Various reports have emerged suggesting that Swansea winger Daniel James is on the verge of signing for Manchester United.
With Liverpool and Tottenham making it to the Champions League finals, Chelsea and Arsenal setting up a derby clash in Europa League and Manchester City in control of the title race, the pressure on the Red Devils is truly immense.
United are concluding a poor season and are expected to be very active in the summer transfer window. They could complete their first deal as they look to acquire the signature of 21-year-old James.
The winger who has scored four goals and provided seven assists in the Championship could join United for a sum of £15 million, according to Sky Sports News.
Earlier this year, the 21-year-old scored his first international goal for Wales with United legend Ryan Giggs as manager. He was named Man of the Match in the same game as his solitary goal helped Wales edge Slovakia 1-0.
The two teams are close to agreeing a deal and James could be United’s first signing of the summer.
Ajax‘s fairytale run to the Champions League semi-finals ended in heartbreak on Wednesday as the Dutch giants were stunned by a Tottenham comeback, but plenty of players caught the eye during their European adventure.
The Eredivisie side’s model means that several players could now be sold on the back of this campaign, as some of Europe’s biggest clubs could look to raid Ajax for their biggest stars.
A deal has already been agreed for Frenkie de Jong to join Barcelona and captain Matthijs de Ligt is likely headed to the same destination, but who else could be on the move?
Here, we take a look at three Ajax players the rest of Europe should be targeting.
A player with pace, vision and energy, who can play anywhere across a front three and has a penchant for producing brilliant finishes. Hakim Ziyech has been in the shop window for quite a while but this Champions League campaign has surely raised his stock.
Any team looking for a winger or No10 – Manchester United come to mind – should have the 26-year-old on their radar. At his age he’s a ready-made player who can slot straight into a good side, while also potentially developing into an even better player over the next two to three years.
But here’s the clincher: Ziyech’s contract reportedly contains a £25million release clause. At that price, signing the Moroccan is a no-brainer.
Donny van de Beek
De Jong has been stealing all the headlines in Ajax’s midfield, but over the last three rounds of Champions League action his colleague and compatriot Donny van de Beek also began catching the eye. That will happen when you score in both the quarter-final and the semi-final of the Champions League, and both away goals to boot.
And just as important as his goalscoring is his work rate. Ajax’s European run has been filled with instances of Van de Beek diligently joining in the team’s press, at times even ferociously leading it, as the Dutch side made it a point to cause discomfort for opposition defences on the ball.
It’s the sort of trait that Unai Emery would definitely value at Arsenal, for example. And they’re not the only club who could use a player like the 22-year-old.
Tackles in the first 25 minutes in Amsterdam:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 8, 2019
• Frenkie de Jong: 4
• Donny van de Beek: 4
• All Spurs players combined: 3
Ajax bossing the central midfield. 💪 pic.twitter.com/7C99Qb3d8z
A 23-year-old goalkeeper whose star is rising is a prized prospect. On Wednesday, Onana pulled off a couple of excellent saves, including one outstanding one to deny Fernando Llorente from point-blank range – though Spurs still scored on the rebound. He’s also every bit the modern keeper, passing well under pressure as well as functioning as a sweeper-keeper when his side are defending.
Barcelona have the inside track to re-sign him but the Cameroon international may not prefer a return to the club where he began his career. Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s stellar form over the last two seasons means the route to the first team will be blocked for the foreseeable future – the German is only 27. Clubs looking for a long-term goalkeeper should be lining up outside Ajax’s door.
Struggling to pick out the facts from the figures? Reality from the rubbish? Sense from the silly season? We’ve got you sorted in our daily dose of the Transfer Predictor, where we round up the latest rumours with an analytical spin.
We sort through the most eye-catching transfer reports of the past 24 hours and give a balanced judgment on whether the move really will happen – and why.
RUMOUR: Man Utd > LOAN > Inter Milan
Manchester United‘s attempts to offload Alexis Sanchez could see the forward end up at Inter Milan, Gazzetta dello Sport are reporting.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN:
The nightmare needs to end. Sanchez is going to go down as one of the worst signings in United’s history, as he continues to eat up a significant portion of the club’s wage bill without providing any sort of return on that investment.
And with United in rebuild mode again, a 30-year-old, increasingly injury-prone player under contract until 2022, is an unnecessary luxury, especially considering Sanchez’s struggle for form.
Inter Milan is a good destination for the Chilean, who began his European career in Italy with Udinese. They can offer Champions League football and a league long known for prolonging careers of aging stars.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN:
Sanchez’s wages will prove to be a huge stumbling block. It’s already the reason United have opened up to the possibility of sending him out on loan, with an option to buy for whichever club takes him – a sign that the Red Devils are willing to pay a portion of his wages even as he plays for someone else.
That might make him slightly easier to get for Inter. The Italian club are said to prefer an outright purchase this summer, but that would require Sanchez taking a serious pay cut. Inter are already considering other options, with an understanding that bringing the former Barcelona and Arsenal star to the San Siro may not be feasible.
TRANSFER PREDICTOR: 5/10
Rumour: Real Madrid > SWAP > PSG
Bild claim Real Madrid will offer James Rodriguez, who is currently on loan at Bayern Munich but unlikely to extend his stay in Germany, to Paris Saint-Germain in their attempt to prise Neymar away from the Ligue 1 giants.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN:
Madrid want Neymar. They don’t want James. PSG wouldn’t want to lose Neymar, and in theory are under no pressure to sell, but if he agitates for a move, a player of James’ calibre wouldn’t be a bad replacement, even if he would be a definite downgrade compared to the Brazilian star – as most players would be.
In theory a swap – it would likely be a James plus cash deal – would be a workable solution for all sides, though there’s no doubt that Madrid would be getting the better end of the deal. But PSG would be getting a player with experience of playing in France – he became a rising star at Monaco – and one who could slot into Thomas Tuchel’s system instantly.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN:
Again – PSG don’t want to lose Neymar. The player himself might look at Kylian Mbappe’s rise and wonder if he’s destined to play second-fiddle to the Frenchman in the years to come, but from the club’s perspective, keeping both happy is the most desirable solution.
And with the 27-year-old’s contract running until 2022, PSG don’t have to worry about losing the world-record signing anytime soon.
TRANSFER PREDICTOR: 2/10
RUMOUR: Freiburg > €14m > Tottenham
Tottenham are considering Freiburg defender Robin Koch as an insurance policy in case Toby Alderweireld leaves this summer, according to the Daily Mail.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN:
This is the perfect Tottenham transfer. A young, highly-rated player available for a bargain fee, just the sort of signing Daniel Levy would covet during this phase of the club’s project, with Spurs’ new stadium likely to keep restricting their transfers.
It may not even matter if Alderweireld stays or leaves – signing a 22-year-old to join Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth, 22 and 21 respectively, is simply good business. Sanchez has regressed this season so Koch provides back-up in case Tottenham’s club-record signing never truly comes good.
If he does, Spurs would have three young defenders who can develop alongside each other, under the tutelage of at least one of Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, if not both.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN:
Given how restricted Tottenham’s transfer budget could be, the club may prioritise other areas of need. Fernando Llorente has been a serviceable back-up for Harry Kane, but a striker is nonetheless number one on the transfer list for the summer.
And that’s just one position that’s ahead of centre-back. Kieran Trippier’s struggles for form and Serge Aurier’s injury issues would make right-back a more pressing concern, while Ben Davies has been solid but not spectacular as cover at left-back to Danny Rose, who has injury issues of his own. Koch may be a smart signing, just not one Spurs need to make right now.
TRANSFER PREDICTOR: 6/10