Gareth Bale ended his marathon Wales goal drought with a hat-trick to boost World Cup qualification hopes as the Real Madrid forward showed his class against Belarus.

The €100million man scored for the first time in his past 17 internationals to give Wales a fifth-minute lead from the penalty spot, the first of two spot-kicks he fired home in Kazan.

Captain Bale then hit a stoppage-time winner past Sergey Chernik to give Wales a 3-2 success from their trip to Russia, with the game moved to the neutral location as Wales could not enter Belarus due to sanctions imposed against that country's government.

The tussle did not go entirely to plan for Wales, who conceded twice in quick succession around the half-hour mark, with just 92 seconds between Vitali Lisakovich's equaliser and Pavel Sedko putting the nominal home team ahead. Those had been the first two shots on target for Belarus.

But Bale levelled up in the 69th minute and then produced fresh heroics for his country in the dying moments. He had seven goal attempts in total, and the three he put on target paid handsome dividends for Wales' all-time record goalscorer.

He described the victory as "massive" and said: "We know these kinds of games are probably the hardest because you are expected to win and other teams make it difficult.

"To get that kind of last-minute goal and three points will hopefully keep our momentum going and hopefully we can keep that into the next game."

Wales had missed their previous three penalties, including Bale's failure at Euro 2020 against Turkey, and he admitted that big-stage blunder was in his thinking when he won the early spot-kick chance.

"Of course, you have it in the back of my mind," Bale told Sky Sports. "Missed penalties are a thing in football, it happens and it's about how you bounce back. It was great to score two tonight, because they were important goals.

"[The winner] was kind of last-gasp. Everything was in the box and bouncing around, and I tried to hook it in, and as soon as I saw it go just past his fingers and roll in, I was ecstatic. I knew it was right at the last few seconds."

Only once before had Bale gone longer without scoring for his country – a run of 20 games from 2007 to 2010, in the infancy of his Wales career.

Kazan is over 400 miles east of Moscow, and Bale was unimpressed by Wales being told to play there by UEFA.

"Obviously everything hasn't really gone for us in terms of travelling to Russia," said Bale. "It's not exactly ideal for UEFA or FIFA to put us here, but it is what it is and we've had to use that as extra motivation. Thankfully, we got the three points and we can get out of here."

Gareth Bale says he would support his Wales team-mates if they decided to walk off the pitch due to racist abuse during a game. 

FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings after England players Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham were reportedly racially abused during a World Cup qualifier away to Hungary. 

Gareth Southgate’s side were also booed from some sections of the crowd inside the Puskas Arena while taking the knee prior to kick-off. They went on to win the game 4-0 in Budapest. 

Speaking ahead of his Wales' qualifier in Belarus on Sunday, Bale feels it is only a matter of time before teams walk off the pitch in response to such abuse – a move he feels would be correct in the circumstances. 

"If things don't get sorted, that will happen," the Real Madrid forward said. 

"If we felt we weren't getting protection and being treated the right way by the governing bodies and the only way to get the best response was to walk off, I'd be fully for it. 

"At the end of the day, it's the right thing to do and it's more important than football. 

"We haven't discussed it. But we'd have that discussion if it happened and we'd all agree on it as we're a team that sticks together and if anyone is being targeted, we'll do the right thing." 

As for his club career, Bale is back at Madrid after a season on loan at Tottenham last term.

He has started all three LaLiga games under Carlo Ancelotti and, while having enjoyed his time back at Spurs, the 32-year-old is delighted to be part of a "better environment" at Los Blancos. 

"It is always good to be in a good environment," said Bale, who fell out of favour with former Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

"I think the biggest reason why I went to Tottenham was because I knew it would be a better environment for me, a break that maybe I needed at the time.

"I had a great time at Tottenham. It definitely helped me mentally to be back in a happier place. I think that showed again coming back with Wales in the Euros.

"I have brought that into Real Madrid this season, where obviously there is a better environment for myself anyway."

Gareth Bale says he would support his Wales team-mates if they decided to walk off the pitch due to racist abuse during a game. 

FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings after England players Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham were reportedly racially abused during a World Cup qualifier away to Hungary. 

Gareth Southgate’s side were also booed from some sections of the crowd inside the Puskas Arena while taking the knee prior to kick-off. They went on to win the game 4-0 in Budapest. 

Speaking ahead of his Wales' qualifier in Belarus on Sunday, Bale feels it is only a matter of time before teams walk off the pitch in response to such abuse – a move he feels would be correct in the circumstances. 

"If things don't get sorted, that will happen," the Real Madrid forward said. 

"If we felt we weren't getting protection and being treated the right way by the governing bodies and the only way to get the best response was to walk off, I'd be fully for it. 

"At the end of the day, it's the right thing to do and it's more important than football. 

"We haven't discussed it. But we'd have that discussion if it happened and we'd all agree on it as we're a team that sticks together and if anyone is being targeted, we'll do the right thing." 

As for his club career, Bale is back at Madrid after a season on loan at Tottenham last term.

He has started all three LaLiga games under Carlo Ancelotti and, while having enjoyed his time back at Spurs, the 32-year-old is delighted to be part of a "better environment" at Los Blancos. 

"It is always good to be in a good environment," said Bale, who fell out of favour with former Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

"I think the biggest reason why I went to Tottenham was because I knew it would be a better environment for me, a break that maybe I needed at the time.

