With the end of the transfer window in sight – it’s less than 24 hours away in the Premier League – we look at some of the top players in Europe who could still be on the move after the latest flurry of activity saw Thibaut Courtois and Mateo Kovacic come off the list.
Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
The rumors won’t go away. It seems ludicrous that Real Madrid would allow their midfield fulcrum to leave after already selling Cristiano Ronaldo, but reports of Inter’s desire to make Modric the focal point of their lavish summer continue to gain steam, despite Florentino Perez saying the Croatian would cost €750 million. If the Ronaldo move taught us anything, it’s that nothing is impossible, regardless of how farfetched it may seem.
Most likely destination: Real Madrid. Los Blancos can’t let him go, right?
Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
It’ll take more than the underwhelming package of €50 million plus Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes, but despite reports that Manchester United have no intention of selling Pogba, rumblings of a soured relationship with Jose Mourinho continue to give the likes of Barcelona and Juventus hope that an opulent deal can be struck. If there is indeed a rift, United should stick with the World Cup-winning midfielder over the combative Portuguese bench boss.
Most likely destination: Manchester United. Ed Woodward is no transfer guru, but he knows dollars and cents, and shipping Pogba out would, quite simply, be bad business for the Red Devils.
Yerry Mina (Barcelona)
Barcelona look set to give up on Mina less than a year after spending €11.8 million to sign him from Palmeiras, and his scoring exploits at the World Cup mean there is no shortage of suitors. Chief among them are Everton, who need a center-back to partner Michael Keane.
Most likely destination: Everton. Manchester United have shifted their attention elsewhere, leaving Everton in pole position for the towering Colombian.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
Rumors of a move to Real Madrid were rife earlier this summer – fueled, primarily, by Lewandowski’s desire to embark on a “new challenge.” But Los Blancos’ inability to strike while the iron was hot means the 29-year-old is all but assured of remaining in Munich this season.
Most likely destination: Bayern Munich. Niko Kovac put any discussions about the Polish striker’s future to bed on Wednesday, saying: “Robert knows what I think about him and how I rate him. The whole club knows the qualities he possesses. He is one of the best three strikers in the world. There’s no way we’d let him leave. That’s why I told him. Robert accepted that, and I’m really happy about it.”
Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich)
Bayern went into the summer reportedly willing to allow several first-team players to head for pastures new, with the likes of Arturo Vidal, Thiago Alcantara, and Jerome Boateng said to be on that list. The former made the switch to Barcelona, but the latter pair remain in Bavaria, despite reported interest from the respective Manchester clubs, City and United. PSG are also circling around Boateng.
Most likely destination: Bayern Munich. When fit, the German is still one of the very best center-backs in world football, and Bayern would do well to keep hold of him as they continue to work hulking youngster Niklas Sule into the rotation.
Miralem Pjanic (Juventus)
The Bosnian midfielder has been at the forefront of transfer rumors all summer, with European giants like Barcelona and Manchester City said to have shown an interest in adding Pjanic to their ranks. A smooth passer and free-kick specialist, he would be a welcome piece to almost any midfield on the continent.
Most likely destination: Juventus. The Bianconeri are reportedly unwilling to sell their 28-year-old midfield anchor, with news in recent days suggesting Pjanic will ink a new deal to remain in Turin on improved terms.
Keita Balde (AS Monaco)
Just one year after leaving Serie A for Ligue 1, Keita Balde could be set for a return to Italy. The Senegalese forward enjoyed a solid, if unspectacular debut season with Monaco after a 16-goal haul with Lazio the year prior, and is reportedly on Inter’s radar.
Most likely destination: Inter. Luciano Spalletti and Co. aren’t finished retooling quite yet, and though a sensational move for Modric still feels unlikely, swooping for the former Lazio star should prove far more manageable.
Harry Maguire (Leicester City)
Leicester City are doing all they can to keep hold of Maguire, reportedly valuating the center-back affectionately known by his England teammates as “Slab-head” at £65 million.
Most likely destination: Leicester City. Such a mammoth valuation could – and maybe should – see United end their pursuit of the World Cup darling, especially when Toby Alderweireld could be available for less.
Steven Nzonzi (Sevilla)
It feels as though every club in need of midfield reinforcements has been linked with a move for ???Nzonzi over the past couple of years, and yet he remains with Sevilla. Arsenal, largely thanks to the presence of former Sevilla boss Unai Emery, remain the side most consistently attached to rumors of a swoop for the slick-passing Frenchman.
Most likely destination: Sevilla. The reliable David Ornstein reported last month that Arsenal’s first-team business was finalized with the arrival of Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria, and if he doesn’t join the Gunners, it seems likely that Nzonzi will remain at the Sanchez Pizjuan.
Nabil Fekir (Lyon)
Fekir’s move from Lyon to Liverpool was inches from being completed earlier this summer, as the clubs had reportedly agreed on a £53-million fee, and the Frenchman was said to have struck personal terms with the Reds. But concerns over his medical supposedly scuppered the deal, allowing the likes of Chelsea to enter the discussion. Lyon boss Bruno Genesio admitted Tuesday that a move for his captain could still materialize, telling reporters: “Who knows? There may be opportunities that come up before the end of the window. For now, he is a Lyon player.”
