After a few months packed full of tournament football with Euro 2020, the Copa America and the Olympics, it feels as though the summer transfer window deadline has come around quicker than ever.
That’s not to say a fair amount of business hasn’t been done already, with clubs still able to get deals over the line despite many top players having an extended 2020-21 season and delayed postseason breaks.
In a bid to break news of their big signings, many clubs have announced their transfers on social media using inventive videos and stunts with impressively high production values.
It’s all been a bit of a throwback to the wild summer of 2017, when such videos were all the rage and communications teams at clubs around the world went to extraordinary lengths.
After falling out of fashion, the art form has made a big comeback in 2021, with a succession of deals being made official with snappy, quirky, spectacular and often ridiculously overblown snippets.
As an example of what can be done when you have seemingly infinite resources at your disposal and one of the most sensational moves of the entire transfer window — and perhaps any transfer window — Paris Saint-Germain went all out when they welcomed Lionel Messi to the club earlier this month.
The six-time Ballon d’Or-winning superstar’s signing was officially announced on social media with a super-slick video. A continuous drone shot swooped in through the PSG club store, down the tunnel, out around the Parc des Prince and then over to the centre circle, where Messi was stood, decked out in his new uniform for the first time.
A new 💎 in Paris!
PSGxMESSI ❤️💙 pic.twitter.com/scrp1su9a6
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) August 10, 2021
And the Ligue 1 giants weren’t done there, as several other short promo clips followed including an oil portrait of Messi being hung in the Louvre and a montage of his hectic first day in the French capital.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) August 11, 2021
Here is our pick of the ways clubs chose to break the news that they had completed transfers during the 2021-22 summer transfer window, separated into the handful of distinct categories that have emerged.
Messi wasn’t the first new signing to be ushered in with a glossy montage either, with several other players receiving similar treatment over the course of the past few months.
— MHSC (@MontpellierHSC) July 27, 2021
Beginning with a shot of that trademark hair, Sakho’s transfer video soon segues into a montage of the 31-year-old defender proving his fitness in the gym, before saying ominously into the camera: “It starts now.”
Mario Balotelli to Adana Demirspor
— Adana Demirspor 💺❌💺 (@AdsKulubu) July 7, 2021
Turkish club Demirspor celebrated landing the former Italy striker with a whistlestop tour of their home city of Adana before switching to a stirring montage of the enfant terrible‘s career highlights.
— Sevilla FC (@SevillaFC_ENG) August 25, 2021
Sevilla welcomed Delaney by cycling the floodlights at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan before releasing the Denmark international from a dark cupboard.
— Olympique Lyonnais 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@OL_English) August 23, 2021
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 12, 2021
But one of the best examples of the genre was the video which announced Lukaku’s return to Chelsea, 10 years after he originally arrived at Stamford Bridge as a teenager. We were taken back in time with some grainy footage of the Belgium striker making his debut, before crashing back into 2021 with a blast of Jay-Z as his £97.5 million switch from Inter Milan was confirmed.
TV and movies
Elsewhere, other clubs poured a little more creative energy into their unveiling videos with classic television and movie references being rolled out to herald new arrivals.
— Cagliari Calcio (@CagliariCalcio) July 3, 2021
Cagliari opted for some top-notch 1990s nostalgia to announce Strootman’s arrival at the club, with a dramatic assist from Catherine O’Hara in Christmas classic “Home Alone.”
Theo Gebre Selassie to Slovan Liberec
This transfer announcement video 😂
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 27, 2021
Czech side Slovan produced some truly outstanding stuff as they went to the trouble of recreating the entire opening credits to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” to welcome Selassie back to the club after his 10-year hiatus in the Bundesliga.
— Parma Calcio 1913 (@1913parmacalcio) June 17, 2021
Buffon remains beloved at Parma having begun his long and illustrious career at the club, so it’s only fitting that the Gialloblu welcomed the 43-year-old goalkeeper back with a video befitting of Italian football’s Man of Steel.
🦇 O Beşiktaş’ın ihtiyacı olan her şey!
— Beşiktaş JK (@Besiktas) August 18, 2021
Games and apps
Other forms of entertainment were ripe for parody as a handful of clubs delved into the gaming world in search of inspiration.
🆕 Nouvelle appli’ à télécharger !
— OGC Nice (@ogcnice) July 27, 2021
French side Nice scrolled through the app store in order to greet Rosario in fluent Dutch with an amusing homage to a certain language-learning app and its infuriating little bird mascot.
‘𝗜𝗧’𝗦-𝗔 𝗠𝗘, 𝗠𝗔𝗥𝗜𝗢!’ 🍄
Algo nos diz que o 🌍 não está preparado para este jogo… 🎮 pic.twitter.com/19OzjNSali
— SC Braga (@SCBragaOficial) July 1, 2021
Braga created a loving tribute to Nintendo classic “Super Mario Bros.” to unveil their new signing, with a diminutive plumber offering facts — former clubs, height, age, etc. — about the mystery player ahead of the big reveal.
Piotr Tomasik to Wisla Plock
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 13, 2021
Polish club Wisla went big to announce the arrival of Tomasik by having the veteran defender roam the mean streets of San Andreas and even trying on new unlocked outfits in the local store, just like “Grand Theft Auto” character CJ.
GTA IV: Real Betis Edition. pic.twitter.com/LEsgfvKG5Y
— Real Betis Balompié 🌴💚 (@RealBetis) August 19, 2021
Perhaps directly inspired by the Tomasik promo, Betis also plumped for a GTA spoof in welcoming Pezzalla to the club. The clip also features striker Aitor Rubial, who swaggers through the streets to the Benito Villamarin stadium, where he delivers a shirt to his new teammate.
