The stage is set. The pieces are aligned. And the dominos are about to fall in what could be one a climactic ending to perhaps the most expensive transfer window European football has seen in over ten years.
Chain reactions have long dominated the way business is done amongst Europe’s top clubs, with one team typically breaking the early transfer stalemate, catalysing the window into a frantic marketplace and as we near the August 31st deadline, things are kicking off across Europe.
This summer, strikers are the most sought after commodity in Europe’s top leagues, and it appears French club Paris Saint Germain hold most of the cards at the heart of the action.
Earlier this month, the Parisian club executed perhaps one of the biggest signings in the sport’s history, acquiring six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi on a free transfer.
The Argentinian, who was out of contract coming into the new season, was due to sign a 5-year deal with his former club Barcelona before the transaction broke down over La Liga’s salary cap regulations.
PSG were perhaps one of few clubs that could afford Messi, who will move to Paris on a two-year deal, which is reportedly worth a staggering £53.8 million per year before tax.
Announcing in a press release on August 5th, the Catalan club confirmed ‘financial and structural obstacles’ related to La Liga’s salary cap regulations forced Barcelona, who are reportedly in £1.15 billion in debt, to release Messi despite agreeing terms with the Argentinian forward.Embed from Getty Images
But Messi isn’t the first A-lister the Parisians have signed this season, with the acquisitions of Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid, Gianluigi Donnarumma from AC Milan, and Georginio Wijnaldum from Liverpool all backing up their statement of intent to challenge for the Champions League this season.
Messi will now join a frightening lineup of attacking players that includes Mauro Icardi, Neymar, Angel Di Maria, Marco Veratti, Rafinha, and Julian Draxler but will now be without 22-year old France forward Kylian Mbappe, who is on the cusp of securing a move to Real Madrid.
Real Madrid in advanced talks to sign Kylian Mbappe
In the last 24 hours, Real Madrid have made an improved bid to acquire the French striker after PSG rejected an initial offer of £137 million for Kylian Mbappe.
Mbappe’s contract with PSG ends next summer, having joined the Parisian club from Monaco for a record deal worth €180 million in 2018.
But it appears PSG are playing hardball with Madrid, with PSG Sporting Director Leonardo Araújo claiming the initial price offered for Mbappe was “very far from what Kylian is worth today.”
“If a player wants to leave, it must be under our terms. This applies not just to Kylian but to all players,” Araújo told French radio station RMC Sport earlier this week.
And it seems the Spanish goliaths are not giving up in their quest to acquire the French forward, having since upped their bid to £147 million, a figure closer to what PSG will be hoping for to help align their balance sheet with Ligue 1’s Financial Fair Play regulations.
But as Fabrizio Romano reports, it seems this will likely be the final bid from the Galacticos for the player.
Speculation over how PSG are able to comply with UEFA’s FFP regulations has been raging for some time, with so many big earners on their books, pushing their annual wage bill to over €300 million per year (Marca).
Receiving around £150 million for Mbappe, while removing his €300,000-per week salary, would go a long way in helping to align PSG with their FFP commitments.
But who replaces the French striker?
As the dominos start to fall, a gap for a new left-sided winger opens up in PSG’s starting 11, and Everton’s Brazilian forward Richarlison is being backed as Mbappe’s replacement.
After a strong start to the season, claiming a gold medal with Brazil at the Tokyo Olympics, while netting a goal against Southampton in the opening game of the Premier League season, Everton manager Rafael Benitez has taken a firm stance on the speculation stating Richarlison is not for sale.
“We are not considering selling him (Richarlison),” Benitez said in a pre-match press conference ahead of Everton’s away trip to Brighton this weekend. “He is our player, we are really pleased with him, really happy.”
“Hopefully, he can score a lot of goals this year for us.”Embed from Getty Images
Having joined Everton from Watford in 2018 for £22.5 million, Richarlison’s contract with the Blues is set to run until 2024, after he signed a five-year contract extension worth £5.7 million per year in 2019.
The lure of Champions League football while playing alongside compatriots Neymar, Rafinha, and Marquinhos inevitably makes this an attractive move for Richarlison, but with a week to go in the transfer window, Everton will dig in their heels to stop PSG from obtaining one of their best assets.
Reports today from journalist Paul Joyce suggest the Toffees are showing large interest in acquiring 24-year-old winger Luis Diaz from Porto in a proposed deal that would see former Galactico James Rodriguez moving to Porto on a season-long loan as part of the transaction.
