The transfer window is open and there are A-list players in demand and whose futures are uncertain. We take a look at some of the big names who will be the centre of attention during the next month or so…
Harry Kane: The big one…
Harry Kane has made no secret in recent interviews that he wants to compete for Europe’s top team trophies, and in mid-May the 27-year-old once again told Tottenham he wants to leave this summer.
Spurs are now making enquiries about replacement centre-forwards, in the first indication that the club are willing to consider the feelings of their main man. If the final home game of the season was anything to go by, the fans can sympathise with Kane’s position, with Spurs’ last trophy coming in 2008. Their anger is very much aimed at those running the club.
Spurs, of course, do not want to sell their prized asset, but Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have all been in touch with Kane’s representatives CK66 expressing a desire to sign him.
Kane’s preference is to remain in the Premier League, but with just a handful of years of peak-Kane remaining, would potential suitors rather spend the money on a decade of guaranteed goals in Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe?
Kane had reportedly originally wanted his future sorted before Euro 2020, but given the sums that would be involved in getting the Premier League’s best goalscorer out of Spurs, that seemed an unrealistic aim.
Erling Haaland – Who will pounce a year early?
Alongside Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland is Europe’s hottest property, continuing to prove himself over the past 12 months with 41 goals in 41 appearances for Dortmund.
Haaland’s release clause, kicking in in summer 2022, is understood to be around €75m, so Dortmund can realistically ask for whatever they want this summer. Despite the expected added cost, will anyone pounce at the opportunity to sign Haaland a year in advance?
His agent Mino Raiola said earlier in 2021 that four Premier League clubs would be interested in doing a deal: Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool. All have strong cases.
City now have just one striker on their books in Gabriel Jesus, but fared just fine without an out-and-out No 9 last season. Chelsea, unlikely to put all their eggs in the Timo Werner basket, are interested in Haaland and Romelu Lukaku as they plan to invest again this summer.
Liverpool’s front three are all approaching their 30s, and though there’s the Norwegian link with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Man Utd turned down the opportunity to sign Haaland in January 2020 because of the low release clause of 2022. This one should run and run…
Lionel Messi – Barca optimistic
Having dominated the headlines for a week in the summer of 2020, it all ended in a bit of an anti-climax. Lionel Messi stayed put at Barcelona, and the signs are that he will sign a fresh deal at the Nou Camp this summer.
The 33-year-old is out of contract at the end of June, and despite heavy links with PSG and Manchester City in 2020, talk is likely to be nipped in the bud early on.
New Barcelona president Joan Laporta is optimistic Messi will commit his long-term future to the club – “The new contract is going well but it is not done yet” – with rumours including a two-year stint at David Beckham’s MLS side Inter Miami from 2023 before his retirement in 2025, then returning to Barcelona as an ambassador.
Meanwhile, Barcelona’s strengthening elsewhere in the side will likely encourage Messi as the club look to rebuild after winning just one trophy in two years; they’ve signed fellow Argentine Sergio Aguero from Man City, alongside City centre-back Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal from Real Betis.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Juve talks ongoing
Like his regular rival Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo’s future is far from assured. He has just a year left on his current deal with Juventus, and he is set for fresh talks with the club this summer.
The Serie A side had a poor season by their standards. Their nine-year Serie A winning streak was ended by Inter Milan, but they did secure the Italian Super Cup and Coppa Italia titles, as well as sneaking into the Champions League places.
Ronaldo also reminded everyone of his talent as he won the Serie A Golden Boot, scoring 29 goals in 33 appearances, and was named as the league’s best striker.
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Of course, former Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri – who signed Ronaldo back in the summer of 2018 – is back at the club. However, sporting director Fabio Paratici is set to leave, with Tottenham the favourites to secure his services.
Media reports have suggested the forward has made contact with former clubs Manchester United and Real Madrid as talks with Juventus continue, but it’s very much a case of ‘watch this space’.
Danny Ings – A big decision for Saints
Southampton’s talisman is heading into the final year of his contract at St Mary’s, and there is sure to be plenty of interest in the England striker.
Ings – who has scored 41 Premier League goals for Southampton since joining from Liverpool, initially on loan, in 2018 – has so far stalled on signing a contract extension, but Saints will still be hoping they can keep hold of him.
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has talked of his confidence in Ings staying on the south coast, but Sky Sports News reported back in March that he was been on the radar of Manchester City.
