Ranking The Likelihood Of 7 Remaining Mooted Mega-Transfers
Get the best email in soccer.
The Serie A season starts in two weeks. The transfer window is open for another three weeks. Due to this strange arrangement, none of the squads are entirely set in stone. This week, we’ll examine some of the most interesting, important and lucrative transfers and assess whether there’s any chance they’ll happen before deadline day.
Clubs: Juventus to Barcelona
Summary: The Neymar money has made the end to this window much tenser for Juventus fans. Armed with $260-odd million, the Catalan club suddenly needs to replace one of the best players in the world with real quality. As the shiniest crown jewel in Juventus’s array of attacking talents, Dybala seems to fit the bill.
We’ve seen in the past that Juventus is not averse to selling their star players. Pogba left last year; Bonucci left this year. There’s a sense that, should an irresistible offer be laid on the table, Juventus might be inclined to at least discuss the transfer. We’re talking astronomically large, however, potentially a higher fee than what was paid last year by Manchester United for Pogba.
While Barca seems focused on Coutinho and Dembele for now, a late and lucrative swoop for Dybala may well take place should other deals fail to materialize. Even then, Juventus would be in an incredibly strong negotiating position.
Player: Riyad Mahrez
Clubs: Leicester to Roma
Summary: When Leicester won the Premier League, it relied on a very simple setup. A bunch of big lads at the back, N'Golo Kante running circles around everyone and Danny Drinkwater pinging long balls for Jamie Vardy to latch on to. At the same time, Mahrez would flit in and out of the game, offering mercurial moments of magic and racking up both goals and assists. He was the touch of class, an aesthetic addition to a perfectly oiled machine.
As soon as the season ended, there were immediately links with the big sides. Arsenal was said to be close to a transfer but nothing materialized. Instead, Mahrez signed a contract extension and the matter seemed settled.
But last year was not nearly as fun. Along with most of the Leicester team, Mahrez seemed off the boil. As the season petered out, Roma entered the fray. New sporting director Monchi seems to have set his sights on the Algerian as a possible replacement for Mo Salah. The two are vastly different players, though Mahrez’s guile could help balance a new-look Roma side.
As things stand, the Italian club has had numerous low bids rejected. But the two clubs are talking. Unless anyone else begins to bid higher, Mahrez could well be on his way to Rome in the coming weeks once the clubs settle on a fee.
Clubs: Nice to Inter
Summary: Nice were one of the most interesting footballing stories last year. Though their title challenge proved to be a step too far, they were comfortably the third best team in France, just behind PSG and Monaco. They qualified for the Champions League and will now face Napoli in the qualifying round. Though Mario Balotelli and Jean Seri might have caught the media’s attention, Dalbert proved to be a key component of Lucien Favre’s side.
Inter needs fullbacks. The paucity of options available to Luciano Spalletti in this department proves that the Milanese side should be focusing heavily on reinforcing their defensive flanks. Dalbert would immediately be head and shoulders above the other options. On the surface, moving for the Brazilian seems to be utterly sensible and a good piece of business. It’s almost too obvious a move. This should happen, but never underestimate the ability of Inter to shoot themselves in the foot.
Likelihood: 9/10 for most teams, 7/10 for Inter
Player: Renato Sanches
Clubs: Bayern Munich to AC Milan
Summary: After exploding onto the scene in 2016 and helping Benfica to a league title, Renato Sanches eventually played his way into the starting XI for the European champions Portugal and sealed a big money move to Bayern Munich.
But after such an incredible year, the teenager’s progress seems to have stalled. He struggled to establish himself in Germany and underperformed at this summer’s UEFA European Under-21 Championship. A move away from Bayern seems essential for his development, though the Munich management is adamant that nothing more than a loan move will be sanctioned.
Milan has spent big this summer, totally renovating its squad. While they still seem to be in the market for a striker and defensive reinforcements, there have been plenty of links with Sanches. At this stage, the Portuguese teenager would be a luxury addition.
It seems unlikely he would start ahead of Kessie or Biglia. And without an option to buy, the game time given to Sanches could be better offered to one of Milan’s own youth prospects. Still, the transfer rumors persist. It’s unlikely that this rumor will die until deadline day.
Player: Radja Nainggolan
Clubs: Roma to Manchester United
Summary: Nainggolan is an excellent midfielder and Manchester United needs help in that department. However, this seems relatively easy to dismiss. United has just signed Nemanja Matic and Nainggolan has just signed a new contract. It seems this rumor is dead on arrival.
Player: Alex Sandro
Clubs: Juventus to Chelsea
Summary: Along with Marcelo, Alex Sandro is one of the best left backs in world football. As good going forward as he is in defense, the Brazilian instantly settled in Turin after moving from Porto in 2015. Able to play in a back four and as a wingback, even playing at center back on occasion, Sandro has been superb for Juventus.
There’s no doubt Sandro would improve the Chelsea defense. The English champion has been relying on Marcos Alonso to play the wingback role in Conte’s 3-4-3. Sandro is simply a better player in almost every regard (except, perhaps, when it comes to taking free kicks). It’s why Chelsea has been relentlessly pursuing Sandro in the offseason. As big a bid as $70.75 million has been mooted. But Juventus has resisted all interest in the Brazilian.
After Bonucci’s departure, it seems that Juventus is not keen to further shuffle the defense. But, as with Dybala, Juventus may have their head turned by a substantial enough bid. But it would have to be incredibly substantial.
Player: Ivan Perisic
Clubs: Inter to Manchester United
Summary: Ivan Perisic always plays well on the world stage. If you’ve watched Croatia at any recent summer tournaments, the winger would have caught the eye ahead of Luka Modric or Ivan Rakitic. For Inter, he has not been quite as good but has still been an important source of creativity. Quick, excellent technique and a great work rate, Perisic appears to be the consummate Mourinho player.
The Manchester United manager certainly thinks so and, to him, the Croatian is the final piece in his summer transfer puzzle. The only problem is getting Inter to sell.
After last year’s spending spree, Inter has been much more reserved in this year’s market. Part of that is because the areas of the squad which need reinforcement are not particularly flashy, hence the Dalbert links. But keeping Perisic seems to be important. So far, they’ve turned down numerous United bids. But Perisic is approaching 30 and is certainly not irreplaceable.
If United pays the right amount, the move seems set to happen. And if there’s one thing United does well, it’s paying lots of money for things. Right now, it’s a waiting game but it seems inevitable.