Transfer window movers to watch
Kylian Mbappe is staying at Paris Saint-Germain and Erling Haaland is on his way to Manchester City, but plenty more big-name stars are on the market as the summer transfer window opens in Europe.
AFP Sport highlights five names to follow in the coming weeks:
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
After eight prolific seasons at Bayern, the Polish striker has decided it is time to move. Lewandowski, who will turn 34 in August, has a year still to run on his contract at the Allianz Arena but said last month that his time in Bavaria “has come to an end”.
Bayern insist Lewandowski –- who scored 50 goals for his club in the season just finished and has been the Bundesliga’s top scorer in each of the last five campaigns -– is going nowhere, with president Herbert Hainer saying “a contract is a contract”.
Yet if they don’t want to lose him for nothing they will have to sell now. Barcelona are reportedly prepared to offer him a three-year deal and it is understood the former Borussia Dortmund striker wants to go to Spain.
Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
The Senegal star’s highly successful six-season spell at Liverpool looks to be coming to an end and Bayern are keen to sign the forward, who has a year left on his contract at Anfield.
“Is it not between 60 and 70 percent of Senegalese people want me to leave Liverpool? I will do what they say,” Mane, 30, said this week while back in his home country on international duty.
Yet, according to reports in England, Liverpool have rejected a bid from Bayern of £30 million ($37.6m) for Mane, who has scored 120 goals since moving to Merseyside from Southampton in 2016.
Darwin Nunez (Benfica)
In the game of transfer musical chairs, moves for Lewandowski and Mane could lead to this rising Uruguayan star heading to Liverpool. Nunez, who turns 23 this month, was this season’s top scorer in the Portuguese top flight with 26 goals for Benfica. He also netted six times in the Champions League, including in both legs of the quarter-final defeat to Liverpool.
Uruguayan international Nunez, who joined Benfica from Spanish side Almeria in 2020, has a contract in Lisbon until 2025 and will not come cheap, although England’s biggest clubs will not be put off by the asking price. Benfica want 100 million euros ($107m) according to Portuguese media reports. Manchester United are also being linked with an approach.
Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Pogba is leaving United as his contract expires, bringing to an end an underwhelming second spell at Old Trafford to where he returned in 2016 from Juventus for a then world record fee of £89 million ($116m at the time).
The 29-year-old French World Cup winner, who has had a particularly disappointing final season in the Premier League, has been linked in the past with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain -– he was born and raised in the Paris suburbs.
However the most likely outcome seems to be a return to Juventus, where he played from 2012 to 2016. Pogba, who was a client of Mino Raiola before the super-agent died in April, is expected to sign a three-year deal in Turin worth eight million euros ($8.6m) per season.
“I just want the best for me. I am thinking, putting everything together, taking my time and waiting for the best. I just want to play football, be myself and enjoy what I do,” Pogba said in an interview with American site Uninterrupted.com this week. “We can be losing games or losing trophies, but you have to be happy where you are.”
Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)
The 25-year-old France winger is out of contract at Barcelona, where his five-year spell has been blighted by injuries. The Catalans had been keen to keep a player who seemed revitalised following the appointment of Xavi Hernandez as coach at the Camp Nou this season, but talks appear to have broken down. Sports daily Marca this week described the negotiations as a “dialogue between the deaf”. PSG have been strongly linked with a move to bring the former Rennes winger back to France, but a move to the Premier League could also be in the offing.