With preseason training underway, the top European clubs are sizing up their next moves in the transfer market as they build for the upcoming season.
Some of the biggest names in European football have been linked with lucrative moves away from their respective clubs this summer. In the second instalment of this series, TheHardTackle takes a closer look at the futures of Chelsea superstars Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, as well as Bayern Munich left-back David Alaba and coveted Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata.
#18: David Alaba
Current Club: Bayern Munich
Suitor(s): Real Madrid
Expected Transfer Fee: €65-80 million
Zinedine Zidane’s search to rebuild his squad for the upcoming 2016/17 season has lead him to Bavaria, with Real Madrid eyeing Bayern Munich’s David Alaba as a possible transfer target this summer. The Bayern star has impressed with his performances for the Bavarian club over the last few years, playing in a number of different positions.
The versatile Austrian can play as a holding midfielder, a left-back, or even as a centre-back. Real Madrid had initially had a €50 million offer for the player rejected by Bayern Munich. However, the Spanish giants are desperate to sign Alaba and have since launched an improved €65 million bid for the Austrian, according to Spanish newspaper AS.
However, the AS report also suggests that Bayern Munich are likely to reject the improved bid as well. The Bavarians are not said to be willing to let their star Austrian leave unless their valuation of €80 million is met. Bayern executive director Karl-Heinz Rummenigge suggested last month that the Bavarians will not sell any more players this summer. He said, “The door is closed. No player will leave Bayern against our will. We have a very good relationship with both Madrid and Barca. But Europe has known since 2008 we don’t sell any player against our will.”
#14: Eden Hazard
Current Club: Chelsea
Suitor(s): Real Madrid
Expected Transfer Fee: €117 million
Real Madrid have long been impressed with the abilities of Eden Hazard. While that interest seemed to have faded over the course of the last season, when the Belgian struggled with form and injury issues, his recent performances with Belgium at the 2016 European Championships have rekindled Madrid’s interest. Real manager Zinedine Zidane has openly expressed his admiration for the player in the past.
“After Messi and Ronaldo, Hazard is my favourite player. I love watching him because he is a player who creates things and it is often spectacular to see him play,” Zidane said of the Chelsea star last year.
The Belgian is also a huge fan of Zidane and returned the compliment by saying, “Yes of course. When I was little, I watched him on television and the internet for hours. I talked Zidane and I ate Zidane.”
However, Chelsea are unlikely to let their prized possession leave cheaply. Hence, Real Madrid have reportedly been plotting a £100 million (€117 million) bid for the Belgium international.
Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale has reportedly been unhappy at the club ever since former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez was fired by Florentino Perez. The Welshman is said to be looking for a move away from the Spanish capital. If that is the case, Hazard could be an ideal replacement for Bale.
#7: Diego Costa
Current Club: Chelsea
Suitor(s): Atletico Madrid
Expected Transfer Fee: €41 million
Like most of his Chelsea teammates, Diego Costa endured a torrid 2015-16 season, but a late resurgence saw him end the campaign with 16 goals from 44 appearances in all competitions. The Spain international scored three goals and provided just assist in 15 matches in all competitions under Jose Mourinho, who was sacked in December following a defeat to champions Leicester City. His form improved after the sacking of the Portuguese though, as Dutchman Guus Hiddink took over.
This poor campaign is said to have convinced Costa that his time at the Stamford Bridge is over, with reports claiming that he now wants a move back to his former club Atletico Madrid.
Atletico have been fuelling the rumours, with their president Enrique Cerezo saying, “We are there, he wants to come. But that is already complicated. Simeone wants new players and one of those is a striker. We desire a striker with goals, a good salary, and the ability to help us win many trophies.”
Reports have also suggested that the Rojiblancos have been preparing a £35 million (€41 million) bid for Costa.
However, a recent report by Spanish newspaper AS claims that incoming Chelsea manager Antonio Conte wants to keep Costa at Chelsea, as he intends to play two strikers up front. Thus, despite the signing of Michy Batshuayi from Olympique Marseille, Costa’s spot in Chelsea’s starting XI seems to be safe.
#2: Alvaro Morata
Current Club: Real Madrid
Suitor(s): Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Arsenal
Expected Transfer Fee: €60 million
Morata is a much sought after player this summer. The Spaniard has been quietly impressive with Juventus and has shown the ability to win important games with crucial goals. The striker, who moved from Real Madrid to Turin in 2014, now finds himself back in the Spanish capital with Los Blancos exercising their €30 million buy-back clause. However, it is unlikely that the Spaniard will stay with the La Liga giants as he is unlikely to be in the starting lineup ahead of Karim Benzema.
Real Madrid are now said to be looking to sell Morata to make a hefty profit. A number of top European sides including Arsenal and Chelsea have been on the lookout for a quality striker this summer, with Morata being heavily linked to the two London rivals.
Morata himself is said to have preferred a move to Manchester United, where he could reunite with former manager Jose Mourinho. However, the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic by the Red Devils means that Mourinho already has three quality strikers in his squad in Ibrahimovic, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. Thus it is unlikely that Morata will move to Old Trafford.
With both Manchester United and Atletico Madrid out of the picture, Chelsea have now emerged as the favourites to sign Morata. Incoming Chelsea boss Antonio Conte had convinced Morata to move to Juventus two years ago. However, Conte left soon after to take charge of the Italian national team.
A reunion with Conte could entice Morata to join Chelsea, despite the fact that the Blues have not been able to qualify for the Champions League for the upcoming season. Conte reportedly wants to play two strikers up front, which is why the signing of Batshuayi is unlikely to hamper a move for Morata.
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