- Will Real Madrid strike for a big signing to replace Ronaldo? What will become of a Bayern Munich defensive stalwart or the rich, yet cash-strapped PSG? The remaining open transfer windows still have a few questions to be answered.
The staggered transfer deadlines across Europe–not to mention the World Cup–have made for an unusual summer of player movement.
A bunch of business was conducted early, with players either switching addresses (hello, Cristiano Ronaldo) or proclaiming their intentions to stay put (there was nothing quite like "La Decisión," courtesy of Antoine Griezmann) either before or during the showcase in Russia. In some cases, the business was done a year earlier, with Liverpool reaching a deal to lure the impressive Naby Keita to Anfield for 2018-19 from RB Leipzig last summer.
The Premier League's new earlier deadline threw the biggest wrinkle into the summer window. It concluded with a bit of a whimper, as Thibaut Courtois's sale to Real Madrid and Kepa Arrizabalaga's arrival at Chelsea headlined the late action. And with the four remaining top leagues in Europe having their deadlines later on, the fact that English sides can't replace any outgoing stars until January could make them hesitate on selling to the places where the window remains open.
With the EPL and Serie A windows shut (Italy's business concluded Aug. 17), the top leagues in Spain, France and Germany are the ones to watch leading into their respective Aug. 31 deadlines–a day after the Champions League draw. La Liga and Ligue 1 have their windows close at 11:59 CET, while the Bundesliga's closes some six hours earlier, which could make for an intriguing run-in as teams maneuver to fill holes and prepare as best they can for their domestic and European campaigns.
As always, free agents are able to sign with clubs at any time outside of the transfer window, and deadlines only impact incoming business, not outgoing–provided the sale destination operates where its window remains open.
Here are the top storylines and potential moves to watch for in each of the remaining leagues who are open for business:
Everyone is waiting for Real Madrid to do something. While it appears now that none of Robert Lewandowski, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Eden Hazard, Mohamed Salah, Miralem Pjanic, Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Willian or even Valencia's Rodrigo Moreno will head to the Bernabeu, there's little reason to believe the club will sell Ronaldo and simply stand pat.
It's true that Gareth Bale could rise into the star's role and be supported by plenty of capable, in-house attacking talents behind him in the form of Karim Benzema, Isco, Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio, but it would be so un-Real-Madrid-like to not land a big fish–or even worse, appear incapable of landing one. If nothing else, you'd expect club president Florentino Perez to stroke the ego and make a huge signing just to make a statement.
Perhaps Real Madrid's best possible move was the one to not sell Luka Modric, though the fallout of his supposed flirtation with Inter Milan has apparently caused a bit of a behind-the-scenes soap opera at the club. With the World Cup Golden Boot winner roaming the midfield, Real Madrid has more than enough talent to remain competitive on all fronts. But the standard at the club is surely higher than simply being competitive.
Real Madrid and city rival Atletico Madrid are both reportedly hoping to sign wingback extraordinaire Marcos Alonso from Chelsea, though the Premier League side is understandably said to be resistant to the idea.
One of the most outlandish rumors this summer involved Barcelona's apparent interest in Paul Pogba, though the club's director has stated a move won't happen this summer. But with unrest at Manchester United increasing, could Barcelona test the Premier League side's desperation with an offer that's tempting enough? And then there's the club's interest in PSG's Adrien Rabiot, whose relationship with his French side is reportedly rocky and could make him primed for an August exit. The earlier additions of Arthur and Arturo Vidal to replace the outgoing Paulinho would appear to make another central midfielder a luxury and not a need for the defending champions.
Below the top tier comes the intriguing word that Sevilla could take German playmaker Julian Draxler on loan from PSG.
Lewandowski isn't going anywhere, but will Jerome Boateng stay or go at Bayern Munich? If he stays, there'll surely be some awkwardness, and you wonder where the one-time defensive stalwart is in new manager Niko Kovac's pecking order given the club's willingness to let him go. But club president Uli Hoeness recently said there's a 50-50 chance he'll be sold, with PSG the destination.
As for Borussia Dortmund, the club needs some forward help. Michy Batshuayi was a nice Band-Aid on loan last season, but he's off to Valencia now, and BVB, for all its playmaking midfielders, has little in the way of a line leader. The club is reportedly interested in Barcelona's out-of-favor Paco Alcacer, which doesn't seem like enough of a boost for a side trying to challenge Bayern.
RB Leipzig, meanwhile, has reportedly been kicking the tires on trying to land Everton's Ademola Lookman on a permanent deal after a successful loan last season.
In terms of young stars staying put, Leipzig has claimed Timo Werner isn't going anywhere until at least 2020, while Bayer Leverkusen's Leon Bailey signed a new contract amid reported Premier League interest.
PSG is always in the headlines when it comes to transfer season, but that's what happens when you're a year removed from landing both Neymar and Mbappe in the same window. There's ongoing talk that the club needs to sell, sell, sell in order to stay within Financial Fair Play regulations (though Angel Di Maria will reportedly be signing a new deal and not be offloaded), yet the club has also been tied to a number of buys, Boateng among them.
No, don't expect Pogba, N'Golo Kante, Hazard or any truly massive name to head to the Parc des Princes this summer, but don't count on PSG to sit tight and do nothing, either. A pair of left backs, Atletico Madrid's Filipe Luis and Tottenham's Danny Rose, have also been tipped to make the move to Paris.
Elsewhere, Mario Balotelli is staying put, despite interest from Marseille. He'll remain at Nice, where he'll play under Patrick Vieira in what is one of the more intriguing subplots around the continent.
Another star who appears to be staying put is Nabil Fekir, which is the best possible transfer outcome for Lyon. It appeared a move to Liverpool would be a formality, but it never materialized, and the France international looks set to stay put, at least for the first half of the season until the January window opens.
Meanwhile, Monaco took care of some major business earlier in the summer, signing confident 17-year-old Willem Geubbels from Lyon. The rising attacking star says he can be just as good as Mbappe–which means it's only a matter of time before PSG circles for him, too.