With the transfer window in full swing and a number of elite players linked with big money moves, TheHardTackle takes a look at the top 20 players who could switch clubs before the 1st of September.
The quietest months of the football calendar are often the busiest for those working behind the scenes. As Europe’s top clubs begin preseason training, the summer transfer window is well on its way towards its frenetic September 1st climax — Deadline Day.
With the Premier League’s top sides seeking redemption after desperately poor campaigns, it is the English clubs who will likely dominate the transfer market, armed with new managers, increased television revenue and renewed optimism for a brighter future. TheHardTackle has shortlisted 20 of the biggest names rumoured to be on the move this summer.
In the first of a five-part series, we look at four high-profile footballers linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs this transfer window.
#1: Paul Pogba
Current Club: Juventus
Suitor(s): Manchester United
Expected Transfer Fee: €80 to €100 million
Probably the most talked about player this transfer window is Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba. The Frenchman has developed into one of the world’s best central midfielders in recent years, catching the attention of the football world with his skillful and mature displays for the Serie A giants. He is one of the few players in the world that has the ability to turn the game around in the blink of an eye.
With a player so young and so talented, there’s no surprise that the top teams in the continent are vying for his signature. Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain — three of the world’s biggest clubs — have taken a keen interest in the French midfield sensation.
Pogba, a graduate of the Manchester United academy, has recently been linked with a move back to Old Trafford. The Red Devils have been known to be interested in the 22-year-old for over a year now, but this season it looks like a deal may finally happen. Recent reports state that the player has chosen Manchester United and that a deal worth €120 million has been agreed between the two clubs.
However, it may not be as simple as it seems, with Spanish giants Real Madrid also keeping tabs on the player. Real manager Zinedine Zidane is known to be a fan of the Juventus star and had once referred to him as a “great talent”. Also a reported swap deal for Pogba and Kroos was proposed in May, but was reportedly rejected by Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri.
French giants PSG have also been interested in Pogba, but with the recent signing of Grzegorz Krychowiak from Sevilla, the club are willing to forego signing the highly-rated French midfielder.
United boss Jose Mourinho is ready to spend top dollar in the summer to bring back the glory days at Old Trafford. After signing two high-profile talents in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, as well as highly-rated defender Eric Bailly, Pogba might be the missing piece in the jigsaw. Midfielders Ander Herrera, Morgan Schneiderlin and Marouane Fellaini have all under-performed this past season.
Pogba would certainly add a lot of flair to the United midfield and may just provide the creative spark this season. The midfielder has 8 goals and 12 assists to his name in the 2015/16 Serie A campaign. He also played the second-most through balls in the league last season and could fit right into the setup Mourinho plans to employ at his new club. While an asking price of €120 million would make him the world’s most expensive player, it is a gamble that could pay off for the Red Devils.
#6: Hugo Lloris
Current Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Suitor(s): Real Madrid
Expected Transfer Fee: £35 million
Tottenham Hotspur’s Hugo Lloris is widely recognised as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League. Ever since his arrival from Marseille, the Frenchman has gone from strength to strength to make himself a dominant presence between the sticks. His leadership and adept marshalling of the defence has earned him the captain’s arm-band.
Real Madrid were on the verge of signing David de Gea last summer, but the move did not materialise due to a much-publicised deadline day fiasco. Current Real keeper Keylor Navas was part of the swap deal, but the Costa Rican managed to stay put at the Santiago Bernabeu. Despite the fact that he is a good shot-stopper, he isn’t one of the best keepers on offer. Thus, it is reported that Los Blancos have scouted yet another Premier League goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to serve as a replacement for their current No.1.
On face value, Lloris does look like an upgrade on Navas, but the 2015/16 stats seem to suggest otherwise. As per a Squawka comparison, the Real Madrid stopper has conceded fewer goals than the Spurs man, and is also a grade higher in the saves category. The Costa Rican is also more of an imposing presence in the box as compared to the Frenchman, as he has averaged twice the amount of catches made inside the penalty area.
