The coronavirus pandemic saw the summer transfer window impacted across Europe, though some clubs still pushed through some big-money moves. Now we’re on to January and not much has changed, with loan moves, free transfers and cut-price deals on the agenda.
January is traditionally a quieter window, though with many top clubs struggling for squad depth under a mountain of games there could be a few interesting deals.
So which players are on shortlists around Europe? Who needs to find a temporary move? And who could be a bargain because their contract is running down?
*All transfer valuations are estimated.
On the radar
You may have to pay a decent fee to sign them, but they have the ability to improve any team immediately.
Christian Eriksen, Inter Milan, €15m
Clubs linked: Manchester United, Arsenal, PSG, Dortmund
Incredibly, Arsenal have been offered the chance to sign Eriksen in a deal worth less than the €20m Inter Milan paid Tottenham only 11 months ago, sources have told ESPN’s James Olley. The 28-year-old attacking midfielder has quickly fallen out of favour under manager Antonio Conte and could be a bargain given his quality.
Ozan Kabak, Schalke, €30m
Clubs linked: Liverpool, Man United, Arsenal, AC Milan, RB Leipzig
Schalke are in dire financial straits at the moment and aren’t faring much better on the pitch. In Kabak they have an excellent young defender, but the 20-year-old Turkey international won’t stay long in the current circumstances. Milan are perhaps the most likely destination as agent Gaetano Di Caro claimed: “The Rossoneri have been looking for him for a long time.”
Ben White, Brighton, €50m
Clubs linked: Man United, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool
Any club (and there are plenty of them) looking to strengthen their defence need look no further than the English south coast. Brighton & Hove Albion’s White still has bags of potential at 23 and is tipped to become a star. Brighton will hold out for a hefty fee for a player who only signed a new contract at the start of the season, but top quality young defenders are hard to find. The club are also going to face a battle to keep midfielder Yves Bissouma, who is attracting Liverpool and Man United.
Houssem Aouar, Lyon, €45m
Clubs linked: Arsenal, PSG, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus
Sources told ESPN that Arsenal made advances in the summer but didn’t come close to matching the €45m plus add-ons that Lyon wanted. Now the Gunners are a mess, they may turn attention elsewhere and lose out on the midfielder. Lyon will also have a decision to make about Memphis Depay, who has attracted attention from Barcelona, given his contract expires at the end of the season.
Denis Zakaria, Borussia Monchengladbach, €30m
Clubs linked: Man City, Man United, Chelsea, Milan, Bayern
The 24-year-old Switzerland international has been on the radar of the top clubs for some time and, after a spell on the sidelines with a long-term knee injury, his performances in the Bundesliga this season have added fuel to the fire.
Isco, Real Madrid, €20m
Clubs linked: Arsenal, Man United, Man City, Everton, Tottenham, Inter Milan, PSG
Once central to Real Madrid, Isco has slipped down the pecking order and now his agent claims he “wants to try another league.” The 28-year-old made the move to the Spanish capital in 2013 but could now depart and would be a great addition for a club either in January or the summer.
Don Hutchison believes Mikel Arteta’s youth movement is too important to have Mesut Ozil be in the squad.
These players are struggling for game time at their clubs, for one reason or another, and could be offloaded on loan when the window opens.
Mesut Ozil, Arsenal
Clubs linked: Fenerbahce, Inter Miami, D.C. United, LA Galaxy
Ozil has been left out of the club’s Premier League and Europa League squads, despite their struggles this season. It remains to be seen if the creative midfielder will get another chance in January, but if not then surely a loan move is on the cards given he earns around £350,000-a-week. A move for €30m central defender William Saliba, preferably within the UK, is also being considered.
Papu Gomez, Atalanta
Clubs linked: Roma, AC Milan, Inter, PSG, Liverpool, FC Cincinnati, Al-Nassr
A bust-up with coach Gian Piero Gasperini has seen the 32-year-old ostracised in recent weeks, which could lead to an exit in January. One of the creative forces that has helped Atalanta to impress so much this year, Gomez could seek a temporary move before a permanent deal in the summer.
Dean Henderson or Sergio Romero, Man United
Clubs linked: Leeds, Brighton, Chelsea, PSG; Everton, Valencia.
The life of a backup goalkeeper is tough and, as United seem to be persisting with David de Gea as No. 1, both Henderson and Romero are looking for more regular action. If he departs, Henderson will probably stay in England as he bids to make the squad for Euro 2020, while Argentina international Romero is more likely to go abroad after growing angry at his treatment over the past few months, after he was left out of the club’s official squad lists.
Ousmane Dembele, Barcelona
Clubs linked: Man United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Dortmund, PSG
A plethora of injury issues have hit Dembele’s career since his €105m move to Barcelona in 2017, and the Catalan club are reportedly growing tired of seeing him on the sidelines. It would be a gamble, given his history, but a loan move could be exactly what he needs.
Dele Alli, Tottenham
Clubs linked: PSG, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Everton, Rangers
Having been one of the club’s central players over the past few years, Alli’s fall from grace under Jose Mourinho is a little confusing. However, the England midfielder is keen to find more regular games and will hope to get a chance to impress on loan.
