Top ten deals that should go through before the deadline

Matt Stead

10) Kieran Gibbs to Watford
It is truly the most uninspiring transfer saga of the summer, as Arsenal’s third-choice left-back (or is it fourth now that Hector Bellerin apparently plays there?) negotiates his exit while everyone at the Emirates shrugs.

Gibbs made his Premier League debut back in February 2009, and yet has still only played 138 matches in the competition; he has not passed the 10,000-minute barrier for career league football. He turns 28 next month, yet has more England caps than Matthew Le Tissier. That makes me cry salty tears.

A fee of £7m has reportedly been agreed, but Gibbs still needs to agree terms on the move. When you’re paid £60,000 a week for doing the square root of very little, it will take a decent offer to sway your decision.


9) Fernando Llorente to Chelsea
Fernando Llorente is not injured in the way Philippe Coutinho is injured, a strained transfer request keeping him out of the first three weeks of the season. The striker broke his arm in a cycling accident while on holiday, something that presumably pleased Paul Clement no end.

Yet it might not be Clement’s problem for much longer. Chelsea have been sniffing around Llorente since January, and recent reports suggest that they will return for more sniffing this week. The arrival of Tammy Abraham is hardly enough to account for Llorente’s loss, but it would be a bit mean to block the Spaniard’s last hurrah at an elite club. Add in Clement’s cushty relationship with Chelsea, and a deal looks possible.


8) Wilfried Bony to Swansea City
And one reason for Llorente leaving would be the return to the Liberty Stadium of Bony, who it turns out cannot score goals anywhere else in the United Kingdom. The Ivorian managed 26 in 54 Premier League at Swansea before leaving for Manchester City, and eight in 46 since. Time to come back home.

Yet Swansea supporters should beware getting too excited to see Bony back in South Wales, for the player that they remember may have gone forever. His movement and finishing during his loan spell at Stoke were both poor, but worse still was his attitude and work rate, despite Mark Hughes stressing that he had no problem with the striker.

“I want to know why I’m not playing,” said Bony in March. “It is really crazy when the people say you are fine and that everything is okay, but you don’t play. I can say it is like maybe to p*** you off, that you don’t play. I have asked him and he says I am training well, my attitude is good and I don’t need to change that but why I don’t play, I don’t know.”

It was probably you scoring in one match all season, fella.


7) Andreas Pereira to Valencia
When Andreas Pereira outlined his intentions to break into the Manchester United first team in early July, there were doubts. When it was reported that Jose Mourinho had abandoned his plans to loan out the midfielder, there was tentative optimism. When it was then claimed that Valencia were in talks to sign him on loan, there was a familiar sense of resignation.

The 21-year-old has been here before. He said in November 2015 that he would stay at Old Trafford and fight for his place under Louis van Gaal; he was afforded two starts, both in the League Cup. This time last year, Mourinho stated that the Brazilian has “lots of talent”; he would spend the season on loan at Granada.

Pereira has since returned from a promising spell in La Liga, but it appears he needn’t have bothered. Spanish radio reported on Sunday evening that Valencia were in talks to sign him on loan, and so the cycle continues.


6) Jonny Evans to Manchester City
Leicester City had a £21m bid for Evans turned down on Monday, but it is surely Manchester City who will end up getting their way. If the title favourites want Evans, then surely Leicester will miss out. Pep Guardiola has had a bid of £18m rejected, but will go back in for Evans if he can move Eliaquim Mangala out before Thursday.

There is no great secret to Evans’ game: a solid, workmanlike defender whose consistency has finally been appreciated late on in his career. Manchester United are hardly short of a centre-back, but they could have done with such reliability in the two years since he was sold.

Now, Evans is being linked with moves to United’s peers at the age of 29, and West Brom will hold out for £30m. The £6m the Baggies paid in July 2015 looks miniscule. Time to add a fourth Premier League title to his CV?


5) Serge Aurier to Tottenham
What could be more romantic than waiting on a decision from the Home Office over whether you can sign a player after assaulting a police officer? Doesn’t it make you feel warm inside to learn that your team gets to sign a homophobe and generally unpleasant individual?

Aurier’s transfer is what happens when a football club ignores the morality of a deal in favour of its sporting impact. He is a fine footballer and a perfect full-back for Mauricio Pochettino’s style and would surely be a superb signing for Tottenham, but what sort of example does it set to sign a player with such a chequered past?

