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.
Today’s is a special Real Madrid edition and features potential signings and departures for the Spanish giants.
RUMOUR: Manchester United -> €170m -> Real Madrid
Madrid have stepped up their interest in Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, according to the Independent.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: Pogba reportedly feels underappreciated at United with criticism continuously directed his way, especially from some of the fans. A player of his calibre needs to be playing in the Champions League and Old Trafford is a very unstable environment at the moment. He could also be lured by the prospect of working with Zinedine Zidane.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Selling one of their only world class players would hurt United’s rebuilding process. Ole Gunner Solskjaer is adamant he wants Pogba to be integral to the team moving forward. United are likely to demand a huge fee with the Frenchman under contract for two more years with an option for one more.
TRANSFER PREDICTOR: 5/10
RUMOUR: Real Madrid -> Loan -> Tottenham
Madrid are organising a clearing-out this summer and chief among the departures could be Gareth Bale. According to Marca, Los Blancos would consider a loan move as a last resort with Tottenham being the Welshman’s likely destination.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: Bale needs to be playing football and should former club Tottenham win the Champions League, he could be convinced of their new standards. He could thrive under Mauricio Pochettino and back in an environment he’s comfortable with. The Madridistas have never quite taken to him. Meanwhile, he’s already won every trophy he can at the Bernabeu.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: The forward’s wages are astronomical and even if Madrid agree to pay a portion of it, Spurs could be put off by the remaining amount. After all, even half of around £600,000 a week would still make him their highest-paid player by a distance. There is also the issues with his injury record and at 29, that could only worsen.
TRANSFER PREDICTOR: 6/10
RUMOUR: Eintracht Frankfurt -> €70m -> Real Madrid
Madrid are set to announce the signing of Luka Jovic next week upon the conclusion of the Bundesliga season, as reported by AS.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: Los Blancos are desperate for a striker to not only relieve the 31-year-old Karim Benzema but also compete with him for the opportunity to lead the line. The return of Mariono Diaz has been a little underwhelming and Jovic is hot property at the moment.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Barcelona, despite closing in on Antoine Griezmann, are still looking for more attacking options and have shown interest in Jovic. At the end of the day, Benzema has enjoyed one of his best individual seasons at the Bernabeu and Madrid have bigger fires to put out.
TRANSFER PREDICTOR: 8/10
Ajax wonder-kid Matthijs de Ligt refused to talk about his future after lifting the Eredivisie title on Wednesday.
The centre-back has been linked to a move to Barcelona for a while now. When asked if he is set to leave the club along with his friend Frenkie de Jong – who is already on his way to the Catalan club – the Dutchman said that he has to think things through.
“We’ve just won [the league] and this isn’t the time to talk about whether I’m leaving with Frenkie de Jong,” said the 19-year-old, according to Marca.
“I have to think things through this summer and we’ll see what happens.”
The Ajax captain also reflected on what was a great season for the young Ajax side.
“It’s been a great season,” he said. “I enjoyed the cup, the league and the Champions League, although the elimination to Tottenham [Hotspur] hurt. But what I’ve liked the most was the team spirit.
“We’re a group of friends and we play football as if we were on the school playground. We’ve created a bond. We’re proud.”
Antoine Griezmann’s decision to leave Atletico Madrid this summer could be the first domino to fall in the transfer window – with Philippe Coutinho likely to be impacted heavily by the Frenchman’s announcement.
Barcelona made Coutinho a club-record signing last January but the move hasn’t worked out, and if Griezmann arrives as expected it’s likely that the long-rumoured exit for the Brazilian will materialise this summer.
But where could he go? Unlike last winter when he was a player making a step up to the next level, right now the 26-year-old’s stock has fallen.
That being said, for a player of his talent and ability, there should be no shortage of suitors as clubs know how valuable Coutinho could be if he hits top form again. Here’s a look at five potential destinations for the Barcelona star.
What a sensational move this would be. The former Liverpool man, turning up at one of the club’s fiercest rivals and helping them on their journey back to the top.
Coutinho would be a ready-made replacement for Paul Pogba, a right-footed playmaker who can play on the left of midfield. If Manchester United do sell Pogba, Coutinho would slot into his role; if not, the Brazilian could play on either flank, or as a No 10, and ease the creative burden on the Frenchman.
