The draw for the last 16 of this season’s Champions League is finally complete, but with the first legs not kicking off until February, a lot could change between now and the tournament’s return. Here’s an early breakdown of each matchup, along with predicted outcomes.
Sporting CP vs. Manchester City
- First leg: Feb. 15 at Estadio Jose Alvalade
- Second leg: March 9 at Etihad Stadium
Manchester City are clear favorites to win this game – and among the top three most fancied to win the whole tournament – so why should Sporting CP pose any threat? Even if City don’t sign a striker in January to help with the goal-scoring burden, Pep Guardiola still has a squad deep enough to compete for every trophy.
Sporting have a number of good players, including Pedro Goncalves, who has 11 goals from midfield this season, and Joao Palhinha, a defensive midfielder who’s earning his keep in the Portuguese national team. However, despite Sporting’s relative dominance in Portugal – they’re 12-2-0 in the Primeira Liga this season – they’ve struggled to impose themselves in their first Champions League campaign in four seasons. Given Sporting conceded nine goals in losses to Group C winners Ajax, what on Earth will happen against City’s dynamic core?
Prediction: Manchester City advance 5-2 on aggregate.
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Real Madrid
- First leg: Feb. 15 at Parc des Princes
- Second leg: March 9 at Santiago Bernabeu
This one’s going to go down as the most entertaining tie of the lot. Barring injury, Sergio Ramos will return to Real Madrid for the first time since leaving as a free agent last summer. Kylian Mbappe is a free agent in 2022 and could sign a pre-contract with Madrid in January. Imagine Mbappe playing against his future employers. It’s too much.
But there’s a bigger matter at hand: progressing to the next round. Paris Saint-Germain are quite clearly all in on the Champions League, and an exit at any stage, let alone in the round of 16, would constitute a major failure. You don’t sign Lionel Messi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Ramos in one offseason just to participate in the knockout stage. There’s much more pressure on Mauricio Pochettino to deliver trophies than there is on Carlo Ancelotti, who’s won matches while compensating for injuries to 14 of his players this season. If Karim Benzema can stay healthy, Los Blancos will certainly have a chance to outscore and beat PSG.
Meanwhile, Les Parisiens are yet to blow the competition away despite ample ammunition. Messi has done just fine in the Champions League, scoring five of his six goals for the club in Europe, but his teammates have struggled under the spotlight. Neymar should return in time from ankle ligament damage, but even when the Brazilian has played alongside Mbappe and Messi, PSG have hardly looked like the attacking juggernaut they promised to be.
Prediction: Real Madrid advance 3-2 on aggregate.
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Bayern Munich
- First leg: Feb. 16 at Red Bull Arena
- Second leg: March 8 at Allianz Arena
This matchup seems easy enough for Bayern Munich. Red Bull Salzburg are one of just three teams not from Europe’s top-five leagues, and they don’t have the same star power as some of the other heavyweights Bayern could have faced, including PSG and Inter Milan.
But there’s more to Salzburg than meets the eye. Runaway leaders in Austria’s Bundesliga, Die Roten Bullen have won 31 top-flight matches in 2021 – more than any team has managed in a single calendar year since the league’s inception in 1974. Their recipe for success includes the same ingredients RB Leipzig incorporated to kick-start their own run up the tiers in Germany: counterpressing, high-energy play, proactive defending, and incredible scouting. Only Chelsea and Leipzig completed more pressing sequences in the Champions League group stage than Salzburg, who conceded just six goals in six games.
Salzburg launched the careers of Sadio Mane, Erling Haaland, and Bayern’s own Dayot Upamecano. Now they have another star in the making – 19-year-old Karim Adeyemi.
Bayern are still favorites, but Salzburg are no pushovers.
Prediction: Bayern Munich advance 4-2 on aggregate.
Inter Milan vs. Liverpool
- First leg: Feb. 16 at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza
- Second leg: March 8 at Anfield
The trip to Anfield will probably be the biggest test of Simone Inzaghi’s coaching career. Last year, Inzaghi took Lazio to the round of 16, only to be embarrassed by Bayern 6-2 on aggregate. While Inzaghi now has a much more talented squad at his disposal, Liverpool are more formidable foes. With 21 goals in 22 matches, Mohamed Salah is playing some of the best football of his career. The Reds’ Premier League-leading goal differential of 33 shows they’re finding success offensively and defensively.
