The duels for the Champions League quarterfinal stage have been drawn, but plenty of players have already left their mark on this season’s competition.
Here, theScore fashions an XI with the top performers of the 2018-19 Champions League campaign to date, while noting those who just missed out.
GK – Andre Onana (Ajax)
One of Ajax’s beaten finalists from the 2017 Europa League final has blossomed into a goalkeeper with sharp reflexes and superb command of aerial deliveries. Including the Champions League’s qualifying rounds, the 22-year-old Onana’s produced six clean sheets this season.
Notable mention: David De Gea (Manchester United)
RB – Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)
The first match Kimmich missed in this Champions League term was Wednesday’s defeat in the second leg with Liverpool. He’s only 24, but leads Bayern Munich for assists, fouls won, and short passes completed in Europe, and may have vaulted Dani Carvajal as the finest right-back on the continent.
Notable mention: Joao Cancelo (Juventus)
CB – Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
Chiellini is often noted for his imposing presence at the back – he wouldn’t flinch at the prospect of heading an asteroid – but he’s also one of the most intelligent defenders on the planet. The 34-year-old has intercepted the ball more often than any of his Juventus comrades in the Champions League.
Notable mention: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
CB – Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Under “towering header” in a dictionary of footballing terms will now be an image of Van Dijk scaling Javi Martinez and Mats Hummels before nodding past Manuel Neuer. His second leg against Bayern was what we’ve come to expect from the Dutchman. He is, simply put, Liverpool’s most vital player.
Notable mention: Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
LB – Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Vertonghen’s not on this list just for his assist and goal in the first leg against Borussia Dortmund, or primarily for his masterful defensive showing in the second leg. His performance when Inter visited also merits praise; Vertonghen made seven interceptions and unfussily smashed five clearances at Wembley.
Notable mention: Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City)
DM – Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon)
Like his teammate Houssem Aouar, Ndombele’s going to command a huge fee. The French international impressed in two group-stage matches against Manchester City, scored twice against Hoffenheim, and was Lyon’s best player over the double-header with Barcelona in the round of 16.
Notable mention: Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich)
CM – David Silva (Manchester City)
The Manchester City veteran was timid by his standards in the two legs against FC Schalke, but he shone in Group F. Silva’s already scored the same amount of goals as he did in the previous three Champions League campaigns combined, making Phil Foden wait longer to assume the creative mantle.
Notable mention: Houssem Aouar (Lyon)
AM – Dusan Tadic (Ajax)
Tadic ditching the dreariness of Mark Hughes’ Southampton for Ajax has paid off handsomely. Tadic has played the same amount of key passes that Paul Pogba and Luka Modric have between them, and four of his six goals and two of his three assists came in matches against Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
Notable mention: Hakim Ziyech (Ajax)
FW – Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Messi and Robert Lewandowski top the scoring chart on eight apiece. The Argentinian has also produced three performances – PSV Eindhoven at home, away at Tottenham, and Wednesday’s second leg against Lyon – that were immaculate. Overall, Messi and Tadic have been the best to watch on continental duty.
Notable mention: Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
FW – Moussa Marega (FC Porto)
Marega showed FC Porto what they were missing when he regained fitness for Tuesday’s second leg. He scored and assisted to help topple Roma, lifting his tournament goal tally to six. Before this season, the 27-year-old Malian international had never scored in continental play.
Notable mention: Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
FW – Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
Mbappe’s touch and balance were a little off in the second leg against Manchester United, but he otherwise produced an excellent 2018-19 Champions League term. His pace is undeniable, and the timing of his runs is getting better and better.
Notable mention: Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
Perfect summer signings for Europe's biggest clubs
As the biggest clubs in Europe kick off yet another busy summer, theScore looks at one player each side should be targeting in the transfer window.
Arsenal: Pedro Goncalves. Among many other things, the Gunners need an injection of creativity in midfield, especially if they can’t bring Martin Odegaard back after his loan spell. Having already missed out on Emi Buendia this summer, Mikel Arteta and Co. have to start locking in some reinforcements to recover from another disappointing campaign.
Goncalves, 22, was the driving force behind Sporting CP’s title win this past season, scoring 23 league goals as the Lisbon-based club ended its nearly two-decade-long drought.
Chelsea: Erling Haaland. Yes, this is a bit of a cop-out since the Norwegian star would be perfect for just about anyone, but Chelsea’s need for more punch up front is painfully obvious; Jorginho was their leading scorer in the Premier League last season with seven tallies, all from the penalty spot.
