So it's finally over, the transfer window is closed and the teams can now get on with playing football. It has been a quiet summer though, with only the big clubs spending any money. Fees are down, contracts are notably for shorter terms and there are many loan deals to avoid long term and expensive commitments. Several players have been unable to find a team and are left without squad numbers, and for the first time some clubs are talking about firing players who turned down offers to leave. A sign of the times, we fear.
At least the window system means that things don't drag on too long, and clubs have to reach an agreement or end up without players they want. The big news of the week was of course the final chapter in the Real Madrid saga, with Makelele having his late demand for 15% of the transfer fee turned down but deciding to go to Chelsea anyway, and the league champions failing to get the defender they desperately need. It looked like they could snap up Ayala when Valencia asked them to help them sign Eto'o in return (Madrid own 50% of his rights), but Valencia's president was not keen and terms couldn't be agreed. Tune-in in January when the new series starts. (02.09.03)