The mystery of how and when football will resume continues to rumble on, and one major question for clubs and players across the globe is “when will the transfer window open?”. Player deals are always one of the biggest stories in the footballing world, and here we look at some potential blockbuster moves that might just happen...
10. Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli) - Manchester City, Manchester United, Juventus, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris St-Germain
We start the countdown with arguably one of the best centre-backs in football at the moment. Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly has proven a huge success in Serie A since his move from the Belgian club Genk in 2014. The Senegal superstar has also attracted attention for his scintillating performances. Napoli’s president, Aurelio de Laurentiis, did well to keep his defender in Naples last season, admitting he rejected a €105 million bid. That was last year, and this season, everything has changed. Koulibaly is struggling for minutes at Stadio San Paolo, and Napoli is already trailing by 24 points to Juventus.
In November, de Laurentiis first conceded that he would one day have to sell his prized asset. Manchester United remains one of the favourites for Koulibaly’s signature if they revive their interest, which is expected.
The transfer will hand Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the dynamic pairing of Koulibaly and Harry Maguire if it goes through; it is possible that Paris Saint-Germain will hijack the deal. Rumours are rife in the French capital that Koulibaly has purchased an apartment near the Eiffel Tower. The Spanish media are reporting that there is little interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid. Whatever happens, it is clear that Koulibaly’s days with Napoli are numbered.
9. James Rodriguez (Real Madrid) – Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund
After a brief return to Real Madrid following three years of being on loan to Bayern Munich, James Rodriguez could soon be on his way out again. The Colombian was credited with having a strong influence on Bayern’s successful campaign in 2018, but the German champions did not pick up on the buy option.
With Rodriguez’s days at Real being numbered, English Premier League side Arsenal has become favourites to land the forward. It was reported in Spanish publication Marca last year that the Gunners wanted to sign James but he turned them down. Despite that, Arsenal remains interested in securing his services.
The two-time Champions League winner will offer Arsenal more potency upfront. James’s contract runs out next season, and, with the player no longer in Coach Zinedine Zidane’s plans. There is a concern that he could leave for free. There is also reported interest from Juventus and Napoli, but Bayern’s chief rival, Borussia Dortmund, could scupper the deal. The deal is highly unlikely, though, a move to the Premier League makes it a serious possibility.
8. Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona, on loan at Bayern Munich) - Tottenham, Manchester United, Juventus
Philippe Coutinho’s future at Barcelona hangs in the balance. The Brazilian is currently on loan at Bayern Munich this season. Barcelona has made it clear that they will use Antoine Griezmann in a more starring role in the future, thus potentially ending Coutinho’s time at the Camp Nou.
Despite coach Quique Setien’s desire to sell the Brazilian, the Spanish champions are still eyeing a huge fee for the forward, a price in the region of 120 million euros. A deal of that evaluation would still mean a loss for Barcelona, but the hefty price tag has quelled interest from his two former sides, Bayern and Liverpool.
Former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit believes Coutinho regrets his decision to leave Anfield. Coutinho was well respected at Liverpool; his time at Barcelona is nothing short of a disappointment. He scored 21 goals in 76 outings for the Catalan giants.
Further afield, Manchester United are apparently reluctant to pay so much for the 27-year-old. Tottenham have inquired about Coutinho’s services. There could be some interest from Brendan Rodgers at Leicester. With Coutinho’s time in Spain drawing to a close, and all the interest in the Brazilian, a return to the Premier League is looking the likeliest.
7. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) - Manchester Utd, Tottenham
A transfer window opens; Gareth Bale’s name is mentioned once again. It is becoming routine every season. It is hard to believe that an influential player who has won games for Real on his own, would be deemed surplus to requirements.
The 30-year-old was on the verge of signing for the Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning last summer, but in a dramatic turn, Real Madrid cancelled the deal at the last minute.
Bale has only made 11 appearances for Real this season and is rapidly falling down the pecking order under Zidane. One huge stumbling block in any future negotiations could be Bale’s high wage demands. A move to the United States has been discussed, and a move to China still appeals to him.
