The most expensive players in the world and the stars who could break the current records this summer

Alex Rea 9/06/2017
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Most transfer windows don’t open until July 1 but some of Europe’s heavyweights are already preparing to empty their wallets.

Bloated by exponential TV rights deals, there is every chance that world-record fees in every position could be broken over the summer.

We take a look at who currently holds the record for goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and striker and the players who could be set to break it in the ensuing months.

GOALKEEPER

CURRENT RECORD

EDERSON – £35 million

TRANSFER – Benfica to Manchester City

Gigi Buffon’s mark has already been surpassed this summer as Manchester City completed a record-breaking deal for the Benfica stopper this week.

Pep Guardiola made his signature a No1 priority and the Brazilian has put pen to paper on a five-year deal, meaning Claudio Bravo faces an uncertain future at the Etihad Stadium.

The 23-year-old earned a reputation as a sweeper keeper and his ability on the ball is one of the key reasons Guardiola was prepared to make him the most expensive goalkeeper of all time.

POTENTIAL RECORD BREAKERS

DAVID DE GEA – £66 million

INTERESTED CLUBS – Real Madrid

The Spain international is perennially linked with a switch to Real Madrid and the pendulum has swung in both directions this summer with the Bernabeu outfit apparently cooling their initial interest.

Jose Mourinho, however, is reportedly willing to sell the 26-year-old, and was even keen to see Alvaro Morata included as part of the deal.

But with Morata now potentially a separate investment, any deal for De Gea would be straight cash and the projected fee will be just shy of double Ederson’s new record.

GIANLUIGI DONNARUMMA – £35 million

INTERESTED CLUBS – Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid

Depending on which source you choose to believe, the 18-year-old AC Milan keeper will fetch anything from £20 million to £130 million.

The Italian is Milan’s undisputed No1 and has thrived ever since making his first-team debut at just 16.

With just a year left on his current deal Donnarumma’s agent Mino Raiola is licking his lips at a potential move and Real Madrid have emerged as the latest interested party having apparently pulled away from De Gea.

JAN OBLAK – £85 million

INTERESTED CLUBS – Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid

The transfer carousel could see the Atletico Madrid No1 move to Old Trafford with United chiefs concerned De Gea will try to force through a move to Real Madrid.

The 24-year-old won La Liga’s best goalkeeper award for the second straight season and is viewed as a world-class replacement should De Gea leave.

He comes with a hefty price tag, though, with his release clause a whopping £85 million.

DEFENDER

CURRENT RECORD

JOHN STONES – £47.5 million

TRANSFER – Everton to Manchester City

Manchester City’s fee paid to Everton hasn’t quite looked like money well spent following a rocky first season at the Etihad Stadium.

But at just 23, the England international possesses plenty of promise and remains one of the finest ball-playing centre-halves around.

A free run of injuries for Vincent Kompany next season could provide the stable partnership he needs to develop further.

POTENTIAL RECORD BREAKERS

VIRGIL VAN DIJK – £70 million

INTERESTED CLUBS – Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea

Liverpool have made an absolute shambles of their pursuit of the Dutchman but there are rumblings that despite apologising to Southampton and withdrawing their interest, they could still sign the defender should he force through the move himself.

Manchester City retracted their interest in the Saints centre-back after he signalled his desire to move to Anfield with Chelsea now appearing the lone candidates to sign him.

Southampton have been emboldened by Liverpool’s abandonment and are no under obligation to sell the 25-year-old given he has five years left to run on his current deal.

VICTOR LINDELOF – £50million

INTERESTED CLUBS – Manchester United

Manchester United are prime suspects in this one with Jose Mourinho hoping to add more depth to his defence over the summer.

The Benfica centre-half has three years left on his current deal but his relative inexperience at the top level means there is an element of risk in his acquisition.

The Portuguese giants are looking for a fee which exceeds the club record £35 million Zenit Saint Petersburg paid for Axel Witsel with figures north of £45 million touted.

HECTOR BELLERIN – £50 million

INTERESTED CLUBS – Barcelona and Manchester City

The former Barcelona youth product is said to be a top target of new Nou Camp boss Ernesto Valverde while City have also reportedly shown an interest in the Arsenal full-back.

