PARIS: With Europe’s top clubs preparing for the start of the new season, there have already been several headline-grabbing moves in the transfer market, including Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning switch to Juventus and the arrival of Gianluigi Buffon in France.
Here, AFP Sport looks at five of the close-season movers who could make the biggest impact:
Cristiano Ronaldo (POR)
Real Madrid (ESP) to Juventus (ITA) (100 million euros)
— The end of Ronaldo’s reign at Real Madrid took the football world by surprise, although it wasn’t met with total shock. The 33-year-old had hinted at a desire to leave after winning a third straight Champions League title with Real against Liverpool, but a move to Italy didn’t appear to be on the cards.
The arrival of the Champions League’s all-time record goalscorer will surely boost the Turin giants’ hopes of finally winning Europe’s premier competition for the first time since 1996.
Some will think that Ronaldo’s time at the top is coming to an end, but his recent form has suggested otherwise. The Portugal captain scored 44 goals for Real in all competitions last season before netting four times at the World Cup, including a hat-trick against Spain, and will undoubtedly bring a massive presence to Juventus both on the pitch and off it.
Gianluigi Buffon (ITA)
Juventus (ITA) to Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) (free)
— As Ronaldo looks to win the Champions League in a third different country, Buffon will be hoping to finally lift the famous trophy for the first time in his first season playing outside of Italy.
The 40-year-old was expected to retire at the end of last term, but instead decided to have another crack at European glory with big-spending PSG. Buffon will miss the first three Champions League games of the campaign, though, after his tirade against English referee Michael Oliver following a late Ronaldo penalty which saw Juve lose to Real in the quarter-finals in April.
Buffon will likely start all of PSG’s big matches, but the lower quality of Ligue 1 may be perfect for the latter stages of his career, with French international Alphonse Areola more than capable of stepping in to give him a rest during more low-key encounters.
Roma (ITA) to Liverpool (ENG) (72.5 million euros)
— Despite the revelation that he had earlier suffered concussion, Loris Karius’ horror show in the Champions League final confirmed what many onlookers had known for years — that Liverpool needed a new goalkeeper.
Manager Jurgen Klopp had long been linked with a move for Brazil number one Alisson, and the 25-year-old duly left Roma after the World Cup in a world-record deal for a ‘keeper.
Liverpool fans will now be hoping that Alisson can help them clinch a first league title for 29 years.
Riyad Mahrez (ALG)
Leicester (ENG) to Manchester City (ENG) (67.5 million euros)
— Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will be favourites for the Premier League title, though, after their total domination last season. The club’s Abu Dhabi owners haven’t stopped dipping into their pockets either and signed Mahrez from Leicester after failing to match the Foxes’ asking price back in January.
Despite the hefty price tag, Mahrez won’t be an automatic starter at Eastlands with Leroy Sane, David Silva and Bernardo Silva for company. But he will add even more options for arguably the best current club squad in Europe.
Thomas Lemar (FRA)
Monaco (FRA) to Atletico Madrid (ESP) (100 million euros)
— In perhaps the least-hyped 100-million-euro transfer in history, Atletico Madrid agreed a deal to sign Lemar from Monaco just two days before the start of the World Cup.
The 22-year-old from Guadeloupe played just one match in the victorious campaign in Russia — the dire draw with Denmark — and only managed three goals in 38 matches last season.
But Lemar is very capable and showed excellent form in 2017 before suffering a series of injuries, and Atletico will be delighted to get his signature as they look to keep pace with Barcelona and Real in Spain.