Inter’s greatest strength is their play down the middle, and as a side that likes to take shots, they should be able to find a way to create chances, even against the likes of Virgil van Dijk. With Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko combining for 21 goals this season, the Nerazzurri can at least go toe-for-toe in the attacking department.
As ever, the battle will be won or lost in midfield. The strength of Jurgen Klopp’s rotation is obvious. Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Curtis Jones, Naby Keita, Thiago, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all fit or nearing full fitness, and they should outmuscle Inter’s Marcelo Brozovic and Hakan Calhanoglu. Normally, Inzaghi would place a lot of the ball-winning responsibility on Nicolo Barella, but the Euro 2020 winner will miss at least the first leg through suspension.
Prediction: Liverpool advance 4-2 on aggregate.
Chelsea vs. Lille
- First leg: Feb. 22 at Stamford Bridge
- Second leg: March 16 at Stade Pierre-Mauroy
If the tie kicked off tomorrow, Lille would have a reasonable chance to progress. Chelsea are reeling defensively and manager Thomas Tuchel is dealing with injuries to key players.
However, Tuchel will most certainly find a solution to Chelsea’s current malaise over the next two months. Meanwhile, Lille, facing massive losses from their previous ownership, will have to sell one or two players in January. Sven Botman, who stars in central defense, has already been linked with moves to Newcastle United and AC Milan, and Jonathan Ikone is reportedly on his way to Fiorentina. Midfield lynchpin Renato Sanches is apparently in play as well.
This doesn’t bode well for the reigning Ligue 1 champions. If Romelu Lukaku finds his scoring boots and Timo Werner continues to improve, there’s no reason to think Lille will pull off the upset.
Prediction: Chelsea advance 5-1 on aggregate.
Villarreal vs. Juventus
- First leg: Feb. 22 at Estadio de la Ceramica
- Second leg: March 16 at Allianz Stadium
This is one of the more interesting ties in the round of 16. Neither side is having a great season: Villarreal are in 13th place in La Liga, while Juventus sit sixth in Serie A and trail league leaders Inter by 12 points. Based on name alone, Juventus will be under more pressure to advance. But they’re only slight favorites to win the tie. The Bianconeri also have a tough run of fixtures before the first leg, with matches away to Milan and Atalanta and a daunting home fixture against giant-killers Hellas Verona.
Villarreal shouldn’t enter the round with desperation. After all, it’s their first trip to the Champions League knockout stage since 2016, and there’s no shame in losing to a club like Juventus. The Yellow Submarine is already guaranteed at least €34 million in prize money, plus whatever fraction of TV revenue it manages to generate from this run. That alone would account for more than 30% of the club’s annual turnover.
Things could change if Villarreal lose top scorer Gerard Moreno to injury over the next two months. Alternatively, Juventus could lose a couple of players in the transfer window. One way or another, this one will be tight.
Prediction: Juventus advance 3-2 on aggregate after extra time.
Benfica vs. Ajax
- First leg: Feb. 23 at Estadio da Luz
- Second leg: March 15 at Johan Cruyff Arena
Let’s be honest: Benfica are only one of the last 16 because of Barcelona’s self-sabotage. The Portuguese outfit earned one more point than the beleaguered Catalans while suffering heavy losses to Bayern and dropping points to Dynamo Kyiv, one of the worst sides to play in the group stage this year.
Ajax, on the other hand, demonstrated serious mettle in their first six matches, scoring 20 goals, which only Bayern have bettered. Sebastien Haller accounted for 10 of them, making himself one of just four players in the competition’s history to record double digits through the group stage. Ajax have a whopping plus-45 goal differential in the Eredivisie and thrashed current league leaders PSV 5-0 in October. In other words, don’t expect a battle in the trenches.
Prediction: Ajax advance 6-2 on aggregate.
Atletico Madrid vs. Manchester United
- First leg: Feb. 23 at Wanda Metropolitano
- Second leg: March 15 at Old Trafford
Manchester United must be most relieved with the results of Monday’s redraw. The initial erroneous draw pitted Cristiano Ronaldo’s side against Messi’s PSG, and while any contest between the two rivals would excite neutrals, it would harm United’s own chances of progressing.
