As the new season dawns upon the footballing world, we take a look at five of the most sought-after wingers in Europe – Alexis, Neymar, Lemar, Mahrez, Dembele.
The new season is slowly coming upon us. And as 2017/18 draws closer, the clubs scurry to bring in the best of reinforcements to rally together a formidable run in all competitions, both domestic and in Europe. We take a look at five of the most sought-after players plying their trade out wide.
Current Club: Arsenal
Suitor(s): Manchester City, PSG, Bayern Munich
Potential Transfer Fee: £50 million
Most likely Destination: Manchester City
Alexis Sanchez is one of the best wide forwards in the game right now. Having arrived at Arsenal from Barcelona, the player has cemented his stature in world football while becoming one of the main pillars in the first-team setup at Emirates.
And, after the club’s failure to qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stages for the upcoming campaign – despite a stellar individual season for the Chilean – the player has been reported to be on his way out of the club, with Manchester City, PSG, Bayern Munich and many more showing an interest in his services.
Pep Guardiola worked with Alexis back during their days together at Barcelona. And, as the Spanish manager builds his new City squad to launch an assault on the Premier League trophy, Alexis Sanchez wants a reunion with his former boss – City also has qualified for the UEFA Champions League, added incentive for Sanchez to make the move.
As per the latest reports, Alexis is refusing to sign a contract extension at Arsenal and with just a year left on his current deal, the player is set to be on his way to Manchester City, who are prepared to shell out £50 million for him.
The player is even willing to take a pay cut to join the Citizens and a deal is likely to be struck soon, with the attacker set to don the sky blue jersey for the upcoming campaign.
Current Club: Barcelona
Suitor(s): PSG, Manchester United, Chelsea, Chinese Super League
Potential Transfer fee: €222 million (release clause)
Most likely destination: Barcelona
Neymar is one of the most enigmatic players in world football. The player is widely hailed as the torchbearer of the current generation of the Samba Boys and the rightful global icon after Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi start fading.
However, Barcelona suffered one of their poorest campaigns in recent history, surrendering the La Liga title while also bowing out cheaply in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages – an aggregate loss to Juventus wherein they failed to trouble the scorekeepers.
The aforementioned, along with murmurs of unrest in the Barcelona dressing room, has seen Neymar being linked with a move away from the club. PSG are supposed to be the frontrunners and are prepared to activate the Brazilian’s €222 million release clause.
Neymar, too, looks keen on coming out of Lionel Messi’s shadow and a big money move like this could herald him into the record books for good – a transfer fee that is unlikely to be matched or exceeded in the near future if the deal does end up going through.
However, Gerard Pique has recently hinted that Neymar could be set to remain at Barcelona, after several people in the hierarchy along with key players have persuaded the player to stay. Indeed, this looks like a situation akin to Ronaldinho’s impending transfer to Real Madrid, which he then decided against after being persuaded by the club.
Current Club: AS Monaco FC
Suitor(s): Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona
Potential Transfer Fee: £45 million
Most likely destination: Arsenal
Thomas Lemar rose to fame along with AS Monaco’s much-surprising charge to claim the Ligue 1 crown over heavy favourites and perennial champions PSG. The winger impressed with his work-rate and ability to create chances for himself and his teammates.
AS Monaco, though, seem to be paying a heavy price for their unexpected surge in performance last season. The club has already lost Benjamin Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Bernardo Silva thus far and Kylian Mbappe is expected to depart as well, which has seen them attempt to hold on to the other prospects like Lemar.
But, Arsenal are keen on acquiring the 21-year-old and with Alexis Sanchez nearing an exit, the player will be an ideal replacement for the Chilean. Arsenal have been knocked back twice in the pursuit of Lemar. But, recent reports suggest there has been a breakthrough in talks and the player is set to sign for the Gunners in a £45 million deal.
The amount looks fair, considering the player is just 21 and has three more years left on his Monaco deal. Also, Arsenal can easily balance the outflow with the potential fee to be received from the deals for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez.
Current Club: Leicester City FC
Suitor(s): Arsenal, Juventus, Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG, Tottenham
Potential Transfer Fee: £50 million
Most likely destination: Leicester City
Riyad Mahrez arrived onto the scene making a splash in the Premier League world with his explosive pace and trickery. And, as the Foxes scripted history by winning the league in the 2015/16 season, Mahrez was hailed as one of the most destructive wingers in world football.
However, the past season has somewhat silenced the uproars a bit. One thing, though, that has remained constant is the rumours linking him to an exit from the King Power Stadium. Arsenal came close to landing the player last summer. But, Claudio Ranieri persisted and the Algerian obliged to stay with the Foxes.
However, with Ranieri now gone, Mahrez is looking to move to a more illustrious club to have a better chance of competing for honours and also being able to compete in Europe as well. Arsenal and Tottenham are both poised to battle for the player in what looks like a transfer that will go down to perhaps the last week of the window.
The Foxes seem undeterred from their hefty £50 million asking price for the Algerian and the early results will determine whether Arsenal, Tottenham or any of the other aforementioned teams become desperate enough to add further quality to their side. Till then, the player looks set to stay at Leicester City.
Current club: Borussia Dortmund
Suitor(s): PSG, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool
Potential Transfer Fee: £50 million
Most likely destination: Borussia Dortmund
Ousmane Dembele’s arrival in the Bundesliga created so much hype around his talent. And, needless to say, the talent has delivered – in spades. Dembele was one of the many sparks of an otherwise shabby league campaign that saw Thomas Tuchel leave the club and be replaced with Peter Bosz.
Dembele looks like a raw talent with the capability of emulating the biggest of stars in the coming years. So, widespread interest in the player isn’t too much of a surprise. The player, though, looks likely to head to Spain – Barcelona or Real Madrid – whenever he decides to leave Dortmund.
However, the 20-year-old looks to stay put for now, despite rumours linking him to Barcelona, who may move for the winger, only if Neymar decides to leave. Real on the other hand, are targeting Kylian Mbappe with reports that Perez is keeping a keen eye on Dembele and could move for the Frenchman next summer.
Hence, for now, the player looks to stay and work under Peter Bosz, who already worked wonders last season with a young Ajax lineup.