Friends, this is not the place to whine and pine about Liverpool transfers. There is a whole wide world for you to be frustrated with Jürgen Klopp apparently managing and building in a manner that he's accustomed to. Very strange indeed!
In the midst of two international tournaments, transfer deals are not being completed as quickly as rumour rabblers might like. There have been, however, a number of interesting moves since this column last popped up for air earlier this month. Managers moving and arriving were all the rage, and for those not keeping track, Ronald Koeman officially joined Liverpool's local rivals Everton last week. One former Southampton player was not impressed with Koeman's move at all.
A rumoured £100 million transfer budget and an incoming director of football will presumably help make Koeman's job a lot easier. It will be interesting to see what happens with Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley, and John Stones after a supposed mammoth injection of cash combined with the appointment of a respected manager. Maybe a revival is beginning on Merseyside after the false dawns under Roberto Martínez and Brendan Rodgers.
Before we whizz through some high-profile completed transfers and try to make sense of them, let's take a look at what two clubs are doing to keep in touch with the very best in Europe.
Keeping Up with the Leading Pack.
Two players that are good to watch have finally moved on after being linked with moves for years, and the identity of the clubs making those transfers should be of great interest to onlookers. Imagine two of the most competitive sides in Europe trying to make a next step in 2016/17 with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Pep Guardiola moving to Manchester City. Paris Saint-Germain, too, are financial beasts. All five of these Champions League clubs could spend over £50 million each on a couple of players if they willed it, and while Manchester United may not be in the Champions League, the desires of José Mourinho will be satisfied at any expense.
So, then, how to compete? That's the question Atlético Madrid and Juventus must attempt to find answers to this summer. It may be a strange question given that both clubs have competed both domestically and on the continent, but these two sides have been runners-up in the last three Champions League finals. After a fifth successive scudetto and becoming the first side in Italian history to complete successive Serie A and Coppa Italia doubles, the focus for Juventus is to make a renewed push in the Champions League.
Atlético Madrid have upset the balance in Spain, nestling among Barcelona and Real Madrid to create a big three in Spain. Since winning La Liga in 2013/14, there have been two third-placed finishes for Atlético. Finishing 16 and 14 points off the top two in 2014/15 became just two and three points last season. A second Champions League final defeat in three seasons to city rivals Real Madrid must have felt unusually bitter despite yet another impressive push in multiple competions, but this is a team with a ferociously fierce will and competitive spirit.
Massimiliano Allegri and Diego Simeone will go again, for want of a better term, next season. Two players currently with the French squad at Euro 2016 -- Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann -- are the most valuable and in-demand assets at their respective clubs. Pogba is linked with a huge move with dizzying regularity, while Griezmann recently had to deny he was playing as Chelsea on Football Manager. What an incredibly ridiculous world we live in, but who can deny clicking on the silliest of links in confused curiosity?
As to how to step forward, enter Miralem Pjanić and Nicolás Gaitán. Pjanić has moved from AS Roma to Juventus for £25.4 million to bring more craft and guile to Allegri's midfield. The great Andrea Pirlo made his final appearance in the 2015 Champions League final defeat against Barcelona and may have just been finally replaced by Pjanić. The 26-year-old is a lovely player to watch, and while he wasn't exactly cheap, it may be worth keeping an eye on the price of other midfielders over the course of the summer.
The incessant Gaitán to Manchester United transfer talk that has served rumour mongers for years can finally die after the 28-year-old joined Diego Simeone's band of hard-working players for £19.7 million. He may turn 29 in February 2017 but is moving to only his third club after three seasons at Boca Juniors and six seasons at Benfica. Simeone isn't getting a wide player that's a foul egg or will angle a move after 12 to 18 months of success; this is a hard-working individual who creates chances for others with his cultured left foot.
It isn't always about signing the biggest names for the most money, and although this task often bears fruit, how much did the staggerinly on-form Dimitri Payet cost West Ham United? Simeone and Allegri will continue to look for recruits and may lose a star player, but incoming players must serve the collective cause first. It's a higher level of trying to find the right deal, but the players purchased are experienced but young enough to produce over the length of their respective contracts.
