Transfer window review: A Real show of money

Football never has an off-season. While there is a break in the action on the field, off it there’s a world buzzing with big-money deals, drawn-out negotiations, wild speculations and betting. Here’s our transfer market round-up.

A deterrent for Paul Pogba’s suitors seems to be the £150 million price tag United has slapped on him.   -  Reuters

Manchester United seemed to have brought its prodigal son Paul Pogba back for good when it paid a then-record transfer fee of £90 million to Juventus in 2016. But it’s been hard to keep the impulsive Frenchman — the subject of transfer speculation almost every transfer window since — happy at Old Trafford. This season could be the tipping point, with Pogba publicly sharing his interest in a “new challenge.”

Real Madrid, Barcelona or former club Juventus — the flamboyant midfielder could end up at any of these clubs by September. Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane had explicitly expressed his liking for the versatile midfielder and Pogba had flirted back, too, saying playing at Madrid under the French superstar would be a “dream for anyone.” Pogba is now reportedly Zidane’s No. 1 target and a Marca report claimed Madrid wants to wrap up the deal by July 1.

But Juventus seems to have one-upped Zidane in the Pogba race — in words at least — with the club’s sporting director, Fabio Paratici, expressing the Bianconeri’s “love” for him. Barcelona’s interest in Pogba had peaked after the World Cup last year and the club remains an ever-present suitor.

Zinadine Zidane has sought to overhaul Real rather than try to fill the vacuum Cristiano Ronaldo had left.   -  Reuters


However, the major deterrent for these clubs seems to be the £150 million price tag United has slapped on him. But this could come down drastically if the rumour about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s wish to sell him to raise money for the transfer window is true.

With no Champions League football at Old Trafford next season and agent Mino Raiola’s ban revoked, it looks unlikely that a transfer won’t happen, unless for faulty fax machines.

The other flashy superstar dominating the transfer rumours this window — like every other — is Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar. Despite a forgettable season plagued with injuries and bans, the 27-year-old has been constantly linked with audacious transfers.

A return to Barcelona has been the loudest rumour, with the La Liga giant keen to take back the player it sold for a record €222 million two years ago.

With reports of Neymar’s unrest at the French club dominating the Spanish press, the deal seems quite likely to happen. A report even claimed Neymar contacted PSG owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi directly to convey his intention to leave. Khelaifi had earlier stated that the club wouldn’t tolerate celebrity behaviour.

A special mention goes to Real Madrid, which has splashed out in an effort to scrub the stains of a trophy-less 2018-19 season. Zidane has sought to overhaul the squad rather than try to fill the vacuum Cristiano Ronaldo had left. And he has so far spent close to €300 million on Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy, Eder Militao and Rodrygo Goes. That’s already more than the €254 million spent in the summer of 2009 for Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso.

Chelsea star Eden Hazard has left for Real, and coach Maurizio Sarri is off to Juventus.   -  AFP


Hazard’s former club Chelsea’s wait could come to an end soon with several reports claiming that Frank Lampard is all set to be the new manager. Lampard led Derby County to a Championship playoff final in his first season in charge and there have barely been any detractors to a move that would put a club legend at the helm.

The Blues have been in a virtual state of limbo since former coach Maurizio Sarri’s move to Juventus, which the Italian described as the crowning moment of a difficult career. Juve fans can expect “Sarri-ball” in full flow with the former Napoli boss determined to help Ronaldo break the Serie A scoring record, currently held by Gonzalo Higuain who achieved it with Napoli — under Sarri.