Another European transfer window swings to a close, and the story is no different from before. This summer's transfer spending has been dominated by clubs with wealthy foreign owners, as the dislocation of European clubs from their traditional owners continues. Whether for upwardly mobile clubs, or for those already at the top, foreign benefaction is increasingly necessary to transfer activity.
For once, Manchester City were not the heaviest-spending Arab-owned team in Europe. City, and every other club in Europe, have been outspent by Paris St-Germain, the newest addition to the benefactor-elite. Just as City were bought three years ago today by the Abu Dhabi United Group, a controlling stake in Paris was bought by the Qatar Investment Authority Group in May.
Since then, Paris have spent with the same swaggering ambition that City have shown for years. Like City, they are keen to raise themselves beyond mid-table. They have not won Ligue 1 since 1994, but now have the means to challenge the elite of Marseilles and Lyons. In their upward pursuit, they have spent nearly £80m so far, £37m of it on Palermo's Argentine playmaker Javier Pastore. The biggest transfer in French history, Pastore turned down Chelsea to play in Paris.
"Paris St-Germain have real ambitions to become one of the most competitive clubs in Europe," Pastore said, echoing the language used by many of City's new recruits. "I'm honoured that their directors chose me to be one of the players to help them climb the mountain to where they want to be."
As well as Pastore, Paris have signed the best from other Ligue 1 clubs, a privilege usually enjoyed by Lyons. Blaise Matuidi (€7.5m, £6.65m) and Kevin Gameiro (€11m) have joined from Saint-Etienne and Lorient respectively. Yesterday they unveiled Diego Lugano, the Fenerbahce centre-back who this summer captained Uruguay to Copa America glory.
In terms of gross spending, Paris have left Manchester City in their wake. Rather than the sprees of recent summers, though, City have focused on quality this off-season. Sergio Aguero from Atletico Madrid and Samir Nasri from Arsenal have been the headline arrivals, costing £38m and £25m respectively.
Then there is Malaga. Bought in 2010 by Sheikh Abdullah of the Qatari ruling family, they too have spent to speed away from mid-table. Malaga finished only 11th in La Liga last season, but they have bought enough quality to do much better this year. As well as €21m Santi Cazorla from Villarreal, they have recruited the veterans Ruud van Nistelrooy, Joris Mathijsen, Jérémy Toulalan and Joaquin.
Middle Eastern investment has accordingly shaped this summer's transfer spending. But it would be too simple to say that it is merely a mechanism for middling sides to challenge the elite. Barcelona, unquestionably the team of their generation, have ridden the same wave as they try to preserve their reign at the top of the European game. From this season they wear the name of the Qatar Foundation on their shirts, after signing a £125m sponsorship deal. This summer they have signed Cesc Fabregas from Arsenal and Alexis Sanchez from Udinese for £35m and £23m respectively.
Chelsea, one of the pioneering foreign benefactor clubs, have had a busy summer, culminating in the £23.5m purchase of Juan Mata from Valencia. Liverpool, owned by the Fenway Sports Group, have spent heavily, albeit without a marquee name as enticing as Mata.
Uefa's financial fair play rules, which demand that clubs can record only a maximum of €45m losses over the three seasons ending in 2013-14, are intended to restrict the impact of benefactor spending. In time, they may do that. But this summer's transfer spending has been dominated, again, by the ambitions of wealthy and distant owners.
A difficult summer, as Arsenal lost two of their leading players in Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and were thrashed 8-2 at Old Trafford, forcing a late scramble for replacements.
In Gervinho (Lille, £10m); Carl Jenkinson (Charlton Athletic, undisclosed); Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Southampton, £15m); Joel Campbell (Deportivo Saprissa, undisclosed); Park Chu-young (Monaco, undisclosed). Total: £25m
Out Gaël Clichy (Manchester City, £7m); Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona, £35m); Samir Nasri (Manchester City £25m); Emmanuel Eboué Galatasaray, £3m). Total: £70m
The one that got away Barry Bannan: Small, technically gifted, inexperienced: the Villa man would be the perfect addition to Arsenal's midfield.
After the Darren Bent buy in January, Aston Villa have made a profit this summer, selling both Ashley Young and Stewart Downing for good money.
In Shay Given (Manchester City, £3.5m); Charles N'Zogbia (Wigan Athletic, £9.5m). Total: £13m
Out Brad Friedel (Tottenham Hotspur, free); Stewart Downing (Liverpool £20m); Ashley Young (Manchester United £16m); Nigel Reo-Coker (Bolton Wanderers, free); Jean Makoun (Olympiakos, loan). Total: £36m
The one that got away Liam Ridgewell: Having moved from Villa to Birmingham before, the tattooed defender could prove just as popular on the Holte End as manager Alex McLeish. May also be better than Steven Warnock.
