After the coronavirus pandemic saw football leagues postponed around the world, the summer transfer window will not work as it usually does. The opening dates have been pushed back across Europe as the restarted seasons come to a close — with the Premier League’s set for July 27 — and UEFA wants the leagues to coordinate an end to the window on Oct. 5.
There will be a host of players in demand, though the financial crisis because of the coronavirus lockdown could play a major part in a lack of big-money moves, with cut-price deals and swap or loan agreements seen instead.
It’s all uncertain at the moment, but which players might still move once they can? Who would be a decent gamble? Who could be a bargain because of his contract expiry date or playing situation?
*All transfer valuations estimated.
Ready to sign
They’re ready to roll and will improve any team immediately. Sign them up as soon as you can.
Team: Inter Milan
Teams linked: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Man City, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus
Barcelona want Lautaro to replace Luis Suarez, but the two clubs have been negotiating for some time without an agreement. Either Barca spend the €111m required for his release clause to land him, or they add players to bring down the price as part of the deal. The Argentine striker has had a fine season in Serie A and at 22 is one of the best young prospects around.
Team: Bayer Leverkusen
Teams linked: Bayern, Man City, Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus
Arguably the most in-demand midfielder in the world at the moment, the 21-year-old has the cream of Europe after him. The problem is that Leverkusen want at least €100m for the German, and most clubs won’t be able to offer that much in this economic climate. “The new Mesut Ozil” is reported to favour a move to Chelsea, and the club’s capture of his friend Timo Werner has them well placed.
When a manager as respected as Pep Guardiola singles a player out for praise, you know he must be special. The Man City boss called Aouar “incredible” after a Champions League game against Lyon in November 2018, and the 21-year-old has only improved since. A calm and technically gifted midfielder, the Frenchman’s idol is Zinedine Zidane, and it would be no shock if Real Madrid came calling for him.
Teams linked: Chelsea, Barcelona, Tottenham
Having impressed in leading Ajax to the Champions League semifinals last season, Onana is ready to move on (like many of his teammates) and won’t be short of suitors. The Cameroon international won’t want to play backup to an established first-choice goalkeeper, though, so a return to former club Barcelona looks unlikely, as Marc-Andre ter Stegen has that spot sewn up.
Atletico Madrid are reportedly trying to double Partey’s €50m release clause by getting him to sign a new contract, but the Ghana midfielder still has time to talk to other clubs. Many teams in Europe miss a tough tackling, physically strong presence in central midfield, and the 26-year-old is perfect to fill that void. Expect any team with a weak centre to go after him, with Arsenal the favourites.
Teams linked: Chelsea, Man United, Man City
He’s “not for sale,” according to Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, but that won’t stop clubs from trying to take advantage of the situation around the world and land the full-back on a cut-price deal this summer. The 23-year-old was valued around £85m a few months ago, but prices have dropped, and the Foxes might be forced to accept a lower offer if Chilwell makes it clear that he wants to move on. Leicester making it into the Champions League could have a bearing on that.
Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens explain why they believe Luka Jovic will leave Real Madrid on loan this summer.
Take a gamble?
Either these players are struggling at their clubs and might be offloaded on the cheap, or they are inexperienced and might take some time to progress.
Teams linked: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man United, Bayern Munich, PSG
For anyone who has seen the 17-year-old play in Ligue 1, this might not count as a gamble. The teenage midfielder is already showing class beyond his years, but he’s still young, and a big move to a club such as Real Madrid at this stage of his career could backfire. Camavinga clearly has the talent to make an impression at any of Europe’s top clubs, but he might want to heed the example of players such as Renato Sanches at Bayern Munich who failed before him.
Teams linked: Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool, Man City, Leicester, PSG
A few years ago, every club in Europe would have been jumping at the chance to sign Coutinho. But his €160m move to Barcelona in 2018 hasn’t worked out, and now the club are looking to move him for around €80m, given that Bayern Munich did not take up their option to make his loan move permanent for €120m. At 27, Coutinho still has plenty to give, and if a team can get him back to his Liverpool form, they will have landed a bargain.
Team: Real Madrid
Teams linked: Juventus, Napoli, Man United, Everton, Newcastle
Much like Gareth Bale, Rodriguez is one of those Real Madrid players who you struggle to believe is still at the club. A two-year loan spell at Bayern did little for his long-term prospects, and his return to Real this season saw him make only a handful of appearances across all competitions. It seems like a long time ago that Real spent €75m to land Rodriguez from Monaco after the 2014 World Cup, and he might have to step down a level to get back to his best.
Teams linked: Bayern, Liverpool, Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Sevilla, Hertha Berlin
With Neymar and Kylian Mbappe as competition, Draxler’s career has stalled somewhat in Paris, and he can’t unseat the 32-year-old Angel Di Maria from the first team. At 26, Draxler has to decide his next move, as his contract is expiring in 2021, and he has to make sure it’s the right one. He was tipped for the top from an early age, and the next few years of his career will end up defining it.
