One per Premier League club: Players with transfer plans in doubt…

Date published: Saturday 4th April 2020 11:46

Coronavirus is causing chaos across the football world, with clubs rethinking their recruitment due to the financial crash. Here’s one player at each Premier League club whose plans may be changing…


Arsenal: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
The centre-forward was in a great position this summer and his hopes of moving on to better things certainly aren’t over. Barcelona are still reported to be keen but they are said to be most keen on Lautaro Martinez from Inter Milan. Elsewhere, it seems unlikely many other suitors will be willing to meet Arsenal’s £50million valuation for a striker who is a year from free agency. Rather than move this summer, Aubameyang may opt to sit out his contract and have his pick of clubs in a year.


Aston Villa: Jack Grealish
The Villa skipper would almost certainly have stayed in the Premier League if Villa were to be relegated but until we get a clearer idea of how the hell the authorities plan to conclude this season, the possibility remains that they may be given a reprieve. If Grealish’s home town club remain in the top flight there is less motivation for the 24-year-old to move on just yet. After his recent antics, some of his suitors may be rather less driven to spend a huge sum on Grealish if it becomes a stretch in the new financial climate.


Bournemouth: Ryan Fraser
The current chaos may have done Fraser a favour. The winger is out of contract this summer but his form this season means he would almost certainly have had fewer options than he might have anticipated when he looked forward a year ago to free agency. Where most of the big six were looking at Fraser last summer, most of the suitors recently linked fall into the category below. But with even the rich clubs more strapped for cash, it might force the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs to take a punt on Fraser regaining the form that made him one of the most creative players in Europe 12 months ago.


Brighton: Lewis Dunk
The feeling around Brighton’s best player was that this summer would be his best shot of a big move. Leicester were keen last year – they still need a centre-back – while two thirds of the big six could do worse than reinforce their defensive ranks with the signing of the England international. It seemed unlikely that Brighton would stand in his way should they receive a fair price but the chances of them getting that now have probably diminished. If Dunk is made to wait another year, the fact he is will be closing in on his 30th birthday will make him far less attractive.


Burnley: Nick Pope
Having kept more clean sheets than any keeper in the Premier League, the England goalkeeper has been linked with Tottenham but Daniel Levy’s warning this week suggests their recruitment plans are in chaos. Pope was also said to be Chelsea’s leading candidate to replace Kepa. But…

Chelsea: Kepa Arrizabalaga
There seems little doubt that Frank Lampard wanted to change his goalkeeper this summer, even if those above the manager in the Chelsea hierarchy were more keen to allow their biggest investment more time to flourish in the Premier League. Kepa was linked with Real Madrid, which might have appealed to the world’s most expensive keeper as an escape route, but Real have far greater priorities and there is certainly no queue forming for the Spanish keeper. Since there is little chance of anyone else giving Chelsea even half their money back, Lampard will almost certainly be told to persist with Kepa with perhaps the compromise of recruiting a higher standard of back-up to push their No.1.


Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha
The winger was devastated not to get his big move last summer but he eventually knuckled down with a view to looking again this year. But the pandemic has come at the worst possible time for Zaha. The likes of Arsenal, Everton and Chelsea weren’t willing to match Palace’s valuation last year when they were flush with cash. They certainly won’t be feeling any less thrifty this summer, especially since Zaha will be 28 before the turn of the year with another three seasons remaining on his Palace deal.


Everton: Moise Kean
The Italy striker has had a nightmare since joining the Toffees last summer. His dad called it ‘a mistake’ and while Kean hit back at his old man, he would have struggled to argue that he didn’t have a valid point. The assumption was that Kean would return to Italy but Serie A clubs weren’t flush before the coronavirus took hold. With Carlo Ancelotti now in charge, Kean may be more minded to stick around and give it another go.

Leicester: Ben Chilwell
The Foxes’ stance on Chilwell is similar to that which saw them rake in top dollar for Harry Maguire: they would prefer to keep the England defender but if anyone is willing to pay silly money, then they will happily pocket the windfall. Leicester are in better shape financially than many clubs and they won’t have to sell to ride out the COVID-19 crisis. The chances of them receiving an offer they can’t refuse, from Chelsea or Manchester City, now seem far more remote.


Liverpool: Dejan Lovren
The Reds are reported to have shelved all their recruitment plans this summer, including contract renewal talks, until they receive some clarity over how the post-apocalyptic landscape might look. That’s bad news for any Liverpool supporters looking forward to seeing Timo Werner at Anfield next season. The Reds were also hoping to recruit a centre-back this summer so that Lovren could make the exit he wanted last year but it may well be that Jurgen Klopp decides again to keep the Croatian around as fourth choice for the final year of his contract. Georginio Wijnaldum is in a similar position to Lovren, but it seems more likely that the Holland midfielder will get an extension regardless.