Goals for Real Madrid:— FootballFunnys (@FootballFunnnys) March 31, 2020
🏴 Gareth Bale - 105
🇫🇷🇵🇹 Zidane and Figo combined: 105
🇧🇷 Ronaldo - 104
How can you disrespect this guy!? 😂🤯 pic.twitter.com/4b3Re3yKGs
There is an argument that states we could see Bale return to his former side Tottenham, but a lot has changed since his days at White Hart Lane, and; a deal was also strongly refuted by Bale’s agent. Manchester United has also found themselves interested in the Welshman. Bale is expected to leave the Bernabeu. He could have left last year had President Florentino Perez not intervened. Zinedine Zidane was reportedly furious as he was preparing a bid for a fellow Frenchman from Old Trafford by the name of Paul Pogba.
6. Paul Pogba (Manchester United) - Real Madrid, Paris St-Germain, Juventus
It is potentially plausible that for Zidane to sign Pogba, he needs to sell Bale and perhaps another player. Currently injured, Pogba’s second spell at United can be best described as controversial.
Pogba has faced the wrath of supporters and pundits alike for several lackadaisical performances. His current deal ends next summer, but United can unilaterally extend it by another year.
Zinedine Zidane has spoken of his admiration for Pogba, a player who only secured the FIFA World Cup barely two years ago. His calming and passionate influence in the dressing room during their final victory over Croatia is something that United fans would be desperate to see at Old Trafford.
Aside from Real Madrid, the Italian publication Calciomercato, revealed that Pogba had agreed to a deal with Paris Saint-Germain, only for the deal to apparently fall through because Neymar did not complete his return to Barcelona. A big-money exit is looking unlikely, but with Pogba continually facing a barrage of criticism, anything is possible during the summer transfer window.
5. Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) - Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Real Madrid
The German international’s strike rate of 21 goals in 25 games this season would be headline-making if not for the fact that even with those figures he is only second in the Bundesliga scoring charts, Timo Werner four goals behind Robert Lewandowski. It is apt then, that Bayern Munich have been making eyes at Leipzig’s star man, with the forward who only recently turned 24 also recording 7 assists so far. Of the players who have scored at least ten goals, only two other players in the Bundesliga can boast the same kind of contribution (those players being Bayern’s Serge Gnabry and Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, the latter of which we will get to later)
Under Julian Nagelsmann, Werner has been deployed in a slightly wider role, so he is more involved in the play this season than he was last, and the shift away from being the central striker has also meant that he has more room to accelerate and use his dribbling skills.
With Bayern having a history of weakening their Bundesliga rivals by buying their key men, Werner moving to the Allianz appears to be a good bet, though at 31, Robert Lewandowski is not exactly too old to prove useful, and it would be unlikely for Werner to accept a place on the bench even if it was for one season.
A similar dilemma awaits any potential move to Anfield, with Liverpool’s own front three in the prime of their careers and working very well as a unit. It may be conceivable that Werner’s move allows Jurgen Klopp to tinker with his formation, but even with a Champions League elimination by Atletico Madrid (where pace was not what Liverpool were lacking), there appears to be little need for the Reds to change their setup, so we will continue to keep an eye on this potential move, especially if Real Madrid decide to swoop in.
4. Neymar (Paris St-Germain) - Real Madrid, Barcelona
Neymar was, and still is, the poster-boy for the project at the Parc des Princes. His signing was seen as a major coup by the Ligue 1 side, and sent shockwaves through the world of football. Since joining the French side, however, Neymar has been unable to propel them towards the Champions League triumph they desire, with the actual Ligue 1 title a mere formality in each of his two seasons as the club (this season, PSG are currently 12 points clear at the top with a game in hand). Many might argue that he has developed a tendency to pick up injuries in the latter half of the season, the Brazilian often unavailable for key Champions League knockout ties, and that while once he was seen as the heir apparent to Lionel Messi, he is now not even the biggest star in Paris.
A return to Barcelona has been the most often-touted follow-up for Neymar, but the Catalan club may struggle to find the resources to finance the move after spending on Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie De Jong this season, as well as Ousmane Dembele and Philipe Coutinho in the past. Barcelona’s great rivals Real Madrid may be a more realistic destination, a move that would only infuriate the Blaugrana faithful even more.
