Saturday 24 February 2018

Coutinho to Barca, Sanchez to City: 10 transfers that may happen before Deadline Day

Sanchez, Coutinho and Drinkwater
Sanchez, Coutinho and Drinkwater

The last few days of the transfer window are always a dramatic affair, with fans, clubs, managers and above all, the players themselves left on edge with late moves and rumours.

It is the big-name transfers that really set tongues wagging, however, and with fewer than four days of the transfer window remaining, there are still a host of major deals that might or might not go through.

The transfer world record has already been smashed with PSG’s £200m signing of Neymar, while Premier League clubs have already spent in excess of £900m on new players for the season ahead.From the rancorous, summer-long sagas of Philippe Coutinho and Virgil van Dijk, to the more recent speculation surrounding Jonny Evans and Danny Drinkwater, we take a look at ten possible major transfers involving Premier League clubs, and their likelihood of being completed before the clock strikes midnight on 31 August.  

Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona

The fleet-footed playmaker has been linked with Nou Camp for virtually the entire summer, or so it seems. Reports in Spain suggest Liverpool’s hardline stance against selling Coutinho has softened in recent days, but the Reds would still rather refuse to sell the Brazilian than leave complex transfer negotiations to the last minute.

A struggling Barcelona are prepared to offer well in excess of £100m to secure the Brazilian’s services, emboldened by their £200m windfall from Neymar’s PSG move, but the sticking point remains Fenway Sports Group’s willingness – or lack thereof – to sacrifice Liverpool’s star man.

Likelihood of the transfer: 50/50

Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City

Two major factors point towards the Chilean’s departure from North London in the next few days. First, as has been widely reported, his wage demands are astronomical. Manchester City are perhaps the only (non-Chinese) club in the world willing to lavish Sanchez with in excess of £400,000-a-week. Secondly – and this is perhaps bound up with his wage demands – Sanchez’s commitment to Arsenal has seemingly faltered as time has elapsed.

In July he claimed to be ill in a less-than-convincing Instagram post after Arsenal had expressly stated he was returning to training, and on Sunday he was spotted seemingly laughing on the bench while the Gunners were being thrashed 4-0 by Liverpool.

Likelihood of the transfer: More likely than not

Fernando Llorente to Chelsea

The vastly experienced forward has long had an admirer in Antonio Conte, with the Blues boss having signed Llorente once before while he was Juventus manager. However, Swans boss and former Madrid assistant Paul Clement said on Sunday that “I’m confident of keeping Fernando and I see no reason why I shouldn’t be".

Clement has also previously stated that he’d had reassurances from the World Cup winner that he would not be leaving South Wales. With Swansea’s other big name, Gylfi Siggurdson, having departed for £45m, one would think the Swans will choose to keep Llorente even in the face of big-money offers.

Likelihood of the transfer: Relatively unlikely

Danny Drinkwater to Chelsea

Leicester are currently insisting on £40m for Drinkwater, having rejected a £25m bid from Chelsea earlier this month. Chelsea believe, however, that Leicester are just waiting to sign a pre-emptive replacement for Drinkwater before cashing in. Even in this age of inflated transfer fees, £40m seems exorbitant for a player who is struggling to make the England squad. It is hard to imagine the Foxes standing in the way of a move should Chelsea mount an offer north of £30m. Boss Craig Shakespeare has even admitted that Drinkwater may yet leave before the window shuts.

Likelihood of the transfer: More likely than not

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Chelsea or Liverpool

Although the 24-year-old was offered an improved contract in early July, his rejection of it clearly signalled his desire to leave. Boss Arsene Wenger has expressed a desire to keep the England winger, but there is a sense that Oxlade-Chamberlain is replaceable, unlike a certain Chilean forward. Antonio Conte is thought to be extremely keen on signing Oxlade-Chamberlain, with the ex-Southampton man’s ability to play in nearly every midfield position appealing to the Italian. It remains to be seen exactly how much Chelsea are willing to pay for a player with a dubious injury record, however.

Likelihood of the transfer: 50/50

Shkodran Mustafi to Inter Milan

The former Sampdoria player is thought to yearn for a return to Italy’s warmer climes, with Inter Milan heavily linked to the German international. Though the Nerazzurri were rumoured to be interested in signing Mustafi on loan with an option to buy him later, Arsenal would prefer a permanent transfer after paying Valencia £35m for his services only one year ago. But unless Inter suddenly decide to cough up a bucketful of cash, it looks as if Mustafi won’t be leaving the Emirates any time soon.

Likelihood of the transfer: Unlikely

Renato Sanches to Liverpool

The Portuguese won the Golden Boy award for Europe’s top young player in 2016, but his much-heralded move to Bayern has not panned out. He started a paltry four league matches last term, and former Bayern star Lothar Matthäus named him among the three worst players of the season.

Sanches has himself expressed a desire to leave Bayern. Consequently, a clutch of upper-level Premier League sides have attempted to sign him this summer. Liverpool’s overtures have been particularly strong, and Sanches is very much a Jürgen Klopp player: young, hungry and swashbuckling in possession, but Liverpool’s attentions may be elsewhere.

Likelihood of the transfer: Unlikely

Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool

The imposing Dutchman has hogged headlines for months, with a posse of clubs reputedly chasing his signature. His is a classic case of loggerheads between player and club, with Southampton as keen to keep van Dijk as van Dijk is to leave. Van Dijk has repeatedly made it clear he wants out from St Mary’s this summer, handing in a transfer request and even refusing to make himself available for pre-season matches. Mauricio Pellegrino’s side, however, seem utterly unwilling to let Van Dijk’s petulance win out. Their stance – that he is going nowhere – has never wavered.

Likelihood of the transfer: Unlikely

Jonny Evans to Manchester City

Pep Guardiola is reportedly unhappy with several of his centre-backs, and is seeking a player with Champions League experience for (relatively) little outlay. However Evans’s recently-granted status as West Brom captain means that Tony Pulis is reluctant to sell. Evans himself has just declared loyalty to the Midlands outfit – on Sunday, he stated in West Brom’s matchday programme that “until anybody tells me different, I'm committed to the Albion and I’m only thinking about getting in this team”.

As well as rebuffing Manchester City’s bid of £18m, Pulis’s side have also rebuffed a bid of more than £20m from Leicester City. Guardiola is thought to be preparing a bigger bid, however.

Likelihood of the transfer: 50/50

Jamie Vardy to Everton or Chelsea

Though everyone in football respects Jamie Vardy’s rise from obscurity, the reality is that he has now turned thirty. It would not surprise anyone were Leicester to cash in on the former factory worker, especially with Chelsea and Everton prepared to pay £40m for his services. Vardy may well feel that this summer is his last chance of a big move, and with Leicester failing to repeat their wonder-season from 2015/16, a move would seem the logical step for the England international. That said, Vardy has turned down big moves before, and retains a deep affection for Leicester City.

Likelihood of the transfer: 50/50

Independent News Service

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