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Transfer deadline day: A look at the biggest deals from a wild 2021 summer window

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo changed teams, while PSG added several quality players for free.

Stade de Reims v Paris Saint Germain - Ligue 1
Lionel Messi of PSG during the Ligue 1 Uber Eats match between Stade Reims and Paris Saint Germain at Stade Auguste Delaune on August 29, 2021 in Reims, France.
Photo by John Berry/Getty Images

The summer transfer window for European leagues concludes Tuesday, August 31 around 6:00 p.m. ET. The Bundesliga will reportedly shut things down around 12:00 p.m. ET while Ligue 1 plans to end transfers at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s a look at the biggest deals from the summer transfer window.

Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona: Free transfer

PSG somewhat lucked into Messi this summer with La Liga putting the clamps down on Barcelona’s ridiculous wage bill and Messi’s new contract. The Argentina star had to move on from the only club he’s ever known and the French giants pounced. Landing arguably the best player in the world with no transfer fee? That’s the biggest win of the window. Grade: A+

Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United from Juventus: €15m

Ronaldo appeared to be on his way to Manchester City, which would’ve crushed Man United fans who rooted for the Portuguese star when he was rising through the soccer ranks. Conversations with former players reportedly swayed Ronaldo’s decision and he ultimately went back to the club that made him famous. United has had a big window, but this was the icing on the cake. Grade: A+

Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea from Inter Milan: €115m

Another Premier League reunion. Lukaku did not live up to his billing for most of his time in the English league, but he was racking up goals in Serie A with Inter Milan. Chelsea needed help up front with Timo Werner struggling and decided to break the bank for the Belgian striker. The price tag is high, but Lukaku will be worth the price if he keeps scoring like he has the past few seasons. Grade: B+

Jadon Sancho to Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund: €85m

Sancho has been an Old Trafford target for a long time. The deal finally happened this summer with Dortmund releasing the young English forward for a hefty fee. Sancho will join a loaded attacking group at Manchester United and will benefit from Ronaldo’s presence. Grade: B+

Jack Grealish to Manchester City from Aston Villa: £100m

Grealish is a good player, but Man City has to be disappointed with this outcome. The club was linked to Messi, Ronaldo and Harry Kane only to end up dropping six figures on a midfielder. It’s not exactly a big need for Pep Guardiola’s side, but Grealish’s talent is undeniable. Grade: B

Antoine Griezmann to Atletico Madrid from Barcelona: Loan deal

Griezmann never really found his footing at Barcelona, registering 22 goals in 74 games. He returns to Atletico Madrid on a loan deal, the club where he became a legend. The fit at Atleti should be better, although manager Diego Simeone is not known for creative setups in the final third. Griezmann gives the La Liga holders some additional offensive punch as he looks to re-establish himself as a top striker in the game. Grade: B+

Raphael Varane to Manchester United from Real Madrid: €41m

Man United has needed to shore up its backline and adding a quality defender next to Harry Maguire will help. Varane has experience winning at the highest level and recent Champions League success as well. This could be one of the best value deals of the window outside of the free transfers. Grade: A

Gianluigi Donnarumma to PSG from AC Milan: Free transfer

Donnarumma has had an eventful summer. He became a wall during the penalty shootout of the Euro 2020 final against England, delivering a championship to Italy. He followed that up with a big move to PSG on a free transfer. The French club gets one of the best young goalkeepers in the world and Donnarumma has a chance to add titles to his resume. Grade: A

Sergio Ramos to PSG from Real Madrid: Free transfer

PSG, forever under the microscope of financial fair play rules, did well on the free transfer market this year. Ramos may have lost a step from his glory days, but the veteran Spanish defender has been in every big moment and knows what it takes to win. That’s something a club looking for continental glory needs. Grade: A

Achraf Hakimi to PSG from Inter Milan: €70m

This is a huge fee for a relatively unproven player, but Hakimi gives PSG the ability to play multiple styles due to his versatility. The winger/defender provides flexibility for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, which has a clear goal of winning the Champions League this year. Hakimi will be an asset in that endeavor. Grade: B+

Sergio Aguero to Barcelona from Manchester City: Free transfer

Ultimately, this move was intended to persuade Lionel Messi to stay at the Catalan club. It somewhat worked until La Liga intervened. Aguero on his own makes sense for Barcelona as an experienced goal scorer. Given Barca’s wage problems, a free transfer is always good. Grade: A-

Dayot Upamecano to Bayern Munich from RB Leipzig: €42.5m

Upamecano is one of the best young defenders in the world, so naturally Bayern Munich was going to swoop in. It’s been a rough summer for Leipzig with Bayern taking its manager and best central defender. For the price, this is another transfer which could be a bargain. Grade: A

Georginio Wijnaldum to PSG from Liverpool: Free transfer

This was one of the surprise moves of the windows given Wijnaldum’s importance to Liverpool. There was speculation the midfielder would end up at Real Madrid, but ultimately PSG got its man. Wijnaldum adds depth to a loaded midfield and provides stability defensively. Grade: A-

David Alaba to Real Madrid for Bayern Munich: Free transfer

After a successful run with Bayern, Alaba was ready for something different. The Spanish club lost two key defenders but gets a veteran to step in. The wingback adds a dynamic element to Real Madrid’s somewhat bland style of play. Grade: A

Memphis Depay to Barcelona from Lyon: Free transfer

Depay was a big get for Barcelona. He was supposed to be the missing piece alongside Messi and Antoine Griezmann to make everything fit into place. That dream died when Messi left for PSG, but the Dutch attacker is still a valuable asset for Barca. He gets paired up with former Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman, who knows how the unlock Depay’s abilities best. Grade: A

Martin Odegaard to Arsenal from Real Madrid: €40m

Odegaard was one of the bright spots for Arsenal last season when came to the club on a loan. The Gunners decided to go ahead and sign him to a permanent deal, inking a talented young player in the process. It hasn’t been a banner window by any means for Arsenal, but this was a good move for a club attempting to become relevant again. Grade: B

Tammy Abraham to Roma from Chelsea: €40m

Abraham became the odd man out at Chelsea with Lukaku and Werner coming in. The forward has racked up goals on loan stints in the English Championship division, but has not been able to score at the same rate against better competition. Roma is taking a shot on his upside here, but the 23-year old has a lot to prove for this deal to pay off. Grade: B

Kurt Zouma to West Ham United from Chelsea: £25m

This was a surprise deal, although West Ham was attempting to land Zouma for a long time. He adds much-needed talent and experience at the back for a side that finds itself at the top of the Premier League. After narrowly avoiding relegation in 2019-20. West Ham finished sixth last season. The club has big aspirations and Zouma can help it achieve them. Grade: A-