The Red Devils have a tough but more manageable task facing Atletico Madrid, who barely did enough to reach the knockout round. Their title defense in La Liga has also fallen apart as they’re 13 points behind leaders Real Madrid. Atletico are inconsistent at best, having won back-to-back games just twice this season.
Diego Simeone’s men can’t seem to find the right balance between attack and defense: Sometimes they allow three goals in a game, and other times they can’t score at all. They also finished the group stage with a negative goal differential, which is as unexpected as any statistic when it comes to Atletico.
United’s transformation under Ralf Rangnick will require patience. Saturday’s narrow 1-0 win over Norwich City proved there’s still lots of work to do. But United still have Ronaldo. That could be enough, especially in this competition and against this opponent. The 36-year-old recorded 25 goals and nine assists in 35 appearances against Atletico during his time in Madrid.
Prediction: Manchester United advance 4-2 on aggregate.
1 player Europe's top clubs should sign before transfer window closes
Time is running out for teams to make a splash in the January transfer window. With the shopping period set to close next week and a flurry of late activity expected in the coming days, we highlight one player that Europe’s top clubs should be targeting at the 11th hour, even if it means getting creative to get the deal over the line.
Note: Estimated transfer values provided by transfermarkt.com.
Arsenal: Alexander Isak
Club: Real Sociedad | Position: Striker | Value: €40M
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the outs and Alexandre Lacazette floundering, Arsenal have mustered one goal in their last five matches – the Gunners badly need an influx of scoring punch. Seemingly set to miss out on primary target Dusan Vlahovic, the north London outfit would be wise to put all their efforts into convincing Real Sociedad to part with Isak, the 22-year-old Swedish gem who would become the focal point of Arsenal’s attack.
Chelsea: Jules Kounde
Club: Sevilla | Position: Center-back | Value: €60M
Chelsea’s interest in Kounde is longstanding – and with good reason. The Frenchman is a prototypical modern defender: He reads the game well, has excellent mobility, and, crucially, is comfortable on the ball. With Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, and Cesar Azpilicueta all impending free agents, the Blues need to be proactive to ensure they aren’t left frantically competing for signatures this coming summer.
Liverpool: Christopher Nkunku
Club: RB Leipzig | Position: Attacking midfielder/winger | Value: €55M
Nkunku is ready for the next step. An electric talent who offers positional versatility, his familiarity with a high-octane system at Leipzig would help make the acclimation process at Liverpool a little easier. Rumors of interest in Nkunku suggest the club’s scouting and analytics departments have already done their homework and identified the Frenchman as an ideal signing. The Reds hit a home run with Diogo Jota, and Nkunku could have the same impact.
Manchester City: Julian Alvarez
Club: River Plate | Position: Striker | Value: €20M
What do you get for the team that has just about everything? One of the most exciting young forwards in South America, apparently. Manchester City are on the verge of sealing a deal for the 21-year-old Argentine international, moving to ensure their recent run of Premier League dominance continues long into the future. City don’t need Alvarez right away – the title race is just about sorted already – and can start thinking about the coming years.
Manchester United: Bruno Guimaraes
Club: Lyon | Position: Midfielder | Value: €30M
Few sides can compete with Newcastle United’s newfound riches, but Manchester United, one of the sport’s established powers, are certainly one of them. The Red Devils, like Newcastle, happen to be in the market for a central midfielder and could aim to hijack their peers’ reported €40-million move for Brazilian standout Guimaraes. It would address a glaring need and send a message that at least some power still resides at Old Trafford.
Tottenham Hotspur: Adama Traore
Club: Wolverhampton Wanderers | Position: Winger | Value: €28M
The prospect of Antonio Conte working with Traore is tantalizing. For some time, discussions surrounding the strapping 26-year-old have focused too much on what he can’t do on the pitch – namely, his final product is sometimes lacking. But Traore brings so much to the table with his elite dribbling ability, and one of Conte’s best traits as a manager is amplifying the specific skills that his players do have. Together, the two could make magic at Tottenham.