Team: Inter Milan
Teams linked: PSG, Tottenham, Man United, Juventus
He was arguably one of the best defenders in world football a few years ago, but Godin’s star has fallen since he dropped out of favour at new club Inter. The Uruguayan is 34 and won’t have long left at the top, so if clubs want to make the most of him, now is the time, even though he has another two years on his contract.
Julien Laurens thinks Ferran Torres would be able to fill the void left by Leroy Sane at Manchester City.
A bargain to be had?
With these contracts expiring in summer 2021, clubs will be looking ahead to grab cheap deals.
The 20-year-old seems to have emerged as the main option for any club that misses out on Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho. But the Spain winger is a quality, young player in his own right, and his €100m release clause won’t prove prohibitive, as Valencia are reportedly ready to accept offers of about half that to ensure that they don’t lose him for nothing in 2021. Man City fancy Torres after losing Leroy Sane to Bayern.
Team: RB Leipzig
Teams linked: Bayern, Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, PSG
A reported release clause of €60m has Upamecano in the sights of Europe’s top clubs. It’s rare to find a centre-back with such quality at the age of 21, so expect plenty of interest. Leipzig won’t want to sell after letting star striker Werner move to Chelsea, but the Frenchman’s contract expires in 2021, so time is running out. A club could get a bargain, as his price is dropping by the day.
Team: Bayern Munich
Teams linked: Man City, Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal, PSG, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus
It came as something of a shock when Alaba was first linked with a move away from Bayern, the club where he has spent the past 12 years. Then he hired a new agent: Pini Zahavi. Clearly, the Austrian left-back wants a new challenge, and the fact that his contract is expiring in 2021 means that a player worth upward of €100m will be available for much less. Arguably the best left-sided defender in world football, the 27-year-old won’t be short of offers, and Bayern can rely on young Alphonso Davies to replace him.
The most talked about young goalkeeper in the world, Donnarumma has been tipped to become the new Gianluigi Buffon since he made his Milan debut at age 16. That was five years ago, and though he has established himself as No. 1 goalkeeper, Milan’s fall from grace has him questioning his future. With a contract expiring in just over a year, now could be the time for the 21-year-old to seek a new challenge, whether that’s taking Buffon’s (and more likely Wojciech Szczesny‘s) spot at Juventus or moving to another country.
Teams linked: Liverpool, Man United, Chelsea, Juventus
Thiago has already said he won’t sign a new contract at Bayern, though sources have told ESPN that Liverpool aren’t thinking about a deal for him. At 29, the Spanish midfielder is not long-term value for money, so he might end up having to find a less high-profile club to continue his career.
Teams linked: Man City, Inter Milan, Newell’s Old Boys
The prospect of Messi not being at Barcelona feels wrong, but sources have told ESPN that the Argentine legend is angry with the club and could leave for nothing in 2021. Could the power brokers at Camp Nou sell him to get some money to aid the club’s struggling financial position? At 33, one of the greatest players of all time would still command a hefty fee, but only a reunion with former manager Pep Guardiola at Man City would seem likely. Messi has spoken about ending his career with Newell’s Old Boys, but surely it’s far too soon for that.
Jan Aage Fjortoft reflects on Timo Werner’s final match for RB Leipzig.
Major summer done deals
These deals were sorted amid the chaos. All are confirmed, and some players have joined their new clubs already.
Choosing Chelsea over Liverpool, the Germany striker was one of the hottest properties on the market before the Blues swooped to pay his release clause. The 24-year-old is expected to be a big hit in the Premier League.
The Morocco international became Frank Lampard’s first signing at Chelsea and the latest big-name star to depart Ajax for new pastures. At 26, he has a lot of time to improve and should add some quality to the Blues’ attacking play.
With Carles Perez heading to Roma and Ousmane Dembele‘s ongoing injury issues, Barcelona needed some more firepower up front and took a gamble on a Portugal U21 international who has, of course, been likened to Cristiano Ronaldo. At 20, the winger has plenty of time to prove himself but is rated highly enough for them to send Spain U21 star Abel Ruiz the other way as part of the deal.
The 17-year-old snubbed a move to Man United to get more playing time. Dortmund has proven to be a fine place for a player to develop, and the young midfielder will be following in some fine footsteps.
The 17-year-old right-back has been tipped for big things after impressing for Brazil at their successful U17 World Cup in 2019. He won’t jump straight into Guardiola’s first team but is one to keep an eye on for the future.
Nubel, 23, was dropped from the team and stripped of the captaincy after he announced that he would be joining Bayern on a free transfer this summer. Tipped to replace Manuel Neuer for club and country over the coming years, Nubel will have to contend with the 34-year-old for a first-team spot. Bayern recently agreed a new contract with Neuer, so Nubel might not find the path to the No. 1 jersey clear.