Dusting off the cobwebs

This summer transfer window will see clubs financially struggle to get their signings done

ROB PALMER, COMMENTATOR, ESPN

As I cleared out the summer wardrobe this week, I stumbled upon a couple of shirts I'd completely forgotten about. Now I know what it's like to be a sporting director at a leading football club.

The shirts cost a fortune when I bought them. Do I try to get some extra wear out of them, throw them away, or find a new owner who may appreciate the cast-offs? This is a dilemma facing the decision makers at the top teams.

When Barcelona return for the new season they'll have to find training kit for players they thought they'd seen the last of. Pjanić is back from Beşiktaş making noises about seeing out his generous contract for the next two years. Trincão returns from a gap year in Wolverhampton, unsure about his future.

Technically, Antoine Griezmann is still a Barcelona player but tied into a loan-deal with Atlético Madrid, unless another club decides to take the financial gamble.

The Catalans have been linked with a host of players. Kessié and Christensen have departed AC Milan and Chelsea but can't be registered yet.

There's still no news on the future of Dembélé, who has just a few days remaining on his contract. So, anything you read about Barça signings is just speculation until outgoing deals are done.

Griezmann returning to Atlético may have a bearing on what happens to Morata. His loan to Juventus has concluded so he returns to his parent club. For now, at least.

It's back to Atleti for Saúl Ñíguez who made no impact on loan to Chelsea and so he's marked "return to sender".

Manchester United will be getting Martial back following a short stay in Sevilla. He did nothing to persuade them to make his move permanent. Incoming will be Luuk de Jong who was initially a laughing stock at Barcelona but departed as a folk hero.

Over at the Bernabéu, they've cleared out the attic; Bale, Marcelo and Benalmádena local Isco are now history. Asensio and Jovic feel unwanted, but must prepare to report for training if they can't find any suitors.

Real Madrid also have their share of players returning from loans. Space must be found for Borja Mayoral, Malaga-born Brahim Díaz, Odriozola and Take Kubo - all are young players whose futures appear uncertain.

At least the champions have been able to confirm the signatures of Antonio Rüdiger and Aurélien Tchouaméni. The German is a wise free signing, and the young Frenchman is an ambitious €80-million investment.

Stories about Barça signing Lewandowski, Koundé, Raphinha, and even Bernardo Silva are pure fiction unless there is some serious wheeling-and-dealing at the Camp Nou. Financial fair play precludes them from registering any players until they have a clear-out.

It's like my shirts. They may have been a good idea at the time or an impulse buy. Yet they proved to be an ill-fit or just surplus as I stuck to my old favourites but I won't be buying any more until I clear out my wardrobe.