“We need more goals,” Thomas Tuchel admitted in May, adding that his forwards’ output is “clearly not enough.” Beating the continent’s other top sides to Haaland’s signature would also free Timo Werner to revert to his more comfortable role playing with a central striker. Two birds with this one.
Liverpool: Renato Sanches. Georginio Wijnaldum’s departure on a free transfer leaves a big hole in Jurgen Klopp’s midfield. The Dutchman, an energetic cog that did a little bit of everything for the Reds, never made fewer than 33 league appearances in his five seasons at Anfield.
Sanches, back to his vibrant best at Lille after his young career stagnated for a couple of seasons, offers the type of all-action presence Klopp loves and would complement Liverpool’s current collection of midfielders. Still just 23, Sanches would also have an opportunity to keep developing.
Manchester City: Harry Kane. Whether Daniel Levy will budge at all in his mammoth valuation of Kane remains to be seen; the Tottenham executive is a notoriously tough negotiator, and Manchester City, despite spending a lot of money cumulatively, don’t tend to break the bank for one player.
That said, the England captain would clearly be a fantastic fit in Pep Guardiola’s lineup. Aside from the simple fact that a bona fide No. 9 is the team’s only glaring need – especially after Sergio Aguero’s departure – Kane’s playmaking ability would, in theory, mesh wonderfully with the fluid style Guardiola has implemented.
Manchester United: Pau Torres. Rumors about Jadon Sancho continue to swirl, but Manchester United must cement their center-back partnership if they’re to become legitimate title contenders once again. Victor Lindelof is a fine depth piece, but nothing more. Eric Bailly can’t stay fit long enough to solidify his place in the team. Harry Maguire needs a running mate.
Enter Torres, the blossoming Villarreal defender who is only 24 years old and offers the added benefit of being left-footed. The Spanish international is destined for a big move, and the Red Devils would be wise to make sure Old Trafford is the destination.
Tottenham Hotspur: Marcus Thuram. Everything depends on Harry Kane’s future. If the Tottenham talisman gets his desired transfer, Spurs obviously need to bring in another forward. There are other areas to address, but losing the Englishman’s 37 Premier League goal involvements without signing someone to help fill that void would be a nightmare.
Thuram wouldn’t be able to carry that burden all on his own, but his impressive stint at Borussia Monchengladbach, where he’s scored 25 goals across all competitions in the last two seasons, has caught Tottenham’s eye. The 23-year-old Frenchman continues to grow and could be an ideal attacking partner for Heung-Min Son.
Atletico Madrid: Rodrigo De Paul. Rumors continue to circulate about the potential exit of Saul Niguez, and De Paul has been tipped as an ideal successor to the Spanish international. It’s easy to see why. The Udinese star brings plenty of skill and incisiveness to the midfield, and he has the type of edge necessary to thrive under Diego Simeone.
After honing his craft at Udinese since 2016, it feels like the right time for the Argentine to take the next step in his career.
Barcelona: Memphis Depay. Barcelona have been one of the busiest teams in the transfer market thus far, bringing in Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia on free transfers from Manchester City and recalling Emerson from his loan spell at Real Betis. Bringing players in without putting money down on a transfer fee is the name of the game for cash-poor Barca this summer.
Depay, then, ticks all the boxes. He’s a free agent, is coming off an excellent campaign with Lyon, has an existing relationship with Ronald Koeman, and, crucially, isn’t over the hill. That’s more than can be said of some of the club’s signings in recent years.
Real Madrid: Jules Kounde. The circus surrounding defensive stalwart Sergio Ramos continues. The veteran Spaniard would apparently like to sign a new contract and remain at the club, but Real Madrid haven’t tabled an offer. There are suggestions that Raphael Varane could be on the move, too.
Losing either would be a big blow, but the club could soften that impact by adding Kounde, who looks destined to be a superstar for many years to come. The 22-year-old Sevilla defender won’t come cheap, but Madrid could try to sweeten the pot with any number of players they’re ready to ship away.
AC Milan: Dusan Vlahovic. Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t be leading the line forever. Milan must keep planning for the post-Zlatan world, which could – and perhaps should – come at the end of next season. Instead of waiting until the influential Swede decides to move on, the Rossoneri need to be proactive and act now.