Se queda. pic.twitter.com/RtPHUr9iTH— Gerard Piqué (@3gerardpique) July 23, 2017
3. Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan) - Chelsea, Juventus, Real Madrid
One of the few bright lights for AC Milan in recent seasons is the emergence of the lanky Gianluigi Donnarumma as their first-choice goalkeeper. A tall and imposing presence in the box, he has already played over 150 top-flight games for Milan despite only just turning 21. The first-choice for Italy with the retirement of his namesake Gianluigi Buffon, Donnarumma’s all-round game makes him one of the most exciting and sought-after prospects in football today.
Being called Buffon’s heir would naturally make him a target for Juventus, Donnarumma providing an upgrade over Wojciech Szczęsny, and allowing Juventus to continue their habit of plucking the best players from their domestic rivals. He is otherwise rumoured to end up at either Chelsea or Real Madrid, where current goalkeepers Kepa Arrizabalaga and Thibaut Courtois have come under flak. With Milan struggling financially, they may just be forced to cash in on their crown jewel.
2. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) - Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Paris St-Germain, Real Madrid
With 14 goals and 14 assists in the Bundesliga last season, Jadon Sancho did not announce himself as the next big thing in European football, but that he was already a big deal. And it would take a huge deal to prise him away from Dortmund, but all the clubs circling would find their money well spent. Among those who registered at least 7 assists, the English winger also completed the most dribbles (113, 42 more than the next player on the list) across the season and the second-best passing accuracy in the opposition half. This season, his form has only improved, with 15 goals and 14 assists already even before the end of the campaign.
The general consensus is that Sancho should leave Dortmund to further his career, just like he left Manchester City in search of first team football. Returning to City may be a realistic option, with Pep Guardiola getting City to play an attacking and expansive style that suits Sancho, and while City has the resources to make the deal happen, their potential Champions League ban may scupper any move.
Manchester United have monitored the player for some time, and Sancho would suit the profile of player they have signed in recent times under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and if they manage to offload Paul Pogba (and get Alexis Sanchez off the wage bill) Sancho maybe Old Trafford’s next flying winger.
Liverpool may be yet another option for Sancho but being a winger it might be difficult to see him displace the established Anfield favourites, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
1. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) - Real Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City
“I love Spurs, I’ll always love Spurs but I’ve always said if I don’t feel we’re progressing as a team or going in the right direction, I’m not someone to stay there for the sake of it.”
And with those words, Harry Kane raised alarm bells across all of the Spurs fandom. His goal-scoring prowess has been a spectacular sight to behold since being named Young Player of the Year in 2014-15, and Kane has been in the Premier League Team of the Year in four of the last five seasons, winning the Golden Boot twice and Player of the Month six times. '
To put that into perspective, Harry Kane was named Player of the Month in 22% of the time during that period. But after Tottenham failed to win the Champions League in 2019 (and failed to win the Premier League during Leicester’s miraculous title charge, instead of finishing a disappointing third), spectacular was always going to drift towards speculation, and he has been linked to every top side in need of a top striker.
Manchester United is the “easy” connection to make, with Kane perhaps following the footsteps of Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov in making to switch from North London to Old Trafford in search of silverware.
That United themselves do not have a first-choice striker bodes well for the prospect of such a move, especially as Marcus Rashford may yet prove more effective as a winger and Anthony Martial’s inconsistency holds him back from being accepted as their main man.
The alternative destination in England is Manchester City, with Kane replacing an ageing Sergio Aguero. Even then, however, Aguero may be past his best but is far from finished, and in Gabriel Jesus Pep Guardiola has a replacement he favours and rates very highly (in fact picking Jesus over Aguero repeatedly in his first season at the Etihad).
Either Mancunian candidate would invoke the legendary ire of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, but should Tottenham fail to qualify for the Champions League, he may be forced to make a deal with one of his rivals, especially if Spurs must continue to finance their new stadium, though it remains to be seen if either of Manchester clubs are in the Champions League themselves.
Real Madrid might prove the more realistic destination, Harry Kane perhaps seen as an upgrade to the underrated Karim Benzema, but all that depends on who else Madrid moves on, and which other players they target. But being a top striker with a big match mentality, Kane may well be the forward Real need, and after all, he already has experience wearing white.