Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are three of the richest clubs in world football. Their financial backing is unrivalled in the modern game and their ability to buy the best players in the world has given them the competitive edge over domestic rivals.
In their constant efforts to build on previous campaigns and become more dominant in their respective leagues, the three clubs have spent vast sums of money on world class players and top talents. TheHardTackle takes a look at five players they could add to their ranks and how much they would approximately cost.
1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: £65 million
His pace and finishing ability make the Gabon speedster a dream signing for any manager. The previous season established Aubameyang as one of the world’s foremost strikers, with the Dortmund star scoring an amazing 39 goals in 46 appearances for Borussia Dortmund. He has grown by leaps and bounds under Tomas Tuchel and has clearly lived up to the potential that Jurgen Klopp saw in him. His performances in 2015-16 have seen him linked to Manchester United, Manchester City and also Real Madrid.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic left the Parc de Princes after the expiry of his contract this summer and is edging closer to a move to Manchester United, leaving Edinson Cavani as PSG’s only recognised centre-forward. However, the Uruguayan has failed to escape Zlatan’s shadow and has never quite lived up to his billing. Aubameyang, though not like-for-like, could be the perfect replacement for the Swedish legend. Flanked by the likes of Angel Di Maria and Lucas Moura, the Parisians could do untold amounts of damage to any defence with their pace and finishing ability.
According to a report in the Mirror, Manchester City were asked £65 million for Aubameyang, a price that is well within City’s range. The thought of a new look strike-force consisting of Aguero and Aubameyang backed by the creativity of De Bruyne and Silva is a dream prospect. Guardiola is sure to have been impressed by the 26-year-old’s performances in the Bundesliga and it is very possible that we will see them team up at the Etihad.
It was reported earlier in the season that the striker dreams of donning the royal white of Madrid someday. A move to Real Madrid would also suit both the striker and the club. It was rumoured that Real were interested in acquiring the services of Robert Lewandowski.
However, the Bayern Munich hierarchy have said that they will not entertain any offers for the Polish striker and Los Blancos could shift their attention to Aubameyang. With Modric and Kroos in midfield and Bale and Ronaldo beside him, Real Madrid would become much faster on the attack, especially in transitional play.
2. Gonzalo Higuain: £70 million
Recently, according to a report in Football Italia, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis admitted that his star striker Gonzalo Higuain had a £74.3 million release clause in his contract. It is likely that Napoli will be willing to settle for a slightly lesser amount if the offer arrives.
The Argentine hit man has been linked with a move away from Naples after spending three seasons and scoring 91 goals for the Partenopei. The 28-year-old has been linked with moves to Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United this year, but he could be a perfect fit at other top European clubs.
The former Real Madrid man would be a good replacement for the now-departed Zlatan Ibrahimovic at PSG. At 28 years of age, he is in his peak years and has the quality to pick up from where Ibrahimovic left off. He would serve as the perfect target man for PSG’s midfielders and wingers to feed the ball to and he would be far more mobile than Ibrahimovic as well. He could possibly be at the forefront of a new look PSG as they look to try and replicate their domestic success in Europe.
At Manchester City, the possibility of teaming up alongside compatriot Sergio Aguero is something that would strike fear into the hearts of the defenders in England. The likes of Stevan Jovetic, Edin Dzeko and most recently Wilfried Bony have all disappointed and not lived up to their large price tags.
Alvaro Negredo made a promising start, but even he was let go of after a season. Kelechi Iheanacho is the only other striker that City have other than Bony and Aguero, and Guardiola will surely be on the lookout for a world class name to add to their forward ranks.
3. David De Gea: £65 million
Since moving to Manchester United in the summer of 2011 from Atletico Madrid, the 25-year-old has developed into into one of the best keepers in the world. The young Spaniard has grown in strength and stature and has seen a huge improvement in his game. His meteoric rise has caught the attention of Real Madrid, who have been trying to lure him to the Santiago Bernabeu. They nearly succeeded last year, before the deal fell through at the 11th hour.