Additionally, Spurs look to be unwilling to let go of their captain for anything under £35 million — a fee which could put off even Real Madrid given the Frenchman’s age and playing position. Instead, the Spanish side could look for a younger player who could eventually challenge Navas for a spot in the starting lineup. For the English club, holding on to their keeper would make more sense than looking for another established keeper, as there seem to be very few on offer. So, as big a transfer as it may seem, it is highly unlikely to occur.
#11: Julian Draxler
Current Club: Wolfsburg
Expected Transfer Fee: £35 to £45 million
It has been a decent domestic and international campaign for the highly rated German attacker. In 21 Bundesliga appearances, the 22-year-old has accounted for 5 goals and as many assists for VFL Wolfsburg. He has been pivotal in turning around the fortunes for the side, and to some extent, has filled the void left by Kevin de Bruyne. At Euro 2016, playing on either wing for Die Mannschaft, Draxler has a goal and assist to show for his 360 minutes on the field. It is no surprise, then, that some of England’s finest want to lure the youngster towards the Premier League.
In mid-June, Draxler was the subject of interest from Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese coach, who is intent on signing “specialists”, may find one in the German ace. His speed, dribbling ability and versatility could be everything that Mourinho needs for his United side. It is also understood that the club had tabled a £38.5 million bid for Draxler, which has been kept on hold as the player is still uncertain about his future.
Meanwhile, as United have turned their focus to other players for the time being, Arsenal have emerged as shock suitors for the 22-year-old attacker. As reported by ESPN (h/t The Independent), the Gunners are preparing to launch a staggering £43 million bid for the German. Their interest in the German is justified given Arsenal’s lack of finishing ability.
A move to the Emirates may prove to be too tempting an offer to turn down for Julian Draxler. Given his German compatriots Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker are already part of the Arsenal setup, it may take little to no time for him to settle in. Also, much like we’ve seen the offensive trio of Germany interchange places at the Euros, Draxler and Ozil too may alternate on the wings, adding an extra dimension to Arsenal’s already formidable attack.
Wolfsburg have admitted that their star player might leave the club this summer. As stated by the Express, the player is understood to have dreams beyond the club, with names like Arsenal and Manchester United closer to meeting his professional ambitions. Also, in the wake of Draxler links, current Arsenal player Alexis Sanchez is on the verge of an exit, making it is essential for Wenger to replace the outgoing Chilean with someone equally efficient. Julian Draxler ticks all the right boxes and could potentially be a crucial signing for the Gunners.
#16: Leonardo Bonucci
Current Club: Juventus
Suitor(s): Manchester City, Chelsea
Expected Transfer Fee: £40 to £50 million
Despite Italy’s quarter-final exit at Euro 2016, their defence throughout the course of the tournament was rock solid. The trio of Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini rarely put a foot wrong in France, and were unlucky to be knocked out via a penalty shootout.
Two weeks into the Euros, it was understood that former Italian manager Antonio Conte was eyeing a potential swoop for Bonucci, while Chelsea reportedly had agreed personal terms with the player. Manchester United, who were also in the lookout for a defender, had their sights set on Bonucci. However, both sides cooled their interest in the player and began searching for reinforcements elsewhere.
Recent reports in the British media are suggesting that Manchester City have emerged as favourites to land the Italian defensive stalwart. It is understood that the player’s agent was in Manchester recently, negotiating a whopping £50 million transfer to the Citizens.
City boss Pep Guardiola is known to be a fan of ball-playing centre-backs, and Bonucci is arguably the best in the world. A price in excess of the 50-million-mark seems to be a tad too much for a player who has already peaked. Also, the defender might find it hard to cope with the end-to-end nature of England’s top tier, as he is used to a slower and more defensive approach.
Also, Pep Guardiola would be on the lookout for world-class defenders in their mid-20s who can adapt to the Premier League quickly, as he plans on bringing immediate success to the club. As such, as mouth-watering as the potential move might be for both Bonucci and Manchester City, it is unlikely to come to fruition this summer.
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