"I had a great time at Tottenham. It definitely helped me mentally to be back in a happier place. I think that showed again coming back with Wales in the Euros.

"I have brought that into Real Madrid this season, where obviously there is a better environment for myself anyway."

Dani Olmo departed Barcelona's youth setup in 2014, moving to Croatian giants in Dinamo Zagreb.

Now playing for RB Leipzig, the 23-year-old continues to catch the eye.

Olmo is reportedly eyeing another chance at Barca.

 

TOP STORY – OLMO WANTS BARCA COMEBACK

RB Leipzig star Dani Olmo is hoping to return to Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Olmo came through Barca's famed La Masia before joining Dinamo Zagreb's youth team in 2014 and eventually Bundesliga outfit Leipzig in 2020.

The 23-year-old Spain international, however, wants a new chance at Barca and has reportedly set yes to a Camp Nou comeback without looking at contract terms.

 

ROUND-UP

- Everton are hopeful of launching a bid to sign Edinson Cavani from Manchester United following Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Old Trafford, per Todo Fichajes.

- Calciomercato says Inter are considering a move for Eintracht Frankfurt and Serbia winger Filip Kostic, who was poised to join Lazio on deadline day before a move fell through.

- The Sun says Wolves are set to make Adama Traore their highest earner amid interest from Tottenham and Liverpool.

Chelsea could target Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly in January, reports Football London. The Senegal star has previously been linked with Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Barca and others.

- Le10 Sport claims Paris Saint-Germain never made an offer for Ronaldo, who left Juventus for United.

Eduardo Camavinga labelled his Real Madrid transfer a dream come true after swapping Rennes for the LaLiga powerhouse before the end of the transfer window.

Camavinga signed a six-year contract with Madrid in a deal reportedly worth up to €45million, having also been linked to the likes of Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.

After his big move, the 18-year-old France international reflected on the transfer to the Santiago Bernabeu.

"It's a dream I had when I was a kid. I can't wait to discover the stadium, which is very impressive," Camavinga said.

"I hope to play there as soon as the building work is finished."

Camavinga made 71 Ligue appearances for Rennes and 88 in total following his debut in 2019.

At 18 years and nine months old, he is the youngest outfield player to feature in that many games in France's top flight since Basile Boli in 1985.

 

In making his senior France debut on September 8 last year, Camavinga was the youngest player to do so since Maurice Gastiger against Luxembourg 107 years ago.

Only Gastiger (17 years and five months) scored for Les Bleus at a younger age than Camavinga, who was 17 years and 11 months old when he netted against Switzerland last October.

In 2019-20, Camavinga's breakthrough season at Rennes, he attempted 105 tackles in top-flight football. Among midfielders in Europe's top five leagues, only Declan Rice (116) and Wilfred Ndidi (129) attempted more. 

"My move to Real Madrid was done very quickly. I am very happy and proud," Camavinga said.

"But I don't want this announcement to change my work with [France's] under-21s. Whether I play at Rennes or at Real Madrid I will continue to give my best, and of course I dream of the senior team, but step by step.

"Now I'll go to Rennes to pack my bags, I'll move to Madrid and I'll continue on my journey."

Real Madrid have not given up on their hopes of adding Kylian Mbappe. 

He will be a top priority for Carlo Ancelotti following the 2021-22 season.

But could Los Blancos add two stars for the price of one? 

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID EYE MBAPPE-HAALAND PAIRING

Real Madrid will be the favourites to land Kylian Mbappe following the season if he does not reach a new deal with Paris Saint-Germain, but they will not be content adding only him. 

According to Marca, Erling Haaland is also a prime target at the Santiago Bernabeu and Madrid could pursue both players. 

Mbappe would be available on a free and Haaland could be had from Borussia Dortmund via his €75million release clause. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Declan Rice expects to leave West Ham after the season, according to 90min, which reports he has asked the club to include a release clause in any new contract offer the Hammers might make. 

- Juventus declined the opportunity to sign Edinson Cavani from Manchester United after Cristiano Ronaldo's move in the other direction, the Mirror reports. 

- Former Tottenham right-back Serge Aurier prefers to remain in the Premier League and could end up at Arsenal, according to Sky Sports. The Ivory Coast international and Spurs terminated his contract by mutual consent this week. 

- Nicolas Nkoulou could be an option for Lazio if they cannot sign David Luiz, reports Calciomercato. 

LaLiga's request to postpone the upcoming match between Sevilla and Barcelona due to player involvement in South American World Cup qualifiers has been dismissed by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), but a "challenge" will be lodged. 

An appeal was issued by LaLiga to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the decision taken by FIFA to put in place a two-day extension to the CONMEBOL calendar for fixtures in September and October, a move made amid the complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Due to strict rules that would require players to quarantine for 10 days upon their return, England's Premier League refused to release nearly 60 players travelling to 26 countries on the United Kingdom's red list due to COVID-19. 

LaLiga announced support to those clubs in Spain that opted not to let individuals travel to play for South American nations in upcoming qualifiers. A total of 25 players from 13 different teams were due to be involved. 

The organisation also filed a lawsuit against FIFA in the Swiss courts for infraction of competition rules, adding that domestic leagues had already accepted a new window in January 2022 to accommodate matches disrupted by the global pandemic. 

However, CAS denied the interim measures put forward, meaning players would have to be released, and LaLiga responded by asking for two matches – Sevilla v Barcelona and Villarreal v Deportivo Alaves on September 11 – be postponed due to players only arriving back in Spain earlier that day. 

