To say the least, the summer transfer window of 2021 was a wild ride, with some of the most bizarre signings in recent history. Following a lackluster performance the previous year, clubs desperately needed quality reinforcements to compete with their rivals due to financial constraints imposed by the ongoing pandemic. As a result, this term saw a flurry of free transfers, big-money signings, and unexpected homecomings.
Recent examples of players returning to former clubs
Due to the romantic nature of the game, several players succumb to the desire to return to former clubs in an attempt to relive their glory days. In line with this trend, Gianluigi Buffon recently ended his 19-year love affair with Juventus by joining boyhood club Parma earlier this year.
Cristiano Ronaldo‘s €15 million return to Manchester United, on the other hand, is undoubtedly the most unexpected homecoming in recent history. After three solid seasons with the Bianconeri, Ronaldo decided to leave this year, joining the Red Devils near the end of the transfer window.
Ashley Young, Eric Garcia, and Kevin-Prince Boateng will also return in 2021.
Several players are said to be vying for a return to their former clubs due to dissatisfaction in their surroundings.
On that note, here are five superstars who could make a comeback to their former teams in 2022:
No 1. Eden Hazard to Chelsea.
Eden Hazard, another Chelsea-related entry, is reportedly looking to end his nightmare in Madrid by returning to Stamford Bridge. Unlike Rice, the Belgian forward has suffered a disastrous fall after leaving the Blues, with Hazard struggling to make an impact at the Bernabeu.
After a €115 million transfer to Real Madrid in 2019, he has made only 52 appearances. Hazard, considered Cristiano Ronaldo’s heir at the Bernabeu, hasn’t reached double digits in goals or assists.
Hazard has only 14 goal involvements with Real Madrid and a €25 million market value.
Injury issues and inconsistent form have robbed him of what was supposed to be his prime years.
In such a dire situation, rumors of a possible return to Chelsea in 2022 have surfaced. It will be interesting to see what happens next for Hazard.
No 2. Dani Olmo to Barcelona.
Dani Olmo, a former academy graduate, appears to be at the top of their shopping list. The Spaniard’s return to Catalonia in 2022 has been heavily rumored.
Despite their financial constraints, Barcelona has reportedly been able to free up funds to make some important signings next year.
Barcelona, having crippled themselves financially as a result of their reckless spending, failed to complete any transfer worth more than €15 million this year.
Emerson Royal, their only non-free permanent signing this season, was also sold to Tottenham Hotspur for €25 million in order to help the Blaugrana rebuild.
Olmo secured a €22 million transfer to RB Leipzig in 2020 after impressing with Dinamo Zagreb. Since then, the gifted attacker has been directly involved in 26 goals scored by Die Roten Bullen, appearing in 64 games.
If Barcelona manages to pull off this unlikely miracle in 2022, they will gain a seasoned offensive threat with enormous potential in the form of Olmo.
No 3. Paul Pogba to Juventus.
Paul Pogba, the contract rebel, tops our list in fifth place. The French midfielder is currently negotiating an extension to his current contract, which is set to expire in 2022, with his current club, Manchester United. As a result, Pogba has been linked with virtually every elite club in Europe.
Turin has emerged as a possible destination for the 28-year-old midfielder, with Juventus hoping to sign him on a free transfer. Mino Raiola, Pogba’s agent, has done little to resolve the situation, instead of adding fuel to the fire at every opportunity.
The super-agent has publicly stated that his high-profile client’s future is still up in the air, with no principal deal with United currently in the works.
Pogba has yet to find his feet five years after his record-breaking €105 million return to Old Trafford. Despite his obvious talent, he has had difficulty maintaining consistency.
Real Madrid and Barcelona are apparently monitoring Pogba, suggesting that signing him will be difficult.
No 4. Christopher Nkunku to PSG
Christopher Nkunku has exploded onto the scene since switching from the Parc des Princes to the Red Bull Arena. Nkunku has found the freedom he needed at RB Leipzig to fully develop his talent. In 98 appearances for the German giants, the attacking midfielder has 21 goals and 32 assists.
PSG published Nkunku in 2019, which seems shortsighted now. The gifted forward scored 15 goals in 78 appearances for the French stalwarts across four years. As a result, Leipzig was able to wrest him from PSG’s grasp for a bargain-basement fee of €13 million.
However, the nine-time Ligue 1 champions appear to be kicking themselves for allowing a generational talent like Nkunku to leave. If reports are to be believed, PSG will try to correct their error by pursuing his signature in 2022.
Nkunku has been drawn in the same Champions League group as his previous and potential future employers, setting the stage for a big-money move next summer. Should Kylian Mbappe leave for Real Madrid in 2022, Nkunku would be an excellent replacement.
No 5. Declan Rice to Chelsea
Declan Rice has been a revelation for West Ham United since joining in 2017. Since then, the tireless midfielder has wowed the football world, earning his position in Gareth Southgate’s England team.
As a result, the talented youngster has attracted many high-profile suitors, with Manchester United and Chelsea keeping a close eye on his whereabouts. The Blues, in particular, have expressed a strong desire to re-sign their former player. They are reportedly preparing a €70 million offer to entice Rice to Stamford Bridge.
The Blues have been linked with a transfer for their brilliant former academy player, despite having N’Golo Kante. Despite Frank Lampard’s departure, transfer rumors are expected to reappear next year.