Dubai: Even though the football leagues around the world have come to a standstill due to the coronavirus outbreak, the top clubs have been getting their priorities right as they set their sights on targets for the next season. Whether the competitions will be completed in all leagues still remains to be seen, but for certain some of the top clubs have been busy assessing their signings when the new season gets underway.
Topping the list is Arsenal with the entry of quite a few players making the rounds even as star player Cristiano Ronaldo looks like he’s headed for another switch from Juventus.
The buzz, as per Spanish daily ‘Marca’, is that Ronaldo may either move on to Paris Saint-Germain or make a return to the Premier League with old club, Manchester United. Ronaldo has so far scored 21 goals in 22 matches for Juventus.
Manchester United, on the other hand, look to be preparing for a bid for Juventus and Netherlands 20-year-old defender Matthijs de Ligt as French midfielder, who has been itching for a transfer for quite some time now, headed to Turin rather than to Real Madrid as was being said earlier.
Pogba’s teammate in the France squad and former Arsenal and Manchester City defender Bacary Sagna has gone on record saying that the temperamental playmaker would prefer a switch to ‘La Vecchia Signora’ (The Old Lady) in Piedmont, Turin. Speculation about the temperamental Manchester United midfielder has been rife for months now, with his agent Mino Raiola admitting last year that Pogba wanted to quit Old Trafford.
However, it is the Gunners who seem to be hogging the transfer headlines.
Real Madrid are planning to offload James Rodriguez permanently during the summer transfer window and Arsenal are reportedly in the forefront to sign the 28-year-old Colombian striker. However, the London club may have some sort of competition from fellow Premier League clubs Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers. As things stand, Everton may still have the edge over the other two clubs due to the presence of coach Carlo Ancelotti, who enjoyed a strong relationship with the Colombian during his stint at Real Madrid (2013 to 2015).
Up on offer as well is FC Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti, and it looks like a two-horse race between Arsenal and Chelsea. The two Premier League sides are keen on the 26-year-old during the summer transfer market, and Barca are willing to listen to offers for Umtiti as the French international has figured in just 11 La Liga matches for his club so far.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos- who is on loan with Arsenal - may also be headed back to Spain after Valencia had shown an interest in him during the January transfer window. Ceballos told the Spanish television show ‘El Chiringuito de Jugones’ that he would be at a team where he feels “important”.
The Spaniard moved to on a season-long deal to the Emirates Stadium from Madrid last summer. But, much of his time in England has been hampered by a series of injuries.
“It would be irresponsible from my side to talk about my future. The most important thing will be to be important for my new team. I came to Arsenal to be an important player, but in the last month that all disappeared [due to coronavirus stopping football],” he was quoted as saying.
Another two players on the Arsenal radar are Ivory Coast siblings – midfielder Hamed Traore (20), on loan at Sassuolo from Empoli, and younger brother Amad (17), a winger at Atalanta.
Finally, there is the exciting Norwegian and Borussia Dortmund striker, Erling Braut Haaland, who is being pursued by a number of suitors led by Machester United. In January 2019, Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg signed the Leeds-born teen on a five-year contract. During the 2019-’20 UEFA Champion League, Haaland became the first teenager to score in five consecutive Champions League matches and only the second teenaged player to score 10 times in the competition making eyes turn.
Haaland has brushed off many clubs, including Manchester United, and chose to stay on at Dortmund where he has flourished with nine goals in eight starts so far.