With the summer transfer window in full swing, we’re making predictions on where some of the most notable targets in world football will be plying their trade next season.
Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)
Rumblings of a stunning return to Barcelona are gaining steam. How the Catalan giants could afford to bring Neymar back is another question entirely. Already pushing the limits of what their wage structure can handle, splurging on the Brazilian winger shouldn’t be possible. Crazier things have happened, though, like the €222-million transfer that got us here in the first place.
Prediction: Stays at Paris Saint-Germain
Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Pogba is ready for a “new challenge,” and both Real Madrid and Juventus are prepared to oblige. The latter would need to raise significant funds to finance the move, making it unlikely, but the former prints money, and could make the Frenchman the marquee star of its next Galactico era. It’s tough to envision Pogba turning that offer down if it’s presented.
Prediction: Moves to Real Madrid
Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)
Juventus need a long-term successor to Giorgio Chiellini, and have earmarked Dutch phenom De Ligt as the prime candidate. Optimism over a move for the 19-year-old center-back is growing, according to reports in Italy, and a switch to Turin would allow the in-demand teen to hone his craft under the tutelage of Chiellini, a defensive mastermind. It’s a win-win for both parties.
Prediction: Moves to Juventus
Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)
What’s the holdup? Despite denials from the Barca brass that a deal is sealed, Atletico Madrid CEO Gil Martin confirmed earlier this month that Griezmann’s move to the Camp Nou has been finalized. “We have known since March,” Martin said of the striker’s impending switch. This, like Eden Hazard’s transfer to Atleti’s bitter city rivals, seems like a foregone conclusion.
Prediction: Moves to Barcelona
Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona)
Barcelona probably want a mulligan here. The gargantuan £142 million that the reigning La Liga champions reportedly forked over to Liverpool looks more and more harrowing with each poor performance from the pint-sized Brazilian. There’s no question they want to cut bait and recoup some of that fee, but suitors will be hard to find unless they scale back their sky-high price tag.
Prediction: Stays at Barcelona
Joao Felix (Benfica)
It’s going to take roughly €120 million, but Atletico Madrid are reportedly set to beat stiff competition from the two Manchester clubs in the race for Portugal’s next great young talent. Felix, the explosive 19-year-old, would come in and offer an immediate attacking spark in the wake of Griezmann’s departure (whenever that finally happens).
Prediction: Moves to Atletico Madrid
Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
Newly minted Inter boss Antonio Conte is reportedly “desperate” to make Lukaku the focal point of his attack; he tried to sign him while managing Chelsea, to no avail. Successfully procuring the services of the Belgian this time around is dependent on offloading Mauro Icardi. If somebody bites on the Argentine’s £60-million valuation, expect the move for Lukaku to happen.
Prediction: Moves to Inter Milan
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)
The notoriously fickle Real Madrid faithful have done their best to push Bale out the door for over a year now. It seems like Zinedine Zidane concurs, as the Welshman often found himself stapled to the bench in the latter stages of last season. But while Real Madrid wants Bale to move on, it seems unlikely that anybody will play ball considering the transfer fee and wages involved.
Prediction: Stays at Real Madrid
Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon)
Outspoken Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas is resigned to losing outstanding midfielder Ndombele this summer, and Tottenham, at long last, are finally ready to ditch their miserly ways and splurge in the transfer window. Ndombele, a 22-year-old who can do a little bit of everything in midfield, would blossom into a bona fide superstar in north London.
Prediction: Moves to Tottenham
James Rodriguez (Real Madrid)
An unspectacular loan spell at Bayern Munich has Rodriguez back at the Bernabeu, but for how long? The Colombian is yet to discuss his standing at the club with Zidane, and Napoli are reportedly making a big push to bring the playmaker to Italy. Marek Hamsik’s departure last season, though not crippling, left a creative void in midfield that James could fix.
Prediction: Moves to Napoli