Monday, July 22, 2019

Hazard, De Ligt, Pogba, Mbappe and Neymar – the close-season´s top transfer sagas

SoccerNews in Eredivisie 3 Jun 2019

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Eden Hazard’s seemingly imminent move from Chelsea to Real Madrid looks set to kick off a busy close-season of transfer activity ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.

Hazard has made no secret of his desire to join Los Blancos and despite Chelsea’s two-window transfer ban – which the club are appealing against – he is expected to complete his switch soon.

Madrid are likely to spend heavily on reinforcements for Zinedine Zidane’s squad after a deeply underwhelming season and Hazard could be the first of a new batch of ‘Galactico’ signings by the LaLiga side.

But who are the other big-name players likely to be involved in extensive transfer sagas before the big kick-off? Omnisport picks out 10 players who will be making the headlines…

ANTOINE GRIEZMANN

Some players are coy about their transfer wishes, preferring to let their agents do the talking for them with interested parties in private. That is not the case for Antoine Griezmann, though. After mulling over his Atletico Madrid future in excruciating detail in a television documentary a year ago, where he announced his intention to stay, the World Cup winner has now revealed he wants to leave.

Barcelona remains his most obvious destination but, after Griezmann pulled out of a seemingly done deal 12 months ago, the Catalan club may be unwilling to negotiate with him again. That could open the door for Manchester United or Paris Saint-Germain, with Atleti reportedly keen on Edinson Cavani as Griezmann’s successor.

NEYMAR

Another bout of Neymar rumours seems inevitable, with the Brazil superstar having again been unable to fire PSG to European glory after once more seeing his season disrupted by injury. Madrid are regularly linked with Neymar, but the expected arrival of Hazard may negate the need for him, especially given Vinicius Junior’s exciting emergence. Incredibly, given the fractious circumstances in which he left, Neymar has also been linked with an improbable, if not impossible, return to Barca.

PHILIPPE COUTINHO 

For Barca to launch a move for Neymar they will certainly have to raise funds, with Philippe Coutinho the most likely to make way. He has been unable to justify the outlay, reportedly an initial £105 million up front, with Ernesto Valverde seemingly preferring Ousmane Dembele as the third member of his attack, along with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Coutinho could return to the Premier League with Chelsea among his suitors – despite a potential transfer ban – as well as PSG.

PAUL POGBA

After Jose Mourinho’s departure, Paul Pogba initially seemed reborn under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. However, his form tailed off and he was involved in a confrontation with a fan after their home loss to Cardiff City on the last day of the Premier League season. United need to revamp Solskjaer’s squad and Pogba is their most sellable asset. Madrid have long been touted as the midfielder’s next club, while a return to Juventus has also been suggested for the France international.

PAULO DYBALA

Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival in Turin was always likely to be bad news for someone – and it was Paulo Dybala who suffered the most. The Argentina attacker is still regarded as one of world football’s brightest lights, but at 25 he cannot afford another season on the periphery. Massimiliano Allegri’s relationship with Dybala was strained, so he will await the appointment of a replacement with interest, but his future may lie away from Juve. Bayern Munich and Manchester United are reportedly keen.

NICOLAS PEPE

Only Kylian Mbappe scored more Ligue 1 goals in 2018-19 than Lille’s rising star Nicolas Pepe, with PSG reportedly ready to snap up the star man of the side who finished a distant second. Ivory Coast international Pepe could further his growing reputation at the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations, with Premier League sides Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal all said to be interested in the 24-year-old forward.

LUKA JOVIC

Eintracht Frankfurt can look forward to banking a huge profit if Luka Jovic completes an expected move away, with the Bundesliga side having only paid a reported €6m to trigger a purchase option as part of his loan deal from Benfica. Jovic’s goals were instrumental in Frankfurt’s run to the Europa League semi-finals but he will surely be playing in the Champions League next term. Barcelona scouts were seemingly spotted watching him earlier in the season, but Madrid have reportedly identified the Serbia striker as a long-term replacement for Suarez. Eintracht can expect to receive a fee around 10 times what they paid for Jovic.

KYLIAN MBAPPE

PSG have strongly insisted they do not have to sell Neymar or Mbappe to meet Financial Fair Play regulations, but it is not out of the question that both forwards leave the French capital. Mbappe would likely command a new world-record fee, with the striker having suggested he is ready for a new challenge elsewhere when he collected the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award recently. Mbappe’s asking price would rule out almost everyone, with Madrid in a small group of clubs who could afford him, although he undoubtedly has the potential to be the best player in the world. Manchester City have previously been linked, too.

MATTHIJS DE LIGT

Defenders are not usually as in-demand as Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt, but the teenager is a one-off talent. De Ligt’s strong leadership saw the Dutch side reach the last four of the Champions League, with Lucas Moura’s dramatic late goal for Tottenham denying Erik ten Hag’s team a place in the final. De Ligt’s club and country team-mate Frenkie de Jong has already agreed to join Barca and the centre-back has long been expected to follow. Still, just about every big club in Europe would be keen on signing De Ligt, if they have the funds required.

GARETH BALE

Former Madrid coach Fabio Capello has said Madrid have €500million to spend, so they have to raise funds somewhere. The most obvious place to start is with Wales star Gareth Bale, whose relationship with Zinedine Zidane appears impossible to repair. Reports in Spain claimed Bale would be happy to see out his contract if necessary, but United continue to be linked with offering him a route back to the Premier League. A romantic option would be to go back to Tottenham, but huge expenditure on a shiny new stadium likely rules them out as a destination.

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SoccerNews

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