PARIS, France, Sep 3 – The transfer window shut gently across much of Europe with a flurry of loan deals instead of the anticipated bang of a mega-move.
Several big-name players did change clubs on loans, including Mauro Icardi moving to Paris Saint-Germain from Inter Milan and Nikola Kalinic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan going out to Roma from Atletico Madrid and Arsenal.
The biggest names among the permanent transfer were a pair of Central American veterans: Keylor Navas and Javier Hernandez.
The closure of the window interrupted the saga surrounding of Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, who will stay at Paris Saint-Germain having failed to get the move back to Barcelona he craved for.
Real Madrid had also been linked with Neymar as well as Manchester United World Cup winner Paul Pogba and Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen as part of the expensive refurbishment of Zinedine Zidane’s squad.
Pogba excited some suspicious speculation earlier in the day when he dropped out of France’s two upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers with an “ankle problem”.
Real did do one deal with PSG. It even involved a World Cup winner, but the marquee name was the Madrid club’s backup goalkeeper.
Navas, a 32-year-old Costa Rican who won the Champions League three times in Madrid, joined PSG with the younger French international Alphonse Areola moving in the opposite direction on loan.
PSG also pulled a late rabbit from their sleeve late with the loan signing of Argentine striker Icardi “with an option to buy.”
Icardi was joint top scorer in Serie A in 2017-18, but amid a series of disputes he was stripped of the Inter Milan captaincy last season and barred from full training. He started legal action against the club.
Barcelona were not entirely inactive. They extended the contract of attacking midfielder Rafinha and then loaned him to Celta Vigo, where he also spent the 2013-2014 season.
Even without a deadline-day blockbuster, La Liga clubs spent a record 1.3 billion euros on players including Eden Hazard, Rodri and Ferland Mendy to Real, Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong to Barca and Joao Felix to Atletico Madrid.
Manchester United sold 29-year-old Italy full-back Matteo Darmian to Parma. The fee was reportedly £1.4 million (1.5 million euros) for an undisclosed fee.
– Swapped strikers –
Mexican striker Javier Hernandez joined Sevilla from West Ham on a three-year deal. The Spanish club reportedly paid £7.3 million for the 31-year-old ‘Chicharito’.
Turkish giants Fenerbahce signed midfielder Luiz Gustavo, a 32-year-old Brazil international and former Bayern Munich man, from Marseille for 7 million euros.
Meanwhile, Jerome Boateng did not want to leave.
The 30-year-old Bayern and Germany centre back had been reportedly on the point of moving to Juventus to replace captain Giorgio Chiellini who has suffered a serious knee injury. Boateng decided to stay in Munich.
Other Italian clubs shuffled strikers.
AC Milan swapped players with Eintracht Frankfurt. Croatian forward Ante Rebic moved to Italy on a two-year loan. Portuguese Andre Silva moved the other way.
Roma borrowed two old strikers while loaning out a young one.
They took Kalinic on loan from Atletico Madrid and Mkhitaryan from Arsenal while sending Patrik Schick to RB Leipzig.
Roma said they had an option to buy the 31-year-old Kalinic, a member of the Croatia squad that reached the 2018 World Cup final, for 9 million euros.
Mkhitaryan, a 30-year-old Armenian, made his last appearance for the Gunners as a substitute as they were held at home by Tottenham on Sunday.
Leipzig, who have an option to buy Schick, a 23-year-old Czech international, for 29 million euros, if they qualify for the Champions League again next season.
The Bundesliga club were plugging their own gap. Leipzig said they needed another attacker after loaning Jean-Kevin Augustin to Monaco on Sunday.
Napoli signed Fernando Llorente on a free transfer. The 34-year old Spanish World Cup winner was a free agent after helping Tottenham to the Champions League final last season.
Galatasaray confirmed the signing of veteran Colombian striker Radamel Falcao from Monaco.