As the year kicked off, Chelsea were once again making moves in the transfer market, just as they had in the Summer window. They notably poached in Ukranian talent, Mykhailo Mudryk, from the claws of Arsenal forcing the Gunners to look elsewhere for reinforcements to boost their title charge. Mudryk turned out to be a bit of a disappointment and with the club stuck in a rut, they managed a 12th place finish at the end of the season. Chelsea’s still struggling this season but with a Carabao Cup semifinal to come, they very well may get their hands on some silverware. 

During the 2022/2023 season run-in, Arsenal lost William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu to injury, eventually losing the league to Manchester City despite being top for most of the season. To bolster their midfield ranks, they went on to make Declan Rice the most expensive British player ever in the summer, a record he held for just a few weeks. In a shocking move, they also brought in Kai Havertz from Chelsea, who so far has proved to be a less-than-adequate replacement for Granit Xhaka. The club has so far failed to hit the heights of last season but are still favoured as title contenders.

Manchester City became only the second English team ever to win a treble, with Pep Guardiola finally getting them over the line and winning that elusive third (for him) and first (for the club) Champions League title. They also went on to win the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup, making Julian Alvarez the only active player to be wearing the World Champion badge for both club and country. For his troubles, Erling Haaland came second in the Ballon d’Or rankings, losing out to Lionel Messi who won his 8th award. 

On the back of his showing in the Champions League final for Inter Milan against Manchester City, Andre Onana secured a move to Manchester United who let David de Gea go. The club had a strong finish to the Premier League season, finishing third and securing a return to the Champions League after a year’s absence. However, they were unable to make it count, finishing bottom of a group that contained Bayern Munich, Galatasaray and Copenhagen. Their form hasn’t been much better as they sit 7th in the league table.

Cristiano moved to Saudi Arabia in January, after his fallout with Manchester United, and Lionel Messi moved to the MLS in the summer, bringing an end to their time in Europe. The former finished as the player with the most goals in 2023 after scoring 53 goals for Al Nassr and Portugal. The latter, on the back of winning the World Cup in 2022 won the league in France with PSG and the MLS Leagues Cup with Inter Miami. 

Over in Spain, Barcelona won the league for the first time in four years, with the help of a strong backline. This season, with injuries to important players and stars suffering a dip in form they currently find themselves fourth on the table. Real Madrid lost Karim Benzema in the summer and the only incoming striker was Joselu on loan from Espanol. They also brought in Jude Bellingham from Borrusia Dortmund breaking the transfer record previously set by Declan Rice’s move to Arsenal. With important players out injured, some for the season, Bellingham’s goals have helped them to currently sit top of La Liga and to have a perfect record in the Champions League Group Stage. 

The Bundesliga had a crazy end to the season as Bayern and Dortmund fought it out on the last day. Many backed Dortmund to finally break Bayern’s hold on the Bundesliga but they failed to match expectations, slipping to a draw against Mainz, allowing Bayern to win their 11th Bundesliga title in a row after a hard-fought win away to Cologne. 

Victor Osimhen, together with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, led Napoli to the Serie A title, their first since Diego Maradona won one with the club 33 years ago. The gaffer, Luciano Spalletti, left at the end of the season and they’ve suffered a fall from grace in the aftermath. They’re already on their second manager this season and are 8th in the Serie A table. Inter Milan have been on top form this season and are top of the table at the moment but with Juventus hot on their tracks, we may have a title race this season. 

This season has seen some underdogs battling it out for their league titles, most notably Girona and Bayer Leverkusen. Xabi Alonso took over Leverkusen mid-season with the club in one of the relegation spots and guided them to top-half safety. At the moment, he has them at the top of the league, yet to lose a game this season. He also has them flying in the Europa League. Girona finished mid-table last season and this season, they’re flying high, second in La Liga, level on points with table toppers, Real Madrid. They are also arguably the most entertaining team in the league to watch, having scored the most goals so far. 

The season is halfway gone and with title races starting to form, 2024 promises to be an entertaining year for football.

Ifeanyichukwu Achife

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