Atletico Madrid: Darwin Nunez
Club: Benfica | Position: Striker | Value: €32M
With Luis Suarez expected to depart this summer and Joao Felix potentially joining him in search of a better stylistic fit, Atletico Madrid should be in the market for another forward. Luckily, Nunez fits the bill. The 22-year-old is exactly the type of robust presence you associate with Diego Simeone’s side. Wildly athletic, the Uruguayan forward’s blend of top-line speed and physicality would be welcomed at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Barcelona: Alvaro Morata
Club: Juventus (on loan) | Position: Striker | Value: €35M
Despite relying on bank loans and magic beans to sign new players, Barcelona remain active in the transfer market. The rebuilding Blaugrana have a lot of issues to rectify, and additional scoring prowess is near the top of the list. Xavi’s admiration of Morata could help push a deal over the line, but any move is complicated because the Spaniard is on loan at Juventus from Atletico Madrid, adding another layer of complexity to negotiations.
Real Madrid: Noussair Mazraoui
Club: Ajax | Position: Right-back | Value: €18M
Real Madrid have a few players who can operate at right-back, but outside of Dani Carvajal, there aren’t any natural options. The Spaniard is now 30, though, and he endured an injury-plagued 2021 – the decline is on its way for the decorated veteran. Mazraoui is due to become a free agent in the summer, but Los Blancos could jump the line and pay a nominal fee to secure the services of the 24-year-old Ajax star, who provides oodles of attacking impetus.
AC Milan: Andreas Christensen
Club: Chelsea | Position: Center-back | Value: €35M
With Simon Kjaer shelved for the campaign and Fikayo Tomori sidelined for at least one month with a knee injury, AC Milan would be wise to strengthen their backline if they hope to overtake city rivals Inter Milan in the race for this season’s Scudetto. Christensen, who’s on an expiring deal, represents an opportunity to add someone who can improve the squad immediately but also offers a long-term solution should Alessio Romagnoli depart.
Inter Milan: Paulo Dybala
Club: Juventus | Position: Forward | Value: €50M
Dybala’s contract kerfuffle presents an alluring opportunity for Inter to make a huge statement, and frankly, stick it to a direct rival in an extremely satisfying way. The Argentine forward is Juventus’ vice-captain and has been a longstanding pillar of the squad. Beppe Marotta, the former Juve CEO now at Inter, could bolster his attacking ranks and kick his former club while it’s down. Inter already ended Juventus’ title run – now it’s time to take things up a notch.
Juventus: Denis Zakaria
Club: Borussia Monchengladbach | Position: Defensive midfielder | Value: €27M
Juventus are nearing a deal for prolific Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic, which will certainly help the club’s anemic attack. The Serbian’s addition, though a huge boon, doesn’t rectify the glaring weakness in midfield that continues to plague Max Allegri’s team. Zakaria would instantly improve a positional group that lacks mobility and a trustworthy shield for the defense while simultaneously freeing up Manuel Locatelli to get forward more often.
Bayern Munich: Josko Gvardiol
Club: RB Leipzig | Position: Center-back | Value: €25M
With hulking defender Niklas Sule on his way out at campaign’s end, Bayern Munich have been tabbed as players in the impending Antonio Rudiger sweepstakes. But bidding wars for stars in their late 20s isn’t this team’s modus operandi – snapping up exciting young talent has become the Bayern way. Gvardiol, the 20-year-old Croatian who can play both center- and full-back, would help replace the versatility and physicality that Sule provided.
Borussia Dortmund: Karim Adeyemi
Club: Red Bull Salzburg | Position: Forward | Value: €35M
Beating everyone to the punch and procuring a rising young star’s services is quintessential Borussia Dortmund fare. That’s partly why it almost makes too much sense for Adeyemi to end up at the Westfalenstadion. The German forward, who just turned 20 last week, would add to Dortmund’s celebrated crop of youngsters while also helping to soften the blow should Erling Haaland make his anticipated move elsewhere this summer.
Paris Saint-Germain: Tanguy Ndombele
Club: Tottenham | Position: Midfielder | Value: €38M
For the good of both the player and club, Ndombele’s time at Tottenham appears to be nearing its end. The partnership simply never worked out the way it should have. But the Frenchman remains a supremely skilled midfielder, and reuniting with former boss Mauricio Pochettino at Paris Saint-Germain could reignite his career. Would a midfield with Ndombele and Marco Verratti be functional? Maybe not, but it would be a wild ride that we deserve to see.
