BERLIN (AP) — German soccer clubs resisted last-minute splurges on players with Leipzig’s signing of highly rated teenager Ilaix Moriba from Barcelona the most eye-catching move on the last day of the summer transfer window.
Leipzig said Tuesday that the 18-year-old Moriba, who came though Barcelona’s youth academy and made 18 appearances for the senior team last season, was given a five-year deal.
Barcelona said Leipzig was paying 16 million euros ($19 million) for the central midfielder, with another 6 million ($7 million) possible in variables, and that it will receive 10% of any future transfer fee. The Spanish club’s financial difficulties have been well documented over a summer in which it allowed star player Lionel Messi leave on a free transfer for Paris Saint-Germain.
Moriba’s first Spanish league goal was set up by Messi in Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Osasuna on March 6, and the players could face each other as opponents when Leipzig plays PSG in the Champions League group stage on Oct. 18 and Nov. 3.
“Signing Ilaix brings this transfer window to a successful close for us, one in which we made several strategic changes,” Leipzig sports director Florian Scholz said.
Leipzig, which finished second in the Bundesliga last season, lost coach Julian Nagelsmann, star defender Dayot Upamecano and captain Marcel Sabitzer to nine-time defending league champion Bayern Munich over the summer, but it signed Portugal forward André Silva from Eintracht Frankfurt for 23 million euros ($27 million) and made a number of other signings. American coach Jesse Marsch joined from sister club Red Bull Salzburg.
Bundesliga clubs have been suffering from decreased revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic. Few fans were allowed at any games last season, and though they are allowed in limited numbers this season, restrictions have remained in place since league games were first postponed in March 2020. Those games were eventually played without fans present.
Bayern’s signing of Upamecano from Leipzig for 42.5 million euros ($50 million) remained the biggest deal of the summer transfer period, though it was already announced in February. Bayern agreed to pay the French defender’s buyout clause.
The Bavarian powerhouse added Sabitzer on Monday for 15 million euros ($17.5 million) but otherwise it was a quiet summer at the club, which saw a host of players leave including David Alaba (Real Madrid), Alexander Nübel (Monaco on loan), Javi Martínez (Qatar SC), and Jérôme Boateng, who was still looking for a new club late Tuesday.
Borussia Dortmund, which saw Jadon Sancho move to Manchester United over the summer, boosted its defensive options Tuesday by signing Marin Pongračić on loan from Wolfsburg. Dortmund previously signed goalkeeper Gregor Kobel from Stuttgart and its biggest incoming transfer was Dutch forward Donyell Malen from PSV Eindhoven for 30 million euros ($35.5 million).
Wolfsburg, another Champions League participant this season, was also reticent. The Volkswagen-backed club’s biggest transfer was Belgium defender Sebastiaan Bornauw from Cologne for 14.5 million euros ($17 million).
Union Berlin was one of the busiest Bundesliga clubs over the summer with a host of transfers in and out. Bastian Oczipka and Kevin Möhwald joined on Monday, while Leverkusen-bound midfielder Robert Andrich was among those to depart.
City rival Hertha Berlin signed French forward Myziane Maolida from Nice, attacking midfielder Jurgen Ekkelenkamp from Ajax and Ishak Belfodil from Hoffenheim, but declined to spend big despite receiving the last tranche of Lars Windhorst’s total investment of 375 million euros ($450 million) in the club.
Hertha earned more than it spent over the summer with Matheus Cunha joining Atlético Madrid for 30 million euros ($35.5 million), Jhon Cordoba going to Krasnodar for 20 million ($23.5 million) and highly rated defender Luca Netz switching to league rival Borussia Mönchengladbach for 4 million ($4.7 million).
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP
Ciarán Fahey, The Associated Press