This year’s summer transfer window is already one of the most frenetic and the majority of Europe’s windows haven’t even opened yet.
However, that hasn’t stopped the stream of daily rumours with some of the best players in the world linked with money-spinning switches.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to analyse the four most in-demand players this summer from goalkeeper to striker.
Club: AC Milan
Linked to: Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Real Madrid and Manchester United
Price tag: €100million
The Donnarumma dilemma has had more plot twists than a Shakespeare drama.
Earlier this month the 18-year-old signalled his intention to leave the San Siro after saying he would decline a contract extension with his current deal expiring next summer.
That sparked a fierce reaction from Milan fans toward the keeper and his agent Mino Raiola, which prompted Donnarumma to publicly back his representative inciting more anger.
Then, he apologised to the Rossoneri faithful for the “uproar” he’d cause and promised to discuss a contract renewal with the club after the conclusion of the European U-21 Championship.
The PR disaster surrounding this transfer saga has been nothing short of amateur but what cannot be denied is that Donnarumma is one of the hottest prospects on the market.
Real Madrid were immediately linked with the Italy international when reports surfaced he wouldn’t sign a new deal while Juventus are also strongly tipped to compete for his signature with the iconic Gigi Buffon contemplating retirement after the 2018 World Cup.
Then, of course, there is Manchester United who will have cash to burn and a No1 spot to fill should they lose David De Gea.
Through all this tension, though, Donnarumma has stayed calm and composed and his mental fortitude is a testament to his talent as a goalkeeper as the psychological elements are crucial for a wold-class stopper.
The reason he is so highly-courted is because his anticipation, judgement, positioning and organisation are supreme, even despite his tender years, and if one positive can be drawn from this drama it’s that the Italy international clearly has his head squarely on his shoulders even if it is being turned by Europe’s big hitters.
Linked to: Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City
Price tag: €80million
Liverpool were cleared today of any charge in relation to the accusation they “tapped up” Virgil van Dijk but if reports in the English media are to be correct, it may not be the last time they are linked to the Dutchman.
Indeed, Chelsea have hit the front queue to sign the 25-year-old but Manchester City and the Reds are still lurking the corner.
Quality centre-halves are a premium buy in today’s market with so few talented and trusted defenders in Europe’s top-five leagues, so it is no surprise that top clubs are vying for his signature.
In some corners, Van Dijk is viewed as the best centre-back in the Premier Leaue with his towering physical attributes married to an elegant playing style.
It’s why Liverpool were so steadfast in their pursuit but their eager and aggressive approach perhaps cost them.
Van Dijk has met with Jurgen Klopp and is impressed with the project headed up by the German at Anfield but the leaking of his desire to join the Reds saw Saints threaten to report their Premier League rivals for tapping him up.
Given he is just one year into a six-year contact, Southampton hold all the bargaining power and aren’t willing to see him depart for anything less than €80million.
Still, that’s price the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and City will deem justified and it’s easy to see why he is one of the most in-demand defenders this summer.
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Linked to: Barcelona and Chelsea
Price tag: €80million
Macro Verratti might just be the best central midfielder Europe has to offer so it’s no surprise that both Chelsea, and in particular Barcelona are desperate to secure his services.
Poised and purposeful, the Italy international is joy to watch with even the most primitive of audiences able to appreciate his quality.
The 24-year-old has blossomed with PSG and it’s understandable they are fighting hard to ensure he remains in Paris with Barca and Chelsea keen to wrestle him away.
Ernesto Valverde has made Verratti is top target this summer with the midfield vacuum left by Xavi’s departure two years ago still be plugged.
While the Azzurri star is not a carbon cope, he does offer the same intensity as the former Barca captain with his work rate persistent and tenacious.
Barca’s midfield has long been their strength but last season it lacked bite and should they snap up Verratti they will add much needed impetus.
However, convincing PSG to part with their prized asset will prove no easy task.
His influence at the Ligue 1 giants is sizable and the squad has virtually been built around his supreme talents.
There is every chance they will dig their heels in with the purported €80million fee perhaps not even enough to seal a move to Camp Nou.
Linked to: Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, PSG, Real Madrid
Price tag: €145million
Has their ever been a teenager more coveted than Kylian Mbappe?
Practically every top club in Europe is prepared to smash the world-record transfer fee to sign the 18-year-old Monaco attacker.
Two bids of €130million have already been received and rejected according to several reports with the Ligue 1 champions quoting a fee upwards of €145million.
It’s an eye watering sum of money but then watching Mbappe last season would have left scouts opened mouthed and prospective clubs salivating.
Mbappe has the core potential to be a Ballon d’Or winner one day and amid this transfer tussle he seems to have the maturity and calmness crucial to unlocking that prodigious skill on the biggest stage possible.
Pace, penetration, a velvet touch, youthful exuberance, enterprise, goals, assists, versatility, Mbappe seems to have it all and his package of talent at just 18 years of age is why the likes of Real Madrid are so furiously chasing his signature.
The Champions League and La Liga champions are thought to be the France international’s preferred destination but Manchester City are hopeful the project headed by Pep Guardiola could persuade him to move to the Premier League.
Liverpool have stated their intention to be part of the conversation if Mbappe wants a move to England why Arsene Wenger is another man in the hunt.
PSG believe a switch to Paris would be “beautiful” while Manchester Unitea and Chelsea are two other clubs monitoring the situation.
Indeed, there is quite a list for Mbappe to choose from but ultimately he could be set for one more year at Monaco, albeit with an exponential pay rise, before setting sail next summer.