With Phil Jones leaving, the Rao family not exactly been generous with the chicken feed as Steve Kean seeks to bolster his attack for another assault on 17th place.
In David Goodwillie (Dundee United, £2m); Simon Vukcevic (Sporting Lisbon, £2m); Radosav Petrovic (FK Partizan, undisclosed) Total: £4m
Out Phil Jones (Manchester United, £17m); Nikola Kalinic (Dnipro, £6m); Benjani (Portsmouth, loan); Frank Fielding (Derby County, undisclosed). Total: £23m
The one that got away James McFadden: With Blackburn's love for surprising attacking players, and Steve Kean's Scottish connection, this free agent could, in theory at least, provide ammunition for David Goodwillie.
Despite Bolton's debts, Owen Coyle has tried to revive his squad after a disappointing end to last season.
In Darren Pratley (Swansea City, free); Chris Eagles and Tyrone Mears (Burnley, £3m); Nigel Reo-Coker (Aston Villa, free); Tuncay Sanli (Wolfsburg, loan); Dedryck Boyata (Manchester City, loan) Total: £3m
Out Ali al-Habsi (Wigan Athletic £4m); Matt Taylor (West Ham, £2.2m); Johan Elmander (Galatasaray, free). Total: £6.2m
The one that got away Jay Rodriguez: Owen Coyle has tried to bring his old Burnley team across Lancashire this summer, and the departures of Johan Elmander and Daniel Sturridge leave them short up front. Two plus two equals four here.
Andre Villas-Boas's mission to win the league has been helped by the addition of some much needed youth and verve, in the form of Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku so far.
In Juan Mata (Valencia, £26m); Romelu Lukaku (Anderlecht, £18m); Oriol Romeu (Barcelona, £4.4m); Ulises Davila (Guadalajara, £2m); Thibaut Courtois (Genk, £4m) Total: £54.4m
Out Yuri Zhirkov (Anzhi Makhachkala, undisclosed); Michael Mancienne (Hamburg, £3m); Jeffrey Bruma (Hamburg, loan). Total: £3m
The one that got away Carlos Tevez: Chelsea's forward line looks in need of refreshment, and Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Fernando Torres are all occasional complainers. Could they be scared into action by the Premier League's all-time greatest sulker and moaner?
Money is short at Goodison Park and David Moyes has been unable to bring in anyone of note this summer, despite getting good money for James Vaughan from Norwich.
In Eric Dier (Sporting Lisbon, loan). Total: £0m
Out James Vaughan (Norwich City, £2.5m); Joao Silva (Vitoria FC, loan); Kieran Agard (Yeovil Town, free). Total: £2.5m
The one that got away Michael Owen: With so little money at Everton, they could desperately do with a loan signing from one of the big boys, and preferably someone who knows where the goal is (or used to). As a boyhood Everton fan, could Michael Owen be tempted to do the reverse-Rooney (or Phil Neville) and swap Old Trafford for Goodison Park?
Martin Jol has tried to stamp his authority on Fulham but has only introduced a set of fairly unknown but exotic-sounding imports. The Hodgson hardcore remains well-set at Craven Cottage.
In Csaba Somogyi (Rakospalotai, free); John Arne Riise (Roma, £2.3m); Pajtim Kasami (Palermo, £4m); Marcel Gecov (Slovan Liberic, undisclosed). Total: £6.3m
Out Zoltan Gera (West Bromwich Albion, free); Jonathan Greening (Nottingham Forest, £600,000); Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace, undisclosed); Carlos Salcido (Tigres, loan). Total: £600,000
The one that got away Timothée Atouba: Martin Jol took him to Tottenham, Hamburg and Ajax. Why has he not bought him this time?
The Kenny Dalglish/Fenway Sports Group revolution continued this summer as a number of highly-priced English and England-based players rolled into Anfield, with Liverpool hoping to return to the top four this season.
In Jordan Henderson (Sunderland, £16m); Charlie Adam (Blackpool, £9m); Stewart Downing (Aston Villa, £20m); Jose Enrique (Newcastle, £6m); Alexander Doni (Roma, free). Total: £51m
Out Paul Konchesky (Leicester City, £1.5m); Daniel Ayala (Norwich City, £800,000); Alberto Aquilani (Milan, loan); Emiliano Insua (Sporting Lisbon, Free). Total: £2.3m
The one that got away Scott Parker: English, England-based, hard-working and popular with the media: surely he will have ticked all of Dalglish and the board's boxes?
