It’s approaching crunch time for a number of Premier League clubs looking to scramble together squads for an assault on Manchester City’s title – with Manchester United and Chelsea in particular still keen to do business ahead of Thursday’s transfer deadline.
Elsewhere, others are looking to bolster their ranks as they look to survive a torturous campaign.
Below are a list of the most in-demand players for Premier League clubs and the likelihood of deals being completed before Thursday’s deadline.
SERGEJ MILINKOVIC-SAVIC – LAZIO TO MANCHESTER UNITED OR CHELSEA
Real Madrid seemed his most likely destination ahead of a much-hyped appearance at the World Cup, with Manchester United and Chelsea his predicted landing spots in England.
However, all the noise seems to have gone quiet rather than ratcheted up since Serbia’s exit from Russia.
United appear to be more concerned with bringing in a centre-back and a winger, unless Paul Pogba makes a surprise exit, while Los Blancos need a bona-fide superstar to replace Cristiano Ronaldo. Stamford Bridge appears the most likely destination, with only Jorginho coming in this summer.
Chances of it happening 2/10
NABIL FAKIR – LYON TO CHELSEA OR LIVERPOOL
The little Lyon magician was on the brink of joining Liverpool before the World Cup, only for him to do a complete U-turn after his club kicked up a fuss. The Reds, meanwhile, were subsequently pushed to sign Xherdan Shaqiri as cover in attack.
A gap filled at Anfield could again see the Blues come in for the 25-year-old as Maurizio Sarri is belatedly in through the door and clearly needs reinforcements, judging by Sunday’s meek Community Shield defeat to Manchester City.
The player has told Lyon’s in-house TV station he’s happy for now, but has not ruled out a move in the future, so this window might be a little premature.
Chances of it happening 4/10
WILLIAN – CHELSEA TO MANCHESTER UNITED
“Sometimes we talk, we text, we send messages to each other via WhatsApp. He is a great manager, I really enjoyed working with him. I hope I can work with him again someday.”
Willian on former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. The wideman followed these comments on ESPN Brazil by saying he is happy at Chelsea. Hmmmmm.
This deal would be a good bit of business for United, who have had a poor transfer window this summer, with Mourinho searching for options out wide.
Chances of it happening 6/10
YERRY MINA – BARCELONA TO EVERTON OR MANCHESTER UNITED
You should always be wary of signing players on the back of good World Cups, particularly if the club they’re at are still trying to get rid of him.
But Yerry Mina’s biggest fault seems to be that he doesn’t fit into the tiki-taka style at Barcelona.
Well, to be fair, it’s always going to be a bit much for a 23-year-old 6’ 5” juggernaut to fit into that sort of system at one of the best clubs in the world.
But he has age on his side and as evidenced in Russia, Mina is a menace in either penalty box and would thrive in the physical jungle that is the Premier League. United appear keener on Harry Maguire or Toby Alderweireld, which could leave Goodison Park as his most likely destination.
Chances of it happening 7/10
THIBAUT COURTOIS – CHELSEA TO REAL MADRID
The player wants the move – desperate he says to be reunited with his family – as do Madrid, while Sarri even said he would not stand in Courtois’ way. We’re sure the lure of the most famous club in world football and a probable hefty wage increase is a pretty big carrot too.
The Belgian starred at the World Cup as the Red Devils made the semi-finals and failed to show up for Chelsea training on Monday in the hopes of forcing through a deal.
Chelsea have signed Robert Green as back-up and could move for Jack Butland if Courtois is sold. Reports in Spain suggest the deal is close to being agreed.
Chances of it happening 8/10
TOBY ALDERWEIRELD – TOTTENHAM TO MANCHESTER UNITED
One of the areas which Mourinho has been desperately keen to address – his dreaded defence.
Apart from the fact he has two converted wingers playing at full-back, he requires a leader for the heart of his backline.
Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are injury prone, Chris Smalling is not top drawer and Marcos Rojo is not cut out as an elite-level centre-back.
United are still short of Tottenham’s £55m valuation of Alderweireld apparently, but he’s eminently cheaper than £75m-rated Leicester defender Maguire. At 29, the Belgian is vastly experienced and would instantly upgrade United’s back four.
Chances of it happening 8/10
ANTE REBIC – EINTRACHT FRANKFURT TO MANCHESTER UNITED
United want Ivan Perisic, well Mourinho does anyway. Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward’s mantra, meanwhile, is looking more towards youth.
United were quoted £44m for the Croatia winger 12 months ago. Now, after shining at the World Cup, he is more likely to cost in excess of £60m, which is a stretch for Wooodward to agree to for a player approaching 30.
So, in a bid to get bodies in through the door, United could turn to compatriot Rebic. Industrious and energetic, he fits the Mourinho mould. And at 24, fits Woodward’s too.
Chances of it happening 7/10
WILFRIED ZAHA – CRYSTAL PALACE TO CHELSEA OR TOTTENHAM
The player is keen on staying in London, which is why a move to either side makes sense, but Chelsea have so far struggled to agree a fee for a player whose current employers are in the driving seat as he only signed a lucrative five-year contract around 18 months ago.