While the RFEF has rejected the request, LaLiga insists it will continue to fight for those postponements, adamant the decision "is not in accordance with the law". 

A statement read: "LaLiga expresses its absolute disagreement with the resolution of the president of the Competition Committee, issued by delegation of the president of the RFEF, to reject the postponement requests submitted by both Villarreal – with respect to the Villarreal v Deportivo Alaves match set for Saturday, September 11 at 18:30 – and Sevilla – for the Sevilla v Barcelona match set for Saturday, September 11 at 21:00 – and by LaLiga, organiser of this competition. 

"The reason for these requests is to be able to maintain the integrity of the competition as a consequence of the extension of the FIFA period in September (CONMEBOL confederation) established by circular 1776 of August 13, setting the end of said period on Thursday, September 9 (early morning on Friday the 10th in Europe, with many players landing in Spain on Saturday morning and having to play games hours later). 

"Finally, these requests have been rejected as it is considered, inexplicably, that based on article 239 of the general regulations of the RFEF, the circumstances raised are not identified as a cause of force majeure, motivated by an unforeseeable circumstance such as the current one that goes beyond of the mere summons of the players in the manner established by the regulations. 

"In this sense, with this resolution of the RFEF (FIFA representative in Spain), the approach made by FIFA itself to oppose the precautionary measure requested by LaLiga before the CAS is being contradicted, indicating that it was easier for LaLiga to postpone these matches than for FIFA to postpone those of the CONMEBOL qualifiers. 

"For all these reasons, LaLiga will challenge the aforementioned resolution considering it is not in accordance with the law." 

Kylian Mbappe will play for Real Madrid "one day or another" according to his France team-mate and Los Blancos striker Karim Benzema.

LaLiga giants Madrid reportedly offered Paris Saint-Germain €200million on deadline day, a whopping sum for a player in the final year of his contract.

It was said PSG failed to respond to that bid – Madrid's third during the window – meaning Mbappe will remain in Ligue 1 to form a mouth-watering attack alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar at the Parc des Princes this term.

However, Mbappe looks certain to agree a pre-contract agreement with Madrid in January, with the superstar forward having his heart set on a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Benzema is excited by the prospect of teaming up at club level with his Les Bleus team-mate, who has scored 135 goals in 175 games for PSG at a rate of one goal every 101.61 minutes.

Speaking to RTL, Benzema said of Mbappe: "He is a player who will play for Real Madrid one day or another.

"We get along really well, I would like him to be with me today in Madrid."

Benzema was speaking in the aftermath of France's 1-1 draw against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday, a World Cup qualifying match that saw Didier Deschamps' side finish with 10 men after Jules Kounde was sent off.

The point keeps France top of Group D on eight points after four games, four clear of Ukraine who have drawn all of their matches in the pool so far.

"We would have liked to win this match here, in France, in front of our audience," Benzema added.

"In the first half we made good moves, in the second half, with the red card, we fell back a little, which is normal when we play [with] one less."

Another record went tumbling on Wednesday as Cristiano Ronaldo became the leading goalscorer in the history of international men's football.

Ronaldo, who completed a remarkable move to Manchester United this week, surpassed the tally of 109 set by Iran great Ali Daei.

The 36-year-old pulled level with Daei during the recent Euro 2020 tournament, but he reached 111 with a dramatic late double during the World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland at Estadio Algarve.

To mark the Portuguese superstar’s latest record, Stats Perform looked back at some of the milestone goals of his incredible career...

 

GOAL 100 – MANCHESTER UNITED 3-1 Tottenham (FA Cup, January 2008)

The first century of goals was completed in somewhat fortuitous circumstances, with a 22-year-old Ronaldo doubling his tally for the match with a deflected effort that squirmed under the body of goalkeeper Radek Cerny.

GOAL 200 – REAL MADRID 2-0 Valencia (LaLiga, December 2010)

Again, Ronaldo was on target twice in this match but it was his first strike – a measured left-footed finish from Mesut Ozil's assist – that took him onto 200 career goals.  

GOAL 300 – Granada 1-2 REAL MADRID (LaLiga, May 2012)

Madrid were behind in this game with only five minutes gone but levelled late on when Ronaldo converted a penalty that he had won. There was still time for title-winning Madrid to seal all three points courtesy of an own goal.

GOAL 400 – REAL MADRID 3-0 Celta Vigo (LaLiga, January 2014)

At the double once more, it was his second goal in injury time that brought up a quadruple century for the irrepressible Ronaldo, who turned home a fine cross from Gareth Bale. 

GOAL 500 – Malmo 0-2 REAL MADRID (Champions League, September 2015)

The first of two goals on an otherwise uneventful night in Sweden was the one that took Ronaldo to a tally of 500. Through one-on-one, the outcome was never in doubt as he confidently chipped the ball over Johan Wiland.

GOAL 600 – REAL MADRID 4-1 Juventus (Champions League, June 2017)

What a stage on which to make history, the Champions League final. Having already opened the scoring, Ronaldo struck again when he turned in Luka Modric's near-post delivery on a glorious night in Wales for Madrid. 

GOAL 700 – Ukraine 2-1 PORTUGAL (Euro 2020 Qualifying, October 2019)

The first of his landmark goals that has failed to help his side to victory, but an astonishing personal achievement nonetheless, Ronaldo slotted home his penalty and probably started thinking about reaching 800 soon after.