It was reported that there was a release clause inserted into De Gea’s contract extension which would allow Real Madrid to sign the Spanish international for a reported £47.8 million fee on or before the 15th of June. Given that the deadline has passed and no offer has been forthcoming, the Red Devils will likely ask for a much larger fee from any potential suitors — if in fact they are willing to listen to offers for their No.1.
The Real Madrid hierarchy see him as the heir to Iker Casillas and the fact that he was born in Madrid makes him even more perfect for the role. Los Blancos have had to settle for Keylor Navas, Kiko Casilla and Diego Lopes in the past four years, but they believe that De Gea is the only one who can truly replace the legendary Iker Casillas.
PSG could also do with reinforcements between the posts. David De Gea would be a definite upgrade over Kevin Trapp and Salvatore Sirigu. They would easily be able to afford any wage demands or any transfer fee that Manchester United would ask for. If they wish to step up their efforts to conquer Europe in the near future, adding a keeper of De Gea’s calibreto their ranks would benefit them greatly.
4. Antoine Griezmann: £52.5 million
The Frenchman has been stellar for Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid, helping them to a third place finish in La Liga and leading them to a Champions League final. Since moving to Atletico in the summer of 2014, the forward has gone from strength to strength and has become an integral part of the Madrid side.
In two seasons, he has scored 57 goals in 107 appearances for Los Rojiblancos — an outstanding feat given the way Simeone sets up his team, placing a greater emphasis on defence. His performances has seen his market value rise considerably and transfermarkt estimates it at £52.5 million.
A move to cross-town rivals Real Madrid would seem difficult given his affiliation with Atletico, but a move to PSG or Manchester City wouldn’t seem so far-fetched given that they can pay any amount Atletico demand for their prized forward and Atletico would like the funds to improve in other areas of the pitch.
Teaming up with Guardiola at City would be a dream for any player and Griezmann would almost certainly fit into any system the Spaniard would like to apply. His versatility would be an added bonus, as he can play on the wings or up front with Aguero, or even be deployed as lone striker if Aguero is unavailable.
A move to PSG would also benefit the club given what the Frenchman brings to the table. Versatility, pace, trickery and a deadly eye for goal are all attributes that a club like PSG would need to take them further in their quest for European glory. He would likely take the place of Lucas Moura or Angel Di Maria if he is played out wide, but could also feature alongside Edinson Cavani in attack.
5. James Rodriguez: £60 million
After a superb first season at the Bernabeu, the Colombian captain has had a disappointing 2015-16 campaign with Los Blancos. The arrival of Rafael Benitez saw him lose his place and things didn’t get any better after Zinedine Zidane took over. The ability of the 24-year-old is undoubted, but it seems as if he has no place in Zidane’s system. Modric and Kroos are irreplaceable in the team, while defensive midfielder Casemiro is crucial to maintain balance.
If Los Blancos were to try and sell the Manchester United target, they would definitely try to make a profit or at the very least, break even. His current market value is estimated at £52.5 million by transfermarkt, but Real Madrid are likely to demand at least £60 million.
A move to Paris Saint Germain would suit the Colombian. He would bring something new to their attacking lineup. Their other designated playmaker Javier Pastore has seen his involvement reduce over the course of the past two seasons and the Argentine may be in line for a move away from Paris. If PSG choose to bring James to the Parc de Princes, they would be signing a player familiar with the French league and one who would add a new dimension to their attack.
Previously, a move to Manchester City would be seen by many as a step down, but given that it is Guardiola who has taken over at the helm, it is unlikely that that notion will hold up for long. Silva is now 30 years of age and is unlikely to be at his best throughout the season. 2015-16 saw him register his worst goal tally in his six years at the club.
James would be a superb fit in the playmaker’s role for Guaridola’s side and could be a player that Manchester City build their new ‘core’ around. The Colombian can be deployed in the number 10 role behind the striker or as one of two attacking midfielders along with De Bruyne. Despite his disappointing season, he is still a player capable of making a difference, and a spell under the watchful eyes of Pep Guardiola could be just what he requires to realise his full potential.