As we approach the halfway mark of what has been a highly exciting transfer window, The Hard Tackle takes a look at five of the most sought-after strikers in Europe this summer.
This summer’s transfer window has been already seen some sensational moves take place and European giants like Manchester City, Juventus, Chelsea, Manchester United and AC Milan haven’t shied away from making their presence felt in a hugely inflated transfer market.
This transfer window has been proven to be especially interesting with regard to strikers. Romelu Lukaku, Alvaro Morata, Alexandre Lacazette have all been the subject of mega money moves to Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal respectively and there still might be more to come.
With the start of the new campaign mere weeks away, the rumour mills are working overtime as we approach the final month of the transfer window and The Hard Tackle takes a look at Europe’s most wanted strikers, some of whom may likely be the subject of this summer’s next record shattering deal.
Current Club: Manchester City
Suitor(s): Real Madrid, AC Milan, PSG
Expected Transfer Fee: £50-60 million
Most Likely Destination(s): AC Milan/PSG
Sergio Aguero is coming off the best ever individual campaign, scoring 33 goals and assisting 6 in 45 games across all competitions. However, he lost his place in the squad to Brazilian youngster Gabriel Jesus for a brief period of time last season, raising questions about his future in Guardiola’s plans.
Guardiola’s preference of a far younger option and City’s pursuit of Alexis Sanchez may spell trouble for the former Atletico Madrid striker and a player of his ability and talent isn’t one that will be willing to, or deserves to warm the bench whilst in his prime.
Needless to say, there are a few managers in Europe who wouldn’t be willing to have a player of Aguero’s quality in their squad. Manchester United and Chelsea were said to be interested earlier in the season, but Guardiola would almost certainly never sanction his sale to a direct rival.
Some of the notable clubs rumoured to be interested in him were Real Madrid, AC Milan and Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain. Kun, will at least cost £50 million in such an inflated market and all of these clubs can afford the figure. Even if they all seem to to be focusing on other targets for the moment.
Aguero’s affiliation with Atletico Madrid would make it even harder for Real to acquire him. They also have Karim Benzema, who is only a few months younger than him, so spending such eye-watering sums of money on a player of a similar age and who won’t be a long term option, wouldn’t make sense.
AC Milan and PSG in that respect, have the upper hand. They have the financial muscle and are currently looking to strengthen their squads and Aguero would fit in perfectly at either club. If it comes down to these 2 side, it would only be a matter of which project entices the Argentine more.
Guardiola recently stated that he wished to keep Aguero at the club, insisting that they wanted to see Gabriel and the Argentine together. But with more than a month remaining in the transfer window, things can certainly change should one of the aforementioned trio decide to strongly pursue him.
Current Club: AS Monaco
Suitor(s): Real Madrid, Liverpool, Arsenal, Barcelona, Manchester City
Expected Transfer Fee: £120-160 million
Most Likely Destination: Real Madrid
Mbappe enjoyed a breakthrough season in the previous campaign as a part of Leonardo Jardim’s young AS Monaco side, that besides winning the Ligue 1 in dominating fashion, also won hearts and admirers across the world with their fearless brand of football week in and week out.
His 26 goals and 14 assists in 44 games across all competitions saw him get awarded the UNFP Ligue 1 Young Player Of The Year and a place in the UNFP Ligue 1 Team Of The Year and in the UEFA Champions League Team Of The Season as well.
Capable of playing on either wing, a secondary striker or leading the line himself, the French international’s powerful style of play has also seen him draw comparisons to the legendary Thierry Henry. So in short, the ‘hype’ surrounding the 18-year-old, as they say, is ‘very real’.
He has been linked with nearly every major European club this past year. PSG, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City and Barcelona amongst others, have all been rumoured to be interested in him at one point in time but it is Real Madrid, who are said to be frontrunners for his signature.
Mbappe, like innumerable French youngsters his age, is said to be a great admirer of the legendary Zinedine Zidane and wishes to the work under the former Galactico and if reports are to be believed, he has already agreed to move to the Bernabeu this summer.
Los Blancos have already let go of Alvaro Morata to Chelsea and sent Mariano Diaz to Olympique Lyon, leaving Karim Benzema as the only recognised striker at the club. Benzema turns 30 in December and Mbappe would the perfect long-term replacement for his much older compatriot, probably for a world record fee.
