July always heralds the ‘real’ start to the summer transfer window, as the elite begin to slowly filter back from their various international commitments.
The first week of July has certainly not disappointed, with a ream of transfer rumours hitting the airwaves.
Across Europe, there are five players out there who currently command a king’s ransom for their services. Are they worth it, or would this ruin any buying clubs?
The Man Seeking Home – Paulo Dybala to Manchester United
Another year, another effortless Serie A title.
To be a Juventus player is to be a trophy-winner, but for all the honours he has won in black and white, Dybala is one man who could be seeking other pastures soon.
At present, Manchester United are considered the likeliest candidates to take his signature, with a cash-plus-player swap involving Paul Pogba or Romelu Lukaku considered a possibility.
Without the swap component, the rumoured transfer value varies, but anything north of £90 million seems to be the estimate for Dybala’s services. For that reason, the Old Trafford faithful is currently divided on the Dybala issue.
Last season, Dybala found himself unable to click enough with Cristiano Ronaldo to put in consistently good performances.
Massimiliano Allegri was unable to find Dybala’s best position, mostly fielding him as a ‘number ten’ in 2018/19.
Ultimately, the confusion, as to whether it was Dybala’s attitude or his circumstances that saw him underperform last season, is the factor that casts doubt over this potential move.
The Defensive Lionheart – Harry Maguire to Manchester United
In the event of Dybala’s move, Manchester United’s business will be far from done. The Red Devils lag very distantly behind their two deadliest rivals in the football spreads to win the 2019/20 Premier League, and much of this is down to the calamitous defensive performances that dogged United throughout 2018/19.
Having signed Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will also be courting the second component of his new-look defence. Though an asking price of £90m was initially mooted, Maguire’s desire to leave Leicester has seemingly reduced this to around £70m.
A fee of £70m would also make Maguire the most expensive English defender in Premier League history, outstripping the £53m Manchester City paid for Kyle Walker (in 2017) by a considerable distance.
If it came to fruition, such a move would do much to fix the shortfall in defence that has affected United’s fortunes badly in the post-Ferguson era.
So too would it give the Red Devils more of a presence from set pieces, with Maguire’s aerial presence being more than just a means to clearing the ball.
Tellingly, he ended 2018/19 just one goal behind Virgil van Dijk, which does much to justify the high fee Leicester expect.
The Trophy Hunter – Christian Eriksen to Real Madrid
Statistically, 2018/19 was not Eriksen’s best season, with 2017/18 marking the last time the Danish midfield dynamo hit double figures in a league season.
In being part of the Spurs side that reached the 2019 Champions League final, Eriksen reached a new personal high. However, he has now been at Spurs for six years – and he remains without any trophy winner’s medal.
For all of Spurs’ endeavours, trophies remain absent, and this is clearly an unbearable state of affairs for Eriksen, who has long publicly desired a move away from North London.
The fee for Eriksen’s services is reported by some sources as an astonishing £130m, and with Real Madrid aiming to rebuild after a terrible 2018/19 campaign, fortune could favour a brave approach to the transfer window.
But for the unbelievable sum, this move makes poetic sense. The only potential drawback is the new weight of expectation he would bear, with the success of impact measured in trophies – rather than the mere proximity to the league leaders.
The Villain-Turned-Hero – Antoine Griezmann to Barcelona
Just a $134m buyout clause now separates Griezmann from his next suitors. After a horrendous season by their standards, Barcelona have been linked to just about every superstar in existence.
Whether or not the move happens is purely down to how much Ernesto Valverde is willing to risk.
Even Griezmann’s wages alone are potentially problematic, and he would also be subject to a hot reception from some portions of the crowd, having so recently rejected a move to the Nou Camp, after a long deliberation that merely served to raise Barcelona’s hopes.
At 28, Griezmann also does little to address the issue of an aging core at Barcelona, with Messi, Suarez, Pique and Busquets also near-ripe for the MLS or Chinese Super League.
The long shot – Phillipe Coutinho to PSG… or Liverpool?
With prices like those above being demanded, the Catalan club would do well to offload Philippe Coutinho, with PSG being his most likely destination.
Meanwhile, an Anfield return certainly seems like a ‘long shot’, but Liverpool have not explicitly ruled out a move for the Brazilian.
Having taken numerous La Liga winners’ medals, the Brazilian may feel as though he has some unfinished business at Anfield.
In addition to being a set-piece wizard, Coutinho was an integral part of the 2013/14 Liverpool squad, which narrowly missed out on the Premier League title on that occasion.
His return to Merseyside would naturally be well-received, and might even give Liverpool the edge they need to finally lift the ‘big one’ after thirty long years.
With his estimated values straddling the £75m mark, Coutinho could soon be facing one of the most important decisions of his career to date.