Having won the FA Cup and made the Champions League, City needed to upgrade quality this summer and did so with the purchases of Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri.
In Gaël Clichy (Arsenal, £7m); Stefan Savic (Partizan Belgrade, £6m); Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid, £38m); Samir Nasri (Arsenal, £25m); Costel Pantilimon (Politehnica Timisoara, Undisclosed). Total: £76m
Out Shay Given (Aston Villa, £3.5m); Jérôme Boateng (Bayern Munich, £15m); Felipe Caicedo (Levante, £880,000); Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur, loan). Total: £19.3m
The one that got away Cristiano Ronaldo: He's good, he's expensive, he scores and makes goals, and would annoy Manchester United. Perfect.
The great master of renewal has had another excellent summer, moving on old players and replacing them with fresher talent; with exceptional results so far.
In Phil Jones (Blackburn Rovers, £16.5m); Ashley Young (Aston Villa, £16m); David de Gea (Atletico Madrid, £18m). Total: £50.5m
Out Wes Brown (Sunderland, £1m); John O'Shea (Sunderland, £5m); Bebe (Besiktas, loan); Ryan Tunnicliffe (Peterborough, loan) Gabriel Obertan (Newcastle United, £3m). Total: £9m.
The one that got away Thiago Alcantara: With 19 titles, beating Barcelona is the great target at Old Trafford. Ferguson's preference for youth could have brought them one of Barca's own, but they missed out.
Mike Ashley's attempts to restore financial sanity have seen Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and Jose Enrique leave, while United's foreign scouts have been busy.
In Yohan Cabaye (Lille, £4.3m); Gabriel Obertan (Manchester United, £3m); Demba Ba (West Ham United, free); Sylvain Marveaux (Rennes, free); Davide Santon (Internazionale, £5m). Total: £12.3m
Out Kevin Nolan (West Ham United, £4m); Jose Enrique (Liverpool, £6m); Joey Barton (Queen's Park Rangers, free); Wayne Routledge (Swansea City, £2m). Total: £12m
The one that got away Adel Taarabt: Given the new Francophone feel to Newcastle's attack, and after the loss of one of the game's leading mavericks, Taarabt would be a dream if they could tempt him from W12.
Paul Lambert has shrewdly decided to equip his team for a fight for safety with young and hungry players rather than Premier League journeymen.
In Elliott Bennett (Brighton & Hove Albion, £1.5m); Ritchie de Laet (Man United, loan); James Vaughan (Millwall, £2.5m); Steve Morison (Everton, £2.5m); Anthony Pilkington (Huddersfield Town, £2m); Daniel Ayala (Liverpool, £800,000); Bradley Johnson (Leeds, free). Total: £9.3m
Out Owain Tudur Jones (Inverness Caledonian Thistle, free). Total: £0m
The one that got away Emile Heskey: Paul Lambert's career owes much to his time at Celtic with Martin O'Neill, so what could be better than signing the man who performed for MON at Leicester and Villa?
Queen's Park Rangers
Only after the Tony Fernandes takeover has Neil Warnock been able to spend money on the sort of quality required to keep Rangers in the top flight. More is needed.
In Jay Bothroyd (Cardiff City, free); Kieron Dyer and Danny Gabbidon (West Ham United, free); Joey Barton (Newcastle, free); DJ Campbell (Blackpool, £1.25m); Armand Traoré (Arsenal, undisclosed fee); Luke Young (Aston Villa, undisclosed). Total: £1.25m
Out Peter Ramage (Crystal Palace, loan). Total: £0m
The one that got away Paul McShane: Before the takeover QPR had to value Premier League experience over pace or skill. Things are better now, but they did still miss out on the Hull defender.
Stoke have the new challenge of European football this season, so have added quality and experience to a squad that will be stretched.
In Jonathan Woodgate (Tottenham Hotspur, free); Matthew Upson (West Ham United, free). Total: £0m
Out Abdoulaye Faye (West Ham United, free); Carl Dickinson (Watford, £250,000); Eidur Gudjohnsen (AEK Athens, free). Total: £250,000
The one that got away Carlton Cole: A powerful centre-forward big on size and small on subtlety, Cole would have been the final piece in Stoke City's tactical jigsaw, had they only been able to agree wages with the West Ham striker.
