The Premier League transfer window officially closes in less than 24 hours, and the usual whirlwind of transfer rumors has turned into a tree-uprooting, house-demolishing super tornado. New, credible reports of big-name players going into and out of the Premier League are flying around and changing direction seemingly by the minute, as the biggest clubs in England (and also Everton?) desperately clamber to best position themselves for the coming battle to not finish too far behind Manchester City and Liverpool.
Thursday’s noon deadline will either see hundreds of millions of dollars and several prominent players flung to new destinations, or it will end with the winds stopping and everyone more or less falling right back where they started, thoroughly discombobulated and considerably angry and/or depressed at having to stay when they wanted to leave. Either way, it will make for a fantastic spectacle, so let’s get into some of the more alluring moves that may or may not happen in the coming hours.
Paulo Dybala to Tottenham
Poor Paulo Dybala. Over the last month, Juventus have done their very best to communicate to Dybala and the rest of the soccer world just how uninterested they are in retaining his services this season. Both Manchester United and Tottenham are trying to swoop in to the rescue. The only problem is, as disappointed as Dybala reportedly is by Juve’s determination to offload him, he’s apparently very resistant to the idea of leaving Turin—unless he’s paid extremely well for it.
United were first to try to reach an agreement with Juventus for the Argentine forward as part of a mutually beneficial swap deal that would’ve sent Romelu Lukaku the other way, but Dybala’s salary demands of the Red Devils ultimately proved too rich, killing that deal. Tottenham were next in line to convince the striker to join, and while you’d imagine Spurs’ offer would look much more attractive than United’s (because, you know, Tottenham are actually good), the latest reports are that Dybala is once again asking for more money than Spurs are willing to pay. (Complicating the matter further is Dybala’s tangled image rights, the ownership of which are subject to a lawsuit with the player’s old agent. Without getting those sorted out, any deal would be impossible.)
Sadly, this deal seems unlikely. Tottenham running out an attack built around Harry Kane, Dybala, Heung-min Son, and Dele Alli is a tantalizing prospect that could very well make a legitimate push for the title. But unless there is a late breakthrough in the contractual negotiations, it won’t happen. Fingers crossed.
Bruno Fernandes or Giovani Lo Celso to Tottenham
Even after the purchase of Tanguy Ndombele earlier this summer, Spurs still have midfield issues. That’s why they’ve been rumored all summer to be after two players plying their crafts on the Iberian Peninsula: Sporting CP’s Bruno Fernandes and Real Betis’s Giovani Lo Celso. Fernandes has been hotly sought-after by both Spurs and Manchester United (sensing a trend here...), but as of right now Sporting want more money than either team is willing to spend. Plus, Sporting reportedly owe Fernandes €5 million due to them rejecting a bid over €35 million. The club likely wouldn’t have done that if it didn’t intend to keep him.
Lo Celso is a different matter. Tottenham are a big step up from Real Betis, and the Argentine midfielder would be joining his countryman in manager Mauricio Pochettino. Reports say the two teams are only a few million euros apart on their valuation of the player. Whether Tottenham chip in the extra few million to put this over the edge will likely depend on what happens to the next player we’ll talk about here.
Christian Eriksen to Manchester United, Real Madrid, or Atlético Madrid
The future of most of Tottenham’s potential deadline day deals would appear to depend on Christian Eriksen. After six great years in North London, the Danish international seems ready to leave for richer pastures. His contract expires next summer, which means this is the last transfer window where Spurs could get anything close to good value for Eriksen. There are three likely suitors: Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, and Manchester United.
Like with the Dybala situation, it seems that Eriksen himself is the one gumming up this move. United are the most interested in him, but he reportedly does not want to go there and instead would prefer a move to Spain—specifically to Real Madrid. The Blancos, though, are more interested in United’s Paul Pogba, who would likely only move if United got Eriksen (and also if Real dropped a huge amount of cash on United’s lap). Atlético meanwhile are sniffing around too, probably hoping to scoop a bargain deal if the window’s end gets closer to closing with no resolution coming and with Eriksen and Spurs desperate to speed up their divorce. It’s a complex situation, but if Eriksen does get a move somewhere, it could wind up being the first domino that sends everything else in motion.
