Three months ago, the Sky Sports Digital writers took on the challenge of identifying the 20 footballers most likely to define the upcoming transfer window.
Three months later, we thought we cast a retrospective eye on how we got on.
So how did we fare? Here's the 20 players, reordered to reflect their influence and impact through this summer's manic market...
'Lionel Messi: The beginning of the end of his time at Barca?'
What we wrote: 'There is no chance of Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona this summer. The Argentina star has vowed to stay at least until the end of his current contract in 2021. But this window has sparked the beginning of a lot of speculation over his future after a tumultuous campaign at the Nou Camp. Messi is unsettled and frustrated at Barca and - for the first time - is seriously thinking of leaving next year, having broken off from new contract talks. He is fed up of conflict with the board, and of widespread rumours that he is the one that calls the shots at the club. On the pitch, Barcelona are a mess, too. A big restructure is on the cards with Ronald Koeman set to be appointed the new boss.'
Messi's messy attempted split from Barcelona was the story of the summer and, in hindsight, our error was not to go even further with our conviction that the Messi-Barcelona love affair was heading towards a split.
We knew, as stated, that Messi was unsettled and frustrated. What we did not know was just how frustrated and unsettled he had become, culminating in those extraordinary heady August days when Messi faxed in a transfer request, captured the world's attention and every Premier League fan's imagination... before eventually backing down rather than taking on Barcelona in court. Roll on the summer of 2021.
'Jadon Sancho: Can Man Utd match Dortmund's valuation?'
What we wrote: 'Few players are generating as much interest and intrigue as Jadon Sancho ahead of the transfer window. The 20-year-old, who turned his back on Manchester City to join Borussia Dortmund in 2017, has produced another stellar season in the Bundesliga, with City's rivals Manchester United now believed to be at the front of the queue for his signature...Dortmund are still holding out for the €120m (£108m) asking price on his head. But Manchester United hope to pay considerably less in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, with Sky Sports News reporting they will seek to do a deal at around £50m. It would be a steal if they can pull it off but at the time of the writing the clubs are locked in deadlock.'
And in deadlock they remained. 'Sancho to Man United' was, at least in retrospect, both the saga of the summer and the saga that wasn't.
While United never gave up the chase, they also never came close to catching or matching Dortmund's valuation - leaving the German club mystified why we were all still talking about Sancho in the final weeks of the summer window. As far as Dortmund were concerned, Sancho was bolted in as a Dortmund player from the moment their self-imposed deadline came and went in early August. 'Ahh', we said, 'they're bluffing'. 'Ahh', we say now in a slightly different pitch, 'they weren't'. It's a realisation Man United also seemingly took a long time to accept too.
'Gareth Bale: Will he settle for fringe role at Real?'
What we wrote: 'Gareth Bale's spell at Real Madrid has descended into a soap opera. During their recent charge towards La Liga glory, he was most commonly seen joking around in the stands, an unused substitute with little prospect of winning back his place in the team... The problem for Real Madrid, of course, is that Bale has a contract - and an extraordinarily lucrative one at that - until 2022.'
Problem solved - and in style. In a deal that accelerated to its finish, Bale's departure from Madrid and return to Tottenham was sealed across a couple of dizzying days at the end of September. Injury has prevented any comment on his impact since re-joining. So perhaps the final word ought to go to his record in Spain and the four Champions League titles. Surely Bale has returned to these shores as the most successful British export in football history?
'Thomas Partey: Finances could see Atletico ace depart'
What we wrote: 'Arsenal are reportedly ramping up their summer pursuit of Atletico Madrid's Thomas Partey, and it is clear to see why he is a player in such high demand. Partey's intentions and his reachable £45m-buyout clause make him one of Europe's most sought-after players...However, Arsenal need to sell before they can afford to splash the cash. They could generate funds with the potential sales of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mohamed Elneny, Lucas Torreira, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sead Kolasinac, but it will be very difficult to get such a huge turnaround of ins and outs in one summer transfer window.'
They left it late, but Arsenal got their man with a few hours of the window to spare in what turned out to be the biggest deal of Deadline Day. Of the potential sales we mooted, Mkhitaryan and Torreira did indeed depart, while Kolasinac's proposed return to Germany collapsed almost exactly at the moment Arsenal were triggering Partey's release clause. Welcome to the Premier League.
'James Rodriguez: Who will take the risk?'
