With this summer’s unusual transfer window stretching into October, a host of top names are on the radar of a number of different European clubs.
Though various domestic leagues are at different points in their season cycle, with those left in European competition having to negotiate matches in August too, the way in which big-money transfers are approached may be different to years gone by.
Philippe Coutinho is back at Barcelona after Bayern Munich opted against a permanent deal
A move to the Premier League is an option for Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez
And at most of Europe’s top clubs, amid huge squads and egos, players will still be crossing the continent in search of a new challenge and regular first-team football.
But how much will teams be forking out for the next young star? What about those who have reached the top, but are experiencing years of being out-of-favour, and desperately need a move away?
Sportsmail takes a look at the biggest names in European football who look set to be on the move this summer.
The England international is rarely out of the rumour mill, as murmurs of a return to his homeland continue to swirl.
Signed three years ago by Borussia Dortmund from Manchester City for just £8m, the 20-year-old is now worth more than ten times than that, and could leave this summer for £100m-plus.
Jadon Sancho had another prolific season and is Manchester United’s top transfer target
A Chelsea fan as a youngster, forward Sancho – who scored 20 goals and registered 20 assists in all competitions this season for the Bundesliga runners-up – is Manchester United’s top target this summer, with recent reports suggesting a £109m fee will be offered by the Red Devils, particularly now Champions League football has been secured.
Sancho has a somewhat mixed relationship with current manager Lucien Favre after a season of ups and downs, and would not be opposed to a return to England.
The 22-year-old Argentine has flourished at Inter Milan since arriving at the Italians from Racing Club in Argentina two years ago.
After 18 goals this season for Antonio Conte’s side, Martinez is one of the hottest number nines on the continent, and has most heavily been linked to Barcelona in the past few months.
Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez is being courted by Barcelona for a big-money move
Barca’s forward-line, consisting of Luis Suarez, 33, Lionel Messi, 33, and the out-of-favour Antoine Griezmann could be replenished this summer, and Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed talks had begun, but are currently at a ‘standstill.’
A swap deal involving Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic and Samuel Umtiti has also been mooted, as has a move to Manchester City – perhaps next year should Sergio Aguero leave the club.
One of the most naturally gifted midfielders of his generation in Spain, Thiago combines panache and a sense of control in midfield with defence-splitting passes, with his weekly highlights reel often a pleasure to behold.
As such, amid varying game-time at German champions Bayern Munich since the lockdown due to a groin injury and subsequent surgery, an opportunity to sign Thiago has opened up.
Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara is seeking a fresh challenge at a new club
Liverpool are the team most heavily linked with the 29-year-old, who was a product of Barcelona’s famous La Masia youth academy.
Thiago only has one year left to run on his current contract at Bayern, and though he has made the club aware of his desire for a new challenge, a fee has not yet been offered by the Reds – and it remains to be seen if Jurgen Klopp will bid for the Spanish international.
The next star in the production line of German talent, Havertz looks like he could well follow compatriot Timo Werner to Chelsea this summer.
Sportsmail reported over the weekend that the Bayern Leverkusen playmaker is expected to join Werner and Hakim Ziyech as Chelsea continue to strengthen in attacking positions, though a rumoured fee of £90million is yet to be agreed.
The 21-year-old scored 17 goals for Leverkusen this season, and finished as the team’s top scorer, though he couldn’t guide his club to a Champions League place as they finished two points short in fifth.
Kai Havertz is one of the brightest talents in European football and looks set to join Chelsea
Nevertheless, that may help Chelsea’s bid to sign Havertz, who has impressed with his composure in front of goal as well as his creative instincts in the final third generally.
Signed by Barcelona from Liverpool in January 2018 in a £105million deal, the Brazilian playmaker has struggled in the past two years in both Spain and Germany.
After an underwhelming first full season in Catalonia – even though he won the LaLiga title – he was no longer in Ernesto Valverde’s plans and was sent on loan to Bayern Munich for the 2019-20 season.