Personal terms 𝙖𝙜𝙧𝙚𝙚𝙙 ✅
— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) June 23, 2021
The Hornets made use of their ties with the “Football Manager” franchise to replicate the intense visceral thrill of negotiating and concluding a transfer in the management simulation game.
In order to mix things up, some clubs roped in third parties to help deliver the big news on their behalf.
The first we heard of Begovic’s move to Everton was via his wife, Nicolle, who broke the news by parading around on her horse, Jerry while both were wearing her husband’s new colours.
GET READY! pic.twitter.com/DQJgx8NRnw
— Valencia CF (@valenciacf_en) August 25, 2021
Valencia actually went one step further by having football journalist and transfer gossip specialist Fabrizio Romano tease Andre’s imminent arrival with his ubiquitous “Here we go!” catchphrase. After that, the actual reveal might have been a bit of a letdown for some fans.
Several clubs dabbled in the creative arts so that they might announce their transfer news with a soupcon of gravitas, cultured ingenuity and finesse.
— Olympique de Marseille (@OM_Officiel) July 1, 2021
Ligue 1 side Marseille heralded the signing of Brazilian midfielder Gerson from Flamengo in cultured fashion by sharing a captivating video of his portrait being painted.
— Inter 🏆🇮🇹 (@Inter_en) August 15, 2021
Meanwhile, Dzeko wrapped up his move to Inter by starring in his very own comic book as “The Swan of Sarejevo” joined forces with the serpents of old Milan.
You don’t have to throw loads of money at a transfer unveiling to make an impact, as these reveals proved.
Scott Tiffoney to Partick Thistle
— Partick Thistle FC (@PartickThistle) June 2, 2021
Partick produced instant classic to mark the signing of Tiffoney from Livingston, with manager Ian McCall adding his voice to a reworking of the Deep Blue Something classic “Breakfast At Tiffany’s.” We could watch this one on a loop all day.
Fabrizio Brignani at Olbia Calcio
Italian third-tier club Olbia obviously don’t have vast cash reserves to play with when it comes to announcing new signings. In a rather sweet and lo-fi approach, the club shared a grainy photo of Brignani arriving at the airport and marked out their new player with a red circle.
⭕️ La persona che vedete cerchiata si chiama Fabrizio #Brignani.
🛬 Arriva dal Bologna ed è il nuovo difensore dell’#Olbia.
👤 Su nùmene chi bidides printadu est Fabrizio Brignani.
ℹ️ Benit dae su #Bologna su defensore nou de s’Olbia. pic.twitter.com/9QSSiZ9HZe
— Olbia Calcio (@olbiacalcio) August 22, 2021
“The person you see circled is Fabrizio Brignani. He comes from Bologna and is the new defender of Olbia,” the Serie C side wrote on their official Twitter account.
People then praised Olbia for eschewing big budget folly in favour of such a wonderfully simple unveiling, to which the club responded with their take on the Drake/”Hotline Bling” meme.
— Olbia Calcio (@olbiacalcio) August 23, 2021
How we got here
Of course, the true boom time for the transfer announcement video was 2017, when things get well and truly out of hand by the time the summer window closed.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) July 3, 2017
Liverpool ploughed a similar furrow to address an avalanche of desperate calls from fans on social media to “ANNOUNCE SALAH” by having the man himself do the honours.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) June 22, 2017
Right, time for a quick quiz…
The following 🔟 players have been signed by Arsène Wenger – can you spot them all? pic.twitter.com/ewEpmDRRs4
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) June 6, 2017
You’ll never guess who… 😉 pic.twitter.com/4Owx2Bg17i
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) July 5, 2017
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 9, 2017
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) June 26, 2017
Who could forget the “Come to Besiktas” craze that fleetingly gripped Turkish football in August of 2017, as the likes of Ricardo Quaresma and Pepe beckoned one another to Vodafone Park.
— Beşiktaş JK (@Besiktas) August 2, 2017
The first signs that things had gone too far came when Southampton went the whole hog and produced an entire parody action movie to report that reserve goalkeeper Stuart Taylor had signed a one-year contract.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) July 13, 2017
Though that didn’t stop Roma from having one last bewildering crack at a transfer announcement video when they signed defender Ante Coric from Dinamo Zagreb in 2018. The clip tracks back through all of human existence to the very start of the universe, which felt a little overzealous for a young left-back…
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) May 28, 2018
But those heady days of 2017 did not just come from nowhere: you could argue that the seeds were sown the year before by two transfer announcements at either end of the scale when it came to production values, but both made a big impact.
For 2016 was the year when Paul Pogba roped in British grime star Stormzy to help promote his world-record move from Juventus to Manchester United, which had previously failed to generate much interest and was in danger of going under the radar completely. The result was essentially a top-quality music video that would fit nicely into rotation on MTV.
The Pogba x Stormzy rap, via Adidas. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/VUenIYY4JF
— fanatix (@therealfanatix) August 9, 2016
However, Tottenham made as big a splash when they welcomed Victor Wanyama to the club by revisiting the midfielder’s iconic tweet about the simple joy of spaghetti.
We signed @VictorWanyama and he was very nice we enjoyed it
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) June 24, 2016
If there are any doubts as to the impact of that tweet, Wanyama is still getting offers of the dried pasta in exchange for his jersey from CF Montreal fans to this day.