At 28, Ings, who missed out on selection for England’s Euro 2020 squad, could be eyeing up another opportunity at one of the Premier League’s big boys, but the decision rests with Southampton.
Do they keep hold of him and risk losing him for free next summer or cash in on their star striker and reinvest the funds into a squad that struggled during the second half of the season? A big decision is coming for Saints…
Dean Henderson – Won’t stay if he’s not No 1
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looked to have settled any debate surrounding David de Gea’s future in early March when Dean Henderson was named as No 1 for eight straight Premier League games, but De Gea’s re-emergence towards the end of the season has confused the situation again.
De Gea also got the nod for the Europa League final – missing the decisive penalty in the mammoth shootout – and Henderson has seemingly made it clear he will only stay at Old Trafford next season if he is No 1 choice.
In February, Sky Sports News reported that Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund led a string of clubs interested in Henderson. Chelsea and AC Milan are also reportedly keen.
The ex-Sheffield United loanee looked to have cemented his position with high-quality performances in crucial matches away to City, Tottenham, Real Sociedad and AC Milan.
But a below-par performance in the 4-2 defeat to Liverpool looked to have been the catalyst for De Gea’s return, and a big decision for Solsjaer going into the season.
Jack Grealish – Villa would demand huge sum
Barely a summer goes by without Jack Grealish being linked with a move away from Aston Villa. It’s testament to his performances, of course, but Villa will feel quietly optimistic that their skipper will remain in claret and blue on September 1.
Now an England international, Villa can realistically demand a huge price for the 25-year-old, and don’t necessarily need to sell him. In the current climate, it’s difficult to see how one of the Premier League’s giants would want to splash the cash, and even trickier to decipher which club needs a player in Grealish’s position.
Even if a club came in with a big-money offer, Grealish’s emotional pull to Villa Park is strong. Villa have strengthened their creative output in Emi Buendia already, beating Arsenal to the Argentine, meaning the weight on his shoulders has decreased somewhat. Grealish will no doubt be encouraged by the ambition shown by Villa’s owners.
But as he trains and plays alongside England’s best for Euro 2020, a risk for Villa would be Grealish becoming accustomed to that increase in quality around him, something he has not been shy in referencing since first joining the England set-up late in 2020.
Jadon Sancho – Return of the summer saga
Sancho is one of England’s hottest young talents and is at the centre of speculation for the second successive summer. The 21-year-old England international was widely expected to move to Manchester United in 2020 and Old Trafford could yet be his destination.
Sky Sports News explained at the start of the month that discussions over the England international’s transfer are centred around the overall fee Dortmund want and United’s structure of payments.
It is thought the asking price will be significantly less than the £108m Dortmund wanted last summer – largely due to the economic effects of the ongoing pandemic and the fact Sancho is entering the final two years of his contract.
According to reports on the continent, Dortmund would be willing to accept a fee of £82m – a staggering £74m more than they paid Manchester City four years ago.
Raphael Varane – The perfect partner for Maguire?
Another played linked with Manchester United. A World Cup winner in 2018, defender Varane has been suggested as a possible centre-back partner for Harry Maguire as United seek to end a four-year run without silverware.
The commanding Frenchman has 12 months to go on his contract and is reported to have turned down a new deal at the Bernabeu. Real president Florentino Perez is likely to prefer selling the 28-year-old now than risk losing him for free next summer.
When asked about his future on France duty ahead of Euro 2020, Varane told reporters: “This is not the time to talk about my future, I am focused on the selection, on this Euro, it is normal and logical to ask the question and for my part it is normal and logical to focus on the upcoming deadlines.
“We are all human beings. We can think about it. As for my personal case, I am focused on the objectives that we have in the France team, it is not a subject that I will discuss every day in my room at Clairefontaine.
“I am focused on my goal, and now is not the time to discuss it. If I have to talk about it, it will be directly with the people concerned.”
United may need to part with around £60m to complete the transfer.
Yves Bissouma – The Wijnaldum replacement?
Brighton look to be facing a fight to keep hold of arguably their two most valuable assets. Mali midfielder Bissouma has caught the eye all season, prompting links to Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United.
According to reports, Seagulls owner Tony Bloom would require an offer of more than £40m to consider selling the 24-year-old.
Brighton will be keen to avoid losing two prized assets this summer, so Bissouma’s future could be linked to Ben White, whose debut season in the Premier League was capped by a place in England’s Euro 2020 squad.
