Transfer breakdown: Which positions Man United, Barcelona and rest of Europe's elite are still chasing

Chris Bailey 21/07/2019
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More than a billion euros worth of transfer fees have exchanged hands across Europe this summer, but we haven’t even reached crunch time yet.

Many of the continent’s elite clubs are still entrenched in negotiations for their top transfer targets and, with the Premier League’s August 8 deadline looming ever larger, expect frantic movement soon.

Which team is looking at which position? We’ve provided you with a handy breakdown of the key storylines ….

GOALKEEPER

Most of Europe’s elite are set for options between the sticks, but PSG have been dithering over a long-term option for a number of seasons.

With Gianluigi Buffon back in Turin, and Alphonse Areola seemingly unloved at Parc des Princes, a deal for Gianluigi Donnarumma – Buffon’s Italian heir – remains a distinct possibility.

The 20-year-old’s relationship with the AC Milan tifosi has been fractured ever since the infamous contract wrangle two years ago, and his performances last season did little to erase those bitter memories.

RIGHT-BACK

The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sale of Kieran Trippier to Atletico Madrid has left Tottenham in urgent need of a right-back. Kyle Walker-Peters has played just 19 times for the club and if Serge Aurier is the answer, what exactly is the question? Apart from Dani Alves speculation, there have been no concrete links yet.

From Walker-Peters to Walker, there are susurrations that Pep Guardiola would not have extended his Kyle’s contract if he had had his way. A Manchester City move for Juventus right-back Joao Cancelo is still very much on the cards, though it is understood they need to shift Danilo out of the door first.

LEFT-BACK

Most of the bigger European clubs are set here, but Liverpool and Barcelona are in dire need of back-ups.

Sure, Alberto Moreno made just five appearances all season for the Reds in 2018/19, but Andy Robertson is probably not indestructible. Adam Lewis, a 19-year-old out of the academy, can put his name in the hat but for a team who are so desperate to end their Premier League duck this year, why leave the position to chance?

Ditto Barcelona. Jordi Alba has been remarkably robust of late as well, but he currently has no understudy after Barca sold Marc Cucurella almost as quickly as they (re-)bought him. The excellent Junior Firpo of Real Betis is in the Blaugrana’s sights and they hope he proves the 30-year-old Alba’s long-term successor.

Arsenal, despite possessing Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac, feel they need to dedicate a portion of their meagre funds to pursuing Celtic’s Kieran Tierney, who has certainly got the potential to flourish at a higher level. The Gunners have bid £25m, Celtic want £40m. Meet in the middle?

CENTRE-BACK

Manchester United are the headline – some would say circus – act in this department, given they have force-fed their support a combination of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones for the best part of a decade. With Leicester taking stubborn to a whole new level over Harry Maguire, United may have to move on and quickly before the August 8 transfer deadline.

Manchester City‘s stocks, all of a sudden, lack quality and quantity. Vincent Kompany is cutting his managerial teeth in Belgium and John Stones’ form has been a real kick in the teeth for quite some time now. With Nicolas Otamendi’s future also uncertain, just who will partner Aymeric Laporte?

Arsenal are also in desperate need of someone who isn’t Shkodran Mustafi and who wants to play for them (unlike Laurent Koscielny). They are reportedly close to signing St Etienne’s William Saliba, but the 18-year-old is hardly going to solve their problems right now with plans to loan him straight back.

CENTRE MIDFIELD

Line up, then wait your turn. Man United have been linked with 37,061 midfielders this summer alone but so far don’t appear to have lodged a bid for a single one. Sporting have been told to brace themselves for a bid for Bruno Fernandes by his agent – finally – while United are genuinely interested in Newcastle’s Sean Longstaff. But not £50m interested.

Arsenal and Tottenham are also jostling for position here. Spurs, who reportedly tried to pinch Saliba from under Arsenal’s noses, wanted Real Madrid man Dani Ceballos on a permanent transfer – but Los Blancos have refused to let him go for anything but a loan, which the cash-strapped Gunners are far more willing to compromise on.

Spurs don’t have such money problems, however, and having already broken their 18-month transfer exile with the record signing of Tanguy Ndombele, are poised to swoop for Betis midfielder Giovani Lo Celso if Christian Eriksen does indeed get snapped up by Real Madrid.

Zinedine Zidane, of course, is red-hot on Paul Pogba and rather lukewarm on Eriksen. Should Ceballos and the unwanted James Rodriguez join Marcos Llorente and leave the Bernabeu, Real Madrid would need, rather than just desire, another body.

Then there is Liverpool, who have been flirting with the idea of buying a genuine playmaker for their midfield for some time now. Unless you subscribe to the idea that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is ‘like a new signing’ – which he may well prove to be – the Reds clearly have a room for a different type of player in the engine room. Who that’ll be, having cooled their interest in Lyon’s Nabil Fekir to sub-zero, remains to be seen.

RIGHT WING

Arsenal would love to fill a number of holes – it’s just a shame about the holes in their pockets. Wilfried Zaha has clearly been target No1 this summer but a quite frankly derisory £40m bid was rightfully swatted away by Crystal Palace.