Another summer of transition on Wearside has seen a host of new arrivals, as Steve Bruce tries to reverse spring's worrying slump.
In Ahmed Elmohamady (ENPPI, £2m); Connor Wickham (Ipswich Town, £8.1m); Craig Gardner (Birmingham City, £6m); Wes Brown (Manchester United, £1m); John O'Shea (Manchester United, £5m); David Vaughan (Blackpool, free); Ji Dong-won (Chunnam Dragons, £2.2m); Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham, free). Total: £24.3m
Out Jordan Henderson (Liverpool, £16m); Steed Malbranque (St-Etienne, £2m). Total: £18m
The one that got away Bebe: Steve Bruce is clearly keen on any player with Old Trafford experience; Bebe could have been his wildcard on the wing.
Brendan Rodgers does not have much to spend, so £3.5m gamble on Danny Graham needs to work.
In Danny Graham (Watford, £3.5m); Jose Moreira (Benfica, £500,000); Leroy Lita (Middlesbrough, £1.75m); Wayne Routledge (Newcastle, £2m); Michel Vorm (FC Utrecht, £1.5m); Gerhard Tremmel (Red Bull Salzburg, free). Total: £9.25m
Out Ryan Harley (Brighton, £250,000); Shaun MacDonald (Bournemouth, £80,000); Darren Pratley (Bolton, free). Total: £330,000.
The one that got away Craig Bellamy: How popular would Cardiff City's finest be at a team in acute need of top-flight experience and top-flight goals? If only we could have found out.
Harry Redknapp has not enjoyed this summer, as he has battled to keep Luka Modric from Chelsea, while also strengthening, particularly up front.
In Emmanuel Adebayor (Manchester City, loan); Brad Friedel (Aston Villa, free); Souleymane Coulibaly (Siena, undisclosed); Cristian Ceballos (Barcelona, free). Total: £0m
Out Jamie O'Hara (Wolverhampton Wanderers, £5m); Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy, £3.5m); Jonathan Woodgate (Stoke City, free); Kyle Naughton (Norwich City, loan). Total: £8.5m.
The one that got away Joe Cole: Having played for Redknapp at West Ham, Cole would be popular with the management, to say nothing of the London patter which would endear him to the fans.
West Bromwich Albion
Kept hold of Youssouf Mulumbu and Peter Odemwingie, while adding an able partner for the latter in Shane Long. Also landed a goalkeeper with good Premier League experience.
In Shane Long (Reading, £7m); Zoltan Gera (Fulham, free); Billy Jones (Preston North End, free); Ben Foster (Birmingham City, loan). Total: £7m
Out Scott Carson (Bursaspor, £2m); Ishmael Miller (Nottingham Forest, £1.2m); Boaz Myhill (Birmingham City, loan); Abdoulaye Méité (Dijon, free). Total: £3.2m.
The one that got away Paul Konchesky: Taking the left-back with him from Fulham defined Roy Hodgson's ill-fated spell at Liverpool. But he is without his signature player at The Hawthorns, after big-spending Leicester City stole in first.
As with most summers, Wigan have had to cope with losing their best player, this time Charles N'Zogbia going to Aston Villa. Roberto Martinez needs replacements who fit with his philosophy.
In Ali al-Habsi (Bolton, £4m); David Jones (Wolverhampton Wanderers, free); Albert Crusat (Almeria, £2m). Total: £6m
Out Steven Caldwell (Birmingham, free); Charles N'Zogbia (Aston Villa, £9.5m); Mauro Boselli (Estudiantes, loan); Antonio Amaya (Real Betis, £300,000). Total: £9.8m.
The one that got away Nacho Novo: Roberto Martinez will only buy from Scotland, Spain or South America. Nacho Novo spent a decade in the SPL, and is now at Sporting Gijon. What more could Martinez want?
Wolves needed the final day to avoid the drop last season, but have strengthened their spine to ensure things are more comfortable this time.
In Roger Johnson (Birmingham City, £7m); Jamie O'Hara (Tottenham Hotspur, £5m); Dorus de Vries (Swansea, free). Total: £12m
Out Stefan Maierhofer (Red Bull Salzburg, £1m); Greg Halford (Portsmouth, £1m); Steven Mouyokolo (Sochaux, loan); David Jones (Wigan, free). Total: £2m.
The one that got away Richard Dunne: Mick McCarthy's signing of Roger Johnson was in his own image as a no-nonsense centre-back. Dunne, though, makes Johnson look quite pointedly "nonsense", and would add to Wolves' growing Irish contingent.