Players can make mistakes and people can change, of course. Yet it is Aurier’s lack of repentance that sticks in the throat most, and makes this potential transfer so unpleasant. Tottenham are a club that have done superb work with their campaigns for equality. Decisions like this threaten to undermine that.


4) Divock Origi to Marseille
Roberto Firmino scored and was wonderful. Sadio Mane scored and was brilliant. Mohamed Salah scored and was electric. Daniel Sturridge scored and was lethal. Jurgen Klopp will not allow too many cooks to spoil his Liverpool broth, and so Divock Origi will be escorted out of the kitchen.

Four into three is already an impossible equation, even without the eventual addition of Philippe Coutinho. But for his part, Sturridge is willing to take his opportunities when he is granted them. The 27-year-old will not be content with a role as squad player and back-up to the Reds’ glorious attacking triumvirate, yet Klopp is at least affording him minutes.

The same cannot be said for Origi, who is edging towards the Anfield exit as the deadline looms closer. Klopp offered few assurances with regards to the Belgian’s future on Sunday, and Marseille are circling. If Thomas Lemar moves to Merseyside, Divock’s fate would surely be sealed.


3) Ross Barkley to Tottenham
“Maybe three more now,” said Mauricio Pochettino last week, discussing Tottenham’s hopes with but a week of the transfer window remaining. Spurs fans were made to wait until August 18 for a glimpse of a first new signing in 12 months, before two north London buses came along at once in the form of Davinson Sanchez and Paulo Gazzaniga. Juan Foyth will join them soon.

The second of that trio did as much to appease a disgruntled support as a third-choice goalkeeper can. The first sated the appetite somewhat, a promising 21-year-old who can “be one of the best centre-backs in the world“. Foyth is another signed for the future, not the present.

But that leaves a gaping hole in the squad that has not been appropriately addressed for some time. When Tottenham needed a goal against Burnley on Sunday, Pochettino looked to his bench for inspiration to rescue a victory, and saw Vincent Janssen. The Dutchman would stay there as the manager called for Sanchez when he needed a goal.

Tottenham boast a quite wonderful array of attacking options in their starting line-up, but their lack of depth beyond that is startling. Janssen is rarely given a chance, Georges-Kévin N’Koudou has the raw ingredients but lacks the recipe, Moussa Sissoko is a failed experiment and Erik Lamela has been lost in transit. Ross Barkley is an unpredictable talent unwanted by Everton, but one Pochettino could surely harness. It wouldn’t be a transfer deadline day without Daniel Levy negotiating a deal well past his bedtime.


2) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Chelsea
It was something of a surprise to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain start against Liverpool on Sunday. Not least because it meant that Arsene Wenger was persisting with a system that features the winger at right wing-back, thereby pushing Hector Bellerin out to the unfamiliar opposite flank, but also because Oxlade-Chamberlain’s future is in serious doubt.

“He is one of the players this team has to be built around in the future,” Wenger said last week, but the Frenchman will find it difficult to construct much of anything if his tools are snatched from him. The manager is reluctant to lose a player he feels owes the club a “responsibility”, but Oxlade-Chamberlain’s desire to leave is understandable.

Entering his seventh season as a meandering Arsenal player, the 24-year-old clearly feels that his talents are better suited elsewhere. Wenger has offered something of an olive branch to the England international, manipulating his formation to grant him the first-team opportunities he craves, but the horse bolted long ago. Oxlade-Chamberlain was nothing more than a passenger on Sunday, watching forlornly as Liverpool wreaked havoc at Anfield. The Reds have been linked with a move, but Chelsea have agreed a fee.


1) Thomas Lemar to Liverpool
Hoo boy. If Liverpool manage to sign Lemar from Monaco weeks after Arsene Wenger said that a move to Arsenal was impossible because Monaco had sold too many of their first-team squad, serious questions would need to be asked. That said, serious questions have been asked for five years and nobody at Arsenal seems prepared to offer anything other than a mealy-mouthed answer that alters according to the mood.

It might actually happen, too. The Daily Telegraph exclusively revealed that Liverpool have made a bid of £64.6m in order to try and complete a deal before the end of the transfer window, having had a bid of £55m rejected earlier this summer.

There is still plenty to do, and Monaco may choose to keep what they have after selling Kylian Mbappe, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva. Yet Liverpool have at least put themselves in the driving seat, while Arsenal curl up in the boot and sob about what might have been.


Stead and Storey