The summer of 2021 was one like no other.
Day after day the world of football was stunned as speculation spread like wildfire and the big names jumped from club to club. It was a transfer window which will go down in football folklore.
From brassic Barcelona being forced to sell their darling Lionel Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo’s sensational Manchester United return, from Paris Saint-Germain’s star-studded shopping spree to the Kylian Mbappe madness involving Real Madrid, the signings from this summer will go down in the history books.
But while some clubs will be revelling in the success of their bargain buys, others will be less enthused and left scratching their heads in disbelief.
When you sign a player, no matter what they’ve achieved in their career beforehand, you just never know how they are going to fit in: there’s always risk involved.
Daily Star Sport takes a closer look at those stars who haven’t hit the ground running, the ones who have made a stuttering start and have found themselves thrust into the spotlight as this summer’s transfers which haven’t worked out.
Lionel Messi – Paris Saint-Germain
Where else to start than with the little magician himself, Lionel Messi.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner brought an emotional end to his 21-year association with Barcelona as the cash-strapped Catalan club was forced to let him go for free following their financial woes.
While the people of Paris paraded the streets ahead of his arrival, the Argentine has since flatter to deceive with his new side.
A stunning strike against Manchester City in the Champions League looked set to kickstart Messi’s season following a delayed debut, but the homesick 34-year-old has since struggled, failing to score in any of his five Ligue 1 appearances and being humiliatingly hauled off at half-time in PSG’s comeback win over Lille last Friday.
Sergio Aguero – Barcelona
Another who went for free in the summer following a teary farewell, Sergio Aguero completed a dream move to Barcelona from Manchester City as he finally looked set to link-up with long-time friend and fellow Argentine Messi at club level.
Barca’s money muddles put pay to that as Messi was forced to depart and Aguero was left to watch his struggling new side from the stands after arriving with an injury.
Aguero netted the consolation strike in Barca’s recent El Clasico defeat – his only goal in a handful of appearances – and worrying chest pains have now seen City’s all-time record goalscorer sidelined for at least three months.
Jadon Sancho – Manchester United
Which of these has been the most disappointing summer signing? Let us know what you think in the comments section
Manchester United finally got their man for a whopping £73million after two years of toing and froing with Sancho’s old side Borussia Dortmund.
Much was expected of the skilful sensation upon his return to England, but the deadline day deal to bring Ronaldo back home has overshadowed Sancho’s signing and shifted him to the bench.
The winger is yet to register a single direct goal contribution in any of his 11 limited appearances and looks a shadow of his former self.
Saul Niguez – Chelsea
When Thomas Tuchel found himself still searching the market for a midfielder late into the transfer window, it became a case of better call Saul.
The Spaniard finally made the move to the Premier League after years of speculation by teaming up with Chelsea, initially on loan from Atletico Madrid, though he has found himself very much a bit part player.
It’s fair to say he didn’t get off to the best of starts as a sluggish debut against Aston Villa, in which he was caught dallying on the ball on multiple occasions, led to Tuchel hooking him off at half-time. Things haven’t improved much since.
Sergio Ramos – Paris Saint-Germain
PSG really were intent on playing real-life fantasy football this summer as they snapped up Real Madrid’s controversial captain Sergio Ramos to go alongside Barcelona’s former skipper Messi.
What looked another shrewd bit of business, having snapped up Sergio on a free transfer, has swiftly turned into a disaster.
As we enter November, Ramos is yet to kick a ball for his new side and it has since emerge they he may not ever get the chance to do so with the PSG hierarchy reportedly considering terminating the Spaniard’s lucrative contract due to his ongoing injury issues.
Georginio Wijnaldum – Paris Saint-Germain
Another of the star-studded signings that have yet to find their feet in Paris, Wijnaldum joined on a free transfer following his failure to agree a new deal at Liverpool.
The 30-year-old, who netted three times for the Netherlands in this summer’s Euro 2020, is yet to register a goal or assist having been used sparingly by PSG so far this season, much to his frustration.
The former Newcastle and Liverpool star has already admitted he is “not completely happy” at his new club having seen his highly anticipated transfer turned into a nightmare.
Luuk De Jong – Barcelona
With Messi gone and Antoine Griezmann also on his way out, Barcelona were in urgent need of some new firepower upfront. Cue the uninspiring deadline day signing of Dutchman Luuk de Jong, on loan from Sevilla.
The far-from-prolific frontman has mustered one solitary strike against La Liga minnows Levante in his nine appearances so far having fluffed his lines on countless occasions.
It turns out the former Newcastle United flop isn’t good enough for five-time Champions League winners Barcelona. Who knew?
Martin Odegaard – Arsenal
Arsenal fans were thrilled to see the club fork out £30m to secure the permanent signing of last season’s loanee and former wonderkid Martin Odegaard this summer.
The Norwegian midfielder whipped in a wondrous free kick in the Gunners 1-0 win over Burnley back in September and looked set to take the season by storm.
However, a string of lacklustre displays since have seen Odegaard fall out of favour and led to his manager Mikel Arteta publicly calling for more quality.
Bryan Gil – Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs fans were left wagging their tongues when the club sealed a deal for Spanish sensation Bryan Gil from Sevilla this summer, sending over £20m and Erik Lamela the other way.
The highly rated 20-year-old came to the Premier League with a huge reputation, but you would be forgiven for realising he had even arrived.
The Spanish starlet has been anonymous so far this season and will be hoping new Tottenham manager Antonio Conte will give him more of a shot having scarcely featured, making a mere five substitute appearances in the league.
Joe Willock – Newcastle United
Newcastle placed all their eggs in one Willock shaped basket this summer, splashing out £25m on the Arsenal man alongside no one else.
The 21-year-old dazzled after joining the Magpies on deadline day back in February, netting eight times in his 14 outings, including seven games in a row at the end of last season to equal a club record shared with Newcastle icon Alan Shearer.
However, since making the move permanent, Willock has endured a torrid time, failing to register a goal or assist in nine Premier League appearances this campaign and finding himself warming the bench of late.
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