A single fee transfer doesn’t suit Palace as a percentage of the price will be given to Man United as part of a clause agreed in his contract when he rejoined the Eagles in 2015. This means a player exchange could be more likely, with Palace said to be keen on Ruben Loftus-Cheek who spent last season on loan with them.
Chances of it happening 7/10
Crystal Palace defender Patrick van Aanholt is set to stay at the club in this transfer window despite reported interest from Juventus.
According to ESPN FC, the Old Lady are ready to line-up a move for the 27-year-old left-back in case Brazilian Alex Sandro leaves the Serie A champions.
However, Van Aanholt is set to spurn the chance to join Massimiliano Allegri’s men this summer but did reveal that he was flattered to be linked with the European giant.
The Dutch international is one of Palace’s key men going into this coming season and the Eagles would be inclined to rebuff any late offers for his signature.
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And just like that, in the blink of an eye, the Premier League season is back. The fast-approaching new campaign, beginning with Manchester United versus Leicester on Friday, has no doubt prompted plenty of Fantasy Premier League managers to spring into action and scramble to put together their squads.
Hitting the ground running in any FPL season is no mean feat and this summer’s World Cup excursions, coupled with the early conclusion of the transfer window, has served to complicate the whole process exponentially.
Fortunately, we’ve done our homework and here’s a few tips to help you navigate the season opener.
CAPTAIN – MOHAMED SALAH | LIVERPOOL | 13M
Mohamed Salah made FPL history last season, scoring a massive 303 points from midfield – the highest-ever score from a single player in the game. The Egyptian was available for 9m, a reasonable price that proved to be an absolute bargain as he scored 32 times and provided 12 assists in a remarkable debut campaign with Liverpool. It’s no wonder his price has skyrocketed by 4m, taking him to 13m this season.
Despite being the most expensive FPL asset this year, it will take a brave manager to ignore Salah’s capacity to deliver returns on a consistent basis. Indeed, he already boasts a 51.3 per cent (and rising) ownership, and that only increases the risk of omitting him.
The Egyptian’s World Cup campaign with Egypt was short-lived and he has benefited from a full pre-season in which he’s looked incredibly sharp. Liverpool play West Ham in their season opener at Anfield. The chances of Salah flying out of the blocks against the Hammers is quite high, making it difficult to see past him as a candidate for the captaincy.
ALEXIS SANCHEZ (10.5m) until last season, held the record for highest-ever FPL scorer in a single term. After enjoying a first summer off since 2013, the Chilean should be back to his best at the start of this campaign and with Manchester United missing several of their first XI for their first game at home to Leicester City, the onus will be on him to produce the goods.
CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN (9.5m) proved to be a consistent performer last season and ended as the fourth-highest scorer among midfielders on 199 points. With Dele Alli and Harry Kane set to miss the start of the season, the in-form Dane, who has continued to impress in pre-season, will have to step up. With Newcastle United almost predictably in disarray, he should relish the away fixture.
PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (11.0m) has a tough start against Premier League champions Manchester City. However, the Blues will be without some of their key players and others will be somewhat drained by their excursions against Chelsea in the Community Shield on Sunday. The Arsenal striker on the other hand is another who should benefit from a full pre-season, one in which he scored and assisted several goals.
TWO TO WATCH
LUCAS MOURA | TOTTENHAM | 7.0M
When Tottenham signed Lucas Moura in January, it was very much a move looking ahead to this season. The tricky Brazilian made a few decent cameo appearances last term but his performances in pre-season have promised much more. A stunning free-kick against Girona capped the latest of his eye-catching performances and at the reasonable price of 7m, could prove to be great value.
RYAN SESSEGNON | FULHAM | 6.5M
Despite the hype around him ahead of this season that has seen him linked with some of the top Premier League sides, a price tag of 6.5m should not put anyone off Ryan Sessegnon. With 16 goals and eight assists from the Championship Player of the Season last term, the 18-year-old is certainly worth a look.
TWO TO AVOID
ALVARO MORATA | CHELSEA | 9.0M
Despite Maurizio Sarri failing in his efforts to convince Chelsea’s top brass to sign Gonzalo Higuain, Alvaro Morata doesn’t seem certain of establishing himself as their No9 – and has recently surrendered the actual shirt number as well, albeit in tribute to his newborn twins. Sarri may opt for Olivier Giroud instead when the Frenchman returns while Morata’s pre-season displays has provided no evidence of a resurgence following a disappointing debut campaign.
CHRISTIAN BENTEKE | CRYSTAL PALACE | 6.5M
A drop in price from 7.5m to 6.5m does little to make Christian Benteke an appealing option. The Belgian scored just three times over the course of last season and Roy Hodgson has preferred to play Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend up front ahead of the out-and-out striker. The duo has impressed in pre-season again, making it even more difficult for Benteke to wrestle back a starting berth.
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