What we wrote: 'Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, and even Everton, Newcastle and Wolves: they have all been linked with the Colombian at some point over the past half a decade...At 28, he still has plenty to offer - he scored 15 and made 20 assists in 67 games at Bayern - but his wages will be a problem for many, reported to be around £160,000-a-week. Even if James leaves for a cut-price deal, let's say £20m, he represents a risk for many Premier League sides. It will be intriguing to see where he finally goes, and whether a change of scenery can prompt him to recreate the form that saw him one of the world's most-wanted players at the 2014 World Cup.'
Well done Everton. They took the risk and now they are reaping the reward. Of course, there is the caveat that it is still early days, but as the inspiration behind their surge to the top of the Premier League, Rodriguez already looks cheap at whatever the cost.
'Thiago Alcantara: In search of a new adventure'
What we wrote: 'It appears as though Thiago Alcantara's time in Germany is at an end after Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told Bild: "Alcantara wants to leave. It looks like he may want to do something new at the end of his career." What that new adventure will be is still to be decided, but the Spain international will not be short of suitors...Liverpool are also reportedly interested in signing the 29-year-old - whose father is Brazil World Cup winner Mazinho - in order to add some flair to the champions' workmanlike midfield.'
Predicted and delivered, with tactical explanations bolted in for extra depth.
'Jack Grealish: Decision time looming'
What we wrote: 'Jack Grealish has admitted he is "not too sure" about his Aston Villa future - and that is little surprise with the hype surrounding him. Only Kevin De Bruyne made more chances across the entire Premier League season, and the Villa captain made almost a quarter of the club's scoring opportunities on his own...However, Man United's interest has cooled on the back of Villa's survival, which has placed a price tag upwards of £80m on Grealish's head.'
From United's perspective, it is understandable why that price-tag proved so prohibitive: Danny van de Beek cost less than half. The upshot was Grealish signed a new and improved five-year deal with Villa a few days after the season started. Significantly, the deal not only includes a pay rise, but also a bigger buy-out clause. Should the Premier League become Villa's established premises, it's feasible Grealish will be a one-club man through the entirety of his career. The new Matt Le Tissier, anyone?
'Kai Havertz: Germany's young star on his way to the Premier League?'
What we wrote: 'There is considerable hype surrounding Germany's hottest prospects, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. Chelsea have already snapped up the former from RB Leipzig and they are eager to prise the latter away from Bayer Leverkusen as well. But at just 21 years old, Havertz will cost a premium price.'
They were and he did. A five-year, £76m deal was signed in the first week of September.
'Mesut Ozil: What's the exit plan?'
What we wrote: 'How do you solve a problem like Mesut Ozil? Are there even any clubs interested in signing him and paying his mammoth wages after the financial strain of the coronavirus pandemic? Will Arsenal even pay some of his wages to finally get the World Cup winner away from the club?'
Problem unsolved. The window shuts with the German still at Arsenal, still without a minute of football played since March, and still the highest-paid player in the Premier League. It is a situation as extraordinary as it is unedifying. Arsenal's efforts to offload Ozil were hardly a secret. But Ozil is not for budging - even if, it seems, his playing days at Arsenal are all-but over. Remarkable.
'Ben Chilwell: Can Chelsea or City convince Leicester to sell?'
What we wrote: 'Could Chelsea's summer spending spree continue with a move for Leicester's Ben Chilwell? Frank Lampard is known to be a keen admirer of the left-back, who has impressed for the Foxes for the last three seasons and become a regular starter for England in the process...Leicester, however, are unlikely to allow him to leave cheaply.'
Well we got that right. Ultimately, and despite Leicester's insistence that Chilwell "is not for sale", money talked and Chelsea got their man for a fee of £50m. As we said, not cheap.
'Eberechi Eze: QPR holding out for £20m'
What we wrote: 'Eberechi Eze is an important player for QPR - in a number of ways...This season he has added work-rate and tactical awareness to his game without the ball, which has triggered significant interest from the Premier League. Crystal Palace tabled an £8m bid for Eze, plus £4m in add-ons. However, QPR value him at closer to £20m.'
We even called the size of the fee right: Eze was bought by Palace at the end of August for £16m up front with £4m in potential add-ons.
'Harry Kane: Sticking with Spurs?'
What we wrote: 'Remember the stir created during lockdown when Harry Kane told Sky Sports he would be prepared to leave Tottenham if he felt the club wasn't progressing? "I love Spurs, I'll always love Spurs. But it's one of those things - I've always said if I don't feel we're progressing as a team or going in the right direction, then I'm not someone to just stay there for the sake of it," said Kane. "It all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress as a team. So it's not a definite I'm going to stay there forever - but it's not a no either."'
