With the transfer season already underway, Patriot takes a look at three players who have dominated headlines with their transfer sagas this summer
The 2018/19 club football season officially came to a close with Liverpool lifting the Champions League. Now, for the next few months, the footballing action on the field takes a backseat, and the action at the clubs’ cash registers grabs eyeballs, as the transfer season is officially underway. All the big European clubs will now be looking to spend big and improve their squads for the upcoming 2019/20 season.
Here, we take a look at three players, who are being escorted by a number of European clubs and what the rumour mills say about where they are likely to be headed and which clubs are tussling to get them.
Matthijs De Ligt
The 19-year-old centreback has been an absolute sensation for an immensely talented Ajax side that reached the Champions League semi-finals beating the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus. At such a young age, De Ligt is already the captain of the Ajax side, and shows the temperament and maturity of someone much older.
With the youngster making it clear that he wants to move out of Ajax for greener pastures the next season, a host of clubs that need reinforcements at the back. Barcelona appear to be favourites to sign the Dutch youngster, with the latest development being that they have agreed on a 75-million-euro transfer. At Barca, De Ligt will link up with Ajax teammate Frekie De Jong, who had already completed a move to the Catalans during winter. However, it is his high weekly wage demands that may cause a hindrance.
Manchester United has also been in the hunt for De Ligt, with the club desperately looking for centre back options, and the Dutchman perfectly fits the bill for te tall fierce leader at the back that the reds need. With De Ligt’s agent Mino Raiola sharing a good relation with the United board, this seems like a possibility. De Ligt also reportedly relishes playing under challenging situations, and with United currently in rebuild mode, looking for a Champions League return next season, this could be perfect for him. An initial 65 million bid had been rejected by Ajax, and the Reds are now preparing a fresh bid for him.
In the recently concluded UEFA Nations League final between Portugal and Netherlands, Cristiano Ronaldo apparently approached De Ligt, with an offer to play with him at Juventus, with the Rossonerri also seeking a young defender with both their stalwarts aging. However, this move seem a little far- fetched considering that Juventus are keen to bolster their midfield options.
PSG have also offered big money to the Dutchman, with their new sporting director being close to Mino Raiola, but since the Dutchman enjoys challenges, playing for PSG will not exactly be in his mind. Liverpool has also reportedly approached the youngster to form a partnership with his country man Virgil van Dijk, but since his fee is so high, the Reds may not be able to pull off such a big money move.
Even before the season ended, with one game to go, Griezmann announced that he will leave Athletico Madrid, just a year after he committed his future to the club. This announcement sent the footballing world into a tizzy, as many clubs looked to notch up this opportunity and land the French striker in their ranks.
But after a string of clubs, including Bayern Munich and Manchester United dropped out of the race, the battle for landing Griezmann according to gossip vines is now between Barcelona and PSG.
Barcelona, since the departure of Neymar, had been looking to bolster their attacking options, and the failure of Coutinho has added to their worries, and that is why targeting Griezmann seemed logical for them. However, various sources have confirmed that Barcelona has backed out of the race, since the Frenchman’s price will be close to 130 million euros, and with the arrival of 78 million De Jong and the possible De Ligt transfer, signing him will cause problems regarding to FFP regulations. Barca defender and Griezmann’s national teammate, Samuel Umtiti too, has denied any sort of speculation surrounding the arrival of Griezmann at Catalonia.
And that is exactly where PSG come in. With Neymar reportedly unhappy at his current club and wanting to move out, the Ligue 1 giants could swoop in for Griezmann. Again, this would also be a return to his home country for the striker, and the whole team will be focused around him.
The 19-year-old wonderkid from Portugal, Benfica’s striker Joao Felix set the world alight last season, scoring 20 goals and providing eight assists. He became the youngest person to score a hat trick in the Europa League, thus catching the attention of all the bigwigs of Europe.
Now, being one of the world’s hottest prospects, clubs are willing to shell out a huge amount of money. With Felix’s release clause currently touching 120 million euros, major European clubs are offering to break the bank to land him in their ranks.
Athletico Madrid appear to be the frontrunners in landing the Portuguese, after the departure of Antoinne Griezmann seems to have created a void in front of goal for them. According to reports, coach Diego Simeone is in contact with Felix’s agent Mino Raiola and has convinced him of a regular starting place once he joins the club.
Manchester City has also been looking to fill their side with attacking flair, with age catching up Sergio Aguero and David Silva leaving the club next season, Pep Guardiola is willing to shell out money to buy Felix, who is set to be the long-term prospect for the current Premier League champions.
Manchester United has also been heavily linked to sign Felix, with them willing to pay more than the release clause in a desperate attempt to bolster their attack. Mino Raiola has a good relation with the United management and has been responsible for the transfer for another young Portuguese sensation 16 years ago, Cristiano Ronaldo. Felix is known to admire Ronaldo a lot, and may be willing to follow his footsteps and join United as the next move of his career.