His form mirrored Arsenal’s season as he fluctuated for much of the campaign before finishing strong in Arsene Wenger’s redesigned 3-4-3 system.

That’s not stopped reports of a move back to Barcelona and the 22-year-old is said to be worth £50 million.

MIDFIELDER

CURRENT RECORD

PAUL POGBA – £89 million

TRANSFER – Juventus to Manchester United

No one will be more delighted than Paul Pogba if the highest ever fee paid for a player is broken this summer.

The £89 million price tag weighed heavy on his shoulders and it also skewed the perception of his performances in a United shirt last term.

The Frenchman was one of Jose Mourinho’s standout stars but didn’t get the appreciation he deserved because of the pressure in being the world’s most expensive player.

POTENTIAL RECORD BREAKERS

GARETH BALE – £100 million

INTERESTED PARTIES – Manchester United

Real Madrid rarely go two summers without a signing a ‘Galactico’ and the hope is that they can sign one of three targets from Kylian Mbappe, Eden Hazard and David De Gea.

Of course, any one of those signings will require significant investment and to fund any potential deal, Real are apparently willing to negotiate over Gareth Bale.

United have long been linked with the Welshman and it’s understood Old Trafford is one of the few places he would leave Madrid for but while deal is conceivable for boths sides, Real would still be looking to recoup the £86 million they paid to Tottenham in 2013 and more.

EDEN HAZARD – £100 million

INTERESTED PARTIES – Real Madrid

As was pointed out before, the La Liga and Champions League champions are eager to splash the cash this summer and Hazard is chief among the candidates to break the world-record transfer fee.

Reports suggest he will need to force Chelsea’s hand as the Belgium is contracted with the Premier League champions until 2020 and should that come to fruition Madrid would be willing to fork out £100 million for his services.

Hazard enjoyed a reinvigorating campaign under Antonio Conte to realign himself alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as one of the world’s premier talents.

DELE ALLI – £100 million

INTERESTED PARTIES – Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid

The Tottenham midfielder has drawn admiring glances from abroad with you guessed it, Real registered with an interest.

The two clubs have previous when it comes to transfer dealings as Spurs have sold both Luka Modric (£30 million) and Bale (£86 million) to Los Blancos.

It’s unlikely Alli will leave this summer as he is a key cog in Spurs’ midfield having scored 18 goals and registered 7 assists but at 21 with room to grow it won’t be too long before the rumours of big money move gather legitimate momentum.

STRIKER

CURRENT RECORD

GONZALO HIGUAIN – £75 million

TRANSFER – Napoli to Juventus

Big stage flops have marred an outstanding goal return from the Argentine and the Champions League final is justification of that.

He scored 32 times in 55 games during his first season at Juve following the money-spinning move from Napoli but ultimately the Serie A champions shelled out the astronomical fee in the hope he would bring Champions League glory.

In the 4-1 defeat to Real Madrid in Cardiff he was completely anonymous.

POTENTIAL RECORD BREAKERS

ROMELU LUKAKU – £100 million

INTERESTED CLUBS – Manchester United and Chelsea

He will apparently snub United’s interest in him to rejoin Chelsea with Lukaku seemingly destined to leave Everton in the transfer window.

Big strong, quick and a guaranteed Premier League goalscorer, the Belgian may not be the most glamorous signing but he will provide the ideal replacement if Diego Costa is on the way out of Stamford Bridge.

The 24-year-old’s deal runs out in 2018 so the Toffees have a modicum of bargaining power and they are willing to fulfill his contract, leading them to attach a whopping £100 million price tag to his name.

ANDREA BELOTTI – £84 MILLION

INTERESTED CLUBS – Manchester United, Arsenal and AC Milan

From Serie B in 2013/14 to potential record breaker, the Torino striker has made a massive impact this season and in December he signed a new deal which saw the Italian club insert an £84 million release clause.

He is one of five players heading up Jose Mourinho’s Old Trafford wishlist with his bruising physicality and goalscoring record catching the eye.

Milan are well in the fight to sign him with Arsenal previously linked as well.

KYLIAN MBAPPE – £120 million

INTERESTED CLUBS – Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid

Saving the biggest for last, the Monaco teenager has been linked with just about every major European club after a quite remarkable season.

