be able to go back to Atletico Madrid and that that confidence was based on Atletico now accepting Chelsea’s loan move for Saul and lightening their wage bill to the tune of 14m euros a season.
Chelsea will pay 5m euros for the loan of Saul and 40m euros if they decide to sign the 26-year-old.
Griezmann returns to Atletico with Barça expected to add a 50m buy option to the loan deal for a player they paid 120m euros for just two summers ago.
Once Saul to Chelsea had enabled Griezmann to Atletico, Barcelona were left looking for a new striker and it is a measure of their financial situation that they turned to De Jong.
The former Newcastle striker is currently third choice at Sevilla having scored 10 goals in two seasons for the club.
While the drama played out between Atletico, Barça and Sevilla, Real Madrid’s doomed pursuit of Paris Saint Germain’s Kylian Mbappe ended with a final failed bid of 200m euros.
The Spanish club will now sign the 22-year-old on a free next summer.
Madrid knew Mbappe was staying in France when, after their previous two bids – the last of 170m euros plus 10m in add-ons – were ignored, the player was picked to play for PSG at the weekend.
A swap deal involving Joao Felix had been mooted but those negotiations never took off
Tuesday night’s final bid was being seen as a parting shot in a war of attrition that saw PSG coach Leonardo label the Spanish club’s behavior ‘illegal’ and ‘disrespectful’.
Madrid did get some small semblance of revenge yesterday for missing out on Mbappe when they signed PSG target, the 18-year-old midfielder Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes for 30m euros.
But it will hurt them that their city rivals romped home in the race to have the most impressive window. Their captures of Griezmann, Rafa Mir and Rodrigo de Paul leave them as favourites to retain their title.
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