By David Shams
As the club season winds down, it’s inevitable that the pace of transfer rumors starts to pick up. There are too many to cover, but I’d like to focus on several over the course of the next few months. Some are more circus and PR stunts, while others are simply good players seeking greener pastures.
First on that list is Eden Hazard. It’s been nearly three years since we first starting hearing rumors that his move to Real Madrid was just around the corner. Reports suggest that we’ve finally come to that moment. ESPN is reporting an announcement is forthcoming at any day now. The move is estimated to cost Real Madrid around €100 million. And rumors have it there will be a spending spree this summer, with a budge of up to five times the amount of Hazards’s fee. Luka Jovic, Paul Pogba, and Sadio Mane are all rumored to be on the wishlist. But that also means several players will have to leave. It remains to be seen who will be the odd players out this summer, though.
As I mentioned above, Luka Jovic seems to be at the top of the list for Real Madrid. He’s also been linked with FC Bayern, Chelsea, and Barcelona. I poo-pooed the link to Barcelona in Episode 8 of the Two Idiots Podcast. He simply doesn’t fit their style of play. But the other three—Real Madrid, FC Bayern, and Chelsea—all play with a strong, traditional number 9. A strong performance by the Serbian striker in the Europa League—where his current club, Eintracht Frankfurt, faces off against Chelsea in the semifinals—and his price tag would likely increase. Add to that Eintracht recently triggered their purchase option on their loan agreement with Benfica. This could cause some teams to walk away.
In order to absorb all the players they want to buy (some mentioned above), Real Madrid will have to offload some of its roster. Chief on this list would have to be James Rodriguez. The Colombian attacking midfielder has spent the last two seasons at FC Bayern and couldn’t quite live up to expectations—they may have been too high, but nonetheless he failed to leave the desired mark. Bayern could still end up with the former Monaco player, but a move to Italy may be more likely. Napoli or Juventus may fit his style of play much better.
It’s possible that Richarlison could move on to his fifth side in as many seasons. Not because he’s a bad boy or lacks discipline, one could argue he does though, rather it’s been his standout performances that have seen him transfer to bigger sides year on year. Rumor has it that Barcelona has come knocking and owing in part to the great relationship between Everton and Barcelona built over the transfers and loans of several key Everton players, the transfer fee may be lower than expected. But there’s an obstacle to any sort of transfer to the Catalan side. They’re already chock full of non-EU players.
Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly has impressed over the last few seasons. And this year’s performances in all competitions has seen scouts from all over vying for his signature. Manchester United has looked like favorites since they’re the most in need of shoring up at the back. But he’s also mentioned that he’d like to stay and win championships.
Barring any surprise exits from Merseyside, Liverpool may not need to make a huge splash signing in the off season. But that hasn’t stopped them from supposedly pursuing Wolves midfielder Rueben Neves. Manager Jurgen Klopp may want to strengthen his somewhat crowded midfield and bringing in a Premier League battle tested player like Neves wouldn’t be a bad idea compared to the want-away PSG midfielder Adrien Rabiot.
Over the last two transfer windows, Tottenham haven’t signed any new players. In large part, this was due to pushing funds toward building their new stadium. But the stadium’s complete, a place in the Champions League Semifinals is secured, and another top four spot looking more likely fans will want to an effort to bring in new players. Curiously enough, though, the only sure rumors I’ve seen have players leaving. Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld are both linked with a move away from the North London club. Inter Milan is rumored to be preparing an offer for Eriksen, while Alderweireld may leave for either Arsenal or Manchester United.
Transfer season is always interesting to watch. There’s high drama, last second bargaining, and ridiculous rumors. These are but a few of the players or teams who will play huge roles in transfer season. I’ll follow them through the summer and keep everyone up to date on how everything shakes out.
David is the founder of DC Soccer Digest. He lives in Washington, DC.