Wilfried Zaha to Everton
What are Crystal Palace doing with Wilfried Zaha? Though the 26-year-old was their best player last season, he’s likely not worth upwards of £70 million at the moment. And yet, Palace have reportedly not only rejected a bid of that size from Everton, but also turned down another one for the same price but with two players included on top.
Supposedly, Palace want a total of £80 million for Zaha, though there have also been reports saying they won’t sell for anything less than a cool £100 million. Everton have been on a spending spree this summer, perhaps sensing that a spot in the top six might be within their grasp, what with Chelsea’s transfer ban and loss of Eden Hazard, Manchester United’s Manchester Unitedness, and Arsenal looking good in attack but incredibly weak defensively. If Palace truly would let Zaha go for €80 million, and if Everton do feel he’s a good partner for Richarlison and new purchase Moise Kean, then fuck it. Life is short outside of the big six of English soccer, so you might as well go for it. Either way, Zaha reportedly handed in a transfer request on Wednesday, so something should happen here, one way or another.
Romelu Lukaku to Inter
Antonio Conte fucking loves Romelu Lukaku. Dating back to his time at Juventus, the new Inter manager has been linked with Lukaku for the majority of this decade. The timing never seemed to work out, but looks like the stars might have finally aligned.
Lukaku is available, as Manchester United finally look ready to start the Marcus Rashford Era in earnest. Inter have a need for a new starting forward, given that current striker Mauro Icardi wants a move of his own. Inter would almost certainly need to find a new home for Icardi before they could finalize a deal for Lukaku, but with Gianluca Di Marzio’s report that United and Inter have reached a verbal agreement for the Belgian, it looks like they are confident of doing so. Let’s hope Conte gets his man, and that Lukaku thrives in the more physical, less pace-y Italian league. It would be a win for everyone.
Leroy Sané to Bayern Munich
Here’s a headline we’ve seen countless times: “Young German Star Signs With Bayern Munich.” That’s how the Bundesliga generally works. However, Bayern are dealing with a whole different kind of seller right now. Manchester City have more money than god, and despite Sané’s reported wishes to decamp to a club where he can start consistently, City won’t make it easy for anyone here.
That said, Bayern have either sold or lost half of their team over the offseason, and they have a lot of money in the bank, even after buying defenders Lucas Hernández and Benjamin Pavard for a ton of money. Sané fills a need on the wing, since longtime stalwarts Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben are no longer around. Sané is German, is great, and has proven it in the Premier League. Even though City’s reported asking price of €120 million is eye-watering, Bayern can pay it, and they should.
Philippe Coutinho to North London
When Philippe Coutinho left Liverpool for Barcelona in 2018, he was expected to be the heir to Andrés Iniesta in the midfield. Instead, in 18 months at Barça, Coutinho has been been a flop as a midfielder and instead has played mostly on the left wing—a position that, at Barcelona, calls for abilities the Brazilian doesn’t have. There is no reason to believe the Coutinho-Barça partnership will ever work out. Barcelona, therefore, are looking to offload the very expensive Coutinho on someone, even for just a year.
That’s where two North London sides come in. First, Tottenham proposed to take Coutinho on loan. Reports say Barcelona accepted the offer, only to have Coutinho himself turn them down. Oops. Arsenal are also rumored to be in the fray, but their most pressing needs are defensive, so it would be odd to see them sign another attacker without getting a new center back first. Manchester United could be a possible fit, but would Coutinho really want to go to his old club’s main rivals?
Both Coutinho and Barcelona would prefer his exit be a permanent one, and it would make sense if the two parties were banking on one of these English clubs putting in a buy bid as a panic move later in the window. However, as the deadline nears, and with the Premier League being far and away Coutinho’s the most likely suitor, we could see the team and player cutting their losses and accepting a loan before noon on Thursday.