Even before the transfer window opens on July 1, the multitude of rumors surfacing makes it easy to mistake the English Premier League for Hollywood, just with football players and potential moves instead of celebrity gossip.
The world’s transfer buzz naturally runs through England, home to arguably the most competitive football league. For better or for worse, moves made in the summer transfer season can define the real season.
While not every major player comes from a British club, and not every footballer listed is likely to end up in England, Premier League teams have made efforts for the best of the best on the market.
Since leading Borussia Dortmund to the Champions League finals, Lewandowski has become the most sought-after player on the market, with Chelsea rising above the rest of the field
Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have all expressed interest in the Polish striker, but each club has encountered a roadblock.
Madrid and Dortmund had reportedly agreed to a €30 million deal, but Lewandowski refused. He would prefer to play for Bayern, but there is no way Dortmund would hand him over to the Bundesliga’s top team.
United wants Lewandowski, but as B/R’s Tim Daniels explains, the Red Devils’ depth up top makes adding to the midfield a higher priority.
New Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has been lusting for Lewandowski since he dismantled Mourinho’s Real Madrid squad in the UCL semifinals. If Lewandowski joins, the Blues would ditch Fernando Torres and Demba Ba.
Prediction: Goes to Chelsea
Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas says his star winger isn’t going anywhere.
The rest of football says, “yeah, whatever.”
After AVB turned down Paris Saint-Germain’s managerial offer, the French have figured out a new way to lure him over. PSG are considering “a world-record £85 million bid” to Bale, per Neil McLeman of Mirror.
Real Madrid is proposing a similarly extravagant offer, and would be nearly unstoppable on top if Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo teamed up.
But the Welshman is just 23 years old, and Tottenham realizes that keeping him around is a sure-fire way to stay competitive.
Prediction: Stays with Tottenham
When Neymar signed with FC Barcelona, David Villa became expendable. Tottenham came running to the Spanish forward, but found Fiorentina there as well.
If Tottenham loses Gareth Bale, they will be desperate for another impact player up top. Fiorentina are an up-and-coming Serie A club who has Villa’s attention, per Simone Bargellini of Sky Sports.
It is curious how much attention Villa has received, as the 31-year-old had to fight his way back onto Barca's first team this year.
Though most stars would prefer playing in the EPL, Villa’s agent says Fiorentina is equally attractive. Based on Villa’s interest in a quickly ascending team, he actually seems more likely to head to Italy.
Prediction: Goes to Fiorentina
More than any other transfer rumor, this seemed to be set in stone. Higuain and Arsenal have been linked for some time, but the Argentine’s father says Juventus are still in the running.
“I’m aware Arsenal has made a strong offer, as well as Juventus,” Jorge Higuain told The Mail’s Rob Draper on Sunday.
While this may sound like the two teams are neck-and-neck, most experts still believe Arsenal have their man locked up.
The Real Madrid striker agreed to a £130,000-a-week contract over four years, and just needs his present club to sign him over to the Gunners.
Prediction: Goes To Arsenal
Last summer, Spurs were all set to sign a Brazilian midfielder (Oscar), only to watch Chelsea dive in at the last minute and steal him away.
The only question is: will it happen again?
Mirror’s Darren Lewis says Paulinho, who turned down an offer from Inter Milan in January, is expected to sign for £17 million with Tottenham after the Confederations Cup.
But Lewis says the Blues may once again make a surprise bid, giving Andre Villas-Boas grey hairs. For now, though, Paulinho seems excited to play at White Hart Lane.
Prediction: Goes to Tottenham
One of the cheaper options on the market (£6 million), Kone recently led Wigan Athletic to a shocking FA Cup title. The Ivorian scored twice in the tournament and netted 13 goals for Wigan throughout the year.
Despite their Cup victory, the Lactics finished with a 9-9-20 record and have been relegated out of the Premier League. Kone, meanwhile, has no plans to spend his prime playing for a second-division club.
