Inter Milan sold Romelu Lukaku and replaced him with an ageing Edin Dzeko
Real Madrid moved to sign one French international star on Europe’s transfer deadline day on Tuesday with Eduardo Camavinga arriving from Rennes, but their attempts to prise Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain look unlikely to succeed for now.
Midfield prodigy Camavinga, who is just 18, penned a six-year deal at the Santiago Bernabeu with Real reportedly paying a fee of 31 million euros ($36.6m) plus nine million euros more in bonuses.
It is a considerable sum for the Angolan-born player who was into the final year of his contract at Rennes.
Camavinga, who was still 17 when he made his France debut, had been linked with a move to PSG earlier in the transfer window.
He will not team up with Mbappe in Paris and the chances of the pair uniting in Madrid this season looked slim on Tuesday evening.
Real have spent the last week trying to clinch a dizzying deal for the 22-year-old forward, making two bids, the last understood to be worth a total of 180 million euros.
That is an extraordinary amount for a player who is in the final year of his contract in Paris.
PSG’s Qatari owners do not need to sell and appear prepared to risk losing Mbappe for free at the end of the campaign in order to have the World Cup winner, Neymar and Lionel Messi together in attack for at least one campaign.
Real can come back in for Mbappe again in January, when they could sign him to a pre-contract agreement to move next summer without having to pay a transfer fee.
Whatever happens with Mbappe, it has been an extraordinary summer transfer window in Europe, with Messi departing Barcelona for Paris and Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday finalising his sensational return to Manchester United from Juventus.
While the moves for 34-year-old Messi and 36-year-old Ronaldo represented a shift in world football’s tectonic plates, the future of 22-year-old Mbappe is potentially more significant in the long term.
Already a World Cup winner, Mbappe’s goals could vastly improve the fortunes of Real, who were beaten to the Spanish title by Atletico Madrid last season.
PSG, though, have been fighting to keep their striker as they look to win the Champions League for the first time.
Apart from Messi, they have also signed Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid and one of the world’s top goalkeepers, Gianluigi Donnarumma, from AC Milan.
They also strengthened their midfield with Georginio Wijnaldum from Liverpool and signed flying Morocco right-back Achraf Hakimi, who shone for Inter Milan last season.
The latter cost some 60 million euros, with the rest all arriving as free agents.
Ronaldo is the latest big-money signing in the Premier League, where the biggest deals have seen Manchester City buy Jack Grealish from Aston Villa for £100 million ($138m) and Romelu Lukaku return to Chelsea from Inter for £97.5 million.
In contrast, PSG apart, leading clubs on the continent have not been as willing to spend big money as they continue to suffer from the economic impact of the pandemic.
Before adding Camavinga, Real’s only signing of note was David Alaba on a free from Bayern Munich.
Barcelona, mired in huge debts, could not keep Messi and spent deadline day selling off some of their talented youngsters.
Their only new signings have been free agents, Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero from Manchester City and Memphis Depay from Lyon.
In Italy, champions Inter replaced Lukaku and Hakimi with cheaper alternaitves in Edin Dzeko and Netherlands right-back Denzel Dumfries.
They also signed Argentina’s Joaquin Correa from Lazio on an initial one-year loan.
Juventus offloaded Ronaldo and signed two Italy internationals in striker Moise Kean and midfielder Manuel Locatelli.
Both arrived on loans that will become permanent after two years, a way for Juve to spread out the payments to Everton and Sassuolo respectively.
German clubs are usually more restrained in their spending and that has again been the case, although Bayern Munich splashed a total of 67.5 million euros signing France defender Dayot Upamecano and Austria’s Marcel Sabitzer from RB Leipzig.
Borussia Dortmund bought Dutch forward Donyell Malen from PSV Eindhoven and, crucially, have kept hold of Erling Haaland.