The summer transfer window is underway with teams all across Europe looking to strengthen their squads ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.
Usual culprits Chelsea will largely be out of the conversation thanks to their transfer ban but will still be vulnerable to player sales, while the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City will look to recover from disappointing European campaigns in the only way they know how – spend, spend, spend.
And what of those looking to break into the European places in their respective leagues? Or the newly-promoted sides aiming to consolidate their place in the top flight? The cash is certain to flow.
Here at Squawka, we’ve compiled a list of the hottest transfer rumours in football right now and graded how likely they are to happen.
Read on for the key stats, facts and quotes behind this week’s transfer news.
1. Romelu Lukaku (from Manchester United to Inter Milan)
What’s the story? Since joining his best mate Paul Pogba at Manchester United in 2017, things haven’t exactly gone to plan for Romelu Lukaku. On the surface, his 42 goals in 96 games looks like a very decent return but in truth, a mixture of poor touch and bad luck means Lukaku has rarely been first choice at Old Trafford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set for a summer revamp of his squad and reports in Italy suggest the Norwegian could offload Lukaku to Inter to free up some funds.
Key stat: Lukaku won 93 aerial duels in the Premier League last season, bettered only by Chris Smalling (102) among Man Utd players.
Key quotes: Over the years, Lukaku has never made a secret of his desire to one day play in Serie A and back in April, he revealed he wanted to make his ‘dream move sooner rather than later’.
“Playing in Serie A is a dream, it would be really a dream,” he told Sky Italia. “I hope to be able to play sooner or later, even if at the moment I am focused on the United.”
Could it happen? According to reports, Inter must raise £40m to meet financial fair play rules if they wish to bring Lukaku to the San Siro but in Mauro Icardi, Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic (among others), they have plenty of sellable assets. United, meanwhile, have slapped a £62m price-tag on Lukaku but should Inter move on a couple of their star players this summer, this could be a match made in heaven.
2. Kieran Trippier (from Spurs to Juventus)
What’s the story? Maurizio Sarri looks set to switch Chelsea for Juventus and if reports are to be believed, he wants Kieran Trippier to accompany him on the flight from London to Turin. The 28-year-old was one of the heroes of England’s run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, creating more chances than any other player at the tournament (24) and scoring that goal against Croatia. However, he has been sub-par for Spurs this season and Sky Sports are now reporting that Juve could move for him to replace Joao Cancelo, who has been linked with a move away.
Key stat: Trippier provided 19 successful corners/crosses at the 2018 World Cup, seven more than second-placed Kevin De Bruyne.
Key quotes: Trippier himself has admitted he has not been good enough for Spurs this season, telling Sky Sports: “If the manager selects me to play, I will always give everything I can. Everybody makes mistakes – I have made plenty this season but I am the one to own up to them.
“I have had plenty of interviews about my performances this season and it has not been good at all. I am the first one to say that.”
These comments have since sparked speculation that Trippier could be willing to leave White Hart Lane, with Juve the favourites ahead of Italian rivals, Napoli.
Could it happen? Trippier has expressed a desire to remain in England, while Mauricio Pochettino is notoriously loyal to his players. A move to Italy would certainly be interesting to watch for the set-piece specialist but even with Spurs spending money this summer, they’re not in a position to allow a player of his quality to leave.
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3. Matthijs de Ligt (from Ajax to Manchester City)
What’s the story? Matthijs de Ligt has captained Ajax to a domestic double and the Champions League semi-finals, all the while showing William Wallace-esque leadership qualities at the tender age of 19. Of course, with such greatness, links to some European giants have emerged, including Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester United and, in this case, Manchester City. Sensationally, ex-United boss Louis van Gaal has backed his compatriot to move to the Etihad.
Key stat: De Ligt won 46 aerial duels in the Champions League last season, more than any other Ajax defender.
Key quotes: In what could be seen as an effort to burn all bridges with his former club, ex-United boss Van Gaal backed De Ligt to make a move to Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side.
After the former Ajax manager Peter Bosz told Fox Sports De Ligt would fit in well at City, Van Gaal agreed, saying: “I think exactly the same. Although De Ligt can go to Barcelona too, because I don’t like their central defenders either.
“He could play at Barcelona, but he could play for Manchester City also, and in that case, I would choose Pep Guardiola over Lionel Messi.”
Could it happen? Absolutely. You could argue that both Barcelona and Manchester United need De Ligt more, but you could also argue De Ligt needs Man City more than that. Developing his game under one of Johan Cruyff’s disciples would be a dream come true for the defender and while Aymeric Laporte, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi are all superb players in their own right, some more leadership will be needed at the heart of the back four after the departure of Vincent Kompany.
4. Leroy Sane (from Manchester City to Bayern Munich)
What’s the story? Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben have finally brought the curtain down on their trophy-laden spells with Bayern Munich and the Bundesliga champions have set their sights on City’s Leroy Sane – who is reportedly seeking more time in the starting XI – as a replacement.
Key stat: Only Kevin De Bruyne (36) has provided more assists for Man City in the Premier League than Sane (28) over the past three seasons.
Key quotes: Bayern chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has made no secret of his desire to bring Sane to the Allianz Arena, telling a Bild event in Berlin: “We will try. I can not promise whether it will succeed.”
Could it happen? Bayern are undoubtedly interested in signing Sane but according to Uli Hoeness, City are proving incredibly stubborn to deal with. The Bayern president told Kicker: “You have to be a bit sceptical. It is unlikely that it will work. It’s about sums, they’re insane.”
5. Richarlison (to Man Utd/Barcelona)
What’s the story? Signed from Watford for £50m including add-ons last summer, Richarlison has proved a massive success for Everton so far, with his exploits earning him call-ups to the Brazil national team and, now, links to Barcelona and Manchester United.
Key stat: Along with Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison was Everton’s joint-highest Premier League goalscorer last season with 13 strikes.
Key quotes: Given how ambitious he is, Richarlison will surely eye a move to a true European giant in the future. For now, though, he appears happy to continue his development under Marco Silva, the manager who first brought him into English football with Watford.
“It’s a nice feeling when you get praise for your good work,” he told FourFourTwo magazine when asked about interested clubs. But I’m not thinking about a transfer at the moment. I’ve just arrived at Everton. I’m happy here.”
Could it happen? In the future, yes. Right now, probably not. Silva and director of football, Marcel Brands, are working hard to build a young, talented squad to break the ‘big six’ monopoly in the years to come and to sell one of their most important assets would go against all of that, as well as infuriating the Everton fanbase. The huge price they would demand for Richarlison would likely put off potential suitors for now but another strong season at Goodison Park could see this one reignited in transfer windows to come.