The ball-playing defender, 23, was likened to a £25m new signing by Brighton boss Graham Potter having returned from a loan spell at Leeds and recent estimates suggest his value is now double that figure.
Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Italian club Roma are possible destinations, so Bissouma could be forced to stay should White attract the bigger bid.
Jesse Lingard – West Ham will want their man
Jesse Lingard might well consider himself unfortunate to have missed out on the final cut for Gareth Southgate’s England squad after a stellar second half of the season on loan at West Ham.
David Moyes would certainly like to keep him but Manchester United have yet to show their hand.
Speaking at the end of the 2020/21 season, he said: “I couldn’t say any more than I’m hopeful Jesse might want to come here, that’s up to Manchester United, but he’s been a positive signing.”
Sky Sports News reported back in April that the Hammers were keen to do “whatever it takes” to land him on a permanent basis, with Kaveh Solhekol saying: “My understanding is that as far as West Ham are concerned, he’s made such an impact that they will do whatever it takes; I’m not saying they’ll pay stupid money but they’ll definitely match or try to better what any other club offers for him. Then it will come down to what he wants to do.
“West Ham would prefer there wasn’t a bidding war this summer but Lingard has just been playing so well, there are lots of other clubs interested in signing him and there’s still the possibility he may go back to Manchester United and sign a new contract.
“His contract was due to run out this summer but United had the option to extend it by 12 months and that’s exactly what they did. They would have been open to selling him for something like £15m in the past but that’s not going to be enough money this summer. I think it’s going to cost much more than that.”
Having failed to force his way into Southgate’s plans, Lingard and his parent club have time to plot their next move.
Alexandre Lacazette – Gunners ready to sell?
The 30-year-old is heading into the final year of his contract at Arsenal and has been linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium this summer.
As yet, there have been no news of talks over a new deal for the Frenchman, who scored 17 goals in 41 appearances in all competitions this season for the north London club
But after a really difficult season for the Gunners, who finished eighth in the Premier League, Mikel Arteta has made no secret of the need for an overhaul of his squad and he is optimistic the club’s Kroenke owners will back him in the transfer market.
However, he will also have to sell players to fund an overhaul, and Arsenal could be willing to let Lacazette, who has attracted interest from Atletico Madrid and Juventus in the past, go for the right price.
Kylian Mbappe – PSG will not let him go quietly
Although just 22, Mbappe is one of Europe’s most talented players and every transfer window comes with a new possible destination for the Frenchman.
An Mbappe-linked regular, Real Madrid, appear to be leading the chase, but PSG will want to hold on tight to one of their hottest prospects. After a disappointing season with only one trophy won, the French side will need all of Mbappe’s talent to help them compete next season.
“I will be clear, Mbappe is going to stay in Paris,” club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi told L’Equipe. “We will never sell him and he will never leave on a free (transfer). Mbappe has everything he needs in Paris.
“Where can he go? What club, in terms of ambition, can compete with PSG today? All I can say is that things are going well and I hope we can reach an agreement (on a new contract).
“This is Paris, this is his country. He has a mission, not only to play football, but to promote Ligue 1, his country and his capital.”
Mbappe scored 42 goals in all competitions for PSG last season and is contracted to the club until June 2022, so any club wanting to sign him will need to fork out some serious money. The Ligue 1 side will also not let him go quietly.
The France forward is also being tipped to shine at this summer’s European Championships and could add another winners medal to his already impressive collection. His performance over the next few weeks could see his star soar even higher.
Tammy Abraham – Time to leave Chelsea?
It was a season of two halves for Tammy Abraham. He played regularly under Frank Lampard – scoring all six of his Premier League goals under the former manager – but has struggled for game time under Thomas Tuchel.
An ankle injury played a part, but Abraham only featured in six of the 19 Premier League games since the German’s arrival. He did not make the squad for the final league fixture against Aston Villa or the Champions League final victory.
It looks like Abraham could be on the lookout for a new club, especially with Olivier Giroud signing a new deal and Chelsea reportedly in the chase for Haaland. The likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz are also starting to find their feet in the Premier League.
And let’s not forget, Abraham was Chelsea’s joint-second highest goalscorer in the Premier League this season (6), level with Mason Mount and Werner. They were beaten by designated penalty taker, Jorginho.
So Abraham still has plenty to offer at the highest level, and there are a number of clubs who would be grateful for his services.
