The coronavirus pandemic made the summer transfer market unlike any before it, but there were still plenty of deals done, and you can check out the major ones here. The window might be closed across the top leagues in Europe, but here are the best rumours from around the globe.
TOP STORY: Barcelona eyeing Neymar as Messi replacement
The 33-year-old looked exhausted during La Albiceleste's 1-1 draw with Paraguay on Thursday, and Sport has suggested that one solution to revitalise the Barca squad might be to sign former winger Neymar, who has often been linked with a return to Camp Nou since joining Paris Saint-Germain for €222 million in 2017.
One factor that is set to help this potential move come to fruition is Barca's looming presidential elections. The club will elect a new president on Jan. 24, 88 days after Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned from the role after falling out with Messi, sources have told ESPN.
Mundo Deportivo reports that Manchester City are still keen on Messi and could persuade him to join with a spell at sister-club New York City FC in MLS.
Meanwhile Neymar is keen to return to Catalonia, though sources said that PSG have opened talks with the Brazilian over extending his contract, which expires in 2022. The fact that Barcelona have massive debt, and must pay Messi a €33m bonus when he leaves, means that money will be tight but if there is one player who can turn things around at Camp Nou then it's probably Neymar.
17.00 GMT: Liverpool need a centre-back and there's one option that's better than the rest.
15.54 GMT: Soccer transfers are a murky business. Gab Marcotti asks if FIFA can clean it up?
Agents in football are nothing like Jerry Maguire. It's not that they don't develop heartfelt bonds with their representatives: Mino Raiola, who represents Paul Pogba, Erling Haaland and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, famously has no written contracts tying him to his clients but relies on handshakes instead. No, the difference is that in Maguire's world -- and in most U.S. sports -- agents are paid by players for representing them in contract negotiations, whether with sponsors or clubs. In football, they still represent players in contract negotiations with teams, but agents typically get paid by the teams, not the players they're representing.
Moreover, for many agents, a big chunk of the business comes during the transfer window when they act directly for clubs as intermediaries.
In most football leagues outside MLS, players under contract aren't traded and because they have guaranteed deals, they can't be released. So their contracts are bought and sold for cash, which means there's plenty of business to be had representing either a club looking to sell a player or a club looking to acquire a player. You can get paid for that, too.
If it's a player you represent, you get paid twice. And though this is rare, you can hit the trifecta and get paid by all parties involved: buyer, seller and the player.
Such a system is evidently rife with potential for conflicts of interest and malfeasance. But last week, FIFA unveiled a raft of new regulations aimed at limiting such practices while increasing transparency, mandating licensing and putting a cap on the commissions an agent can earn for an individual transfer. It appears certain they will be approved next spring and come into effect in September 2021.
Bordas spent a decade at Camp Nou from 2010, first under Sandro Rosell as president and then Josep Maria Bartomeu.
A move for Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland was rejected "because they told me he wasn't a Barcelona style player," while a deal was in place to sign striker Alvaro Morata before he moved to Atletico Madrid from Chelsea. "It was a loan with a purchase option, but we did not get to formalise anything because Atletico found out and given the relationship Juanma Lopez [his agent] and Morata had with Atletico, they took him away," Bordas said.
The biggest miss, however, was failing to sign France forward Kylian Mbappe for €100m in 2017; instead choosing to spend €105m on Borussia Dortmund winger Ousmane Dembele, who has struggled with injury.
"When we were to sign Dembele, agent Josep Maria Minguella called me to tell us Mbappe was within reach," Bordas added. "I spoke with Josep Maria Bartomeu and he told me to look at him.
"I called Mbappe's father and he told me that we was not going to go to Real Madrid because Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale were there and that instead he could go to Barca because Neymar had left.
"The president of Monaco preferred that he signed for Barcelona so as not to reinforced PSG, a direct rival. And it could have been done for €100m. [Technical secretary] Robert [Fernandez] preferred Dembele and Pep Segura supported him. The explanation was that Mbappe plays for himself and Dembele plays for the team, and since a winger like Ney had left, Robert preferred a winger more than a finisher."
Mbappe moved to PSG from Monaco on loan, then for €180m the following summer and has become one of the best young players in the world.