Two unnamed clubs have already had bids in excess of £85 million rejected by the Ligue 1 side with Madrid and City the two thought to be leading the chase.

The 18-year-old’s current deal runs out in 2019 although Monaco are hopeful he will agree new contact with a pay increase.

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15 Minutes with former Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Ervin Skela

Matt Jones 8/06/2017
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You’ve heard countless sports stars talk about how competing is like a drug and is hard to give up, and that is particularly true of former Eintract Frankfurt footballer Ervin Skela.

The 40-year-old earned 75 caps and scored 13 goals for Albania between 2000–2011 – making him their fourth most capped international – while also playing in Germany, Poland and italy. he still plays today, combining coaching duties at Frankfurt’s academy with turning out for FC Hanau 93 in Germany’s seventh tier.

Skela spoke to Sport360° during Die Adler (The Eagles’) winter training camp in Abu Dhabi.

You have played for a host of clubs, but Eintracht Frankfurt is where you spent the most time. You are a coach here now too, so is the club special to you?

It was my best time during my career, at the club. I love the club. I’ve been living in Frankfurt too since the end of my professional career so I feel comfortable in the area too. I’m always surprised that people still recognise me now even after all these years.

It gives me a good feeling that I played well in the past. I’m very happy now being a coach with the football academy. It’s my club.

What is your career highlight?

There were a lot of positives and negatives. At Frankfurt the best moment was getting promoted from the second division to the Bundesliga in the 2002/03 season. It was a very special game where we scored in the last minute. We beat SSV Reutlingen 6-3 on the final day, but it was the sixth goal that was so important for promotion as it meant we finished with a goal difference of +26, meaning we were promoted ahead of Mainz, who finished fourth, who had a goal difference of +25.

At a national team level there are a lot, but matches against Greece when they were European champions after winning Euro 2004, and we beat them 2-1. Also playing against Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo. We won 1-0 so it was a great success.

You played 75 times for Albania. They are a small nation but appeared at Euro 2016. Do you think the future is bright?

The future is quite good. Nowadays a lot of Albanians live abroad, in Switzerland and Germany and across Europe. They have the chance if they are talented to play for big clubs. It gives them a good football education so this way is good. They are playing in team academies from a young age.

The local league in Albania still has problems regarding the level, infrastructure. Now it is easier to travel across borders, so it’s getting easier for young players to get noticed.

During your career, who is the best player you played against?

I played against Maldini, Seedorf and Inzaghi at AC Milan. The best player was Kaka during my time in Italy. I was fascinated by his technical skills. It was like he was flying over the ground more or less.

And the best player you played with?

Marco Delvecchio while I was at Ascoli. He had a good eye, great technical skills and was very experienced. He knew exactly what he had to do.

Despite leaving professional football a few years ago, you still play at a competitive standard?

Yes. I still play in the seventh division in Germany, just for fun. It’s a team near Frankfurt, Hannau 93. I’m still fit and I can have a drink afterwards too, it’s just a bit of fun.

Players always say they find it hard to give it up. Have you found it difficult to hang the boots up?

Since I started playing aged seven, it’s always been 24 hours football. I don’t know any different. It’s also not good to totally cut out doing something. Whatever it is. Your body needs to settle so it’s a slow curve downwards.

I’m still having fun playing with those young boys so it’s just the fun factor. I’ll keep doing it as long as I can and as long as I’m enjoying it. I’ve been lucky with injuries throughout my career so why wouldn’t you (carry on).

As a coach at Eintracht, you’ve visited Abu Dhabi during the Bundesliga’s winter break the last few seasons and held training camps with kids playing in the National School League tournament. What have you made of the talent on show?

There were two kids with advanced skills and very good talent this year. If you had more time you’d maybe see a bit more. It’s very important for them to repeat the excercises. Even the coaches had a lot of fun. The kids were polite and really wanted to learn. They were keen for any advice or tips.

Do you think perhaps there might be a player from here playing for Frankfurt one day?

There was a case last year where one player at a camp in Europe is now playing for a club next to us in Germany where we have a partnership with them. He’s playing for their youth team. It’s a step like this that young players can take to playing for Frankfurt perhaps one day.

And as a club we’re building our links and cooperation with other clubs too. It makes sense for the youngsters to participate here, you’ve always got a chance.

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