Of all the individual achievements in Cristiano Ronaldo's career, this one may well rank the highest. 

The Portugal star is now the leading goalscorer in the history of international men's football, having reached 110 against the Republic of Ireland in World Cup qualifying on Wednesday despite seeing a first-half penalty saved.

Ronaldo surpassed the tally of 109 set by Iran great Ali Daei, a figure once thought unlikely ever to be beaten, in the 89th minute and moved onto 111 with a stoppage-time header in the Algarve to complete his double.

To honour the new Manchester United forward's latest record, Stats Perform picked out perhaps the 10 greatest goals he has scored in his remarkable career... 

 

Manchester United v Portsmouth: January 30, 2008

Perhaps the finest free-kick Ronaldo has struck in his career.

The Portuguese developed his reputation as a set-piece master at United and he lashed a phenomenal 25-yard effort past David James as part of a double to send Alex Ferguson's side to the top of the Premier League.

His knuckleball technique sent the ball swirling into the top-right corner for one of his defining Old Trafford moments.

Porto v Manchester United: April 15, 2009

He had absolutely no right to score this one.

Back in his homeland for a Champions League quarter-final against Porto, Ronaldo picked up the ball in the middle of the opposition half, got it out of his feet and sent a searing strike flying past Helton to seal a 1-0 win at the Estadio do Dragao and a 3-2 aggregate triumph.

 

Almeria v Real Madrid: April 15, 2010

Ronaldo has developed into more of a penalty-box poacher in recent seasons, but this effort against Almeria was a reminder of how devastating he could be when starting with the ball outside the area. 

Rafael van der Vaart won back possession in the Almeria half and the ball was worked to Ronaldo, who accelerated past two challenges, left a third defender for dead with a stepover and then drilled home with his left foot. The visitors would go on to win 2-1.

 

Sevilla v Real Madrid: December 17, 2011

Sevilla grew sick of the sight of Ronaldo during his time in Spain – he did score 27 times against them, after all – but this strike in a 6-2 thrashing is perhaps the best of them.

Collecting Karim Benzema's pass 30 yards out, Ronaldo took advantage of the time and space given to him by the defence to blast a shot into the top-right corner, the swerve on the ball making it totally unstoppable. It was one of three he scored that day at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

 

Real Madrid v Valencia: May 4, 2014

It was not enough to keep Madrid's title chase alive, but this was another goal that showcased Ronaldo's killer instinct and dexterity. 

In second-half injury time, with Valencia 2-1 ahead, Angel Di Maria volleyed over a cross from the left and Ronaldo swivelled to score a backheel volley and snatch a point.

 

Real Madrid v Espanyol: January 31, 2016

Although his game had become more refined from those buccaneering early days, Ronaldo showed here he was not quite done when it came to solo runs and spectacular finishes.

With Madrid already 3-0 up in what would prove to be a 6-0 thrashing, James Rodriguez's pass was deflected into Ronaldo's path and he did the rest, showing brilliant footwork to skip beyond three challenges before rifling home from the edge of the area with his left foot.

 

Hungary v Portugal: June 22, 2016

Portugal thrice fell behind to Hungary in Lyon during Euro 2016, and Ronaldo brought them level on the second occasion with a display of fine skill.

The captain added a deft flick with his trailing leg to Joao Mario's right-wing cross to make it 2-2, and he cancelled out Balazs Dzsudzsak's second with a double of his own. It was enough to send Portugal into the knockout stages and from there they claimed a maiden international title.

 

Juventus v Real Madrid: April 3, 2018

Arguably the finest goal Ronaldo has produced.

Moving away from goal as Dani Carvajal dug a cross towards the penalty spot from the right, the Portuguese rose into the air and connected with a stunning overhead kick. His leg was at a right angle to his body as he struck with the sweetest of volleys that flew past an idle Gianluigi Buffon.

Portugal v Spain: June 15, 2018

Having twice given his side the lead, Ronaldo found Portugal 3-2 down to their Iberian neighbours in their thrilling opener at the 2018 World Cup. 

While there was a sense of inevitability when he stood over an 88th-minute free-kick, the execution was sheer perfection – power and dip combined to leave David de Gea with no chance.

 

Juventus v Manchester United: November 8, 2018

Another decorated Portuguese was celebrating at full-time when Jose Mourinho watched his United team complete a 2-1 comeback win.

But Ronaldo struck first with a sumptuous and technically brilliant strike, watching Leonardo Bonucci's raking ball over his shoulder to volley home.  

The transfer window does not close. It slams shut, and on Tuesday, it slammed shut with a flurry of late activity.

LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid were heavily involved, with Antoine Griezmann re-joining the club on loan from Barcelona while Saul Niguez left for Chelsea.

It marked the end of a difficult window for Barca, who of course lost Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain, who rounded off a stellar three months by not only keeping Kylian Mbappe, but also adding promising left-back Nuno Mendes.

Earlier in the day, Cristiano Ronaldo's sensational return to Manchester United had been confirmed, perhaps putting the Red Devils right in the mix for the Premier League title, while Chelsea - buoyed by Romelu Lukaku's comeback - cannot be ignored.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the winners, and losers, of what has been a chaotic transfer window.

