Storylines to watch ahead of transfer deadline day
The transfer window for the major leagues in Europe closes on Thursday, and many of the big sides have already done a lot of their business this summer. However, with the deadline closing in, there are still a few things to settle.
Will Chelsea and Arsenal add to their squads? Do Barcelona still need to move some players on before attempting to bring in any others? And will Cristiano Ronaldo still be a Manchester United player next week?
ESPN’s writers round up some of the major storylines to watch ahead of Thursday’s deadline.
All fees of completed deals as reported by Transfermarkt.
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Manchester United exits and Ronaldo’s future
After wrapping up deals for Antony (€95 million) and Martin Dubravka (loan) in recent days, Man United’s focus will be on outgoings ahead of the deadline. Defenders Phil Jones, Axel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams are all available to move, but with all three injured, their exits may have to wait until January.
There is also interest from Crystal Palace and West Ham in right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and although he is not in Erik ten Hag’s immediate first-team plans, the Dutchman would want to sign a replacement before letting him go. United have monitored Inter Milan’s Denzel Dumfries, Barcelona’s Sergino Dest, Borussia Dortmund‘s Thomas Meunier and Norwich’s Max Aarons, but time is running out to get something over the line — particularly with very little left in the budget after spending a total of €240m following the arrivals of Tyrell Malacia (€15m), Christian Eriksen (free), Lisandro Martinez (€57m) and Casemiro (€70m).
The other issue is Ronaldo’s future. Watching wins over Liverpool and Southampton from the bench will have only strengthened his desire to leave Old Trafford, but the question is: Where will he go? Napoli have shown interest and can offer Champions League football, but they would rely on United making a compromise over the 37-year-old’s wages which, so far, they have not been willing to do. — Rob Dawson
Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens discuss Wesley Fofana’s potential impact on Chelsea’s defensive line up.
Chelsea eye Fofana, Aubameyang, Gordon deals
Chelsea are expected to announce the signing of Leicester defender Wesley Fofana for a fee in the region of €85m. They remain hopeful of completing a deal for Barcelona forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with talks hinging on the payment structure of a fee in excess of €25m and the 33-year-old’s desire for a minimum two-year contract.
Everton are so far standing firm over Anthony Gordon, but a new bid from Chelsea could force a rethink. However, the Blues are considering alternatives with Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha on their short list. Callum Hudson-Odoi has joined Bayer Leverkusen on loan, while Ajax are continuing to pursue an agreement for Hakim Ziyech as they seek to replace Man United-bound Antony.
Christian Pulisic is open to a late move away, but Chelsea are unlikely to allow Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech and the USMNT international all to depart without multiple new additions. Elsewhere, Spezia are keen on defender Ethan Ampadu, midfielder Billy Gilmour could be allowed to leave on loan — Brighton are currently leading the race to sign him — and Conor Gallagher is attracting late interest in the window from Palace, where the 22-year-old enjoyed a successful spell on loan last season. — James Olley
Barcelona aren’t done yet
Barcelona have had quite a window already but are still hoping to be busy before the deadline. After signing Robert Lewandowski (€45m), Raphinha (€60m), Franck Kessie (free), Andreas Christensen (free) and Jules Kounde (€55m), they have turned their attention to strengthening the full-back positions.
Barca have agreed personal terms with Chelsea left-back Marcos Alonso but now must decide whether to move ahead with the deal after the emergence of 18-year-old Alejandro Balde as competition for Jordi Alba. They are also looking for a right-back, as USMNT star Dest has been told he won’t play this season. Villarreal‘s Juan Foyth was their first-choice target, but the Argentine is now set for a lengthy spell on the sideline injured and has a €42m release clause anyway.
Any further incomings are heavily dependent on outgoings. Having raised over €700m in the sale of club assets, Barca are now operating within their LaLiga-imposed spending cap, although they can spend only what they make in fees or save in wages. Aubameyang is expected to move to Chelsea for around €20m, while Memphis Depay will also be allowed to leave for the right offer. Martin Braithwaite, Miralem Pjanic and Ez Abde are also likely to depart, either permanently or on loan. After a summer of rumours about his future, though, midfielder Frenkie de Jong remains intent on staying amid interest from Man United and Chelsea.
In a dream scenario, Barca would move on enough players and raise enough money to fund an €80m-plus move for Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva — “that would be the cherry on the cake,” one source told ESPN — but City are likely to ignore any advances this late in the window. — Sam Marsden.
Herculez Gomez says a switch to Man Utd would be even worse for Sergino Dest than staying on the bench at Barcelona.
Will Arsenal land Tielemans, Neto?
Arsenal are keen on signing Wolves winger Pedro Neto — after letting Nicolas Pepe move on loan to Nice — but the two clubs remain a long way apart in their valuations of the player. Wolves are thought to be demanding around €60m, and as things stand, a deal in this window is unlikely. Crystal Palace winger Zaha is viewed as a possible alternative, but as of Tuesday morning, no offer had been made.
Pressure will grow on Arsenal to move for a central midfielder after Mohamed Elneny suffered a hamstring injury. The length of Elneny’s absence is unclear, but the squad are arguably already short of quality in midfield. The club have held a long-standing interest in Leicester City‘s Youri Tielemans, but a deal has not progressed because of the Gunners’ unwillingness to meet a price tag of around €50m for a player with just one year left on his contract. Again, the end of the window could force a rethink on either side.
The Gunners remain in talks with right-back Hector Bellerin over a possible contract termination amid interest from Barcelona and Real Betis, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles has also attracted interest from Southampton and Bournemouth. — James Olley
Anything else to watch from the Premier League?
Liverpool’s injury crisis has sharpened the focus on Jurgen Klopp’s midfield options — with Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones, Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struggling — but the view at Anfield is that waiting to make a potential €120m move for Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham next summer remains the best course of action, rather than hastily add to the squad now in order to cover a short-term problem. The club have been recently linked with Brighton’s Moises Caicedo and Wolves’ Ruben Neves.
Across the city at Everton, manager Frank Lampard is battling to keep homegrown forward Gordon and repel Chelsea’s attempts to sign the 20-year-old for around €70m at the same time as trying to finalise a move for a new striker, with Southampton’s Che Adams the most likely target. Blackburn forward Ben Brereton Diaz is another option, but Everton face competition from Celta Vigo for the Chile international.
And keep an eye on the situation of Manchester United winger Amad Diallo. The 20-year-old has made little progress at Old Trafford since arriving from Atalanta for €41m in January 2021 and spent part of last season on loan at Rangers. United are now looking to send the Ivory Coast international out on loan again, with Championship sides Blackpool and Sunderland both interested in the player. — Mark Ogden