A new season will be here soon but there’s still plenty of frenzy surrounding transfers and THT takes a look at the most wanted midfielders this summer
The Hard Tackle takes a look at five of Europe’s most wanted midfielders – players who are being targeted by several big clubs and could be on the move right before the new season begins.
The transfer window so far has witnessed a few shock moves, heartbreaks and – of course – some record-breaking deals. With only a couple of weeks left for the new season to begin, one might think that the majority of drama is over. But no, things are only beginning to take a dramatic turn.
Be it this transfer window or any other before this, midfielders are always in high demand. Almost every midfielder gets linked to either one club or a plethora of different clubs as managers scurry about to procure the best talent for the team to boost their chances in the forthcoming season. Here are the top five most-wanted midfielders this summer:
Current Club: RB Leipzig
Suitor(s): Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City
Potential transfer fee: £70-75 million
Most likely destination: Liverpool
Keita was a part of Austrian outfit Red Bull Salzburg in the summer of 2014 that won both the Austrian Bundesliga and Austrian Cup in the 2014/15 season, with the player winning the Austrian Bundesliga Player of the Year award during his second season.
However, clubs started taking notice of him when he burst upon the scene playing for Salzsburg’s sister club RB Leipzig. Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool have all identified him as a midfield target.
The German club are demanding £70 million and all three interested parties are more than capable of mustering that amount. However, Liverpool are believed to be the front-runners in signing the promising youngster.
It comes as no surprise that three big Premier League clubs are battling it out for his signature. 22-year-old Keita has been a pillar of strength for the East German club as his presence allowed RB Leipzig to transition effectively into employing a speedier attacking style, allowing their strikers to flourish.
As things stand, the Reds are closest to signing the player. The young midfielder can offer competition to several Liverpool players if he does join Anfield this summer. Klopp can either use him in the advanced midfield role instead of Adam Lallana or change to the 4-4-2 diamond formation permanently.
When one compares all three clubs, Liverpool does seem like an ideal fit for Keita since he is quite versatile and can play central, attacking or defensive midfield. Moreover, his work rate makes him the perfect fit in the style of play that Klopp has implemented at Anfield.
The widespread interest in him coupled with Leipzig’s continued reluctance to part ways with the Guinea international only seeks to send his potential fee skyrocketing. Keita is, thus, likely to cost somewhere between £70-75 million.
Current Club: Schalke 04
Suitor(s): Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Bayern Munich
Potential transfer fee: €20-30 million
Most likely destination: Bayern Munich
Leon Goretzka is the latest among the fiery new generation of German players who have managed to capture the attention of several big clubs. The player progressed through the ranks at Vfl Bochum before joining Schalke 04 back in 2013.
Since then, Goretzka has rapidly improved and became widely known as one of the most promising midfielders in the Bundesliga. Last season, the 22-year-old featured in 30 Bundesliga matches and netted five goals and five assists.
He was also handed a starting spot in Joachim Loew’s winning squad for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017. The youngster has Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City and Bayern Munich vying for his signature.
If recent reports are to be believed though, it seems like Tottenham and Manchester City have ceded their interest in the promising German as Arsenal and Bayern Munich continue to remain interested.
Goretzka has truly been a revelation and catapulted to further attention during the recently-concluded FIFA Confederations Cup. The fact that he has refused to sign a new contract with Schalke only multiplies his chances of leaving the club since he has only a year left on his current contract.
All the interested clubs – except Arsenal – will be able to provide the exciting prospect of Champions League football – something that could turn the player’s head. Keeping that in mind, Bayern Munich is where his is most likely to end up.
The reason being, Goretzka will not only get to play for a German side famous for developing home-grown talent, but under a manager whose record speaks for himself. And with only one year left on his current deal with Schalke, the player is unlikely to cost much
Current Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Suitor(s): Chelsea, Manchester United, Barcelona
Potential transfer fee: £60-80 million
Most likely destination: Manchester United
Marco Verratti is regarded as one of the best central midfielders in the world and has managed to establish himself as a key element in PSG’s midfield in the last five seasons. He is widely renowned for his ability to tighten things in the centre while ensuring an efficient distribution of the ball.