Six months since that warning to Spurs, Kane remains a Tottenham player. There was, perhaps surprisingly, barely a murmur of speculation about his future over the summer, but at some point those warning words from Kane are surely going to be acted upon - unless, of course, Spurs continue to make the progress he demands. Judging by last weekend's demolition act at Old Trafford, sticking with Spurs may not have been such a bad call after all.
'Declan Rice: West Ham star would not be cheap'
What we wrote: 'Despite interest from Chelsea - the club that released Rice at the age of 14 - West Ham have been clear they have no desire to sell the England international. The Hammers dismissed reports at the start of August that they received a £50m bid from Chelsea for their star man....History tells us that there will come a time when West Ham will eventually part ways with their very best talent - but, for now at least, they are in control of the situation.'
And sometimes history does not repeat itself. While Chelsea may or may not have been interested, all that ultimately matters is that West Ham never nudged an inch on Rice's availability.
'Philippe Coutinho: Back to the Premier League?'
What we wrote: 'Another summer, another guessing game of where Philippe Coutinho will end up playing next as his season-long loan spell with Bayern Munich draws to a close. The Bundesliga champions have the option to sign the Brazil international from Barcelona for €120m this summer, but are thought unlikely to take that up after an underwhelming campaign in Bavaria that has often seen Coutinho left out of the club's key fixtures.'
There was plenty of talk of a return to the Premier League for Coutinho throughout the summer, but the Brazilian has instead started the season back at Barcelona. Best not mention the goals he scored against them in their Champions League humiliation against Bayern then.
'David Alaba: The signing of the summer?'
What we wrote: 'Bayern Munich's contract rebel David Alaba could be a Premier League player within the next few weeks as negotiations over his future with the Bundesliga champions reach a crucial stage. Premier League clubs remain keen on the versatile defender, who is entering the final year of his present contract with Bayern.'
Let's be honest, this one was a good idea, made a lot of sense, but did not really get going. Which, when you consider the defensive problems at so many Premier League clubs, and Alaba's undoubted class, is more than a tad surprising.
'Douglas Costa: An alternative to Sancho?'
What we wrote: 'Manchester United are keeping tabs on Juventus winger Douglas Costa as they embark on their summer transfer business - he looks to be their back-up plan to Jadon Sancho. It is understood United's recruitment team have been closely following Costa's progress this season as they seek to sign a wide player in the coming weeks.'
So Sancho did not happen...but then nor did Costa, with the forward returning instead to Bayern.
'Kalidou Koulibaly: Finally on his way to the Premier League?'
What we wrote: 'False peaks have long been found on the path to signing Napoli's man-mountain Kalidou Koulibaly, dubbed 'K2', but the stubborn Italian club are set to make the world's most sought-after defender available if they finalise a big-money deal for Lille forward Victor Osimhen. Liverpool's strict transfer policy prohibits them spending more than £60m on a 29-year-old. But Manchester City, equipped financially and untethered from a Champions League ban, could ditch their usual age-profile and begin an ascent. However, the signing of Nathan Ake to partner Ayermic Laporte has cooled the interest in the Napoli defender.'
Even after Ake's arrival, the expectation remained that Man City would make a move for Koulibaly but they opted instead for Dias and the Napoli defender remains a Napoli defender.
Adama Traore: The Plan B everyone wants?
What we wrote: 'Who should be interested? Just about every team in the world. Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool is an admirer. Part of the attraction is that coaches need not have a ready-made role for him in their line-up - he is a one-man plan B. An option from the bench capable of changing any game. If there is a problem it could be the price. At 24, and under contract until 2023, Wolves are well aware of his value. One fee floated is as high as £135m.'
Which is perhaps why this particular mooted transfer never went anywhere. Liverpool did, of course, coming knocking at Wolves' door, but sought instead Traore's team-mate Jota.
'Allan Saint-Maximin: Will Newcastle hold onto prize asset?'
What we wrote: 'Tyneside has a new great entertainer...Steve Bruce might have served him a string of fines for "earrings, headbands and all sorts" but he reckons the £17m arrival from Nice last summer is the "best pound for pound signing in the Premier League" and has warned suitors - PSG, Napoli and Arsenal have been linked with a move - that "there is no chance" of him leaving. Bullish talk, but this is Newcastle, where anything can happen.'
For once, however, this was a story which did not happen at Newcastle. Despite the collapse of the proposed Saudi Arabia-led takeover, Saint-Maximin remains at Newcastle and it appears they did not have to fight particularly hard to keep their star asset. See you next year.