Everton are currently hamstrung with FFP constraints, meaning their dealings in the transfer window have been limited thus far. For that reason, it’s likely the club would only consider signing a new player if they were able to offload one first, meaning Luiz could be a possible replacement for Richarlison.
PSG’s shock move for Haaland
Meanwhile, a surprise twist to the striker scramble has arisen today with the Telegraph’s Matt Law reporting PSG could make a surprise last-minute move for Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland.
According to the Telegraph, PSG are considering a £150 million swoop for Haaland, who has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United in the last week.
The Norwegian forward has a £64 million release clause that starts next summer, which would see Dortmund lose out on £86 million if they were to hold onto the striker until next season.
The move is unlikely to go through, considering there’s only a week left in this year’s transfer window, but it would be a huge statement from the Parisians to secure the emerging 21-year-old, who scored 27 goals in 28 Bundesliga appearances last season.
Plot twist – Manchester United blow up City’s move for Cristiano Ronaldo
Perhaps the biggest plot twist in transfer market history occurred on Friday, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Manchester City taking a significant U-turn.
Journalist Fabrizio Romano announced on Twitter today that Manchester City are no longer in the running to sign Cristiano Ronaldo despite significant rumours coming out on social media this week that Ronaldo’s move to City was a ‘done deal.’
Instead, in dramatic circumstances, Manchester United have now confirmed they have agreed terms with Juventus to sign Cristiano Ronaldo on a permanent deal.
The Athletic is reporting that Manchester United will pay €15 million with €8 million in add-ons to secure what will be a fateful return to Old Trafford for the Portuguese striker, subject to the agreement of personal terms and a medical.
The former Man United star was reportedly seen saying his goodbyes to his Juventus teammates and leaving the Turin training ground on Friday morning, boarding a private jet with his agent Jorge Mendes to return to Lisbon.
Although being reunited with the United faithful after 12 years away from Old Trafford would be the fairytale ending for the Portuguese international’s illustrious career, who scored 118 goals in 292 games with United before departing for Real Madrid in 2009.
Juve seeking quick Ronaldo replacement
Unfortunately for Everton, Cristiano Ronaldo’s move away from Juventus could see them lose another striker this summer.
To replace Ronaldo, The Athletic are reporting that Juventus are working to re-sign striker Moise Kean after the player moved from the Serie A club to Everton for £25 million in 2019.
Moise Kean to Juventus, done deal and here-we-go. Agreement completed with Everton on loan with obligation to buy [under certain conditions]. Medical tomorrow in Torino. ⚪️⚫️ #Juventus #EFC— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 28, 2021
Total potential fee around €20m. Kean already agreed personal terms.
The 21-year-old Italian, who was on loan at PSG last season, is likely to return to Italy, with Inter Milan also having shown an interest in the player after the Nezzazurri sold striker Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea earlier this month.
It also appears Kean’s agent, Mino Raiola, has been spotted at Juventus’ training ground in Continassa this week, working on the deal that will take the forward back to Italy. =
With Moise Kean being out of favour with the Toffees of late, while also receiving a red card in Everton’s Carabao Cup match against Huddersfield on Tuesday night, it’s likely Mino Raiola could force a deal for the young prospect.
Where does that leave Harry Kane?
As the summer transfer window scramble rages on, could City go back in for a last-minute move on Harry Kane now Ronaldo has signed for Manchester United?
Maybe – but it seems unlikely after Kane announced this week that he is 100% committed to staying at Tottenham this season.
Although speculation remains over how long Kane will stay at White Hart Lane.
Playing hard-ball with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, the Spurs striker has already reportedly turned down a much-improved contract earlier this month and could use this speculation and interest from other clubs to improve his bargaining power over the Spurs chairman to secure a more lucrative deal.
That could help see Kane secure a landmark contract that could see him become one of the league’s biggest earners, negotiating a £400,000 per week contract.
Whether Daniel Levy will concede higher fees for Kane to keep him at the club is yet to be seen. Noted as a businessman himself, Levy may not rise to Kane’s proposed salary advances, and that could see the striker’s desired move to Manchester City come to fruition next summer.
With the summer transfer window deadline fast approaching, the scramble for strikers is set to heat up, with the words ‘Communicado Official’ likely to be pasted all over Twitter in the next three days