Current Club: Borussia Dortmund
Suitor(s): AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Liverpool
Expected Transfer Fee: £80-90 million
Most Likely Destination: Borussia Dortmund
Self proclaimed Real Madrid fan Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, finished the 2016/17 season as the Bundesliga’s top scorer, with 31 goals to his name and also with only the second major trophy of his career – the DFB Pokal Cup, where he scored the winner against Eintracht Frankfurt.
He had yet another stellar individual campaign, scoring 40 goals and assisting 5 in only 46 games across all competitions last season. He is comfortably one of the world’s most prolific center forwards and the previous campaign was widely expected to be his last in a Dortmund shirt.
Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea were all interested in him at one point, but they have all gone on to spend big on other options. Besides the English trio, the likes of PSG, Manchester City and Liverpool have been cited as possible destinations at some point in the summer.
His former club AC Milan confirmed their interest in bringing him back and if he is to move, it will most likely be back to the Italian giants. Milan are in the midst of a massive spending spree backed by their new owners, who seem hell-bent on bringing the glory days back to the San Siro.
With Carlos Bacca set to leave after Vincenzo Montella revealed that he wasn’t in his plans, another top striker with European experience is needed at the club and Aubameyang would be a superb contender to team up alongside the young Andre Silva in the Rossoneri’s attack.
But they may have taken too long in making a move for the striker, as Dortmund have closed the door on any possible departure this summer. BVB Sporting Director Michael Zorc recently stated that they they had taken Aubameyang off the transfer market as there was no time to find a replacement, and the player looks set to stay
Current Club: Juventus
Suitor(s): Arsenal, Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG
Expected Transfer Fee: £90-100 million
Most Likely Destination: Barcelona
Dybala has had yet another stellar season in a Biaconeri shirt, one in which he netted 19 goals and provided 9 assists in 48 appearances across all competitions. Those figures would have likely been greater, had he not missed out over a month’s worth of of games due to injury.
Many expected that Gonzalo Higuain’s arrival would mean trouble for Dybala’s development but the Argentine showed no signs of slowing down and formed a superb partnership with his compatriot. And, together they helped Juve storm to yet another Serie A and Coppa Italia title.
So it comes as no surprise that like in the transfer windows before, he has been linked with a move away to a number of clubs. The likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid have all expressed their interest, but it is Barcelona that look like the strongest contenders for his signature.
The former Palermo striker revealed how Barcelona had made an offer for him in the summer of 2016 which was turned down by Juventus. However, the Catalans are expected to come back stronger this time around, especially if PSG manage to prise Neymar away from Camp Nou.
Dybala, who turns 24 in November, is a year younger than Neymar and would fit in perfectly alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. He could pick up right where his fellow South American left off and continue to fulfill his vast potential and one day even take over Messi’s mantle at the club.
However, having penned a new long-term deal with Juventus earlier this year, he is unlikely to come cheap. And a transfer fee of £90-100 million could seal the deal for him.
Current Club: Celtic
Suitor(s): Arsenal, AC Milan, Olympique Marseille, West Ham
Expected Transfer Fee: £45-55 million
Most Likely Destination: Celtic
The Frenchman first burst into the spotlight while at Fulham. In the 2015/16 campaign, he scored 17 goals and assisted a further 7 in 46 appearances. The following summer, Celtic managed to see off stiff competition and took him to Glasgow, where he has grown by leaps and bounds.
In his first season at the club, he netted 32 goals and assisted 9 in 49 appearances across all competitions. Dembele helped his side remain undefeated in the Scottish Premiership and helped them complete a domestic treble, finishing as the club’s top scorer.
His impressive performances haven’t gone unnoticed by Europe’s elite and a number of clubs have been rumoured to be interested in him over the course of the past year. Arsenal, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Liverpool and Juventus were just some of the major European sides being linked to him.
Since then AC Milan, West Ham United and Olympique Marseille have all joined the race for Dembele, who is a product of PSG’s youth academy. While Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers has maintained that he wants to keep the player, the lure of any of the aforementioned clubs might prove too great for the youngster to resist.
There is still a chance that Celtic might qualify for Europe’s Premier football tournament and that experience could prove invaluable to him at this age. Besides, a move to another club would mean that he may have to compete with other players for a place in the first team and he risks hindering his progress.
So in that regard, another season at Celtic Park seems like the best possible step right now. If he could build on the previous season and prove himself in European competition, it would establish that he isn’t a ‘one season wonder’.
Beyond that, most if not all of the aforementioned clubs will certainly return for him, willing to spend far more money than what’s on offer right now, which would also benefit those at Celtic as well as the player.