Transfers are the bedrock of football gossip. Before and during every transfer window, speculation about the players moving from one club to another take up a lot of column inches and air time.
But the really big names changing clubs is not a frequent occurrence, due to the big amounts involved and the carefully-worded contracts. But the next transfer window could be different.
Despite the global pandemic seriously denting the biggest clubs in the world and their revenues, the transfer market may tell a different story.
Transfer movers and shakers
Who: Lionel Messi (Free agent)
Why: An erosion of trust in the club had seen Messi publicly declare that he wants to leave Barcelona. It led to president Joseph Bartomeu losing the election and Joan Laporte returning back to power.
Which clubs are interested: According to reports, Barcelona have offered Messi a new contract with a significant salary cut. The Sun reports that the player is ready to make a switch if a club forks out £25 million-a-year in salary. Only two clubs, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) can afford that in a pandemic-hit market.
City have eyes on the Argentine. A once-in-a-lifetime player like Messi requires no second thoughts and if Barcelona are not able to convince the six-time Ballon d’Or winner of their project, a move to the Etihad Stadium might be the next best option. Apart from the Pep Guardiola-connection, City have vacancy upfront as well, with Sergio Aguero leaving in the summer.
Chances of a transfer: For a moment, it seemed like Messi had made up his mind to leave. But a report in The Times recently stated that Barcelona have offered him a 10-year contract that goes beyond his playing career.
Who: Cristiano Ronaldo (£50 million)
Why: Juventus’ fall in fortunes might see Ronaldo move to new shores, especially if the Turin club can’t make it to next season’s Champions League.
Which clubs are interested: Ronaldo joined Juventus for £99.2 million in 2018 on a four-year deal. Given that he has only one year left of his contract, the Portuguese great could be reportedly available in a cut-price, especially if Manchester United make an approach.
The player’s mother recently said that she would try to bring him back to Sporting CP, his first club. But a return to Portugal was vetoed by Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes.
Chances of a transfer: Depends on Juventus’ Champions League hopes. Currently in fifth place with one game to play and a point behind fourth-placed Napoli, it might seem that one match could decide the future destination of Ronaldo. A ‘homecoming’ to Manchester is not ruled out.
Who: Kylian Mbappe (£135 million)
Why: A lifelong dream to play for Real Madrid.
Which clubs are interested: Not many clubs can afford the second-most expensive transfer signing in football history. Chances are Paris Saint-Germain will ensure that if any sale has to go through, it will be the highest package any club has ever received for a player.
Chances of a transfer: If PSG can be convinced to sell Mbappe this season, Real Madrid are likely to be his next home. But the chances of PSG being arm-twisted by a player is simply unexpected because of their track record of holding onto disgruntled footballers and offering humongous cheques to keep the best playing at the Parc de Princes.
Who: Robert Lewandowski (£50 million)
Why: The Pole is another striker in the mould of Kane – a prolific goal-scorer with a penchant for being a high-intensity workhorse.
Which clubs are interested: Chelsea’s Timo Werner experiment has really not worked and the London club isn’t exactly known for patience. Adding Lewandowski to their ranks might guarantee a top-4 spot and make the Premier League title race to a four-horse contest.
Chances of a transfer: Minimal. Bayern Munich have no reason to sell him, especially when he is in his prime and a Ballon d’Or contender with two years left on his contract.
Who: Harry Kane (£150 million)
Why: The lack of trophies has rendered Kane, who has been with Tottenham Hotspur since the age of 14, looking to move away from the club.
Which clubs are interested: In a summer where Aguero is set to leave Manchester City with Gabriel Jesus never really touching the heights that his Argentine striking partner did at the club, chances are Guardiola will be in the market for a new front man. And there really might be no better proven option than Kane. A 30-goals- per-season striker, Kane can be the final cog in making this City team even stronger.
United recently extended Edinson Cavani’s contract for one more season and have Anthony Martial waiting to return from an injury. However, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer didn’t rule out the addition of another striker despite Edinson Cavani’s contract extension, when asked about it after the Fulham game.
Chances of a transfer: Spurs boss Daniel Levy is known to be a hard negotiator. Selling Kane when he has multiple years left on his contract, especially to a rival Premier League team, might mean that the British transfer record will have to be broken this summer.
Who: Erling-Braut Haaland (£150 million)
Why: Haaland’s agent Mino Raiola has constantly tried to build the idea of his player leaving Borussia Dortmund this season, despite the German club making it clear that it won’t consider selling the Norwegian striker this season.
Which clubs are interested: The two Manchester clubs are once again on top of the list as also Barcelona. For City, going after either Kane or Haaland is a top priority because the club doesn’t have a seasoned striker at the helm currently. For United, the next player on this list might be a bigger priority than any striking option.
Chances of a transfer: A battle between Raiola and Dortmund might make this situation clearer. Another season for Haaland in Germany might mean that a chance to go to work with Guardiola at City may never materialise. At United, there’s uneasiness about doing business with Raiola.
Who: Jadon Sancho (£87 million)
Why: One of last summer’s biggest transfer sagas might drag onto this year and Dortmund have made it clear that Sancho might be up for sale for the right price.
Which clubs are interested: United are front-runners to sign Sancho up. He is their primary target and would fix a right wing that has had to do with makeshift partnerships over the last few years. It would also allow Mason Greenwood to play more centrally, instead of cutting in from the right.
Liverpool have also thrown their hat into the Sancho sweepstakes – but only if one of their established wingers makes an exit.
Chances of a transfer: Sancho is very likely to be United’s marquee signing. But Dortmund might very likely sell only one of Haaland or Sancho this summer and how proactive the top two English clubs are, will decide who gets to take whom.