Vlahovic, who just delivered an eye-popping campaign at Fiorentina, offers the perfect blend of physicality and technique – not to mention quickness – that could slot perfectly into Stefano Pioli’s side without causing a disruption or forcing a change in approach. The 21-year-old Serbian won’t be available for long.
Inter Milan: Manuel Lazzari. Inter are expected to offload at least one key contributor this summer, and the exhilarating Achraf Hakimi – whom we’ll get to shortly – appears the most likely candidate. New coach Simone Inzaghi likes to utilize wing-backs in much the same way Antonio Conte did, so the position will remain a focal point for the Nerazzurri.
Lazzari, whose blistering pace down the right flank has been crucial to Lazio’s success in recent seasons, is the tailor-made replacement for Hakimi. The Italian could be tempted to follow Inzaghi to Milan after the two forged a relationship.
Juventus: Manuel Locatelli. It’s no secret Juventus’ midfield is crying out for some help. Returning manager Massimiliano Allegri needs to rebuild that group if he’s to lift the Old Lady back to the Serie A summit; the need for significant investment in that area of the pitch is glaring.
Several players have been linked with a switch to Turin, but Locatelli makes the most sense for several reasons. The 23-year-old Sassuolo standout shines in multiple midfield roles and would provide the club with a young Italian talent to market and build around.
Bayern Munich: Eduardo Camavinga. Bayern Munich are continually refurbishing and making moves with the club’s long-term health and sustainability in mind; there’s a reason the Bavarians have won nine consecutive Bundesliga titles and show no signs of tripping up. In a sport in which so many top clubs are financially mismanaged, Bayern continue to thrive.
In keeping with that ethos, Camavinga stands out as the clear choice. The French midfielder, 18, would have the opportunity to grow steadily under the tutelage of the club’s current stars, offering depth in the immediate term and world-class potential in the long run.
Borussia Dortmund: Donyell Malen. If Jadon Sancho does indeed depart this summer, expect Dortmund to stick with their tried and true model by snapping up a young replacement who can fetch a mammoth transfer fee at some point down the road. Their modus operandi works.
Malen fits that bill. The 22-year-old Dutchman is a versatile forward and could be available for a reasonable fee in today’s depressed transfer market. An impressive showing with the Netherlands at Euro 2020 could inflate his value, though; if Dortmund haven’t already started talks with PSV Eindhoven, they’d better get moving.
Paris Saint-Germain: Achraf Hakimi. For all their absurd riches, Paris Saint-Germain started on-loan Alessandro Florenzi, youngster Mitchel Bakker, and the underwhelming Abdou Diallo at full-back over two legs in their Champions League semifinal defeat to Manchester City. Injuries forced their hand somewhat, but that cast simply isn’t good enough.
Whether Hakimi’s arrival would force a change of system is a worthwhile debate; the flying Moroccan excels in a wing-back role. But whenever a talent of his caliber is available, suitors should move quickly.
Key takeaways as Chelsea crush Manchester City's Champions League dream
Chelsea were crowned European champions for the second time in their history after Kai Havertz’s breakaway goal downed Manchester City on Saturday.
Thomas Tuchel, who only inherited the Chelsea squad from his predecessor Frank Lampard in January, relied on strong defensive foundations and stardust in attack to mastermind a 1-0 victory in the Champions League final.
Here are three takeaways from an absorbing contest in Porto.
Trust in Werner (and Havertz) paid off
Tuchel’s main selection conundrum was which attackers to start. He plumped for Mason Mount, Timo Werner, and Havertz, and his decision to select the German duo, in particular, proved to be an inspired move.
Rather than task a natural wide player to charge into gaps behind City’s full-backs, such as Christian Pulisic or Hakim Ziyech, it was Werner who busied himself with runs down the sides. The former RB Leipzig forward has struggled this season, seeming to provide more meme-worthy misses than goals, but his energy and willingness to run into channels were enough to encourage Tuchel to pick him.
Havertz, meanwhile, took chances to dart through the center, infiltrating the space eked open by Werner’s wise off-the-ball movement.
It took a crucial header from John Stones in the 23rd minute to prevent Havertz from nodding Chelsea into the lead. Part of Tuchel’s reasoning behind selecting Havertz over Pulisic and Ziyech may have been his superiority in the air.
Then, when Havertz got his match-winning goal in the 43rd minute, Werner’s influence was pivotal.
