La Liga’s big three: A summer transfer guide

Date published: Wednesday 21st June 2017 2:00

REAL MADRID

Who has been linked?
David de Gea (Manchester United), Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Theo Hernández (Atletico Madrid), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Kylian Mbappé (Monaco), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund).

Who should they buy?
Zinedine Zidane’s focus is on youth, and outstanding young players such as Marco Asensio will have a greater role to play next season, as will returning loanees Jesús Vallejo, Marcos Llorente and Borja Mayoral. 19-year-old left-back Theo Hernández will most likely join from cross-city rivals Atlético, while fellow teenagers Gianluigi Donnarumma and Kylian Mbappé both seem keen on a move to Madrid and would be superb additions to the well-stocked pantry of talent at the Bernabéu. If Cristiano Ronaldo were to leave, it may be advisable to replace him with an established goalscorer such as Robert Lewandowski or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Who should they keep?
Cristiano Ronaldo, obviously. Some might say Real Madrid should cash in on a 32-year-old who wants to leave/wants his hefty tax bill paid, especially given the ludicrous prices being quoted. Whatever the motive for his supposed desire to leave, it will be extremely difficult to replace a man who has averaged more than 50 goals per season for the club. In any case, few clubs would be able to stump up the required funds, and the fact that has another four years left on his contract means Madrid certainly have a strong negotiating hand.

Who should they sell?
Pepe has already been rather unceremoniously dumped out of the back door, and a move away for James Rodríguez would certainly suit all parties. Few tears would be shed in Madrid should Gareth Bale depart, provided they get a good price and he is adequately replaced, but the man himself insists he wants to stay. Álvaro Morata looks likely to leave (albeit with a heavy heart), and despite his undoubted quality, Madrid would be foolish not to accept an offer in the region of the £60million being mooted should one be forthcoming.

 

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BARCELONA

Who has been linked?
Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal), Marco Verratti  (Paris Saint-Germain), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Djibril Sidibé (Monaco), João Cancelo (Valencia), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur)

Who should they buy?
New boss Ernesto Valverde will have identified right-back and midfield as the key areas to strengthen as he looks to bring glory back to Barcelona. They have struggled to replace right-back Dani Alves since his 2015 move to Juventus, and although Alves may be available this summer, his unhappiness at the manner of that departure means he won’t be returning to Barça. João Cancelo, Djibril Sidibé and Kyle Walker have all been suggested, but a homecoming for La Masia graduate Héctor Bellerín (despite his public dismissal of the speculation) would surely be the perfect fit. Let the tapping-up commence! Midfield was the main area that Real Madrid had the upper hand over Barça last season, and Marco Verratti would be the ideal signing to help bridge that gap. It would take around £88million to wrest him away from moneybags PSG, but he could be pulling the strings in the Barcelona midfield for many years to come.

Who should they keep?
This is one area in which Barcelona hold an advantage over Real Madrid, as none of their key players are agitating for a move, and all seem keen to stay indefinitely. Some spurious nonsense about Neymar moving to Manchester United has been floated by the unimaginative press, but such speculation should be filed under ‘M’ for mierda de toro. They will comfortably hold on to all the players they want to keep – don’t expect to see Lionel Messi jumping up and down asking for a transfer anytime soon.

Who should they sell?
Where to begin. While Real Madrid’s fringe players all played a part in their majestic La Liga and Champions League double, Barcelona’s second string simply haven’t been up to the job. Valverde will be looking to jettison any dead weight, and expensive flops André Gomes and Paco Alcácer could be moved on, most likely for a decent price. The disappointing Arda Turan looks set to be cleared from Barça’s payroll as well, with Arsenal and Galatasaray linked. Moves away for Lucas Digne, Jérémy Mathieu, Denis Suárez and Rafinha would suit players and club alike. Returning loanees Thomas Vermaelen, Cristian Tello and Munir El Haddadi will have no place in Valverde’s plans, and should all make permanent moves this summer.

 

ATLÉTICO MADRID

Who has been linked?
Diego Costa (Chelsea), Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon), Sandro Ramírez (Málaga), Vitolo (Sevilla), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

Who should they buy?
Atleti should be looking to make high-profile signings to provide the springboard for a title challenge and to keep them competitive in the Champions League. However, a transfer ban for breaching rules over the transfer of foreign players under the age of 18 means they can’t register any new players until January 2018. Before the ban was upheld, it looked as though Alexandre Lacazette would be heading to the Wanda Metropolitano, with the player himself very keen on the move. He has even indicated that he would be willing not to play until January in order to push the transfer through. Diego Costa has also been heavily linked with a return to Atlético, but would understandably not be keen on five months without football. Sevilla winger Vitolo looks to be the most likely to join this summer, before heading to Las Palmas on a half-season loan to get round the ban.

Who should they keep?
Anyone and everyone. The inability to sign new players means it’s all hands to the pump aboard the good ship Atlético. Tying Antoine Griezmann down to a new contract in the wake of the confirmation of the ban was a huge coup, as Manchester United looked set to spring his release clause and make him an enormous offer. Losing your best player and not being able to get anyone in to replace him would have been a nightmare scenario by anyone’s standards.

Who should they sell?
No-one, if possible, for obvious reasons. Theo Hernández looks set to join Real Madrid, and as much as they won’t be happy to lose a player to their city rivals, the fact that he has never played for Atleti’s first team means he won’t be too sorely missed. Fernando Torres looked as though he would be allowed to leave, but he has turned down a move to Mexican side Querétaro to stay with Atleti in their first season in their new home. Veteran midfielder Tiago has left after his contract expired and Óliver Torres’ loan move to Porto has been made permanent, but aside from that Diego Simeone will be looking to keep his squad largely intact, at least until January.

Dan Bridges

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