It doesn’t take a Nobel Prize winner to work out that not all transfer speculation comes to fruition. In fact, when the rumour mill stops churning out hype about you, it’s time to worry.
Here, we look back at some of the biggest transfer ‘scoops’ of the past couple of seasons that prospective buyers will be glad they didn’t pull the trigger on.
No club seems to be chasing these players’ signatures this summer following a campaign of mediocrity – but who’s to say they won’t interest the rumour-mongers next year?
ANDREA BELOTTI (March 2017)
In 2016/17, everything clicked for the Italian. A plucky, tenacious forward who had never scored more than 12 goals in a season went on to plunder 26 in Serie A alone. With a quick first step and bundles of strength, his ability almost out of nowhere to score goals of all kinds had most of Europe salivating over his potential.
Present: While it was unrealistic to expect Belotti to mirror that ultra-clinical season, the last two years have shown it was wise for clubs to hold off paying €100m for his services. Quite simply, the ruthlessness has disappeared.
Three seasons ago Belotti hit his 26 Serie A goals from just 49 shots. In the last two campaigns combined, the 25-year-old has mustered 25 from 79 efforts.
Torino, who finished seventh in 2018/19, don’t hand him chances on a platter, but just compare his displays to the rise of Krzysztof Piatek. The Pole spent six months at lowly Genoa, scoring 19 goals, before moving to AC Milan for a ridiculously reasonable €35 million in January.
Outlook: All that being said, Belotti markedly improved at the back end of last season, putting in match-winning displays against Sampdoria and Milan before scoring an outrageous goal against Sassuolo.
Roberto Mancini has since handed him a recall to the Italy squad and there has been murmurs over a move to Roma or West Ham, who apparently had a £45m bid rejected in January. However, it’ll take a prolonged scoring run for his valuation to touch that €100m mark again.
Can't get over Belotti's perfect overhead goal. pic.twitter.com/glwchOqlQv— Siddharth Yadav (@SidRossoneri) May 12, 2019
MARCO ASENSIO (November 2018)
Past: Spanish outlet OK Diario insisted that Jurgen Klopp was besotted by Marco Asensio, but that Real Madrid turned down €180m from Liverpool for a player they viewed as a successor to Cristiano Ronaldo.
A year or so ago Asensio had built a reputation as an incredibly productive rotational player in attack with a jackhammer of a left foot – and at 22, looked better prepared than any youngster in football to take the next step, particularly with Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus.
Present: The Spain forward has been one of numerous victims to come out of Madrid’s miserable campaign. Handed a starting chance on the left under his former international boss Julen Lopetegui, he’d only chipped in with one goal and one assist by the time the coach got the boot in October.
Next boss Santiago Solari barely used him – and when he did, he started in defeats to Eibar, CSKA Moscow and Girona – and it can hardly be said that he went on to recover much form under the man who had initially nurtured him, Zinedine Zidane.
Outlook: It’s a tricky time for Asensio with Eden Hazard thrown into the fray and the likes of Vinicius, Brahim Diaz and Lucas Vazquez for competition. He remains a player of huge potential, but AS say a bid of €90m may tempt Madrid into letting him go – way down on last year’s evaluation.
However, even that price tag will set eyes watering for someone who has arguably never put together a consistent string of displays as a starter. Time is on his side but, with his 24th birthday coming up in January, youthfulness is fast sounding like an excuse.
KIERAN TRIPPIER (July 2018)
It had been a meteoric rise from Kyle Walker’s mere understudy at Spurs. After Walker headed north to Man City, Trippier nailed down the right-back spot in north London. England fans were then treated to shades of David Beckham with his delivery from out wide and set-pieces during the Three Lions’ run to the World Cup semi-finals.
Present: While Tottenham enjoyed a superb season, Trippier was a glaring weak spot on the right side of their defence. Whether it was World Cup mileage or the mere expectation to perform, the 28-year-old looked shaky all season – culminating in a dreadful own goal past Hugo Lloris in defeat to Chelsea last February.
Kieran Trippier slotting it past his OWN goalkeeper is one of the best own goals you’ll see to date...😳😅pic.twitter.com/Tzx5lD6AYo— Mozo Football (@MozoSports) February 27, 2019
He had never played more Premier League minutes for Tottenham than last season, yet his three assists were his lowest tally since starting five games during his debut season for Spurs four years ago. The former Burnley defender was promptly dumped by England boss Gareth Southgate ahead of the UEFA Nations League Finals.
Outlook: Trippier is nothing if not honest. “It’s right that I’m not in the squad because I haven’t been performing well, I know that,” he admitted in reaction to his England snub.
IVAN PERISIC (July 2018)
Past: Manchester United were ready to offer Matteo Darmian and €20m to finalise their long-term pursuit of Perisic, but Inter Milan were holding out for €60m after his fine World Cup with Croatia, claimed Tuttosport.
Jose Mourinho had been desperate to bring him to Old Trafford since 2017. Perisic is the antithesis of Anthony Martial on the left wing – hard work if no frills, as well as tactically astute – and back-to-back Serie A campaigns hitting double figures supplied evidence of end product, too.
Present: Like several World Cup stars of last summer, Perisic endured an unsettled season that included him handing in a transfer request in January, with Arsenal the reported suitors.
So poor was his start to the campaign – perhaps down to a lack of motivation given United and Arsenal’s interest – that he did not score between September and February in the league, though his displays picked up towards the end of the term to help Inter achieve fourth spot.
Outlook: The clubs now reportedly intrigued by Perisic belong to a slightly lower echelon – with reports that Leicester and Wolves are sniffing around a reduced £30m fee.
There is opportunity for a new lease of life with Antonio Conte freshly installed at Inter’s helm, however. Given his work-rate and north-south running style, on paper he is a perfect fit for the Italian’s 3-5-2 wing-back system on the left. If Conte could mask Marcos Alonso’s deficiencies at Chelsea, he will surely work wonders with Perisic.
LEON BAILEY (August 2018)
Past: The Bayer Leverkusen starlet spoke of ‘concrete interest’ to German magazine Kicker, with Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal all sniffing around what seemed like a €40m steal at the time.
A player who the Bundesliga website described as the heir to Ajax Robben’s Bundesliga throne on the right wing, in 2017/18 the cheetah-quick Bailey was coming off a campaign in which he had chipped in with 12 goals from 30 games, cutting in from the right of a dangerous Leverkusen attack.
Present: The follow-up season proved a difficult sequel. Bailey, still only 21, was parked on the bench for much of the first half of 2018/19, with Julian Brandt, Kai Havertz and Karim Bellarabi all largely preferred on the wings.
Consequently there was noise emanating from Bailey’s camp over a move in January, but an injury to Bellarabi and new coach Peter Bosz signalled better times for the Jamaican. Stationed on the left, Bailey hit four goals in seven games before a thigh problem prematurely ended his season in April.
Outlook: Bailey remains a tantalising prospect. Nonetheless, being an incredibly gifted attacker is not a guarantee for success these days. Not even Ousmane Dembele, perhaps the biggest talent to emerge from the Bundesliga in recent seasons, has been an overwhelming success with Barcelona.
Big clubs crave tactical intelligence and work-rate as much as any other qualities, as one weak link in the chain can prove disastrous in the modern game. Bailey has a lot to learn in this regard, though with experienced Dutch tactician Bosz now supplying guidance, the polish should soon come.
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