LEFT WING

A Neymar merry-go-round has been threatening to jump-start all summer. PSG want cash, but Barca want to make up the bulk of the €200m through offering players. The Parisians will have little problem flatly rejecting any bids of a similar ilk, given how they were comfortable letting Adrien Rabiot’s contract run out.

Should there be a breakthrough in negotiations, PSG will likely want Ousmane Dembele as a replacement or even Philippe Coutinho. They’ll have enough capital to play with, despite their FFP frustrations.

A saga that has been simmering all summer is that of Leroy Sane’s purported move to Bayern Munich. It’s believed that Man City want £100m and, despite parting with £68m for France defender Lucas Hernandez, that price is giving the powers-that-be in Bavaria a nosebleed. With both Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery gone, though, they need to work out a plan of action soon.

STRIKER

Very few elite clubs are currently in the market for a striker. In fact, the obvious one is trying to shift theirs.

Mauro Icardi’s transfer value has plunged after a year of dissension and the interference of his wife/agent Wanda Nara. What’s the likelihood of them seeing eye-to-eye with Antonio Conte? For his part, the new Inter Milan boss is desperate for Romelu Lukaku, but his club’s recently rejected £54m bid for the Belgian – when United want at least £80m – shows the relatively little cash they have to play with.

1707 Transfers XI(2) (1)

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Transfer Predictor: Nicolas Pepe to Man United just a 3, Idrissa Gueye to PSG a 7

Matt Jones 21/07/2019
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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, or why not.

Today’s edition features one of Europe’s brightest young goalscorers, the see-saw battle for an electric French forward and a midfielder possibly on the move to Paris Saint-Germain.

NICOLAS PEPE

0331 Pepe

Lille -> £70m -> Manchester United

According to a source close to the player, United last week advanced a long-standing interest in the Ivorian forward, report the Sunday Times.

WHY IT CAN HAPPEN: Pepe is one of the hottest properties in the European market, and his speed and dynamism are traits coveted in attack by United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The club want to get rid of bulky Belgian Romelu Lukaku, who also wants out, which would leave room (a lot of it) and some cash to tempt Lille.

WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Not that it should be used as a stick with which to beat him, but Pepe endured a nightmarish Africa Cup of Nations, failing to register a goal as the Elephants got marched out in the quarter-finals by eventual champions Algeria.

Across the forward line Marcus Rashford is United’s undisputed No1 striker next season, while Solskjaer is expecting a big season from Anthony Martial and also has the promising Mason Greenwood waiting in the wings, and impressing in pre-season.

Transfer predictor: 3/10

OUSMANE DEMBELE

Dembele

Barcelona -> player swap plus cash -> Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich could be set to offer defender David Alaba to Manchester City and Barcelona as a makeweight in their attempts to sign Leroy Sane and/or Ousmane Dembele, report Mundo Deportivo.

WHY IT CAN HAPPEN: Both Sane and Dembele are being linked with returns to Germany and while City and Pep Guardiola are so far refusing to budge on Sane, Dembele would easily become available if Barcelona’s attempts to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou come to fruition.

As a carrot to tempt Barca, Bayern are reportedly willing to offer versatile defender Alaba as a makeweight in a deal for either player. Not that they’re particularly keen to get rid of the 27-year-old Austria international, but he has been unwilling to sign an extension to his contract expiring in 2021, so the Bundesliga side could cash in.

WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Sane is seen as Bayern boss Niko Kovac, as well as the club hierarchy’s, first choice, plus their relationship with Pep Guardiola comes into consideration. The Spaniard is a big fan of Alaba so if he is tempted to allow Sane to leave, Dembele remains in Catalonia.

Transfer predictor: 5/10

IDRISSA GUEYE

Idrissa Gana Gueye

Everton -> £40m -> PSG

They’ve been burned before but Paris Saint-Germain are not prepared to give up their pursuit of Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye, say The Express.

WHY IT CAN HAPPEN: Well, they’re PSG so, inevitably, if they want a player, they’re more than likely going to get him. The French giants have been chasing the Senegal international since the January transfer window and are increasingly confident they will get their man.

The Toffees have recently snapped up Fabian Delph from Manchester City, which could be seen as paving the way for Gueye’s exit.

WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Despite his attributes – Gueye was the joint top tackler in Europe’s top five leagues last season alongside Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi – PSG are unlikely to offer much more for a 30-year-old. And Everton aren’t going to let him go on the cheap.

Transfer predictor: 7/10

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See Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane discuss possibility of signing Paul Pogba

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Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane commented on Gareth Bale’s future with the club, saying ‘we’ll see what happens’ before giving a vague response to speculation surrounding Paul Pogba signing from Manchester United.

Zidane was speaking after his team arrived in Houston for their pre-season tour of America.

When asked about his team’s interest in Pogba Zidane kept his calm, saying: “I have been asked this same question and I am going to answer the same.

“The most important thing is that we know as a club what we need to do and that we are here.”


English Premier League clubs can only buy and sell players up to August 8.









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