Most European clubs won’t break camp for another three weeks, but managers and coaches will be back in their offices by the beginning of next month, if they’re not so already.
Of course, when it comes to the transfer window, the agents and directors of football who are the point men during silly season have already been busy for some time, playing one rumour off another so as to drum up as much interest in their clients as possible.
Much of the gossip centres on Tottenham Hotspur attacker Gareth Bale, although Chelsea’s Juan Mata and Barcelona’s Thiago Alcantara are generating headlines as well.
So are a handful of other players, and over the next few slides, we’ll take a look at many of the big names dominating the front and back pages throughout Europe.
Stephan El Shaarawy was one of the hottest strikers in Europe last autumn, but he trailed off somewhat after Christmas. Nevertheless, Monaco are keen on bringing the 20-year-old to the principality and, according to Jack Wilson of The Daily Star, are mulling a £51 million bid for both the Italy international and Ghanaian playmaker Kevin-Prince Boateng.
The newly promoted Ligue 1 side, backed by the billions of potash magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev, have already splashed out €110 million to land Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao and ex-Porto duo James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho, while also inking defender Ricardo Carvalho on a free transfer.
Real Madrid have yet to appoint a replacement for departed manager Jose Mourinho, but the vacancy has not prevented the club from going after some of the brightest talents in the game—among them Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan.
The 22-year-old Germany international made an impression on the Madrid supremos during a Champions League tie between the two clubs in the spring. And according to Ruben Jimenez of Marca, the capital side are willing to part with upwards of €25 million for his signature.
With rumours continuing to swirl around the future of Gareth Bale, Tottenham have turned their attention to the centre of the park and have targeted Corinthians midfielder Paulinho in an effort to bolster their depth at the position.
The 24-year-old scored in recent internationals against England and Japan and was part of the Corinthians side that won both the Copa Libertadores and FIFA Club World Cup in 2012.
According to Simon Jones of the Daily Mail, Spurs are considering a £15 million offer for him.
Chelsea will be expected to kick off a flurry of business once new/old manager Jose Mourinho settles back into his old office at Stamford Bridge.
Until then. his plans for the 2013-14 season will be mostly unknown, and even players who starred for the club last season cannot be assured of their place.
With that in mind, Barcelona are hoping to lure Juan Mata to Camp Nou. According to Martin Lipton of The Mirror the reigning Spanish champions could raise the funds necessary to acquire him by selling the likes of Alexis Sanchez, David Villa and Thiago Alcantara.
Rebuffed in their pursuit of Cesc Fabregas, Manchester United are now expected to take a run at the Spain international’s Barcelona teammate Thiago Alcantara, who just Tuesday won a second European U-21 title in three years.
Alcantara was the star of the U-21 Championship in Israel, scoring a hat-trick in the final against Italy while completing more than 93 percent of his passes throughout the tournament.
But with the likes of Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Fabregas already jockeying for starting spots in Tito Vilanova’s midfield, Alcantara is seen as surplus to requirements at Camp Nou.
As a result, United could get him for as little as €18 million, according to Ben Hayward of Goal.com.
Another Spanish U-21 star likely to make a move in the next few weeks is Malaga attacker Isco, who will likely have to leave the Andalusia club after the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld UEFA’s European ban on La Liga’s sixth-place side.
This comes as music to the ears of Real Madrid, who, according to The Telegraph, are hoping to pip Manchester City to the 22-year-old’s signature.
On Monday, Isco revealed he had already received offers from both clubs.
It seems Real Madrid are so confident of landing Gareth Bale they have already reserved the No. 11 shirt for him at the Bernabeu.
Bale, who scored 21 Premier League goals last term and was named Player of the Season, has been courted by the Spanish giants for months. Madrid president Florentino Perez is thought to be willing to pay £85 million (more than he doled out for Cristiano Ronaldo) in order to land the Welshman, as reported by Darren Lewis of The Mirror.
Perez was backed up last week by both Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos, who publicly buttered up Madrid’s top transfer target with glowing remarks in the press.