Transfer window bodes ill for LaLiga's ability to compete

The transfer window closed with an almost exactly even balance sheet of player purchases and sales in LaLiga: 409m euros spent on signings, 405m accrued from departures. Last season, those numbers were 1.3bn and 992m, respectively. By comparing these figures, we get yet another indication of what the coronavirus pandemic is doing to our league, just as it is in every industry: it’s forcing a significant tightening of the belts. The enforced austerity among LaLiga clubs is even more heavily pronounced if you compare exports and imports: Spanish top-flight clubs banked 387m in sales overseas, and brought players into the league for a total of 297m. It’s a net profit that the fans won’t feel like celebrating, because it bodes ill for the continental competitiveness of Primera División.

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético all endure transfer-window difficulties

The major exception are Sevilla, who, in addition to making up for the loss of Éver Banega and Sergio Reguilón with Ivan Rakitic and Marcos Acuña, have strengthened in every department as they prepare for their Champions League campaign. They are followed in the spending charts by Granada, who - likewise motivated by their involvement in Europe - have made a net investment of 20.5m euros. At the other end of the spectrum are Valencia, whose owner has stripped away the squad to the chagrin of new coach Javi Gracia, who was promised greater transfer-market ambition when he was hired. Atlético Madrid, who upgraded at striker by snapping up Luis Suárez and selling Álvaro Morata, were hit with the nasty late surprise of Thomas Partey’s departure, which was not part of the plan.

At Barcelona, there was disappointment: Ousmane Dembélé didn’t leave, Memphis Depay didn’t arrive, and Rafinha had to be given away to PSG. Although players have been brought back or brought in (Coutinho, Pjanic…), the optimism for the future comes in the shape of the already-in-house Ansu Fati. As for Real Madrid, it’s been no secret since Cristiano Ronaldo left that their priority has been doing up their stadium, while they also argue that they can hardly go out and buy players if their squad has taken a 20% pay cut. Such is the extent of their cash-flow issues, though, that not only have they not signed anyone, they have sold three promising youth products in Achraf Hakimi, Reguilón and Óscar Rodríguez, as well as James Rodríguez. Tricky times for LaLiga’s trio of powerhouses, who are the clubs that lose the most from the lack of fans in the stands.