Italy captain Leonardo Bonucci joined Union Berlin on the last day of the transfer window in Germany but Bayern Munich’s deal for Portugal midfielder João Palhinha reportedly broke down at the final minute on Friday.
German media reported English Premier League club Fulham called off Palhinha’s transfer even after the player underwent medical tests and posed for photos in Munich.
Bayern was reportedly ready to pay 65 million euros ($70 million) for the defensive midfielder, a position coach Thomas Tuchel identified as a priority. But Fulham was unable to find a replacement.
Eintracht Frankfurt star Randal Kolo Muani’s expected move to Paris Saint-Germain also broke down despite the France forward’s best efforts to force through the transfer. Frankfurt said on Wednesday the 24-year-old was refusing to train.
Kicker magazine reported the clubs agreed on a 90 million euro ($97 million) fee for Kolo Muani, but that Frankfurt balked at the wage demands of his potential replacement, PSG forward Hugo Ekitike.
The 36-year-old Bonucci signed at Union — his first time at a club outside of Italy — after falling out of favour with Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, who told the highly decorated defender last season that he did not feature in his plans for 2023-24.
Bonucci made more than 500 appearances for Juventus and had a year left on his contract there, but he was excluded from preseason training and has been forced to look elsewhere to maintain his hope of captaining Italy at next year’s European Championship in Germany.
Union is making its Champions League debut this season after its surprise fourth-place finish from its fourth year in the Bundesliga. The team was only promoted for the first time in 2019.
Union was drawn against Real Madrid, Napoli and Braga in the group stage of the Champions League and is placing great value on Bonucci’s big-game experience. Bonucci twice finished runner-up in the competition.
Bonucci’s signing is another coup for Union sporting director Oliver Ruhnert after the arrivals of Germany left back Robin Gosens, former Germany striker Kevin Volland, Ivory Coast forward David Datro Fofana — on loan from Chelsea — and United States midfielder Brenden Aaronson.
Bayern was arguably weaker when the transfer window closed than it was at the start of the day.
The club’s failure to sign Palhinha was a blow for Tuchel, who complained that the squad was full of midfielders such as Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka and new signing Konrad Laimer who like to make runs forward.
Earlier Friday, Tuchel expressed regret that Bayern let versatile Croatia defender Josip Stanišić join Bayer Leverkusen on loan for the season, leaving him short of defensive cover after Benjamin Pavard’s move to Inter Milan.
Dutch midfielder Ryan Gravenberch was on the verge of joining Liverpool after just one season at Bayern.
Bayern already broke the Bundesliga transfer record by signing England captain Harry Kane from Tottenham for a reported 100 million euros ($109 million), while it spent big to bring South Korea defender Kim Min-jae from Napoli. Portugal left back Raphaël Guerreiro arrived on a free transfer from league rival Borussia Dortmund, and Laimer likewise from Leipzig.
Sadio Mané left for Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr after a single disappointing season in Germany. Bayern wanted the player to replace Robert Lewandowski but the relationship between club and player turned sour as he worked his way back from the injury that kept him out of the World Cup for Senegal.
Bayern also sold defender Lucas Hernández to PSG. With first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Neuer injured, the club tried and failed to sign Kepa Arrizabalaga — who went to Real Madrid instead — but encouraging news about Neuer’s recovery made that less of a priority and it gave itself another backup option by signing Israeli goalkeeper Daniel Peretz from Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Dortmund finalized Germany forward Niclas Füllkrug’s transfer from Werder Bremen for a reported fee of 15 million euros ($16.4 million) on Thursday. The club hopes the 30-year-old Füllkrug, an old-fashioned center forward, will revitalize the team after two lethargic performances in the Bundesliga so far.
Dortmund’s biggest transfer saw midfielder Jude Bellingham leave for Real Madrid for 103 million euros ($110 million) in June. The club has struggled to replace the England star, who has four goals in three Spanish league games. Midfielders Marcel Sabitzer and Felix Nmecha arrived from Bayern and Wolfsburg, respectively.
Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes has had a busy offseason rebuilding a team for coach Xabi Alonso to potentially challenge Bayern’s dominance. Leverkusen spent a reported 20 million euros ($21.7 million) to sign winger Nathan Tella from Southampton last week in what was its most expensive signing of the transfer period.
The club previously signed Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka from Arsenal, Nigerian forward Victor Boniface, German winger Jonas Hofmann, Spanish left back Álex Grimaldo, Brazil right back Arthur, Czech goalkeeper Matěj Kovář, and Stanišić on loan from Bayern.
It held onto stars such as Florian Wirtz and Jeremie Frimpong, while France winger Moussa Diaby left for Premier League club Aston Villa for a reported fee of 55 million euros ($60 million).
Leipzig arguably lost more important players in the offseason with forwards Christopher Nkunku (Chelsea), Dominik Szoboszlai (Liverpool) and André Silva (Real Sociedad) all leaving, while Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol joined Manchester City for a reported 90 million euros ($98 million), ranking him among the most expensive defenders in history.
To compensate, Leipzig signed French defenders Castello Lukeba from Lyon for 30 million euros ($33 million) and El Chadaille Bitshiabu from Paris Saint-Germain for 15 million euros ($16 million).
Leipzig also signed forward Loïs Openda from Lens for 38 million euros ($41 million), making the 23-year-old Belgian the club’s record signing, and brought in winger Xavi Simons from PSG and midfielder Fabio Carvalho from Liverpool on loan.
Werder Bremen signed Naby Keïta from Liverpool in a surprise deal but the midfielder’s bad luck with injuries has continued. He has yet to play for Bremen. American forward Jordan Pefok joined Borussia Moenchengladbach on loan from Union on Thursday.