Last season was rather underwhelming for the French giants as they lost out on the Ligue 1 title to AS Monaco and failed to make an impact in the Champions League as well. However, Verratti was an exceptional performer even as the club endured issues.
The central midfielder is being pursued by a slew of clubs like Manchester United, Barcelona and Chelsea. Earlier, it was reported that Verratti is especially keen on a move to join Barcelona but recent reports indicate that he is open to joining other clubs as well if a deal with the Catalons fails to materialise.
Barcelona have been targeting him because midfield is top priority for the Spanish club with last summer’s signings Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez failing to live up to their billing. Ivan Rakitic, meanwhile, failed to maintain consistency which could be one of the biggest reasons behind their woeful season.
Be that as it may, no official move has been made from their side and reports of Chelsea targeting Verratti have slowed down. Compared to both clubs, Manchester United is likely to be the ideal destination for Verratti.
Mino Raiola’s appointment as Verratti’s agent is an interesting turn of events as well. With the super agent enjoying good relations with the Premier League outfit, a move to Old Trafford may yet be on the cards.
Current Club: Everton
Suitor(s): Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur
Potential transfer fee: £35-40 million
Most likely destination: Tottenham Hotspur
Barkley has been a hot prospect ever since he burst onto the scene with Everton, having progressed quickly through the ranks at the club. The 23-year-old has gone on to establish himself as a mainstay for both club and country earning recognition while becoming touted as one of the most exciting talents in England.
The Englishman has recorded more than 150 appearances for Everton and has only gone from strength-to-strength under Ronald Koeman, hence drawing the attention of Premier League biggies such as Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
Barkley though, has only a year left on his contract and has not made signed a new deal with Everton yet. Rather than risking letting him go for free next year, Koeman will be looking to cash in on one of his most sought-after players.
One reason that could convince these clubs to further push for an offer is the fact that staying back at Everton certainly does not seem like a good option for Barkley. Everton have brought in Ajax attacking midfielder Davy Klaassen and have made a £45 million offer to sign Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Spurs are believed to be the front-runners for the talented Englishman and a move to Pochettino’s squad is likely to benefit him. The manager has been criticized so far for his inability to do solid business this summer but a deal for Barkley can help sway those sentiments since they have been eager to sign him to bolster the midfield.
Granted, he will have to fight for a regular starting spot if he joins Tottenham, but the player is capable of that and can easily capitalize on any given opportunity. Heung-Min Son has proven that if you take your chances under Pochettino, you will keep your place in his side, and that is likely to sound like an exciting prospect for Barkley.
As far as transfer fee is concerned, Everton are commanding an asking price of £50 million. But with just one year left on his current deal at Goodison Park, they might have to lower the figure or risk losing the player for free next summer. Thus a deal is likely to be struck in the region of £35-40 million.
Current Club: Arsenal
Suitor(s): Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool
Potential transfer fee: £35 million
Most likely destination: Liverpool
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain endured several changes in position for a large parts of last season. He took up roles in the central midfield area, played as a wing back and also worked from his traditional right wing position.
However, he was phenomenal as a wing back, even dethroning Hector Bellerin to play in the position. Growing frustration among the fans led to Arsene Wenger making an unusual change in his formation as he employed a three-man back line, and that system greatly benefited the former Southampton player.
His recent surge in form explains the interest from heavy-weights like Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool. Six years of nurturing his talent did pay off for the Gunners but with no talks of a new contract happening, one of these clubs are likely to reap the benefits.
Although Wenger has refuted all rumours of Oxlade-Chamberlain leaving this summer, Liverpool are believed to be in pole position to sign the talented youngster. They will be likely to meet the £35 million price tag and Jurgen Klopp is understood to be an ardent admirer of the Englishman’s versatility.
Klopp has been lacking depth in the centre of the park owing to captain Jordan Henderson struggling with injuries, as a result of which, the manager had Adam Lallana, Emre Can, Lucas Leiva and Georginio Wijnaldum as his options for large parts of the campaign.
Oxlade-Chamberlain can become an asset for Klopp with his pace and work rate. Additionally, he can also play in the Champions League next season if he joins Liverpool since the Gunners will have to be content with Europa League.
A transfer fee in the region of £35 million is likely to be agreed upon, with the player being in such high demand.