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 edition features arguably the world’s best centre-back, a gem from a smaller Premier League club and a catastrophic flop.
Napoli -> €110m -> Man United
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: Pure desperation. United crave a world-class centre-back – and there’s no one on Koulibaly’s level right now apart from Virgil van Dijk. If Ed Woodward was reportedly willing to chuck €100m at Koulibaly and even Raphael Varane last season, given the club’s woeful state of affairs, he may try and tempt cantankerous Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis with an even bigger bid.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: There is a limit to United’s fortunes and while Koulibaly would be a near-certain success, he does turn 28 in July. And what of Joao Felix, the Portuguese wonderkid who may also set the club back by €120m? There is of course the fact that Napoli are in the Champions League, while United will be floundering in the Europa League. Would Koulibaly go that far to force a move to a fallen giant?
Transfer predictor: 5/10
Bournemouth -> £30m -> Liverpool
With Ryan Fraser’s contract at Bournemouth up in 12 months’ time, Liverpool have thrown their hat into the ring alongside and Arsenal and Manchester United for the Scotland winger’s services, say The Sun.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: Young and established Premier League talent at a smaller club – Liverpool have been here before with Andy Robertson, Georginio Wijnaldum and what seems like the entire Southampton squad. The versatile 25-year-old would be a excellent rotational piece on the left for Sadio Mane, and could perhaps also play in the midfield three.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: The report suggests that Reds would be content to sit and wait for Fraser to run out his contract, which means the Cherries could be inclined to accept a bid this year rather than let him walk for free. United and Arsenal need to freshen up their squads while Fraser would likely be a supplementary piece at Anfield. Why wait if you can make a name for yourself – and a lot more money – elsewhere?
Transfer predictor: 4/10
Man United -> free -> Inter Milan
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: United are desperate to bring players in – and they’re also desperate to offload them. Despite his astronomical wages circa £500k per week, the Red Devils are ready to book his ticket to Italy if Inter will take him for free. What’s in it for Inter? Well, a potentially special player who was unbelievable with Udinese a decade ago when first bursting onto the scene. His wretched form is at least partially down to United’s dysfunction.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Did you see those wages? Sanchez could quite possibly decide to ride out his ridiculous contract for another three years, and even taking a 50 per cent pay cut may not be enough for Inter. It will also depend on whether Antonio Conte views Sanchez as the right fit, or indeed the right priority, with the Italian expected to oust Luciano Spalletti and take over at the Nerazzurri.
Transfer predictor: 5/10
Bayern Munich have set their sights on Manchester City’s Sane and seem confident of securing the 23-year-old’s signature in the summer, the Mirror reports. The Bundesliga side have increased their interest in the attacking midfielder as they search for replacements for Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben.
With Pogba seemingly open to leaving Manchester United this summer, the club have set their asking price at £138 million, according to the Daily Star. Having seen his game turnaround under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, former club Juventus and Paris St Germain are said to have been keeping tabs on the France international.
RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner could be up for grabs in the transfer window, the Mirror says. With one year left on his contract, Liverpool are reportedly considering making a swoop for the 23-year-old. But the Premier League runners-up could face competition from Bayern Munich, PSG and Borussia Dortmund.
Barcelona’s Malcom has caught the attention of both Arsenal and Tottenham, the Sun reports, as the La Liga champions reportedly look to cash in on the 22-year-old Brazilian. He arrived at the Nou Camp under a £36million deal but Barcelona are now said to be looking at ways to bring in Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Maxi Gomez: Tottenham look like the frontrunners to snatch the Celta Vigo striker, the Mirror says, likely leaving West Ham and Liverpool disappointed.
Joao Felix: Manchester United look to be upping the ante in their bid for the Benfica star, with the Red Devils willing to pay a £105million release clause, Portuguese paper Record says.
Named Ligue 1’s player of the season at the UNFP (French Professional Footballers Association) Awards on Sunday night, the 20-year-old revealed during his acceptance speech that he wanted to be given “more responsibility”, either at PSG or “elsewhere with a new project”.
“I have discovered a lot here, and I feel it is maybe the moment to have more responsibility,” said the World Cup-winner, who has long been linked with a move to Los Blancos.
“I hope that can perhaps be at Paris Saint-Germain, that would be a great pleasure. Or maybe elsewhere with a new project.”
The Santiago Bernabeu appears to be the only realistic destination for the brightest young star in the game, but where else could his ambition take him?
Here we assess five possible clubs who might be in with a shout of landing Mbappe.
Well, you said you wanted a new project, Kylian? And here it is: revive a Real Madrid side sliding into the doldrums. Though they may have lifted three-straight Champions League trophies under Zinedine Zidane during his initial tenure, this period has masked horrible deficiencies off the field.
The club is decaying on it – Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure 12 months ago exposing the magnitude of their issues, from aging and under-performing players to a lack of clear transfer strategy. While Real have thrived on the continent in recent years, Barcelona have ruled Spain – winning eight of the last 11 La Liga crowns. And they are far from the imperious force Pep Guardiola moulded them into.