Kepa Arrizabalaga, Chelsea
Clubs linked: Valencia, Sevilla
Chelsea’s new signing Edouard Mendy has made goalkeeping look easy since arriving this summer and Kepa has become the world’s most expensive backup. At almost €80m when they landed him in 2018, the Spain international needs to play and looks likely to take any offer out there.
Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens analyse Lionel Messi’s disappointing performance for Barcelona against Real Sociedad.
A bargain to be had?
With their contracts expiring at the end of this season, clubs could be looking grab a cheaper deal in January.
Lionel Messi, Barcelona, €100m
Clubs linked: Man City, PSG
Messi’s desire to quit the club he’s been with since age 13 is no secret and the only thing that might persuade him to stay is the outcome of the presidential elections in January. If he goes, Barca might accept bids next month, with only PSG and Man City really able to afford him. Yes, €100m is still a bargain.
David Alaba, Bayern Munich, €25m
Clubs linked: Man City, Man United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG, Juventus
All the top clubs want to sign Alaba, who has failed to agree a new contract at Bayern and all talks have been called off. The 28-year-old defender is arguably the most sought-after player in the January window and only his salary demands stand between him and a new club.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, AC Milan, €35m
Clubs linked: Juventus, PSG, Tottenham, Chelsea
All signs suggest that the 21-year-old will sign a new contract at Milan, but with Mino Raiola as his agent anything is possible. The Italy international has long been linked with Juve, while plenty of other clubs would love to sign him to tie down the No. 1 spot for over a decade.
Georginio Wijnaldum, Liverpool, €20m
Clubs linked: Barcelona, Inter Milan
Liverpool don’t seem to want to let him go, but Wijnaldum may well jump at the chance of joining Barcelona. A new contract is also a possibility as he’s not unhappy at Anfield, but the signing of Thiago pushed him down the midfield pecking order.
Eric Garcia, Manchester City, €15m
Clubs linked: Barcelona, Liverpool, Arsenal
It seemed like Garcia only just made the breakthrough into the City first team before he was angling for a move. He won’t sign a new contract, so the 19-year-old will likely get his wish to rejoin Barcelona for a cut-price fee in January.
Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid, €10m
Clubs linked: Man City, Man United, Liverpool, PSG, Inter Miami
The 34-year-old centre-back still hasn’t agreed terms to extend his stay, though there seems to be no suggestion he is angling for a move at this point in his career. Ramos not playing for Madrid is almost as weird as Messi not being at Barcelona, but there are a host of clubs ready to pounce if he is allowed to go.
Shaka Hislop says Paul Pogba can’t carry a team, he can only add to a good one and it won’t be Man United.
Big money moves?
These players will continue to be linked with the big clubs, though it will take a huge offer and nobody has any money right now so don’t get too hopeful.
Paul Pogba, Manchester United, €70m
Clubs linked: Juventus, Real Madrid
Pogba says he is “1,000%” committed to Man United after comments made by his agent Mino Raiola that he wants to leave Old Trafford, but he clearly wants out. It probably won’t happen in January, but it’s definitely one to watch in the summer as his price continues to drop as his contract draws closer to its expiry date in the summer of 2022.
Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund, €120m
Clubs linked: Man United, Liverpool, Real Madrid
The winger is Manchester United’s primary transfer target, sources have told ESPN, but his valuation is proving tough to overcome. Not many clubs are in a position to sign Sancho during a market impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, so this one will rumble on.
Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli, €70m
Clubs linked: Man United, Liverpool, PSG, Inter Milan
Napoli have stuck resolutely to their asking price, despite plenty of interest in the Senegal international. At 29, Koulibaly has the experience that many clubs are looking for at the back, but it comes at a price that not many are able to pay right now.
Dayot Upamecano, RB Leipzig, €60m
Clubs linked: Manchester United, Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal, PSG, Bayern
One of the top young defenders in Europe, Upamecano is the one they all want but with a reported release clause of €42m coming into effect next summer, clubs will play a waiting game to land the 22-year-old.
Paulo Dybala, Juventus, €80m
Clubs linked: Man United, Tottenham, Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG
Dybala joined Juve in 2015 but has had a rocky time of late, with suggestions that the forward could be used as a makeweight in the Pogba deal. A new contract could be on offer, though talks with the club seem not to be progressing.
Declan Rice, West Ham, €90m
Clubs linked: Chelsea, Man United
One of the best young defensive midfielders around, Rice is now a regular for club and country. The versatile 21-year-old will cost upwards of €90m though, and Chelsea are known admirers if they can make the finances work.
Already signed and sealed to join their new clubs at the start of January.
Amad Diallo, Manchester United, €21m
The 18-year-old winger had only played 25 minutes for Atalanta in Serie A when United moved to agree a deal in the summer, now he can join for €21m, plus another €20m in add-ons
Dominik Szoboszlai, RB Leipzig, €20m
FC Salzburg’s impressive midfielder had interest from the likes of Bayern, Real Madrid, Milan and Arsenal but opted to continue his career in the Bundesliga, taking the route so often used by Leipzig’s sister club. The €20m fee could be a bargain.
Filip Stevanovic, Manchester City, €8m
The Partizan winger caught the eye when he made his debut at the age of 16 in December 2018, and City swooped to agree an €8m deal which will include add-ons. A Serbia U21 international, Stevanovic has plenty of potential but may be sent on loan for the rest of this season.