Werner hurtled down the left-hand side to offer Mount an option down the flank, but he may not have anticipated receiving the ball given that both Stones and Kyle Walker were blocking the passing lane. However, the 25-year-old’s run succeeded in drawing Ruben Dias toward him and stretching open swathes of space through the middle for Havertz to rush into.
Mount took up the invitation and played the ball ahead of Havertz, who notched the decisive goal after skipping through a challenge from Ederson.
Raheem Sterling was on the periphery of Pep Guardiola’s plans. He started one match against Borussia Monchengladbach during the knockout rounds preceding the final, and he mustered just 10 minutes over the doubleheaders with Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain in the quarterfinals and semifinals.
So, the out-of-form Englishman’s starting spot – at the expense of a defensive midfielder in Fernandinho or Rodri – was a peculiar choice by Guardiola. The well-worn accusations of the City manager overthinking his game plan were dusted off immediately after the XIs were announced.
“I know exactly the way we want to play, with whom we are going to play, and I am not going to bother them much,” Guardiola said Friday, indicating he’d been buffing the leather and picking at the seams long before pitching his latest curveball.
There were glimpses during a couple of counterattacks in the first half as to why Guardiola picked Sterling. There were openings behind Reece James to be exploited, and Cesar Azpilicueta, who was to the right of Tuchel’s back three, isn’t the sprightliest defender nowadays.
But, ultimately, Sterling didn’t do enough to justify Guardiola’s meddling with a winning formula. The attacker was substituted with under 15 minutes remaining and finished the game with a single shot on target and the same number of touches (30) as his goalkeeper.
And you have to wonder: Would Havertz had gotten all of that space for his goal if Fernandinho or Rodri were plugging the midfield?
Guardiola had arguably his finest season as Manchester City manager, given that he implemented tactical tweaks in winter that reversed the fortunes of an ailing team, winning the Premier League and League Cup in the process. Still, he faces similar lines of criticism after yet another baffling change to his lineup in Europe.
To Pep could soon be added to the dictionary.
Rudiger leads merciless defensive effort
Antonio Rudiger’s most memorable contribution to the fixture was rather controversial. Kevin De Bruyne ran with the hope of meeting a return pass from Riyad Mahrez, but Rudiger, with no intent to play the ball but plenty of intent to hit the Belgian, flattened him.
Rudiger’s block left De Bruyne with a throbbing black eye and robbed City of their vital playmaker after an hour.
This is Rudiger’s game. He struggled to get off the bench when he played in Peter Hyballa’s under-19 team at Dortmund because of his weaknesses in possession, but his aggression was never in doubt. “He’d eat the striker,” Hyballa told theScore last year.
Frank Lampard didn’t seem to be a fan, either, but Tuchel has used him regularly over his short time at the helm – and it’s easy to see why. Aside from Rudiger’s unsavory challenge on De Bruyne, his combativeness was the perfect response to City’s diminutive, artful attackers, with an excellent block tackle on Phil Foden during the first half the real highlight of his workday.
Without that, Foden would’ve given City the lead.
But it wasn’t Rudiger alone. James made a game-high seven tackles on his own – the same number as the whole Manchester City squad – and led in clearances as he bludgeoned five balls to safety. And N’Golo Kante, undoubtedly Chelsea’s best player of their Champions League run, was his usual tireless self as he mopped up with three tackles and two interceptions in midfield.
“I was very impressed, from the first moment, with the intensity, the attitude, and how we defended together. (This) is an (important) point,” Tuchel said this week when reflecting on his tenure so far. “The group plays like a group that has something to prove, and they really want to prove how strong they are.”
Tuchel turned Chelsea into a solid, Champions League-winning unit in four months. Think of what he could do with a full preseason under his belt.
Transfer window preview: Top 50 players who could move this summer
The era of €100-million signings may be over – for now, anyway – but that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of wheeling and dealing in the coming months. With that in mind, here are 50 high-profile players who could switch clubs during the summer transfer window.
Note: Estimated transfer values provided by transfermarkt.com
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Age: 27 | Position: Striker | Estimated value: €120M
Kane wants to leave Tottenham this summer in pursuit of silverware. All the top dogs in England are circling. Though Daniel Levy surely wants to retain his star man, cashing in may not be such a bad decision right now.
Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Age: 28 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €60M
Another transfer window, another round of Pogba speculation. With the Frenchman’s contract slated to expire next summer, now is the time for Manchester United to make a move if they don’t think an extension is likely.
