The new season is finally upon us after football took its annual three-month leave, and there are a number of teams that have used the close season to their advantage. Over the past few months, we have been starved of top-level action from the beautiful game. However, there have been a number of competitions that have done their absolute best to keep us entertained.
Earlier in the summer, it was the Under 21 European Championships that emanated from Georgia and Romania, and it was England who came out on top. They managed to defeat Spain in an action-packed finale in Tbilisi to seal the crown for the first time in 39 years.
In recent weeks, attention has turned to the Land Down Under. Back on July 20th, the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicked off as hosts Australia picked up a narrow 1-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland without injured superstar Sam Kerr. In the weeks since, the Matilda’s have reached the quarterfinals, as have favorites England. Reigning back-to-back champions, the United States were sent packing though following a shock round of sixteen defeat at the hands of Sweden.
The women have done their absolute best to keep eyes on the beautiful game and they will continue to do so until the Sydney showpiece on August 20th. But while they have been shining brightly, European clubs have been going about their business in the transfer market. And here are two teams that have shone brighter than others, stealing the show during the summer transfer window.
The door is firmly ajar for a changing of the guard in the realm of French football. That’s because the reigning and record 11-time champions Paris Saint-Germain are in disarray. Last seen they labored to the title amidst a plethora of unrest in the dressing room, boardroom, and in the stands.
Since they narrowly held off lowly Lens, eventually triumphing by just two points, plenty has changed at the Parc Des Princes. Lionel Messi has left, as has manager Christophe Galtier. Meanwhile, their two remaining superstars, namely Kylian Mbappé and Neymar, have both announced their intentions - the former leaving next summer on a free transfer and the latter hopefully leaving in the coming weeks.
That has opened the door for a new champion to rise, and ten-time champions Marseille are doing their utmost to stake their claim for the crown. Les Phocéens are without a French championship since 2010 however, they have quietly been building a star-studded squad. Prior to this summer, they already had the likes of Mattéo Guendouzi, Azzedine Ounahi, Jordan Veretout, Cengiz Ünder, and Pau López in their ranks, but this summer, they have taken it up a notch.
They have brought in talented Senegalese duo Ismaïla Sarr from Watford and Sheffield United sensation Iliman Ndiaye, the latter of which led the Blades to promotion to the Premier League last season. They have raided Atletico Madrid for attacking wingback Renan Lodi and central midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia as well as bringing in Ruslan Malinovskyi, who has been the star of the show for Atalanta for a number of years now. Add to that the free transfer of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Chelsea, and Marseille could well be headed for a first Ligue 1 title in over a decade.
For six years between 2016 and 2022, Bunrley established themselves as a Premier League team under long-time manager Sean Dyche. However, they did so by playing football based on grit and determination rather than technical brilliance. But once everyone's favorite Stone-Cold Steve Austin lookalike was relieved of his managerial duties in the spring of 2022, the Clarets were promptly relegated from the English topflight.
Last summer the Lancastrians’ embarked upon their first campaign in the Championship since 2015, and they did so with a new outlook. They brought former Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany to the club as its new manager, and he brought with him a much different philosophy than the Turf Moor faithful were used to. To put it bluntly, it was less WWE and more Pep Guardiola-inspired Tiki Taka, and the results spoke for themselves.
Burnley romped to promotion last season, racking up a whopping 101 points and becoming statistically the best team in the history of the second tier. The squad contained technically gifted players such as Anass Zaroury and Josh Cullen, and Kompany has managed to snap up more players of a similar ilk this summer. He has brought in talented Norwegian midfielder Sander Berge from fellow promotes Sheffield United, and the former Genk man is the latest in a long list of impressive signings.
Zeki Amdouni netted 22 goals in all competitions for FC Basel last season, alongside five goals in five games for the Swiss national team, and he will be leading the line. Centre-Back Jordan Beyer impressed on loan from Bayern Munich last season and his temporary deal has been made permanent, as had Michael Obafemi's deal from Swansea City. Add to that the signing of Manchester City's young goalkeeper James Trafford and experienced wingers Nathan Redmond and Jacob Bruun Larsen, and the Clarets could be set for an impressive campaign over the coming nine months.