Manchester City: Leroy Sane
Liverpool’s cautiousness has given Bayern Munich a chance to pounce on Werner. Should the Bavarians be able to land the Germany attacker for £51million, then Sane is almost certain to miss out on the move he wanted, especially while City don’t want to sell – certainly not at the price Bayern could sign Werner – and no one yet knows how his form may have been affected by a nine-month lay-off. The 24-year-old now may be better off proving his fitness next season in a City shirt before picking his club next summer as a free agent.

Manchester United: Paul Pogba
Perhaps it wasn’t as planned as some people might believe but Pogba’s return from injury having not since September started a Premier League game for a club he desperately wants to quit looked timed to perfection. He could have dirtied his boots for six to eight games at the end of the season; just enough to demonstrate to Didier Deschamps his fitness for Euro 2020, which would be his shop window to parade in for Juventus and Real Madrid. Now, though, those clubs are left looking at massive holes in their budgets which they are never likely to blow on a player who hasn’t turned in a performance in months. For the third summer in succession: one more year, PP?


Newcastle: Danny Rose
The Tottenham loanee seemed extremely keen to make his move to Newcastle a permanent arrangement but the fact both of his clubs have furloughed staff suggest the Magpies might not be willing to fork out for his wages and Spurs won’t be keen to make up the difference for the year that remains on his contract at White Hart Lane. Rose admitted too that he had not shown Newcastle what he can do before the shut-down: “I don’t feel that I am playing to my potential just yet.” It seems that one of Rose, Levy or Mike Ashley will have to give a little. Fat chance.


Norwich: Max Aarons
The full-back looked like the perfect Spurs signing – and Lord knows Jose Mourinho needs a reliable right-back – but if Norwich are given a relegation reprieve, Aarons could stick around another year, especially while Spurs are pleading poverty.


Southampton: Guido Carrillo
All seems calm at St Mary’s – apart from the club itself being up for sale – but their plans to shift Carrillo off the books won’t be helped by everyone tightening their belts. The Argentine striker has been a disaster of a signing since Saints paid Monaco £19million in 2018 and in a loan spell with Leganes where it was hoped he might put himself in the shop window, Carrillo has scored one goal in 20 games. Southampton hoped to get some of their money back but it seems likely the 28-year-old will be checking back in at St Mary’s for the final year of his contract instead.


Sheffield United: Dean Henderson
The on-loan keeper may have returned to Manchester United and stayed had the Red Devils opted to cash in on David De Gea. But since no club appears likely to meet United’s valuation for a player they have no need or wish to sell, then it seems likely that Henderson won’t be getting the chance he feels he deserves at his parent club. The most likely outcome is a third year on loan at Bramall Lane, especially if the Blades are playing in Europe next season.


Tottenham: Harry Kane
The Spurs striker has dropped a few hints recently that for the first time he is willing to consider a future away from White Hart Lane. Kane can hardly be blamed for considering his options. He hasn’t won a pot and with Spurs very much in transition and no one yet sure into what, his thirst for silverware is far more likely to be satisfied elsewhere. Kane would have attracted interest from across the continent before the coronavirus tore through it, but the landscape now is very different. Aside from Manchester United and perhaps City, which clubs would be willing to make a decisive move given the figures Levy will be dreaming up? Kane may have to sit tight and keep a lid on his ambitions for another year.


Watford: Abdoulaye Doucoure

“If a big club manages to make an interesting offer for me, of course the club will let me leave, easily. A club that plays in the Champions League is the goal, but I don’t have a particular one in mind. We’re little by little arriving at the end of the cycle.”

That was Doucoure when COVID-19 was still a touch of flu and little to worry about. Now, despite the Watford midfielder showing he can play as a holder and a no.10, he is likely to have far fewer options than he was expecting.


West Ham: Jack Wilshere
Even though the former Arsenal midfielder still has a year remaining on his contract, the Hammers were reportedly ready to let him leave on a free transfer this summer. Two problems now: West Ham will be reluctant to waste money by paying him off to play elsewhere, but more crucially, which club is going to take a punt on Wilshere and gamble some of their dwindling budget on a liability that has managed just 16 games in almost two years?


Wolves: Adama Traore
The winger has been sensational at times for Wolves this season and plenty of clubs have been looking at one of the few genuinely unstoppable forces. Apparently, Traore was on a shortlist of Liverpool targets if they lost either Sadio Mane and Mo Salah while Barcelona were also linked with a move for their former player. But neither club seems likely to fork out around £70million now. Liverpool are sitting on their cash, while Barca are trying desperately to raise some so they can address more pressing issues within their squad.


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