But they’ve been more than enough to hold Real at bay – Los Blancos alarmingly went through three managers this season and there was a 19-point chasm between them, in third, and champions Barca.
In truth, this is Mbappe’s only real likely landing spot should he actually be thinking about engineering a move away from the French capital.
We’re not exactly heading back to a ‘Galacticos’ era in the Spanish capital but, following a woefully below par campaign, rejuvenation is required.
A world-record £240million deal for Mbappe is believed to be in the offing, according to France Football, and that would be just the first piece for a Madrid rebuild, in a summer where they hope to secure Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Manchester United’s Paul Pogba to link up with Mbappe and spark Zidane’s French revolution.
They couldn’t, could they? Highly unlikely, but you just never know. After all, as stated above, Barca are far from their best – but they’re still light years ahead of the Madrid duo.
Apart from the brinkmanship any move for Mbappe would cause with Real – who have poked the Barca beast in recent years following their courting of former Blaugrana striker Neymar, a current Mbappe team-mate – Barca have their own needs in the forward department.
Domestic kings, sure, but it is the continental competition which they most covet – as Lionel Messi so passionately professed in pre-season. They have floundered in the Champions League since last lifting the trophy in 2014/15, failing to breach the semi-finals in any of the ensuing four years.
Philippe Coutinho simply hasn’t worked out, the jury remains out on Ousmane Dembele, while Luis Suarez’s form and body are rapidly eroding – so Mbappe would be welcomed.
The main issue remains Messi – whom there is an upside and downside to playing alongside. He IS Barcelona – as Neymar found out to his cost during his brief Catalonia career. Mbappe is a star and would be the jewel in the crown at any club, apart from maybe Barca.
Since leaving the Camp Nou, Barca simply haven’t been the all-conquering juggernaut that Guardiola transformed them into. Following a successful, if continentally deficient stint at Bayern Munich, the Spaniard is now shaping Manchester City into a European colossus.
They have just retained their Premier League title and appear a team on the cusp of creating a dynasty. The depth of Guardiola’s squad is ridiculous, except in attack where there is room for improvement.
Sergio Aguero is a phenom and has extended his career under Guardiola, who has transformed the 30-year-old into a polished, all-round striker. The prolific Argentine is signed up until 2021 but is 31 next month and unlikely to stay beyond the next two years, at which point City will need a new spearhead.
Gabriel Jesus has not quite cut it so far – he was supposed to supplant Aguero this season, yet has regressed. The 22-year-old Brazilian has 21 goals in 46 appearances although that is not truly indicative of progress. A four-goal haul in January’s 9-0 League Cup semi-final second leg thrashing off Burton Albion, for example, skewing his stats.
If Mbappe seeks a new project, at City he’ll have one that provides silverware, as well as a challenge.
Serie A isn’t the sprawling metropolis of energy and industry it once was. But it’s still more of a challenge than pitching up against teams who are beaten before kick-off.
Ligue 1 has been christened a ‘farmer’s league’ by critics and for good reason. PSG scored nine more goals (104) than any other team in Europe’s top five leagues in 2018/19 and 37 more than next highest domestic scorers Lille and Lyon (67). Their dominance of France has been aided by increasing wealth and opposition largely inferior in an environment nowhere near as competitive as England, Spain, Italy or Germany.
The Bianconeri have similarly ruled Italy’s top-flight – lifting eight successive Scudettos – but the standard of opposition is infinitely higher. For all their control domestically, PSG have showed constant fragility in Europe, but Juve are more battle-hardened.
They recruited Ronaldo last summer in their fight for a first Champions League crown in 23 years. It didn’t have the desired effect as they fell in the quarter-finals to Ajax – but you feel the Old Lady have more stomach for the latter stages than the Parisians.
Like with Messi in Barcelona, the presence of Ronaldo in Turin comes with its own inherent obstacles. But again, it feels like a test to be relished.
Speaking of totemic players, Munich have just waved goodbye to two following a seventh straight Bundesliga title. Club stalwarts Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben bid farewell to the Allianz Arena in fitting style on Saturday, scoring the fourth and fifth goals respectively as Eintracht Frankfurt were flattened 5-1 and the title secured.
Robert Lewandowski remains but, even so, has his detractors and appears on the decline. And despite their reign, the club is in need of new blood. Niko Kovac could lead the Bavarian behemoths to a domestic double but his future is not secure.
Intrepid Ajax manager Erik ten Hag and former Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho are two names being linked with overseeing a Munich remodelling project – and what better statement of intent could they make than bringing in Mbappe?
Like Juve and PSG it is Bayern’s continental aspirations that need addressing following a sub-par season in the Champions League – exiting meekly, 3-1, at the hands of finalists Liverpool in the last 16.
As with his current situation, or should he want to try Turin, in Bavaria Mbappe could continue to lift silverware domestically, while also driving his and Bayern’s European ambition.