Fabrizio Romano is preparing his hibernation pod for another four months, but before then there’s still business to be wrapped up and the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea have plenty of negotiating to do.
We’ve already seen the Saudi Pro League park its tanks on European football’s lawn, with Neymar, Karim Benzema and Jordan Henderson among those to make the switch. Premier League clubs continue to spend billions, with Moises Caicedo, Declan Rice and Josko Gvardiol among the most expensive signings.
But some of football’s biggest names are seemingly in limbo as we approach the final 10 days of the window. We’ve identified nine stars we fully expect to move before the transfer window closes on September 1st.
Oh, Romelu. How did you end up here?
Lukaku burned his bridges with the one club where he’s truly been loved, Inter, by flirting with their arch-rivals Juventus. So a return to the San Siro will not be happening. And nor will a move to Turin after the Old Lady’s Ultras protested against signing him vociferously.
So we’re left in a situation where Lukaku looks like a £97million millstone around Chelsea’s neck, with potential destinations increasingly thin on the ground.
“You cannot put it only on the club, the situation. It’s both sides. The situation is where it is because of two sides,” Mauricio Pochettino recently stated.
“It’s like when you have a player in or a player out. It’s because both sides arrive to an agreement.”
The Belgian has been linked with a move to Tottenham, but we’d take those reports with a pinch of salt. It’s difficult to imagine where he’ll end up, especially after he already turned down a lucrative approach from Saudi club Al-Hilal.
The Cobham academy graduate is into the final year of his mammoth £180,000-a-week deal with boyhood club Chelsea. Hudson-Odoi signed that deal while Bayern Munich were sniffing around, but it’s safe to say that he’s never quite lived up to the early hype.
The chances of the winger sticking around at Stamford Bridge this season look increasingly slim. Like Lukaku, he doesn’t have a squad number and seemingly has no place in Pochettino’s plans.
Fulham have been tipped to sign the 22-year-old, but those links have gone a little quiet in recent weeks.
“[Maguire] knows what I expect from a centre half. He can do it,” Erik ten Hag said after Maguire’s £30million move to West Ham fell through.
“He has the abilities to do it, so he has to show it. It’s about character, to be convinced to play that role. He has all the abilities and it’s up to him when the time is there.”
Let’s see if the Dutch coach is bluffing. Maguire has been stripped of the captaincy, has fallen out of the first XI and has become increasingly unpopular with Manchester United fans after reports suggested that he wanted the club to make up a £15million shortfall in future wages.
We wouldn’t be surprised if this one has legs to run. Another club could emerge as suitors now that United have laid their cards on the table and let it be known they’d be happy to accept £30million.
And the West Ham move might not be dead just yet – that big bonce on the end of James Ward-Prowse deliveries may just be too tempting for David Moyes to resist revisiting.
“Ten Hag wants a number six who can play alongside Casemiro and, at the moment, the club can’t get players out to be able to fund that,” Gary Neville recently told Sky Sports.
“If they look at the first two weeks, they have to fund it or there will be a big problem. What is clear is that Ten Hag doesn’t want to revert back to Scott McTominay.
“With Fernandes on the right, the midfield looks all over the place and the front three doesn’t look capable of functioning as one. Does he go back to McTominay? Ten Hag has made five substitutions and not used him. It’s almost as if he is managing him out of the club.”
It certainly seems that way. Yet United also turned down £35million for the Scotland international. It’s a strange game they’re playing with a player you’d expect to have been replaced come September.
With Gabriel Jesus injured again, there could conceivably been a big opportunity for Hale End graduate Balogun after returning from his wildly successful loan spell at Reims last season.
The striker notched 21 goals in Ligue 1 last term – only Alexandre Lacazette and Kylian Mbappe scored more – but that doesn’t appear to have endeared him to Mikel Arteta.
All the noises coming out of Arsenal suggest that Balogun remains behind Eddie Nketiah in the pecking order and that the club are listening to offers.
The rumour mill suggests that Fulham are eyeing up the US international to be Aleksandar Mitrovic’s replacement, while Chelsea and even Tottenham have been linked. Expect to see him scoring goals somewhere in London in 2023-24.
The energetic Italian midfielder has been a stalwart of PSG’s Qatar-backed era of domestic dominance and European disappointment.
Verratti first signed for the club back in 2012, has made over 400 appearances and been there for all nine of their post-takeover Ligue 1 titles.
But his days in the French capital appear numbered after the signing of new defensive midfielder Manuel Ugarte and a shake-up that’s already seen Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos and Neymar depart this summer.
L’Equipe have reported that manager Luis Enrique and sporting director Luis Campos have informed the 30-year-old that he’s surplus to requirements.
Manchester United and Bayern Munich have been linked, but Saudi club Al-Ahli reportedly have an agreement in place with Verratti.
Verratti is not the only PSG player that has no place in Luis Enrique’s plans. Mbappe has inevitably been welcomed back into the fold, but there were no fewer than 14 other members of a ‘bomb squad’ that stayed behind in Paris and played no part in the club’s pre-season tour of Japan.
Among them was Wijnaldum, who has struggled to maintain the standards he showed as a key member of Jurgen Klopp’s all-conquering Liverpool side.
The Dutch midfielder spent last season out on loan at Roma but a serious injury stunted his ability to rekindle his career.
L’Equipe report that PSG have turned down his request for a contract termination. There have been very few concrete links but we could definitely see him turning out for Galatasaray or Fenerbahce.
Late-career Wijnaldum screams Turkish Super League.
This time last year Cancelo was considered one of the finest full-backs in world football. Fast forward a year and the Portugal international finds himself out of Pep Guardiola’s plans.
The 29-year-old didn’t do enough at Bayern Munich during last season’s half-season loan to earn a permanent move to Bavaria, and now Barcelona appears to be his most likely destination.
Understand Barça and Man City are now discussing final details of João Cancelo deal! Not sealed yet but breakthrough expected soon 🔵🔴 #FCB
Cancelo, patiently waiting as he agreed terms with Barça weeks ago and wants the move.
Barcelona hope to get it done this upcoming week. pic.twitter.com/HaH3vHsf5w
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 20, 2023
Over a fortnight has passed since Brighton ‘reached an agreement in principle to sign Kudus’ (per The Athletic) – but the lack of progress since then suggests that the Ghana international isn’t too keen on joining Roberto De Zerbi’s Seagulls.
Since then, West Ham have reportedly entered the race but struggled to agree a fee with Ajax.
We’re not quite sure what’s going on but we expect Kudus to be a Premier League player come September – we hope so anyway. He’d be a box office addition.