That was a lengthy tome on two players making moves, wasn't it? This might not be a done deal, but this surely confirms the madness that is to come this summer. Troy Deeney for £25 million in real money? Bid rejected. Did anyone think at the start of last season that Leicester City would become Premier League champions and have a £25 million bid rejected for Watford FC's Troy Deeney? Most unexpected and somewhat glorious indeed.
Dani Alves is going to Juventus after eight seasons at Barcelona with lots and lots of trophies, a whole bundle of the blessed things. After two successful seasons at Hannover, Japanese international midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake is to join Europa League kings Sevilla in what's an interesting move. The 26-year-old is a creative attacking midfielder with a bit of a shot on him and some nifty set-piece skills, and all for just over £5 million! He's been another Japanese success story in Germany, something that scouts across Europe should really be following.
If one believes whispers emanating from various corners of the internet, Real Madrid winger Denis Cheryshev was a Liverpool target once upon a time. He's now sealed an £8 million deal to actually play football at Villarreal, a club where he found form and confidence during the 2014/15 season. Hopefully he can experience more meaningful La Liga minutes and memories along with being registered for cup compeitions correctly.
Empoli might be the place where players make a name before moving on after Lorenzo Tonelli left the only club he's ever known to join Napoli for £7.8 million. Yes, the pickings are slim at the moment for done deals. Don't forget, though, that many of the best deals are ones just like these. Piotr Zieliński, anyone? In England, Mourinho made his first signing as Manchester United by snapping up Villarreal's Eric Bailly for a reported £30 million fee to take the central defender from Castellón to Manchester. The typical and expensive Special One strengthening of a team's spine begins.
Elsewhere in the world's premier league of excess, there hasn't been too much of note. West Ham did sign somebody in the form of Sofiane Feghouli on a free transfer from Valencia, and while there will be payments in signing-one fees that effectively contradict the concept of paying zilch for a player, the sums involved will ultimately represent a bargain. Feghouli has always looked very handy whenever he put on the Algeria jersey and has been decent at Valencia. Not an eye-popping freebie like Andre Ayew was last summer, though. Decent nontheless, friends.
Tottenham Hotspur must be pleased after agreeing a fee of £11 million for Southampton defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama. The Kenyan international had just a year remaining on his contract, hence the relatively low fee. It's the type of deal that should strengthen Spurs' midfield with relatively low risk that bears all the hallmarks of a shrewd Daniel Levy move. Mousa Dembélé is suspended for his club's first four domestic games next season, creating a further need for a midfield addition. Strengthening central midfield was long believed to be a priority for Mauricio Pochettino this summer, and reuniting with a midfielder he knows and trusts can only be considered a good deal, especially for £11 million.
Borussia Dortmund have moved quickly to ensure that most of the club's business has been completed early. Marc Bartra moved from Barcelona on a four-year-contract, Emre Mor signed a five-year-deal to move to Germany, and Raphael Guerreiro penned a four-year-deal. Bartra is 25, Guerreiro is 22, and Mor is 18. Liverpool were linked with the younger two players of the trio, and it looks like a way of working that Liverpool fans will become familiar with in the future under Jürgen Klopp. Roughly £43 million on six players for BVB so far in contrast to circa £57 million spent by Bayern Munich on just two players. Deal with reality but work within it to find a way, if such a thing is possible.
Still here? You're good, congratulations. You win nothing other than intangibles and a hearty virtual fist bump. Next time out it may be worth looking at the juiciest rumours alongside whatever deal has bungled or glided over the finish line. Before you go, check out Jamie Vardy probably not going to Arsenal. Arsène Wenger seems to think a deal is unlikely, but Vardy will get another pay rise from the whole affair and can be feted as a loyal member of Ranieri's defending champions. Mourinho's transfer plans appear to rely on a different super agent this time round, which isn't inconceivable given the strength of the links to Zlatan, Henrikh, and Paul.