David De Gea (Manchester United)
Age: 30 | Position: Goalkeeper | Estimated value: €18M
De Gea has never been closer to leaving Old Trafford than he is now. His lack of heroics in the Europa League final aside, the presence of Dean Henderson – and the potential addition of Tom Heaton – could push the Spaniard out.
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
Age: 25 | Position: Winger, attacking midfielder | Estimated value: €65M
Grealish is absolutely and obviously vital to Aston Villa, but it’s widely accepted that the mesmerizing dribbler will move on at some point. He’s too good not to be playing for one of the world’s best sides.
Declan Rice (West Ham United)
Age: 22 | Position: Defensive midfielder | Estimated value: €65M
Rice’s reputation continues to grow after another strong year with West Ham. Still, the versatile Englishman could opt to remain with the Hammers for one more year after they secured European football for next season.
Youri Tielemans (Leicester City)
Age: 24 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €55M
Tielemans has hugely enhanced his status since joining Leicester City, establishing himself as one of the Premier League’s most exciting players. His varied skill set would do wonders at several clubs.
Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)
Age: 28 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €22M
For the good of all involved, surely Xhaka has to leave Arsenal, right? Often derided by fans – and sometimes even clashing with them – the former club captain still has suitors in Europe, to the surprise of many Gooners.
Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)
Age: 23 | Position: Striker | Estimated value: €40M
Chelsea decided to re-sign veteran Olivier Giroud, which could signal the end of Abraham’s time at the club. The English striker was slowly phased out of the team by Thomas Tuchel, so a change of scenery could be for the best.
Raphinha (Leeds United)
Age: 24 | Position: Winger | Estimated value: €25M
Raphinha dazzled this past season. The Brazilian is always looking to make something happen with the ball at his feet, and a move from Leeds United doesn’t feel far away. It will be a treat to witness the reaction of fans watching him live.
Yves Bissouma (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Age: 24 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €17M
Brighton was most definitely a stepping stone for Bissouma, who looks destined for a transfer this summer. Liverpool and Arsenal have both been linked with the Malian midfielder’s signature.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Age: 33 | Position: Forward | Estimated value: €80M
The biggest fish of them all. It appears as though Messi is now leaning toward staying at Barcelona, but these things can shift quickly. Should he have (another) change of heart, the usual suspects will come running.
Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona)
Age: 28 | Position: Attacking midfielder | Estimated value: €40M
Barca need cash. It’s that simple. The free transfers they’ve made so far have been nice, but those players still need salaries, so an injection of capital would be welcome. Coutinho is a prime transfer candidate.
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
Age: 35 | Position: Center-back | Estimated value: €14M
Ramos, another pending free agent, has apparently seen his contract talks with Real Madrid stall. The club just brought David Alaba aboard, fueling rumors that the longtime defensive anchor could be on the move.
Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)
Age: 28 | Position: Center-back | Estimated value: €70M
This would be something of a surprising move, but there continues to be smoke here. Varane has been a Manchester United target for quite some time. Perhaps this is the summer the Red Devils finally present a suitable offer.
Martin Odegaard (Real Madrid)
Age: 22 | Position: Attacking midfielder | Estimated value: €40M
Odegaard is on his way back to the Spanish capital after the conclusion of his loan spell at Arsenal, and it’s unclear what his future holds. Extremely talented and still young, he would improve many a team in Europe.
Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid)
Age: 26 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €55M
Could Saul go out on top? After helping Atletico Madrid capture the La Liga crown, he’s once again being touted as a transfer target. This time, though, it appears the Spaniard is the one who wants a move.
Jules Kounde (Sevilla)
Age: 22 | Position: Center-back | Estimated value: €60M
Sevilla have an absolute star in Kounde, but for how much longer? The French defender, great with the ball at his feet, would command a sizable transfer fee with three years left on his contract.
Goncalo Guedes (Valencia)
Age: 24 | Position: Forward | Estimated value: €25M
A strong finish to Valencia’s club season has vaulted Guedes back into the rumor mill, with the likes of Fiorentina and Sevilla believed to be interested. If the Portuguese forward does anything at the Euros, his value could rise further.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
Age: 36 | Position: Forward | Estimated value: €45M
Publicly, Juventus maintain that Ronaldo isn’t going anywhere. Of course, they said the same thing about Andrea Pirlo. A lack of suitable destinations may ultimately keep Ronaldo in Turin, but his future is far from certain.