“Wigan have gone down, which is a real shame,” Kone said to Vic Holly of The Sun. “I aim to play for one of the best clubs in England, and I hope I will get the chance.”
Liverpool and Everton are clearly the big-name clubs, though The Mail’s Simon Jones says the striker is intrigued by Crystal Palace, where he could receive more time on the pitch.
But Everton manager Roberto Martinez brought Kone to Wigan, and the two have an excellent relationship. A reunion could very well be in store.
Prediction: Goes to Everton
Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis wanted Cavani to pick a team by July 20, ESPN reported. If he doesn't, de Laurentiis said, “I’ll smack him.”
It’s never a good idea to threaten violence against your star player, especially one that led Serie A with 29 goals, some of which can be seen in the video above. If “il Matador” wasn’t already sure to leave Napoli, that comment was the nail in the coffin.
While Cavani wants to play at the Bernabéu, Madrid’s offers have been less than he was looking for. Manchester also expressed interest, but were slow to the punch.
Chelsea’s £49.3 million offer for Cavani was accepted on Monday, Napoli’s official radio station Radio Marte claimed.
Though Napoli have said they will only part with Cavani if they can find a replacement striker, the Blues needn’t worry, for the market is flush with skilled players.
Prediction: Goes to Chelsea
Man City were originally in the hunt for Cavani, but were deterred by his steep buyout fee. Now manager Manuel Pellegrini has his eyes on another Uruguayan, and he’s not the only one interested.
At around £40 million, Suarez himself will cost a little less than Cavani, but Man City will need to spend a few million of their public relations staff to handle “The Zombie” and his penchant for controversy.
It is fairly unlikely the striker will stay at Liverpool, who finished seventh in the EPL last season. Moreover, Suarez wants out of England where his reputation is tarnished throughout the league, despite scoring 23 Premier League goals last season.
In fact, Suarez and Real Madrid have had a secret deal worked out for a few weeks, Dan Kilpatrick of Fanatix recently reported. But if Madrid and the Reds can’t come to an agreement quickly, he will not hesitate to move another direction.
Prediction: Goes to Real Madrid
The only thing better than talent is young talent, and Thiago is at the top of his class.
After his hat trick led Spain to a 4-2 victory over Italy in the European U-21 Championship finale, interest has been flying in from clubs around England.
Though Chelsea and Manchester City both want his services, Man United is the clear front-runner for the 22-year-old.
Thiago’s father Mazinho won the World Cup with Brazil in 1994, and has voiced his support for the Red Devils. The youngster’s brother Rafinha will also be on loan to a Premier League club.
Gerard Pique and Xavi are trying to keep the talented young midfielder in Barcelona, Jamie Jackson of The Guardian reports. Like much of the football world, they see him as a contributor now and a star down the road.
But after starting just 15 La Liga matches for Barcelona last season, Alcantara’s release clause dropped from €90 million to €17 million. Man U has until the end of July to grab him on a discount, Express reporter James Dickenson noted.
Prediction: Goes to Manchester United
Remember just a few years ago when Rooney was the golden boy of English football? Now he seems ready to leave Man United, and most fans would say, “good riddance.”
Rooney became infuriated with former manager Sir Alex Ferguson for saying he asked for a transfer, and received a harsh reaction from United crowds. Now David Moyes must either go against Fergie, or lose Roo.
PSG wants to use the forward with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ezequiel Lavezzi, while Barcelona could team him with Neymar and Lionel Messi. But Rooney needs the ball at his feet, and while both teams are very different, neither will let him do that.
If he stays in England, Rooney would like to play for Chelsea, though Tony Banks of Express has said the feeling is not mutual. Arsenal is interested, but Rooney is less eager to play at Ashburton Grove.
In the end, if Moyes denies Rooney asked for release last year, he will stay with Manchester. The two will meet next week to hash things out, but Mirror’s Alan Nixon says the coach wants him to stay.
Prediction: Stays with Manchester United