Most likely destination: Chelsea. Can the Blues complete a whirlwind final 48 hours of the window with one last splash?
Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham)
Injuries and an apparently fractured relationship with Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino saw Alderweireld make only 14 Premier League appearances last season. One of the best central defenders in the game, the Belgian’s contract situation leaves Spurs in a tricky predicament – he’s in the final year of his deal, and while Tottenham have the option to extend that agreement by a year, doing so would reportedly activate a £25-million release clause. The north London side may be forced to sell this month as a result.
Most likely destination: Manchester United. The Red Devils are in the market for another center-back, and with Leicester unwilling to budge on their sky-high valuation of Maguire, and Boateng reportedly set to remain at Bayern Munich, Alderweireld looks like the logical signing.
Tiemoue Bakayoko (Chelsea)
Wednesday’s signing of Kovacic means Chelsea will look to offload a midfielder, and Bakayoko seems the most likely candidate. Premier League clubs can’t make permanent signings after the early closure of the window on Thursday, but they’re still able to sell to other European sides, and the Blues could be busy in that area as the summer winds down.
Most likely destination: AC Milan. Bakayoko is a poor fit in Maurizio Sarri’s system, and Milan is looking for midfield depth. A season-long loan with an option to buy is a good bet here.
Ivan Perisic (Inter)
The object of Manchester United’s desire last year, the Ivan Perisic sweepstakes cooled this summer, until the Croatian winger stirred the pot with recent comments about his future. “If I was to change club, it could only be to a top league and top club. Only God knows what will happen in future. I am happy at Inter, but we all know anything is possible in football,” he told Sportske Novosti earlier this week, as translated by ESPN FC.
Most likely destination: Bayern Munich. Perisic has worked with new Bayern bench boss Niko Kovac before, and if Inter do indeed get their hands on Keita Balde, the Nerazzurri could deem the 29-year-old Croat expendable.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio)
One of the hottest names on the market this summer, ??Milinkovic-Savic has been linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus, and Chelsea, but Claudio Lotito’s gargantuan valuation seems to be scuppering any potential move. The Lazio president is looking for something in the realm of €150 million to allow his prized Serbian jewel to leave the Italian capital.
Most likely destination: Lazio. The 23-year-old’s talent is undeniable, but with Lotito playing hardball, it seems unlikely that anybody will be willing to stump up the cash he’s asking for this summer.
Hirving Lozano (PSV)
The trail has gone cold on Chucky. Hirving Lozano’s experience in Russia ran contrary to everything we’ve grown accustomed to from previous World Cups; he was expected to be a breakout star at the tournament, promptly delivered on those expectations, and yet he’s not earned the mega-money transfer that so commonly follows such a performance at the quadrennial competition.
Most likely destination: PSV. Unless something happens out of left field, the Mexican winger’s inevitable step up to a European powerhouse will be delayed until at least the January window.
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
Arguably the best player in the Premier League not currently employed by one of the top six clubs, Zaha’s combination of dribbling ability and raw pace made him a nightmare for full-backs last season. The 25-year-old is reportedly a target for both Tottenham and Chelsea.
Most likely destination: Tottenham. Spurs, the only Premier League club yet to make a single signing this summer, have to do something before the window closes. They may ultimately overpay on deadline day for Crystal Palace’s marquee man.
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
Tottenham has reportedly had a £25-million offer turned aside by Aston Villa, which is said to have left the 22-year-old playmaker frustrated. Reports suggest Grealish was assured he could leave Villa Park if a suitable offer came in, but the arrival of new executive chairman Nassef Sawiris is believed to have changed the situation; the Egyptian billionaire has no intention of selling the English attacker.
Most likely destination: Aston Villa. Tottenham will reportedly move on to other transfer targets after seeing their offer rebuked, which likely means Grealish is staying put in the Championship this season.
Ante Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt)
A starring role with Croatia en route to the World Cup final saw the 24-year-old winger shoot up the list of Manchester United targets. His boundless energy and willingness to run himself into the ground make Rebic an ideal fit for Jose Mourinho. You can almost see him praising the Eintracht Frankfurt man in post-match press conferences already.
Most likely destination: Manchester United. Mourinho continues to
be open whine about his desire for new signings, and despite a glut of wide attackers already in the squad, Rebic seems a realistic target.
Julian Weigl (Borussia Dortmund)
Pep Guardiola is a known admirer of the calm and collected 22-year-old German midfielder, and City’s inability to get the signing of Jorginho over the line earlier this summer could see the Citizens make a push for Weigl. Could Borussia Dortmund’s signing of Axel Witsel be a preemptive move in preparation for Weigl’s departure?
Most likely destination: Borussia Dortmund. City are simply running out of time for a breakthrough on this one.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)