With the European Championships now over, the mad scramble for transfer signings is about to begin. The top clubs in Europe are looking to snap up the best players to challenge again for domestic and European glory.
In Part III of this series, TheHardTackle looks at four high-profile footballers who could be on the move this summer. Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez is struggling to find a place in Zinedine Zidane’s starting lineup, while Romelu Lukaku has made no secret of his ambition to move to a bigger club. Meanwhile, Serie A superstars Paulo Dybala and Radja Nainggolan are attracting the attention of Spanish and English giants respectively.
#3: James Rodriguez
Current Club: Real Madrid
Potential transfer fee: €60 to €70 million
The Colombian playmaker burst onto the scene during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, where he led Colombia to the quarter-finals and won the Golden Boot award for his 6 goals in the tournament. La Liga giants Real Madrid snapped him up from AS Monaco for a whopping €80 million soon after the World Cup ended.
After a bright start to his Real career, Rodriguez has seen his fortunes turn drastically this past season. The arrival of Rafa Benitez saw him demoted to the bench, and the appointment of Zidane saw his game-time dwindle further still. Zizou’s preference for a midfield trio of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro meant that Rodriguez was left to battle it out with Spaniard Isco for substitute appearances.
The 24-year-old attacking midfielder is considered to be one of the best young players in the game. He would feature in the starting lineups of most of the top teams in the world today and Real will probably look to cash in on James this summer instead of keeping that much talent on the bench. Premier League clubs Arsenal and Manchester United have shown a keen interest in the Colombian, but PSG have recently emerged as the front runners to land his signature.
Real Madrid are reportedly holding out for a €62 million transfer fee and the Parisian giants are more than capable of paying that kind of money.
#9: Romelu Lukaku
Current Club: Everton
Expected Transfer Fee: €60 to €70 million
Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku has emerged as one of the Premier League’s most lethal strikers in the past couple of seasons. He signed for Everton from Chelsea in 2014 for the tidy sum of £28 million, after a season in which he scored 15 league goals for the Toffees while on loan. He has gone on to rack up 45 goals for them in all competitions since then, destroying defences with his physicality and power.
Lukaku’s Premier League experience is invaluable and he is a player in demand as the top clubs look for an experienced and consistent striker. The Belgian has been vocal about his desire to play Champions League football, something that Everton cannot provide after they finished in 11th place this past season.
Ahead of Euro 2016, his father had stated that Manchester United and Bayern Munich were favourites to sign him this summer. However, recent reports claim that Lukaku wants to move back to former club Chelsea. The presence of Robert Lewandoswki at Bayern Munich and the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Manchester United means that the Blues could well land a player once tipped to be Didier Drogba’s replacement.
However they will have to pay a massive transfer fee, as Everton are holding out for at least £60 million.
#12: Paulo Dybala
Current Club: Juventus
Expected Transfer Fee: €80 million
Juventus faced a massive void in their ranks after their Champions League heroics of 2014-15. The departure of Argentine striker Carlos Tevez was a body blow, but it was quickly countered by the acquisition of his compatriot Paulo Dybala from Palermo. The 22-year-old had a brilliant debut season for Juventus, scoring 23 goals in 46 appearances for I Bianconeri as they marched to a fifth successive Serie A title.
Dybala still has many years to develop and has displayed precocious talent in his early days at Juve. The €32 million transfer fee — with an additional €8 million as add-ons — that Juve paid Palermo now looks like one of the best bargains of last summer. However, the interest that Dybala has attracted with his stunning performances in his debut season could see him make a move away from Turin. Barcelona have been the most persistent suitors, with Dybala recently turning down a €80 million offer.
The Argentine is first-choice at Juventus, but that would not be the case at Barcelona. The trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar are automatic selections for Barca, and the role of back-up will not appeal much to Dybala. He has maintained his commitment to I Bianconeri and his suitors will probably have to wait a few more years before they are able to lure him away from Turin.
#15: Radja Nainggolan
Current club: AS Roma
Expected Transfer Fee: €30 to €40 million
Radja Nianggolan is the midfield enforcer who helped Roma achieve a third place finish in the Serie A this past season. A strong box-to-box midfielder, he is adept at playing as a defensive block ahead of the back-four as well as getting forward to attack. Nainggolan scored 6 goals and registered an assist as the Romans qualified for Champions League football for the 2016-17 season.
The Belgian’s skills were on full display at Euro 2016 before Belgium crashed out in the quarter-final stage. He registered an assist and scored twice for his national team, including a scorching long-distance stunner against Wales in the quarter-finals.
The 28-year-old midfielder has been linked with Premier League giants Chelsea for months now. Incoming Blues manager Antonio Conte is believed to be a big fan of the Belgian and thinks of him as the perfect midfield player to base his 3-5-2 system at Stamford Bridge around. However, Nainggolan has remained steadfast in his loyalty to AS Roma despite the interests of Conte and Chelsea, with the club now directing their attentions elsewhere.
Nainggolan is in the prime of his career and would be a good acquisition for any top level club. But unless something drastic happens between now and transfer deadline day, the Belgian is most likely to stay in Rome. The loss of Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic to Juventus makes it even more important for Roma to hold on to one of their most influential players.
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