 

THE WINNERS

Paris Saint-Germain

Let's start with the obvious. Achraf Hakimi, Mendes, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georgino Wijnaldum and, of course Messi. Oh, and PSG kept hold of Mbappe, too, rebuffing three bids - the final one reportedly worth €200m - from Real Madrid for the 22-year-old superstar who is out of contract next year. Speaking of out of contract players, Ramos, Donnarumma, Wijnaldum and Messi were all brought in for combined fees of €0, although their wages are sure to be astronomical even by PSG's standards. In Mbappe, Neymar and Messi, PSG have, on paper, what could be the most feared attacking trident of the modern era, not to mention Angel Di Maria in reserve. Mauricio Pochettino's side look suspect defensively but have Ramos to come in, while Donnarumma will compete with Keylor Navas. If they do not win the Champions League this season, will they ever manage it?

Manchester United

It remains to be seen whether United really needed to go out and buy Ronaldo, but the temptation – and reportedly, the requirement to get one over on noisy neighbours Manchester City – was just too much. However, there is no doubting Ronaldo brings a focal point you could argue was still missing from the Red Devils' attack, though with so much quality at his disposal the pressure will be on Ole Gunnar Solskjer to deliver a trophy. United spent big on Jadon Sancho and also brought in a world class defender in Raphael Varane. A title tilt might not be expected just yet, but silverware in some form must be the goal now. After fan protests during the botched Super League proposals earlier this year, the Glazer family seem to have gone all out to prove they want success.

Chelsea

When it comes to Premier League title contenders, Chelsea have surely put themselves well in the running. The European Champions have brought in two major additions in the form of Lukaku and Saul, both players with a wealth of experience at the highest level, and both on the back of title-winning campaigns last season. The Blues did sell Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud and Kurt Zouma, among others, but the strength in depth Thomas Tuchel has to play with is remarkable. A deadline day move for Sevilla's Jules Kounde did not materialise, but Saul adds another fantastic option in midfield to go alongside N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and the in-form Jorginho.

Tottenham

For a long while, it looked as though Tottenham would be one of the big losers from this window. A prolonged managerial search eventually resulted in Nuno Espirito Santo's appointment, but the main saga was over Harry Kane's future. City reportedly made one bid, during Euro 2020, which was dismissed out of hand. The champions never did return with an improved offer, despite huge speculation, and Kane ultimately stayed put. Older players such as Joe Hart, Toby Alderweireld, Erik Lamela and Moussa Sissoko were moved out, while Bryan Gil, Pierluigi Gollini, Cristian Romero and Emerson Royal – a deadline day arrival from Barca – arrived to fill the gaps. Serge Aurier's contract was terminated, while three wins from three means Spurs sat top of the league heading into the international break.

Atletico Madrid

While Saul was a deadline day exit, Atleti have given themselves a great chance of retaining their LaLiga title. With rivals Madrid failing to land Mbappe, as well as losing two of their stalwarts, and Barca seemingly in disarray, there has never been a better opportunity for Diego Simeone's team to really assert themselves as top dogs in Spain. Griezmann's arrival, on a season-long loan with the option for either club to extend the switch, has bolstered a fearsome attack that already included Luis Suarez, Angel Correa, new signing Matheus Cunha and Joao Felix - though the latter may now find chances to play in his preferred position, nominally off the front man, even harder to come by. Saul was struggling to nail down a regular spot in the first team, but Atleti showed greater desire to keep Kieran Trippier, who stayed despite interest from the Premier League. Rodrigo de Paul also arrived from Udinese.

 

THE LOSERS

Barcelona

The chickens have finally come home to roost at Camp Nou. Years of mismanagement, and the impact of COVID-19, has left the club's finances in a shambolic state. Barca had agreed to a new deal with Messi only to then announce the deal could not be completed due to "financial and structural obstacles". Barca ended the window by selling promising youngster Ilaix Moriba to RB Leipzig and shipping off Emerson to Spurs. Then, late on Tuesday, Griezmann, who cost Barca €120m in 2019, was sent back to Atleti. Luuk de Jong, a target man Ronald Koeman worked with during his stint as the Netherlands' coach, was drafted in from Sevilla as a replacement. Memphis Depay seems ready to step up after his arrival from Lyon, while Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero also came in on free transfers, though Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets were among the players who took pay cuts in order for Barca to register their latest acquisitions.

Inter

Serie A champions Inter were dealt a blow when, just after ending their 11-year trophy drought, coach Antonio Conte left the club. Financial difficulties meant the Nerrazurri had to cash in on prized assets, and Hakimi and subsequently Lukaku followed Conte out of the door. Lautaro Martinez did stay, however, with Inter reinvesting some of the funds to sign Netherlands right-back Denzel Dumfries, Roma striker Edin Dzeko and Lazio forward Juan Correa. Hakan Calhanoglu, meanwhile, joined from rivals Milan on loan, though it is difficult to see that being enough for Inter to challenge on all fronts this season.

 

Juventus

While Inter were weakened, it has to be said that Juventus – surely their closest rivals in the Scudetto hunt – also had a disappointing window. Like many European clubs, they have been hit hard by COVID-19, though appeared well set to challenge again after reappointing Massimiliano Allegri. However, Ronaldo decided he wanted out late in the window, and Juve did not stand in his way. An initial fee of £12.86m (€15m), payable over five years, was agreed with United, and Ronaldo left just like that. Moise Kean returned from Everton on a two-year loan with an obligation to buy as a replacement, while Manuel Locatelli was their other major acquisition and Weston McKennie's move from Schalke was made permanent. Based on the performance in Sunday's defeat to Empoli, however, Juve are far from the force they were during Allegri's last spell in charge.