FIFA awards: Live coverage as Lewandowski, Putellas eye top honors
World football’s top players and managers of 2021 are being recognized at The Best FIFA Football Awards show on Monday. Below, theScore is tracking all the winners of the various trophies being handed out in Zurich.
Best Women’s Goalkeeper
Christiane Endler (Lyon and Chile)
After finishing second in each of the last two years – to Sari van Veenendaal in 2019 and Sarah Bouhaddi in 2020 – Chilean netminder Endler finally landed the award at the third time of asking. Endler backstopped Paris Saint-Germain to the Division 1 Feminine title last season, posting 19 clean sheets while allowing just four goals the entire campaign.
Best Men’s Goalkeeper
Edouard Mendy (Chelsea and Senegal)
Mendy has been vital to Chelsea’s success since joining the club in 2020, solidifying what was a problematic position for the Blues prior to his arrival. The Senegalese shot-stopper, 29, backstopped Chelsea to the Champions League title in 2021, and finished the calendar year with more clean sheets (29) than goals conceded (27). After his shocking omission from the Ballon d’Or shortlist, Mendy’s spectacular season has finally garnered the respect it deserves.
Puskas Award winner
Erik Lamela – Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal (March 14, 2021)
Lamela stunned the world with an outrageous rabona in the north London derby. It was the second of its kind that he had scored for Tottenham Hotspur. Already named the goal of the season in the Premier League, the Argentine’s spontaneous strike rightly has now received recognition on a global scale.
FIFA Fair Play Award winner
Denmark national team, medics, and coaching staff
Best Women’s Coach
Emma Hayes (Chelsea)
Hayes was speechless when she was revealed as this year’s award winner on Monday. The longtime Chelsea coach shouldn’t have been, though, after leading her side to a domestic treble in 2020-21. In capturing the Women’s Super League, FA Cup, and League Cup crowns, the 45-year-old tactician became the first Chelsea manager to win all three domestic titles on offer in the same season.
Best Men’s Coach
Thomas Tuchel (Chelsea)
The following awards are still to come today …
Best Men’s Player finalists
Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski is aiming to retain the honor he captured last year. The Polish striker was pipped to the Ballon d’Or by Lionel Messi in November but is the favorite to hoist FIFA’s top individual accolade after yet another goal-laden year.
- Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich and Poland)
- Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina)
- Mohamed Salah (Liverpool and Egypt)
Best Women’s Player finalists
A pair of Barcelona superstars are in the running here, with Ballon d’Or holder Alexia Putellas headlining a field comprised of first-time nominees. After English right-back Lucy Bronze broke the trend and took home the silverware last year, the 2021 honor will go to an attacking player once more.
- Jennifer Hermoso (Barcelona and Spain)
- Sam Kerr (Chelsea and Australia)
- Alexia Putellas (Barcelona and Spain)
Men’s FIFA FIFPro World11
To be announced.
Women’s FIFA FIFPro World11
To be announced.
Ranking the top 30 players set to become free agents this summer
With the January transfer window open, players on expiring contracts are able to negotiate with any club. There has arguably never been a more loaded crop of impending free agents, with some of football’s biggest names entering the final six months of their respective deals. “Free” may be a misnomer – agent fees and signing bonuses have never been so grand – but the absence of a transfer fee makes these 30 stars hugely desirable. Below, we rank the best players who will be out of contract this summer.
Note: Lorenzo Insigne has reportedly signed a contract with Toronto FC.
Honorable mentions: Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal), Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid), Florian Grillitsch (Hoffenheim), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Todd Cantwell (Norwich City), Isco (Real Madrid), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Roma)
30. Jesse Lingard ?gbeng
Club: Manchester United | Age: 29 | Position: Attacking midfielder
Lingard proved in his loan spell at West Ham United he’s still more than capable of contributing at the top level. Manchester United clearly have no intention of utilizing him, but another club – maybe the Hammers – surely will.
29. Hugo Lloris ??
Club: Tottenham Hotspur | Age: 35 | Position: Goalkeeper
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte wants the club captain to remain in north London and recently said the veteran netminder “loves” Spurs. Is that fondness enough for him to sign a new deal?
