Dubai: The transfer window wheels are already in motion and the rumour mill is getting up to speed now that the dust has settled on the New Year revelries and the transfer window is firmly open for business.
Already we have seen two major pieces of business, with runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool snapping up Japanese sensation Takumi Minamino as they look to bolster their burgeoning squad for a battle for four more trophies this season.
Former — deep breath — Malmo, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, PSG, Manchester United and LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic grabbed the headlines in Italy on Thursday as he jetted in to put pen to paper on a deal to return to AC Milan 10 years after he left the club first time around.
Come the end of the month, those signings will be a drop in the ocean, with many more big players on the brink of moving on to new pastures. Here is a look as some of the top names who could be in new colours very soon.
PAUL POGBA, Manchester United
The rumours will just not die down about the volatile World Cup winner, who has only made a handful of appearances this season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side and will not see action for at least the next few weeks with an alleged ankle injury. With a price tag of anywhere between 90 and 150 million pounds swirling around, only the biggest clubs have sturdy enough chequebooks to take him on. And if they do, they will need to make room for his ego, too, as he is not shy about letting his feelings be known if he is unhappy with a club or manager (a tweeted smirking photo just after Jose Mourinho’s sacking at Old Trafford is one example).
Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, plus Serie A serial champions Juventus, have all been mooted as possible destinations.
On Friday, ahead of United’s FA Cup clash with Wolves, a somewhat fed-up Solskjaer was again questioned on the future of the playmaker.
“Here we go again, FA Cup third round and you’re talking about Paul again,” said Solskjaer.
Should Pogba depart, potential replacements include Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish, Leicester duo Ricardo Pereira and James Maddison, as well as Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho.
CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN, Tottenham
It is no secret the Denmark international wants to leave Spurs, having attempted and failed to engineer a way out of the exit door in the summer of 2019. His performances have been far from sparkling so far this season and new boss Mourinho, who took over from Mauricio Pochettino in November for the struggling Londoners, is well-known for getting rid of players who could unsettle a dressing-room, regardless of their talent. Given Eriksen’s poor showing so far this term, interested parties such as Real Madrid and Manchester United will maybe come in with a cut-price offer to give the Dane a way out. He is out of contract in the summer and this will be Spurs’ last chance to cash in on the midfielder.
OLIVIER GIROUD, Chelsea
The French striker has fallen out of favour at Chelsea, with manager Frank Lampard preferring to go with youngster Tammy Abraham up front instead of the World Cup winner. Again, his contract is up in the summer and the Blues way opt to get some money in rather than let him walk away for free. Inter Milan are rumoured to be interested in his services, and he could be a perfect foil for born-again forward Romelu Lukaku, who has rediscovered his shooting boots since departing England and United for the Serie A title hopefuls. Any money that comes in could pave the way for Lampard to go after Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha, Leipzig striker Timo Werner or Lyon forward Moussa Dembele.
JADON SANCHO, Dortmund
The young English forward made waves when he switched from Manchester City to Dortmund in 2017 and has scored 22 goals so far. But he has had problems with his bosses off the field this term and Dortmund may decide to let him move on with City, United, Chelsea and — of course — Real Madrid and Barcelona all showing interest. The German side have already recruited a replacement in Erling Braut Haaland from Salzburg.
GARETH BALE, Real Madrid
The Welsh winger should be coining it in playing in China right now, but his big-money move from Real fell through last summer and both the player and his manager have said that maybe it is time to move on. While he is still providing great service on the pitch, injuries continue to hamper Bale and he may be a risk for any club willing to pay the price tag Real will demand. A possible return to Spurs has been mooted, but maybe a move to United would see him thrive back in England.