Real Madrid

For a time last week, it really did look as though Madrid were going to end the window in sensational fashion. Three bids were lodged for Mbappe, but PSG did not buckle. Madrid did move for another French youngster – Edouardo Camavinga, who joined from Rennes on Tuesday – but overall it must be considered a poor window. Los Blancos allowed Ramos to leave on a free and sold long-time defensive partner Varane - just the eight Champions League winners' medals between them. Martin Odegaard was deemed surplus to requirements by Carlo Ancelotti and sold to Arsenal, though no buyers were found for fringe players Luka Jovic or Dani Ceballos. David Alaba's arrival on a free transfer from Bayern Munich at least softened the blow of Ramos' departure, and Mbappe may well be on board in 2022.

Manchester City

City broke the British transfer record to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, who in turn have made smart acquisitions such as Danny Ings, Leon Bailey and Emiliano Buendia. While another attacking midfielder was more of a luxury than a necessity, City did miss out on Kane and then seemingly saw Ronaldo snatched from under their noses by United, though the club have claimed it is they who pulled out of the deal. Pep Guardiola went into the window wanting an out-and-out number nine following Aguero's departure, but for now the Premier League champions will have to carry on with makeshift forwards, it seems. Not that it did them much harm in 5-0 routs of Norwich City and Arsenal last month. Meanwhile, wantaway playmaker Bernardo Silva is still at the club, though he will remain a first-team regular.

Liverpool 

Unlike their league rivals, Liverpool never seemed focused on spending big. The Reds instead turned their attention to tying down the futures of key players, with Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson, Fabinho and Andrew Robertson signing new deals. Ibrahima Konate came in from RB Leipzig to boost the defence – a clear area of weakness last season during an injury crisis – though Jurgen Klopp's squad does seem weaker. They have started the season well, but it remains to be seen how they cope without Wijnaldum and even Xherdan Shaqiri should injuries trouble them again.

The transfer window officially closed on Tuesday, meaning clubs across Europe must now make do with the players available to them until at least January.

It has been an eventful few months, with Lionel Messi ending his 21-year association with Barcelona by joining Paris Saint-Germain and Cristiano Ronaldo sealing an emotional return to Manchester United from Juventus.

The drama continued to unfold right through until the final stages of the window as Antoine Griezmann rejoined Atletico Madrid on an initial loan and Chelsea snapped up Saul Niguez from the Spanish champions, while Real Madrid brought in rising star Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes.

With Kylian Mbappe staying at PSG and Harry Kane still a Tottenham player, Jack Grealish's £100million switch to Manchester City from Aston Villa was the biggest deal in monetary terms, followed by Romelu Lukaku's £97.5m (€115m) move to Chelsea from Inter.

Stats Perform takes a look at the best deals that went through.

Hakan Calhanoglu: Inter to Milan (free transfer)

After failing to agree new terms at Milan, Calhanoglu completed a shock move across the city to rivals Inter, signing a three-year deal.

While not necessarily the most popular transfer, getting a player who created 98 chances last season – the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues – for free is quite something.

The Turkey international got a goal and an assist on his debut in the 4-0 win over Genoa, prompting coach Simone Inzaghi to proclaim the player "doesn't realise how good he is".

Manuel Locatelli: Sassuolo to Juventus (loan with €25m obligation)

One of Italy's most prized young assets, Locatelli secured a move to Juventus on a two-year loan that includes an obligation to buy for an initial €25m.

Among midfielders in Serie A last season, the 23-year-old made the most touches (3,304), passes (2,749) and tackles (81). He then impressed as Italy won Euro 2020, scoring twice in the group-stage win over Switzerland.

For a club looking to strengthen while saving money, this could prove a shrewd deal for Juve.

 

Danny Ings: Southampton to Aston Villa (£25m)

Villa appear to have invested the money they received for Grealish in shrewd fashion, signing Leon Bailey, Emiliano Buendia and striker Ings.

While the Ings deal materialised very quickly in early August, he certainly did not seem to need much time to adjust to new surroundings, scoring twice in his first three league games this season.

With 34 goals across his final two league campaigns with Southampton, there is reason to think the 29-year-old could be one of the smartest signings of the window.

Lionel Messi: Free agent to Paris Saint-Germain

The most spectacular free transfer of all time came after Barcelona had agree a new contract with Messi only to be forced to admit they could not let him sign it due to financial restrictions.

A tearful Messi bade farewell to his boyhood club before securing a move to PSG, who now boast a frankly terrifying forward line of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe.

Describing it as a 'free' transfer is somewhat misleading given the various costs involved in the different aspects of the deal, but for PSG to sign arguably the greatest player in history without paying a transfer fee is pretty amazing business.

 

Romelu Lukaku: Inter to Chelsea (£97.5m)

Chelsea smashed their transfer record to bring back Lukaku, whose last action in his first spell at the club was to miss a penalty in the UEFA Super Cup shoot-out loss to Bayern Munich in 2013.

Lukaku plundered 24 goals and 11 assists in 2020-21 to fire Inter to the title and claim Serie A's MVP award, after which he pushed for a return to Stamford Bridge, where he felt he had unfinished business.

It might have been a serious financial outlay, but Lukaku showed in the 2-0 win at Arsenal what a difference he could make to a Chelsea side who are extremely tough to beat but not exactly free-scoring.