28. Andrea Belotti ??
Club: Torino | Age: 28 | Position: Striker
Somehow, Belotti is still at Torino despite rumors about a potential transfer swirling for years. The Italian striker will soon be free to decide his own future, and that likely won’t involve a return to the Granata.
27. Cesar Azpilicueta ??
Club: Chelsea | Age: 32 | Position: Full-back
It’s a little strange considering he’s the captain, but talk over Azpilicueta’s status has been muted. A return to Spain could be in the cards, especially if other high-profile defenders renew their deals with Chelsea.
26. James Tarkowski ?gbeng
Club: Burnley | Age: 29 | Position: Center-back
Tarkowski’s presence at the heart of Burnley’s defense has been a given for some time – he’s started over 30 matches in each of the last four seasons – but that union is in its final stages, with Newcastle United a likely destination.
25. Axel Witsel ??
Club: Borussia Dortmund | Age: 32 | Position: Midfielder
Witsel has been a midfield mainstay since arriving at Borussia Dortmund in 2018, but an Achilles rupture last year was a turning point. The Belgian veteran has struggled since his return and is unlikely to be retained.
24. Sardar Azmoun ??
Club: Zenit St. Petersburg | Age: 27 | Position: Forward
Azmoun has never made a senior appearance for a club outside of Russia. That’s about to change. The Iranian international, a consistent scorer for Zenit, is the subject of interest from England and France.
23. Divock Origi ??
Club: Liverpool | Age: 26 | Position: Forward
Can Origi, now entering the prime years of his career, be a bonafide scoring option if given consistent minutes? He’s delivered big goals for Liverpool, but his ability to extrapolate that will decide whether a top club makes a move.
22. Luka Modric ??
Club: Real Madrid | Age: 36 | Position: Midfielder
Modric isn’t the all-conquering midfield force of his Ballon d’Or days, but he continues to be relied upon by Carlo Ancelotti and Real Madrid. Another one-year contract extension seems the likeliest endgame for the Croatian icon.
21. Ivan Perisic ??
Club: Inter Milan | Age: 32 | Position: Winger/wing-back
Perisic has been a key contributor for the Serie A leaders this season. There’s a mutual desire to ink a new contract, but time’s running out. The prospect of one final payday elsewhere could push the Croatian toward the exit.
20. Jesus Corona ??
Club: FC Porto | Age: 28 | Position: Right-back/wide midfielder/forward
There’s a reason “Tecatito“ has made over 200 appearances for Porto – the Mexican’s adaptability is exemplary. That kind of positional versatility is attractive to any club, especially when there’s no transfer fee involved.
19. Alessio Romagnoli ??
Club: AC Milan | Age: 26 | Position: Center-back
Depending on who you believe, AC Milan captain Romagnoli is either close to a contract renewal, looking for a fresh start elsewhere in the summer, or being used as bait in a potential January swap. Isn’t the transfer window great?
18. Andre Onana ??
Club: Ajax | Age: 25 | Position: Goalkeeper
Having served a ninth-month doping ban that threatened to derail his hugely promising career, Onana is back and looking for a fresh start. All signs suggest the Cameroonian shot-stopper is on the verge of joining Inter.
17. Juan Cuadrado ??
Club: Juventus | Age: 33 | Position: Winger/right-back
Cuadrado’s reinvention as a flying full-back has added longevity to his career, and Juventus are working to keep the Colombian. A contract extension is believed to be close, but things can change quickly in the window.
16. Alexandre Lacazette ??
Club: Arsenal | Age: 30 | Position: Striker
Similar to other players in his age bracket, Lacazette is looking for one more long-term contract. Arsenal appear unwilling to meet that demand, though things could change if the disgruntled Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang departs.
15. Matthias Ginter ??
Club: Borussia Monchengladbach | Age: 27 | Position: Defender
Ginter announced last week he won’t renew his deal with Gladbach, adding he’s “decided to follow another path” in his career. It certainly sounds like the German international has already mapped out his next move.
14. Boubacar Kamara ??
Club: Marseille | Age: 22 | Position: Defensive midfielder/center-back
Kamara has been linked with a handful of Premier League clubs in recent weeks. Everybody from Manchester United to nouveau riche Newcastle are in the running for the young, versatile Frenchman.