13.48 GMT: Those in charge of football have angered one FC TV pundit.
In the summer, City turned down a final offer worth €10m up front with an additional €8m in add-ons for Garcia. They wanted a total package worth €20m, sources told ESPN's Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens. Barca will make a renewed attempt to sign the 19-year-old, although their incoming president will have to give the green light to any potential deal.
With Samuel Umtiti set to leave Camp Nou, Barca have now added Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger and Liverpool's Joel Matip to their shortlist in order to provide competition for Clement Lenglet, Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo.
Rudiger almost left Chelsea this summer after dropping down the pecking order, but Liverpool surely wouldn't let Matip go in the midst of a defensive crisis that has robbed them of three centre-backs.
12.15 GMT: Derby County captain Wayne Rooney said he will help "stabilise the club" after the Rams sacked Phillip Cocu as manager due to a disappointing start to the season.
The club did not name an interim manager but Rooney said he would be continue to be involved with the coaching staff for next weekend's game at high-flying Bristol City.
"The most important thing now is to stabilise the club and start moving up the table. I've been asked to be part of the coaching staff for next Saturday's match. The coaches and I will speak with the players on Monday," Rooney told reporters.
Former England striker Rooney, 35, has been player-coach at Derby since arriving in January. He will be supported by Shay Given, Liam Rosenior and Justin Walker until a permanent manager is appointed at the Midlands outfit.
11.37 GMT: The Daily Telegraph reports that Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is "moving closer" to signing a contract extension.
Guardiola's deal runs out at the end of the season and the 49-year-old has been linked with a return to Barcelona, though he told Sky Sports recently: "My period as Barcelona manager is over. I think once in a lifetime you have to do things. There are incredible people who can be in charge there, now for example Ronald Koeman. It's over, I will come back to my city to see my club, to watch the game, it's done."
Guardiola has won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and three League Cups since joining City in 2016 and is expected to sign a new contract soon.
10.45 GMT: This is what happens when a professional footballer becomes a YouTube cycling sensation.
Fernandes, 21, joined Spurs on an 18-month loan with an option to buy in January 2019 but the midfielder has made only 13 appearances so far without playing in the Premier League at all.
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho told SportTV: "For me it is never a problem, but a solution. Having him in the squad, even if he is not called up and not playing, is an extremely comfortable situation.
"I will never be the one to push him or say that I don't want him here. But I understand the situation of the kid and Benfica.
"If the club wants to end the relationship here, we will be here to collaborate, because we want the good of the player. Benfica has the power to decide and will be accepted by us."
The highly rated 21-year-old has impressed for Braga in Portugal, emerging as a target for a number of clubs in England and across Europe. Roma and Fiorentina were among the clubs to express an interest in Carmo during the summer.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains keen to add a left-sided centre-back to his squad and Carmo, part of the Portugal Under-19 team that won the European Championship in 2018, is among the options.
However, any move for a defender is likely to be based on at least one centre-back leaving Old Trafford. United are open to offers for both Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo after the pair were left out of this season's Champions League squad.
PAPER TALK (by Danny Lewis)
Man City want Grealish and Luiz
It is reported that City might be willing to pay £100m for the England international next summer in an effort to force Villa's hand.
They also are looking to bring back Douglas Luiz, whom they sold to Villa in 2019 for £15m, with a buy-back clause of £25m included.
Dean Smith's side has had a great start to the campaign, and it says a lot that City are looking to sign two of their main men.
Roma and Inter want Izzo
The centre-back has only played once this term, but that is not reported to have put the two Italian powerhouses off signing him.
Torino demanded €20m to €25m for the 28-year-old in the previous window, which is something they won't be compromising on this time around, either.
- Valencia lost Ferran Torres to Manchester City in the summer, and they might be set to sell another of their exciting talents. According to AS, 19-year-old South Korea forward Kang-in Lee is refusing to sign a contract extension with the club, meaning he could be put on the transfer list in the winter window.
- For a long time, both Arkadiusz Milik and Federico Bernardeschi, of Napoli and Juventus respectively, have been heavily linked with moves away from their clubs. Well, Stadio Sport has suggested that the two Serie A sides might have found the perfect solution by organising a swap deal. The two players are in desperate need of some new scenery, so this move could work out for everyone.