Eduardo Camavinga: Rennes to Real Madrid (€30m)

Madrid may have missed out on top target Mbappe, but they managed to get a deal over the line for fellow Frenchman Camavinga, bringing an end to 18 months of speculation surrounding the young midfielder.

It is the first time Madrid have spent money on a transfer fee since 2019, when they signed Eden Hazard from Chelsea for €100m, and in Camavinga they are signing a player for the here and now rather than the future.

Since making his debut for Rennes in April 2019, no player in Ligue 1 has attempted (230) or won more tackles (139) than the three-cap France international, who will now provide competition for Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Federico Valverde.

 

Saul Niguez: Atletico Madrid to Chelsea (loan with option to buy for £30m)

After being regularly linked with the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool in recent years, Saul will finally get a chance to play in the Premier League with Chelsea this season.

A box-to-box midfielder, the Spain international is at his best operating in a central role, though his versatility and workrate have often seen him deployed out wide by Atletico coach Diego Simeone.

He made just 22 league starts last season, his lowest figure since 2014-15. However, since August 2019, Real Madrid's Casemiro (190) is the only midfielder to have attempted more tackles than Saul (159) in LaLiga.

Antoine Griezmann: Barcelona to Atletico Madrid (loan deal with an obligation to buy)

Two years after leaving Atletico in a big-money transfer, Griezmann has returned to the Spanish capital to boost an attack that already includes Luis Suarez, Joao Felix, Angel Correa and fellow new recruit Matheus Cunha.

Griezmann's Camp Nou career never truly took off and he failed to score or create a single opportunity across Barca's first three league games this season.

But Simeone will be confident he can get the Frenchman, who scored 94 LaLiga goals in 180 appearances in his first stint at the club, operating at somewhere close to his former glory.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo: Juventus to Manchester United (£12.9m rising to £19.7m)

Twelve years after departing Old Trafford, Ronaldo is once again a Manchester United player after completing a surprise return to the club where he won the first of his five Ballons d'Or.

Ronaldo scored 118 goals in 292 appearances under Alex Ferguson in his first spell, 42 of those goals coming in the 2007-08 season alone, and he remains a prolific forward despite his all-round game changing with time.

The Portugal captain scored 29 league goals in his third and final season with Juventus to win the Capocannoniere, making him the first player to finish as top scorer in Serie A, LaLiga and the Premier League.

Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez were the big names to move late on deadline day, with Atletico Madrid having a busy night.

Griezmann's move to his former club completed a day of outgoings for Barcelona, who sold Emerson Royal and Ilaix Moriba, as well as loaning out Ray Minaj.

Ronald Koeman's Barca did get one player in, however, who will seemingly replace Griezmann in attack.

Barca's LaLiga rivals Real Madrid did not manage to get a mega deal for Kylian Mbappe over the line, despite a reported bid of €200m having been lodged on Tuesday, though Los Blancos did sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga.

Cristiano Ronaldo's move back to Manchester United was confirmed early on, but there was plenty of late action in England, too.

 

Another returning king as Chelsea call on Saul

Romelu Lukaku back to Chelsea. Ronaldo back to United. Now, Griezmann has made a return to one of his former clubs, with the 30-year-old re-joining LaLiga champions Atleti on a season-long loan.

There is an option to make the deal permanent for €40million – just the €80million less than Barca paid for the France forward in 2019.

Replacing Griezmann at Barca is Luuk de Jong, with Koeman turning to his compatriot from Sevilla. Messi to De Jong... not quite the end to the window Barca fans would have had in mind.

Saul, meanwhile, is leaving LaLiga. He has joined Chelsea on a loan deal from Atleti, with an option to buy for a reported £30m.

 

No Madrid move for Mbappe... yet

A third Madrid bid for Mbappe was reportedly lodged, and ignored, on Tuesday, as Florentino Perez's obsessive hunt of the Paris Saint-Germain star proved fruitless.

However, Mbappe is out of contract next year, so he may well be a Galactico soon enough.

One player who will be playing in the famous all-white strip this season is teenage midfielder Camavinga, who has joined from Rennes.

As well as keeping Mbappe, PSG added to their squad, completing a stellar transfer window by signing Sporting CP left-back Nuno Mendes to fill what has proved a problem position. Pablo Sarabia went the other way.

In Italy, Milan marked a quiet end to the window overall by confirming the signings of Yacine Adli and Messias Junior.

Inter already had their business done, while Juventus confirmed Moise Kean's return on Tuesday morning. The Bianconeri also signed Mohamed Ihattaren, who was then loaned to Sampdoria.

Ronaldo headlines Premier League moves

The early confirmation of Ronaldo's move back to United being complete was the biggest story of the day in England's top flight. It also paved the way for the Red Devils to sell Daniel James, who moved to Leeds United.

Arsenal blocked Everton's attempts to sign Ainsley Maitland-Niles, though Hector Bellerin did leave the Gunners to head to Real Betis on loan. Mikel Arteta's Gunners completed their record-breaking transfer window (in terms of overall spend) with the acquisition of Japan defender Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna. Earlier in the day, Arsenal loaned out Reiss Nelson and Alex Runarsson.

Their north London rivals Tottenham completed the signing of Emerson from Barca, with Serge Aurier's time at Spurs subsequently being brought to an end by the mutual termination of his contract.

Everton's hunt for a right-back was to no avail. The Toffees did bring in Salomon Rondon on a free transfer, handing the forward a two-year deal with an option for a third. James Rodriguez was involved in a mooted part-exchange deal with Porto for Luis Diaz, but the Colombian star is staying put.