13. Andreas Christensen ??
Club: Chelsea | Age: 25 | Position: Center-back
Teammate Antonio Rudiger is the center-back getting more Bosman love, but at three years his junior, Christensen presents a rare opportunity for a club looking to sign a potential defensive anchor on a free transfer.
12. Denis Zakaria ??
Club: Borussia Monchengladbach | Age: 25 | Position: Defensive midfielder
It’s going to be a busy summer for Borussia Monchengladbach. In addition to Ginter, the club looks destined to lose Zakaria, the burgeoning Swiss international who is rapidly developing into a dominant all-around midfielder.
11. Noussair Mazraoui ??
Club: Ajax | Age: 24 | Position: Right-back
An exceptional dribbler who provides verve from his (nominally) defensive position, Mazraoui would be a key attacking cog at any club. With Mino Raiola as his agent, negotiations – either with Ajax or elsewhere – will be public.
10. Angel Di Maria ??
Club: Paris Saint-Germain | Age: 33 | Position: Winger
Di Maria’s expiring deal includes an option to extend for an additional year if both the club and player are in agreement. The Argentine has said his family is “very happy” in Paris – naturally – which suggests the option will be triggered.
9. Ousmane Dembele ??
Club: Barcelona | Age: 24 | Position: Winger
Barcelona manager Xavi wants Dembele to re-sign on reduced terms to help the debt-ridden club register new players. It’s not the Frenchman’s job to bail the club out of this mess, though, so that seems like a tough sell.
8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic ??
Club: AC Milan | Age: 40 | Position: Striker
The ageless wonder. Injuries are starting to hamper the veteran, but when he’s on the pitch, he finds the net; Ibrahimovic has delivered 0.89 goals per 90 minutes this season, third-best in Serie A. No wonder Milan want to keep him.
7. Marcelo Brozovic ??
Club: Inter Milan | Age: 29 | Position: Midfielder
Inter are working hard to convince their velvety Croatian that he should renew, but they can’t wait around forever while he makes a decision. Brozovic, who dictates the tempo in midfield, would be a significant loss if he departs.
6. Niklas Sule ??
Club: Bayern Munich | Age: 26 | Position: Center-back
Defenders don’t come more imposing than Sule, but he’s no lead-footed brute; the German is consistently clocked as one of the club’s fastest players each year. That enticing combination has suitors ready to pounce.
5. Franck Kessie ??
Club: AC Milan | Age: 25 | Position: Midfielder
Paolo Maldini has a lot on his plate right now. AC Milan have been prominently featured on this list, and that’s before taking into account the situation with Kessie, who has been a cornerstone of the club’s recent revival.
4. Paulo Dybala ??
Club: Juventus | Age: 28 | Position: Forward
A bureaucratic issue involving Dybala’s agent is apparently the only thing holding up an official announcement of his extension with Juve. Until he puts pen to paper, though, fans of the Old Lady will harbor some nerves.
3. Paul Pogba ??
Club: Manchester United | Age: 28 | Position: Midfielder
It’s easy to forget since he’s been out with injury for two months, but Pogba was on an absolute tear earlier this season, reminding detractors of his game-breaking skill and creativity. When he’s at his best, few can match it.
2. Antonio Rudiger ??
Club: Chelsea | Age: 28 | Position: Center-back
Everyone with the financial means wants a piece of Rudiger. Contract negotiations with Chelsea are at an impasse, and that has Real Madrid, among several others, on high alert.
1. Kylian Mbappe ??
Club: Paris Saint-Germain | Age: 23 | Position: Forward
There has never been a more desirable free agent in football history than Mbappe. Not even Lionel Messi. If the summer’s crown jewel leaves PSG – as is widely expected – it would alter the sport’s landscape for the next decade.
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Transfer grades: Assessing Hazard’s move to Real Madrid
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Wenger: Hazard can’t replace Ronaldo.
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35 stars who will define the summer transfer window
Uncategorized12 months ago
IFFHS publishes the list of top scorers in football history – Romario first, Ronaldo third
Sports2 years ago
Ready Newest Trainer in Bundesliga History, retire SOLSKYER.
Serie A3 years ago
Ajax show Juventus that winning requires more than individual quality
Sports2 years ago
Mastur Talent Returns: In Milan I was a chance to make money, penalized me for growing up as a footballer.