Dele Alli – New manager could prove crucial
What a difference a few years can make. Back in 2018, Alli was a key figure for club and country, playing a pivotal role for Tottenham and also England, starting regularly for Gareth Southgate’s side at the 2018 World Cup.
But fast forward to this summer and Alli is nowhere near the England reckoning following a loss of form and confidence with Tottenham, where a lack of game time has cast his future into doubt.
The 25-year-old now finds himself at a crossroads in his career and while his prospects at Spurs have improved since the departure of Jose Mourinho, the midfielder will be considering his options again this summer.
He sought a way out at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in January, but eventually opted to stay and a similar outcome could rest on who Spurs bring in as their new manager.
Paul Pogba – The man to make way?
Should Manchester United target Varane, Sancho and a central striker, will Pogba be the man to make way? The France World Cup winner’s future seems to have been continually up in the air dating back to the days of former United boss Jose Mourinho.
Pogba’s representative has fuelled speculation over his future at Old Trafford on numerous occasions. Speaking at the end of last year, his agent Mino Raiola said the midfielder was “unhappy” at the club, needed to change teams, and the agent left the door open for a potential exit for his client this summer.
Pogba later took to social media where he rubbished claims concerning any departure from United, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also hit out at Raiola for his provocative comments. The 28-year-old has just a year remaining on his existing contract and has been linked with a move if he does not sign a new deal.
The beaten Europa League finalists will undoubtedly be eager to recoup some of their significant £89m outlay. A return to Juve is a possibility, while a move to Real Madrid has been mooted.
Jan Oblak – Who can afford the Atleti Ace?
Another summer, another story about the future of in-demand Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
The Slovenia international has just enjoyed another outstanding campaign between the posts for Diego Simeone’s side, playing an integral role in Atleti’s La Liga title win.
However, having been in the Spanish capital since 2014, could it now be time for the 28-year-old to try a new adventure elsewhere, with both Man Utd and Arsenal reportedly hoping to bring the player to England this summer.
Well, Oblak was certainly not ruling anything out when recently quizzed about his future at the Wanda Metropolitano, telling Marca: “I can’t see the future, neither myself nor the club nor anyone can.
“It will depend on a lot of factors, such as if the club needs to sell any players or not. I have been at Atleti seven years and I have two years left on my contract.
“I’m here, I’m happy. We’ll see what the future brings.”
With a £103m buyout clause in his current contract in Madrid, though, it will prove eye-wateringly expensive – in a market already feeling the after-effects of Covid-19 – to sign the ‘keeper this summer.
Philippe Coutinho – Is the Samba Star returning to England?
It looks like the now yearly scramble to bring former Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho back to the Premier League will have to wait for his recovery from injury in July.
The Brazilian swapped Liverpool for Barcelona in a £146m deal in January 2018, only to struggle to cement a first-team place at the Nou Camp.
And after another injury-interrupted season in Catalonia – the 28-year-old is currently sidelined with a knee problem – it is believed Barca are now willing to let Coutinho leave this summer, with Arsenal and Everton both reportedly interested.
However, those clubs will need to wait until the player has fully recovered from the arthroscopic surgery he had in April, his third knee operation since January, and it is unlikely his future will be decided until later in the transfer window as his rehabilitation continues.
Kalidou Koulibaly – Time to finally leave Naples?
Could this finally be the transfer window in which Kalidou Koulibaly leaves Napoli?
Koulibaly was reportedly on his way to Liverpool last summer, while Manchester City were also understood to be interested in the coveted defender, before turning their attentions to Ruben Dias in September.
However, with Koulibaly’s contract in Naples expiring in 2023, expect the club’s owner Aurelio de Laurentiis to try to cash in on the Senegal centre back this window, especially given he turns 30 on June 20.
And if so, there will surely be a stampede of clubs lining up to sign the £100m-valued defender.
Martin Odegaard – Where does his future lie?
The Norwegian is reportedly Arsenal’s number one transfer target this summer after impressing the Gunners following his loan move to the Emirates Stadium last January.
However, the 22-year-old is now back at parent club Real Madrid, but does his future lie with the Spanish giants?
Carlo Ancelotti is now the man in charge at the Bernabeu after taking over from Zinedine Zidane and his appointment has led to even more speculation regarding Odegaard’s future.
Will Ancelotti see him as a key part of his squad, or will he be sold to fund any new arrivals? Only time will tell, but Arsenal, and other clubs around Europe, will be watching on with interest as Real weigh up the decision.
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