Paulo Dybala (Juventus)
Age: 27 | Position: Forward | Estimated value: €50M
Returning manager Massimiliano Allegri wants to build his team around Dybala, but he may not get the chance. The Argentine is out of contract in 2022. If Juve can’t strike a new deal now, they may sell to avoid losing him for free.
Achraf Hakimi (Inter Milan)
Age: 22 | Position: Wing-back | Estimated value: €60M
In an ideal world, Inter would keep one of the most exciting players in football, especially after he was so crucial to their Scudetto win. In reality, though, finances are tight, and Hakimi’s value is through the roof.
Hakan Calhanoglu (AC Milan)
Age: 27 | Position: Attacking midfielder | Estimated value: €35M
Another soon-to-be free agent, Calhanoglu is coming off a superb season for AC Milan. The Turkish playmaker’s set-piece delivery should be particularly enticing to any club, though there’s still hope for the Rossoneri to keep him.
Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)
Age: 29 | Position: Center-back | Estimated value: €48M
It feels like the moment has passed for Koulibaly to make a mammoth move, but make no mistake, the Senegalese defender is still a dominant force. Napoli’s inability to secure a top-four finish could be the deciding factor here.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio)
Age: 26 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €70M
Milinkovic-Savic hasn’t returned to the heights that once saw Lazio slap a nine-digit price tag on his signature. But he can still put a contender over the top, and he may be amenable to a move after Simone Inzaghi left the club.
Robin Gosens (Atalanta)
Age: 26 | Position: Left-back | Estimated value: €35M
One of the key figures in Atalanta’s incredible rise, Gosens offers a blend of scoring ability, physicality, and defensive solidity not widely available at his position. The German would need to find the right situation to thrive, though.
Rodrigo De Paul (Udinese)
Age: 27 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €38M
De Paul took a major leap for Udinese this season after being pushed into a deeper role, spending more time dictating the play and carving through the midfield with his combination of silky dribbling and playmaking.
Dusan Vlahovic (Fiorentina)
Age: 21 | Position: Striker | Estimated value: €40M
Vlahovic showed flashes of his potential in 2019-20, but he truly announced himself to the world this past season, scoring 21 league goals. Speed, power, technique, and a keen instinct inside the box make him the total package.
Manuel Locatelli (Sassuolo)
Age: 23 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €35M
Sassuolo have admitted Locatelli will likely be on the move after his involvement in Euro 2020, with Juventus tipped as the Italian international’s biggest admirers. A budding star, he can play a variety of roles in central midfield.
Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
Age: 21 | Position: Winger | Estimated value: €100M
Erling Haaland has supplanted Sancho as the name on everyone’s lips when it comes to Borussia Dortmund transfer rumors, and that’s fair. But Haaland isn’t moving this summer, and Sancho most certainly might. The Englishman is a breathtaking talent and remains very much in demand.
Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)
Age: 26 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €20M
Injuries, including a devastating ACL tear in 2018, have disrupted what looked like a potentially spectacular club career for Tolisso. Now 26 and not Bayern Munich’s first option in midfield, he may find more playing time elsewhere.
Florian Neuhaus (Borussia Monchengladbach)
Age: 24 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €35M
Neuhaus quashed rumors that he’s already agreed to a deal with Bayern Munich, news that was surely well received by the likes of Liverpool. Always keen to play between the lines, Borussia Monchengladbach’s clever midfielder looks like a good investment.
Andre Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Age: 25 | Position: Striker | Estimated value: €45M
Only Robert Lewandowski scored more Bundesliga goals this past season than Silva, who edged Haaland for second place with 28 tallies. Once discarded by Milan, the Portuguese international has found his feet with Eintracht Frankfurt.
Moussa Diaby (Bayer Leverkusen)
Age: 21 | Position: Winger | Estimated value: €38M
Another outstanding young talent fresh off France’s relentless conveyor belt, Diaby is attracting interest in the Premier League. Bayer Leverkusen’s dynamic winger has shown he’s adept at both scoring goals and creating them.
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
Age: 22 | Position: Forward | Estimated value: €160M
The financial constraints created by the coronavirus pandemic likely mean it’s one year too early to expect Mbappe to leave Paris Saint-Germain. Still, it’s no secret he’s Florentino Perez’s dream signing. Can Real Madrid get creative?
Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes)
Age: 18 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €60M
Widely regarded as the best young midfielder in the game, Camavinga is a true all-around talent. A crafty loan setup in which Rennes’ teen phenom stays put for one season could be an option here.
Houssem Aouar (Lyon)
Age: 22 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €50M
The trail isn’t quite as hot as it was a couple of years ago, but Aouar’s stock remains high. Being 22 and supremely gifted with the ball will do that to a player. A summer of upheaval beckons at Lyon.
Sven Botman (Lille)
Age: 21 | Position: Center-back | Estimated value: €28M
Despite his tender age, Botman is an absolute rock. Only three outfield players logged more minutes in Ligue 1 this season than the Dutchman, who helped guide Lille to a shocking league title. His future is very bright.
Boubakary Soumare (Lille)
Age: 22 | Position: Defensive midfielder | Estimated value: €23M
Leicester City are reportedly on the verge of completing a move for Soumare, another member of Lille’s impressive young contingent that knocked PSG from their perch atop French football. This could be another masterstroke by the Foxes.
Renato Sanches (Lille)
Age: 23 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €30M
In case it wasn’t already clear, this will be an interesting summer for Lille. Despite their surprise title win, financial issues remain. Player sales may be inevitable, and the resurgent Sanches – now back to his best – is another candidate for departure.
Benoit Badiashile (AS Monaco)
Age: 20 | Position: Center-back | Estimated value: €28M
In keeping with their tradition of making a fortune by selling young stars, Monaco have another jewel on their hands in Badiashile. His patience – he opted against a move last year to keep developing – is a good omen.
Elsewhere in Europe
Andre Onana (Ajax)
Age: 25 | Position: Goalkeeper | Estimated value: €30M
Onana’s future is perhaps the murkiest of all. The Ajax shot-stopper is serving a 12-month doping ban but is in the process of appealing. His undeniable talent could see a club chase a cut-rate deal even if the ban is upheld.
Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax)
Age: 19 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €33M
No discounts here. Anybody interested in the angular Dutch teenager will need to pony up a significant sum. Gravenberch has all the skills to thrive as a creative box-to-box midfielder for years to come.
Sergio Oliveira (FC Porto)
Age: 29 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €19M
One of the stars of Porto’s unexpected Champions League run this past season – he put Juventus’ midfield to shame in the last 16 – Oliveira is reportedly a target for new Fiorentina manager Gennaro Gattuso.
Patson Daka (Red Bull Salzburg)
Age: 22 | Position: Striker | Estimated value: €22M
It’s only a matter of time before Daka takes the next big step in his blossoming career. The Zambian forward has been a scoring machine for Salzburg. How long until RB Leipzig come calling to keep him in the family?
Odsonne Edouard (Celtic)
Age: 23 | Position: Striker | Estimated value: €15M
Edouard is generating interest in both the Premier League and Serie A after leading Celtic in scoring for a third consecutive season. Not bad for a 23-year-old.
The free-agent class
In addition to the players above, several marquee names have already confirmed they’re embarking on new adventures this summer. Some are leaving their old clubs by choice, others by force; only the destinations remain to be determined.
Age: 22 | Position: Goalkeeper | Estimated value: €60M
Goalkeepers of this ilk don’t become available for free at such a young age. Hence the excitement of Juve, PSG, and Barcelona, who are all in talks with Donnarumma’s agent, Mino Raiola, about the former Milan netminder.
Age: 27 | Position: Forward | Estimated value: €45M
With Ronald Koeman now confirmed as Barcelona manager for another season, Depay’s move to the Camp Nou is simply a matter of time. The Dutch bench boss has been trying to unite with his compatriot for over a year.
Age: 30 | Position: Central midfielder | Estimated value: €30M
The same goes for Wijnaldum, who’s reportedly on the verge of completing his own free transfer from Liverpool to Barca. The midfielder would bring an element of energy to the Blaugrana. Will it be enough to convince Messi to stay?
Age: 32 | Position: Center-back | Estimated value: €10M
Boateng’s departure from Bayern Munich was slightly more acrimonious than those of the aforementioned Dutch duo. Bayern made it clear they wouldn’t offer him a new contract during the season, leaving him searching for another club.
Age: 34 | Position: Center-back | Estimated value: €5M
Arsenal and Luiz also announced their split ahead of time, though it appears the feeling here was far more mutual than in Boateng’s case. The oft-derided Brazilian defender could be set for a return to his homeland.
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