Likewise, domestic league success followed with Bayern, as did a respectable total of eight goals and six assists from 15 Bundesliga starts.
Coutinho (centre) won the Bundesliga and German Cup at Bayern but won’t sign permanently
However, Bayern passed up on the chance to sign the 28-year-old permanently and with a first-team reintegration at Barca seemingly unlikely, a return to the Premier League has been mooted.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle (with the prospect of new ownership) have all been linked with Coutinho, who made a name for himself in England, particularly in the first few years of Jurgen Klopp’s tenure at Anfield. Will the Brazil international rejuvenate his career with a move back to the Premier League this summer?
The Real Madrid playmaker has somewhat flattered to deceive since his high-profile move from Monaco after he burst onto the scene at the 2014 World Cup.
After a two-year loan spell at Bayern didn’t result in a permanent move, the Colombian was back in Zinedine Zidane’s first-team squad this season but started in LaLiga just five times as Madrid surged to the title.
James Rodriguez played just once in LaLiga since October – against Real Sociedad last month
In fact, the 29-year-old featured just once in the league since October – partially due to injury, partially due to being out-of-favour – and that has fuelled talk of a move away in the coming months.
The Premier League is certainly an option, with Manchester United, Everton and Wolves all linked, while surprise moves to either city rivals Atletico or Serie A champions Juventus have also been mooted.
The Aston Villa skipper kept his beloved side in the Premier League on the final day, as his goal led to a 1-1 draw at West Ham which did just enough.
Nevertheless, is this the summer where the 24-year-old moves on for a bigger challenge? Having come close to a move to Tottenham in the past, a transfer to a ‘big-six’ club does seem likely this summer.
Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish kept his side in the top-flight but may move on this summer
Grealish, with his neat feet, excellent dribbling and eye for the spectacular is entering his peak years, and how far he can see his game – and international credentials – develop at Villa Park remains to be seen.
Manchester United are the side most heavily linked with the Englishman, and it will be fascinating to see how Grealish’s situation develops – or stagnates – as we near the start of the 2020-21 season in September.
Not for the first summer in recent memory, we ask ourselves: what will transpire in the career of Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale this time round?
Two years ago, an acrobatic stunner in the Champions League final squashed talk of a move away while 12 months ago, a deal to China seemed all but done until the Welshman himself pulled the plug.
Gareth Bale has endured a frustrating season on the sidelines, though Madrid were champions
But now, after a season on the fringes, Bale’s career at Madrid seems to be coming to an inevitable end. Though his agent has insisted he’s staying, Zinedine Zidane would happily get rid and a return to the Premier League would be the most logical next step to revitalise the 31-year-old’s flailing career.
With his contract officially coming to an end after Chelsea’s last-16 second-leg against Bayern Munich on August 8, the Brazilian looks set to become a free agent – unless something changes very fast.
The 31-year-old has been a key player for Frank Lampard’s side this season, with fiour goals and three assists since lockdown, though he did miss their final day victory over Wolves through injury.
Chelsea and Willian are currently at a long-running standoff over the length of a new contract
So, has Willian played his last game for the club? He wants a three-year deal, while Chelsea are only offering two years and if the stand-off continues, he will be able to walk free, with fellow English clubs Manchester United and Arsenal reportedly interested in the hard-working, skilful and versatile attacker.
The Napoli centre back continues to be one of Europe’s most in-demand defenders, particularly after leading the side to the Coppa Italia this season,
However, with Champions League football out of the equation, the 29-year-old Senegalese is being heavily linked with a big-money move away, with latest reports stating the Italian club have set an asking price of £70m.
So far, lead candidates Manchester City have bulked at that fee, as have other Premier League clubs. But Koulibaly may just be the final piece to Pep Guardiola’s defensive jigsaw this summer, and it would be no surprise to see him move to Manchester in the coming months.
Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly has a reported asking price of £70million this summer