Eight transfer sagas that will go down to the wire

Joe Williams

Bored of them already, are you? Sure. But these sagas ain’t going anywhere yet…


Naby Keita (RB Leipzig to Liverpool)
At first there was no chance, but one bad tackle and some woeful comments from Ralf Rangnick later and speculation suddenly backing Liverpool to sign Naby Keita. RB Leipzig club sources told ESPN in mid-July that they would “not enter into negotiations at all” for the sale of the midfielder. That was after they turned down a reported £57m bid.

Then Keita recently put in a tackle on his teammate Diego Demme in training that was described as “brutal” by German newspaper Bild. It must have been pretty bad, as the session was cancelled by their head coach, leaving reports to suggest that the tackle was born out of frustration at being unable to move to Liverpool. Hmmm.

Still, it did lead to headlines the next day of ‘Leipzig appear to make transfer U-turn’ with Bild claiming he looks unmotivated in training. The Reds have most recently been reportedly mulling over a £75million third offer with their last one of £66million being rejected.


Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to… Liverpool?)
Liverpool are loving a good transfer saga this summer and the potential deal for Virgil van Dijk is no different. The Reds were apparently willing to spend £50million on the centre-back at the beginning of the window but talk of a move was put to bed after an alleged illegal approach was made. Liverpool apologised and ‘ended their interest’ in the player immediately. A statement at the time read: “We apologise to the owner, board of directors and fans of Southampton for any misunderstanding regarding Virgil van Dijk. We respect Southampton’s position and can confirm we have ended any interest in the player.”

However, this deal looks like it can be resurrected with the Dutchman now training alone after telling new Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino that he wants to leave the club, while a source close to the player recently told Sky Sports that they expected him to move to Anfield. We’ve got a headache already.


Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal to… Manchester City?)
Where do we even start? There have been so many conflicting reports over the last six to nine months that it is hard to keep up.

One thing it seems we can be fairly certain on is that Alexis Sanchez wants to leave Arsenal this summer. Kind of. Wenger is still either optimistic or steadfastly refusing to accept reality. When asked whether Sanchez would be staying at Arsenal, he said: “Of course”, before adding: “There is not a lot to resolve with the player. I have spoken through text and it was very positive. My thoughts are always positive.”

However, there has been little indication in the media or from the club that a new deal is imminent. One recent report in the Daily Mail indicated that new contract talks had now collapsed despite the Gunners offering him £275,000-a-week to stay. Manchester City are one of the main reported options but Arsenal are understood to want to charge at premium rate if selling to an English rival. PSG seem like the other club involved, however the French club’s interest is thought to be tentative with Neymar their No 1 target. If he stays this summer, you can bank on the rumours starting again in January. Wheeeee.


Ivan Perisic (Inter to Manchester United)
This move looked nailed on at one point in the early transfer window with Manchester United reportedly making repeated bids for the Croatian winger. Things have now taken a turn, however, as recent articles suggest that Inter Milan think they have done enough to put off the Red Devils.

The Serie A outfit set an asking price of £44million but United’s two bids didn’t match their valuation and it now seems United have given up. Mediaset Premium now expect Inter to offer the player a new contract in the coming days even though it is understood he has already rejected all of the Italian club’s offers to remain.

One report suggested that Inter were willing to do a deal at one point if Anthony Martial was included – but United aren’t interested in parting ways. Don’t be surprised to hear about this one again.


Neymar (Barcelona to Paris St Germain)
It’s hard to imagine Barcelona without any of their key trio of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi in the near future. Paris Saint-Germain, however, are looking to break up ‘MSN’ by pinching the Brazilian.

The initial reports seemed absurd considering the money involved – a £199million fee plus £26.9million per season in wages after tax – and the magnitude of Barcelona losing one of their star players. Gerard Pique even put a picture of the pair on Instagram saying “he stays” before denying that it was official confirmation that the 25-year-old would remain at the Camp Nou.

Since then, reports in Le Parisien suggest that it’s a matter of when and not if a deal is completed for Neymar.


Kylian Mbappe (Monaco to Real Madrid)
Kylian Mbappe is one of the most, if not the most in-demand star in world football at the moment, with most of the biggest clubs in Europe linked with a move for the striker, and Liverpool too (it’s a joke. Please, God, it’s a joke).

His breakthrough season in the Monaco first-team could barely have gone better, with his goals helping the French side to a Ligue 1 title and into the semi-finals of the Champions League. With success comes attention and don’t Monaco know it, having already sold Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva and Tiemoué Bakayoko this window.

Real Madrid and Manchester City now seem to be the only clubs that could realistically sign the France international this window, especially if you take into account of how much money he could cost. The latest is that Real are close to landing the 18-year-old for a world-record fee of €180m (£161m), although Monaco have denied any such deal has been agreed. Murky.


Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool to Barcelona)
This one has only properly got going in the past few weeks, which is some relief, but already it has the feels of a David de Gea to Real Madrid type saga – lengthy and ultimately unlikely to happen.

A bid of around £72million was Barca’s opening offer, according to reports, only for Liverpool to reject the deal. It seems likely that they will come back in with an offer of £80million, however recent claims in Spanish newspaper Sport would suggest that the bid won’t come close to the Reds’ estimation. That’s because Sport reckon the Liverpool hierarchy have slapped a massive £133million price tag on Coutinho.

Overpriced? Maybe. Impossible that Barca could afford to get closer to the their valuation? Definitely not. This is set to rumble on.


Ross Barkley (Everton to Tottenham)
Ross Barkley will leave Everton this summer, that much is finally certain. Ronald Koeman said it himself on Wednesday that “yes, 100%” he expects the midfielder to exit Goodison Park before the new campaign. Just where will he end up, though?

Tottenham and Manchester United are the most recent sides to be linked with the England international following Koeman’s words. The main problem with tying a deal up quickly is the Toffees’ asking price for Barkley: a whopping £50m for a guy who is in the final year of his contract that might actually be £40m or actually £30m.

It’s going to be tough for Everton to persuade Daniel Levy – one of the toughest negotiators in the league – to part with that kind of dosh while also stumping up a reported £100k-a-week in wages. Particularly after his lofty comments on doing things different at Tottenham.


Joe Williams