Manchester City rounded off their dealings by sending out seven players on loan. Among them was Patrick Roberts, who was one of three players to join Ligue 1 club Troyes.

Wolves were unable to complete deals for Kieffer Moore or Boubacar Kamara. A late offer from Spurs for Adama Traore was reportedly rejected.

Czech Republic midfielder Alex Kral joined West Ham on loan from Spartak Moscow. He was the Hammers' second signing of the day, with Croatia playmaker Nikola Vlasic having arrived early on.

There were two outgoings at Celtic. Scotland international Ryan Christie signed for Bournemouth, while Crystal Palace bought striker Odsonne Edouard for a reported £15m. The Hoops replaced him with Greece forward Giorgos Giakoumakis.

Barcelona let three players leave on a busy final day of the transfer window, while Saul Niguez looks set to join Chelsea in a late deal.

Emerson Royal, Ilaix Moriba and Rey Manaj were allowed to leave Camp Nou on Tuesday.

Leicester City were also busy with one in and one out, while a young Frenchman (no, not that one) has joined Real Madrid.

Here is a round-up of some of the deadline-day deals, and what could be coming in the closing hours...
 

A new Royal rocks up in London

Talks had been ongoing over the past few days between Tottenham and Barca for full-back Emerson, who only arrived at Camp Nou earlier in the window after impressing at Real Betis.

The right-back has joined Spurs for a £21.5million (€25m) fee, with his arrival likely to push Serge Aurier closer to the exit door.

Could Aurier end up at a Premier League rival? Everton appear to be in need of a right-back with Ainsley Maitland-Niles set to stay at Arsenal.

Back at Barca, they have sold midfielder Ilaix Moriba to Bundesliga club RB Leipzig, who have paid €16m plus €6m in add-ons for the teenager. Manaj, meanwhile, has joined Italian side Spezia on loan.

Paris Saint-Germain have been at the centre of one of the biggest stories over recent days, but it looks like Kylian Mbappe will be staying put.

Indeed, the France star seems set to have a new team-mate in the capital, with Sporting CP full-back Nuno Mendes said to be nearing a €40m move. Pablo Sarabia may head the other way.

While they may have missed out on Mbappe, Madrid did complete a deal for another France international in Eduardo Camavinga, who has signed a six-year contract following a transfer from Rennes.

Better call Saul?

Chelsea have been chasing Sevilla defender Jules Kounde but the European champions have instead lined up another LaLiga player to boost their squad, with Atletico Madrid's Saul reportedly set to arrive on loan.

One outgoing at Chelsea was Ethan Ampadu, with the youngster signing a new contract before heading out on loan to newly promoted Serie A side Venezia.

Another Premier League club busy as the deadline approached were Leicester, drafting in Ademola Lookman on loan from Leipzig. The winger impressed with Fulham last term. Dennis Praet, meanwhile, has left to return to Serie A, joining Torino on loan for the season.

After the Cristiano Ronaldo deal was confirmed by Manchester United, the Red Devils decreased the logjam for starting spots in the forward line by allowing Dan James to depart for Leeds United - the club he so nearly joined previously, only for the deal to fall through.

Liverpool have been more focused on tying down current members of their squad than bringing in new faces; they have handed young defender Rhys Williams a new deal, with the centre-back then joining Swansea City on loan. Nathaniel Phillips has also extended his contract, though looks set to stay at Anfield for now.

Burnley have signed full-back Connor Roberts from the Swans, while Everton are expected to complete the signing of Salomon Rondon as a replacement for Moise Kean, whose move to Juventus was confirmed earlier in the day.

Arsenal have supposedly agreed a deal with Bologna for defender Takehiro Tomiyasu. The move would seemingly offset the loss of Hector Bellerin, who is said to be close to switching to Real Betis. Reiss Nelson has already left the Gunners, heading out to Feyenoord on loan. 

The transfer windows in Italy and Germany have already shut, meaning Juve, Inter, Milan, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have all concluded their business.

Real Madrid have announced the signing of midfielder Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes.

The 18-year-old France international agreed a six-year contract with Los Blancos in a deal that could cost up to €45million, according to reports.

It is the first time Madrid have spent money on a transfer fee since 2019, when they signed Eden Hazard from Chelsea for €100m.

Camavinga had been linked with a host of major European clubs, including Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain, but Madrid elected to make a late push to sign him before the transfer deadline after it became clear that landing Kylian Mbappe from PSG would be impractical.

The teenager, who made 71 Ligue appearances for Rennes and 88 in total, is Madrid's second signing of this window following the free transfer of David Alaba from Bayern Munich.

At 18 years and nine months old, he is the youngest outfield player to feature in that many games in France's top flight since Basile Boli in 1985.

In making his senior France debut on September 8 last year, Camavinga was the youngest player to do so since Maurice Gastiger against Luxembourg 107 years ago.

Only Gastiger (17 years and five months) scored for Les Bleus at a younger age than Camavinga, who was 17 years and 11 months old when he netted against Switzerland last October.

In 2019-20, Camavinga's breakthrough season at Rennes, he attempted 105 tackles in top-flight football. Among midfielders in Europe's top five leagues, only Declan Rice (116) and Wilfred Ndidi (129) attempted more. 

 

Camavinga will provide competition in midfield for Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Federico Valverde at Madrid.

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