The summer transfer window has now reached its last three weeks. All deals in the major European leagues must be completed by October 5th. So far most of the top clubs have been cautiously created by the coronavirus pandemic due to the financial uncertainty with large movements of money in the market.
Chelsea were an exception: Bayer Leverkusen’s £ 72m midfielder Kai Havertz led a £ 220m spending spree at Stamford Bridge. Premier League champions Liverpool have only spent £ 11.8m on Olympiakos left-back Kostas Tsimikas (after raising £ 10.9m from the sale of Dejan Lovren to Zenit St. Petersburg) during the traditional major spends Manchester City and Manchester United have only spent £ 65m or £ 35m
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But despite the financial caution that is gripping the market, there are still some big deals on the table and high-profile players looking to move. Only 21 days left until the window closes, ESPN is checking which players get their move and which remain frustrated.
WHO WANTS HIM? Liverpool, Manchester United
Asking price: £ 27m
The 29-year-old midfielder will no longer be under contract with Bayern in 2021 and has so far rejected the offer of a new contract. However, finances are proving to be an obstacle for Liverpool and Manchester United when it comes to getting a deal.
Liverpool have to sell before they can buy. Georginio Wijnaldum – also no longer under contract next summer – is the player most likely to unlock the door to a deal. When Wijnaldum is ready to leave, the fees and money saved on the Dutchman’s wages would free cash for Liverpool to sign Thiago. But it looks like Wijnaldum doesn’t want to leave, so Liverpool are fighting to make progress with Bayern.
United can afford the fee, but they are reluctant to meet Thiago’s wage claims, which are over £ 200,000 a week.
Unless Thiago is ready to accept less, United will not pursue a deal. Bayern may have to cut their price significantly to get a deal and avoid losing Thiago for nothing next summer.
Transfer notes: assessment of all major movements this summer
– Here you can find every completed transfer
WHO WANTS HIM? Manchester United
Asking price: £ 100m
United have been following English winger Sancho for over a year but have yet to agree on a deal with Dortmund or the player despite Germany encouraging him to make a transfer. Dortmund, which valued Sancho at £ 100million, has left United to negotiate with agents to get a deal across the line. While sources have told ESPN that progress is being made, no breakthrough is yet to come.
United have made it clear that they will not meet the Dortmund player’s rating and have insisted that the pandemic has changed the financial landscape, but the German club have not cut their price yet. Dortmund is not under pressure to sell and Sancho has not gone public to push for a train. So the ball is in United’s court. You’re running out of time to make a deal.
Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens discuss alternatives to Jadon Sancho, including Bale, Perisic and Douglas Costa.
KALIDOU KOULIBALY, DF, Napoli
WHO WANTS HIM? Manchester City
Asking price: £ 70m
Napoli are ready to sell Senegalese defender Koulibaly but he’s determined to hold out for £ 70million.
City manager Pep Guardiola, who has already signed Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake, wants a seasoned, proven center-back to fill the void left by Vincent Kompany’s 2019 departure, and he believes Koulibaly is the most important alongside Aymeric Laporte Can be a supplement. At 29, however, City is reluctant to meet Napoli’s rating and negotiations between the clubs are unlikely to go smoothly as Etihad was upset over Napoli’s decision to sell Jorginho to Chelsea two years ago when moving to City seemed to have been agreed.
After six years with the Italian club, Koulibaly is keen to move this summer so he can keep the key to a deal if he’s ready to push for a City transfer.
Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop, and others to bring you the latest highlights and discuss the biggest storylines. Stream on ESPN + (US only).
DAYOT UPAMECANO, DF, RB Leipzig
WHO WANTS HIM? Manchester United
Asking price: £ 60m
French defender Upamecano signed a contract extension earlier this summer that could keep him at Leipzig until 2023, replacing an earlier contract that was due to expire at the end of this season. According to reports in Germany, the new contract includes an escape clause of EUR 42 million that can be triggered from next summer.
Despite the new deal with the 21-year-old, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rates Upamecano as the perfect defense partner for captain Harry Maguire, but was still able to convince Old Trafford Vice Chairman Ed Woodward to make a late offer for the player. Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann told ESPN last week that Upamecano will not be sold in that window and United will have to unload Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo before he is able to take a step.
But United believe Leipzig could be ready to make money now for a fee higher than the € 42million they would receive next summer if they can clear the decks.
Read the latest news and reactions from Mark Ogden, Senior Writer at ESPN FC.
DECLAN RICE, MF, West Ham
WHO WANTS HIM? Chelsea
Asking price: £ 65m
West Ham manager David Moyes said it would take “Bank of England” money to trick the club into selling English midfielder Rice, but Chelsea remain looking for a player they originally had as a youth to before they were released at the age of 14.
Chelsea’s £ 220million summer expense was funded in large part by the £ 100million fee for the sale of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid in 2019 and the £ 50million created by the completion of Alvaro Morata’s move to Atletico Madrid in earned this year. So you still have money to spend. Stamford Bridge Club is reluctant to meet West Ham’s rating of Rice, but the Hammers only signed one deal this summer – a £ 14.5m deal for Czech midfielder Tomas Soucek – and the temptation to sell Rice, to raise money before the deadline could still play in Chelsea’s hands.
It looks like Chelsea won’t make a deal for £ 65million.
GARETH BALE, FW, Real Madrid
WHO WANTS HIM? Interest from China, speculation linking him to Spurs, Manchester United
Asking price: £ 18m
The 31-year-old Bale said earlier this month Real made it “very difficult” for him to leave the Santiago Bernabeu despite coach Zinedine Zidane making it clear that the former Tottenham winger is not included in his plans.
With two years left on a contract worth up to £ 600,000 with bonuses, Bale is out of reach of any club in world football unless they take a huge cut in wages. Real are holding out a fee of £ 18m for the Welsh international, who has been at the club since August 2013, and that price should also put off interested buyers.
In order for Bale to have the hope of getting his career back on track with a move, both he and Real will need to cut their losses significantly in order to generate realistic interest from the Premier League clubs.
MESUT OZIL, MF, Arsenal
WHO WANTS HIM? Fenerbahce. Al-Nassr (Saudi Arabia), interest from Qatar
PROBABLE FEE: Free
The 31-year-old midfielder has not shot a ball for Arsenal since football returned after being suspended and coach Mikel Arteta has made it clear the German has no future in the Emirates. But with a year to close his £ 350,000-a-week contract, Ozil won’t be leaving unless Arsenal pays the rest of his business.
Arsenal are unlikely to terminate Ozil’s contract and let him go for free, but they are ready to discharge him if a club is ready to take over his contract or subsidize his wages.
With the interest of Fenerbahce and wealthy clubs in the Middle East, Ozil has the opportunity to play football on a regular basis elsewhere, but Arsenal must take a huge financial hit to smear the wheels of a potential deal.