Would the Brazilian want to join a club that has just finished sixth, and wouldn’t be in the Champions League next season? Perhaps he could be convinced that if he were part of the United rebuild he could help ensure that absence from Europe’s premier competition is kept to just one season.
Plus, they would likely match or top just about anyone else’s wage offer – and they might need to given their status as a Europa League club.
Whether Coutinho would want to risk further antagonising Liverpool fans – he was roundly booed at Anfield this month on his return as Barcelona crashed out – is a different story. But if he thinks joining United would be a good move, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Aside from joining United or Everton, there are few ways to infuriate Liverpool fans more than joining Chelsea, who have become one of the club’s bitterest rivals in the modern era.
A looming transfer ban may render all speculation moot but in recent days Coutinho has been linked with making exactly that move. If the Blues win their appeal, Coutinho would an ideal target to replace Eden Hazard, who is seemingly Real Madrid-bound this summer.
His familiarity with English football makes him a good target for Chelsea – and for United – and in a summer that could see other creative players like Willian and Pedro leave, Coutinho would be a good signing.
Despite his struggles at Barcelona he should still be viewed as a reliable playmaker, one who is a bigger guarantee of success than young stars Christian Pulisic, who is set to join Chelsea this summer, and Callum Hudson-Odoi, the west London club’s highly-rated youth prospect who looks increasingly likely to stay having previously been linked with an exit.
And unlike United, Chelsea can offer Champions League football rather than just the chance to remind Liverpool what they’re missing out on.
Paris Saint-Germain can never have too many attacking players – there’s rarely a summer that goes by that they don’t make one high-profile signing on that side of the pitch, whether they need to or not.
This summer, Edinson Cavani is likely to leave the club, and though Angel di Maria and Julian Draxler are still there, Coutinho is the sort of player who could fit well with Kylian Mbappe and, especially, close friend Neymar.
The former Barcelona star has reportedly already suggested to PSG that they sign his compatriot, and Neymar usually gets what he wants.
An Mbappe, Coutinho, Neymar strike force would ensure the Parisians would lose no firepower with Cavani’s departure – and keep intact the MCN acronym that has become associated with their current trio.
And Neymar and Coutinho could help get the best out of each other, making the Ligue 1 champions an even more fearsome prospect. Perhaps the duo could help PSG finally achieve their ultimate goal of winning the Champions League.
Coutinho has already had a spell at Inter Milan, who were the first club to spot his talent when he was playing in Brazil. The Serie A giants signed Coutinho as a 16-year-old and brought him to Italy two years later, in 2010, after allowing him to continue his development at Vasco da Gama.
However, it wasn’t a particularly successful time at Inter for the Brazilian, who made only 28 appearances over three seasons, and he was even loaned out to Espanyol at one point.
But if he returned now, it would be as a developed player rather than an exciting prospect – and he could be just the sort of player to help bridge the gap to Juventus.
Coutinho would be the perfect replacement for Eder, the Brazil-born playmaker who left Inter for China last summer. He would take up the mantle as the club’s new No 10, and help make them not only Serie A title challengers again but perhaps even a force to be reckoned with in Europe – Inter are one win away from guaranteeing Champions League football for a second straight season.
And he shouldn’t be unaffordable for the Italian club, who are likely offloading striker Mauro Icardi this summer. The proceeds from that sale would help fund a move for Coutinho.
Speaking of returns, what about the most dramatic one? On Tuesday, former Liverpool captain Phil Thompson said the club should welcome their former star back into the fold if the opportunity arises.
Whether the fans would agree is a different matter, but surely they’d come around once Coutinho pulled on the famous red shirt again and started recreating the Fab Four attack that he, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah had become.
Though he had handed in a transfer request and missed training in August 2017, six months before he actually left for Barcelona, there were no signs that his departure last January was a contentious one within the club at least. There likely wouldn’t need to be any thawing of relations between player and team if both sides were open to a return.
Coutinho might just be the player Liverpool need to get over the hump in the Premier League, as well. Last season, until Virgil van Dijk arrived in the aftermath of the Brazilian’s exit, the side had a thrilling attack but a shambolic defence.
This year they had the best defence in the league thanks to the Dutchman, and while the attack was almost just as good as before, they could have used someone with Coutinho’s ability to unlock a defence in any one of the seven draws that ultimately cost them a first league title in 29 years, as they finished one point behind Manchester City.
It might be controversial and Coutinho would have to win over the Liverpool fans again, but this would be a move that could suit both player and club.