Ranking the Week's 20 Hottest Transfer Rumours with Higuain, Icardi and Hazard
With just a couple of weeks to go in Europe's top leagues, the transfer rumour mills are cranking into overdrive as teams look to get a head start on their summer plans, knowing that summer tournaments including UEFA Euro 2016 and the Copa America could hold up deals later on.
This time we have a potential merry-go-round of goalkeepers, Arsenal signing and selling strikers and the options for Barcelona to provide quality back-up to their front line, plus much more to tell you about.
Our rumours are ordered according to the size of the buying club, the reputation of the player involved and any potential fee mentioned.
20. David Ospina
Arsenal's No. 2 goalkeeper David Ospina has had to settle for a watching brief for most of this season, and the Colombian seems eager to move on.
The Mirror reported that he has at least a handful of prospective moves to consider; an offer from Besiktas in Turkey, interest from Everton and "several" French clubs in the running if he leaves the Gunners.
Ospina has played just 12 times this season, with only four of those appearances coming in the league.
19. Jermain Defoe
The Mirror reports that Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe is being offered a chance to stay in the Premier League if his team are relegated this season.
Bournemouth are the team with the former England international in mind, impressed as they are with his 14 goals for the campaign as he attempts to save the Black Cats from the drop.
Cherries boss Eddie Howe played with Defoe at Bournemouth when the striker was on loan there from West Ham United as a youngster, according to the report, and has now put the striker at the top of his wishlist for the summer.
18. Pablo Zabaleta
Manchester City right-back Pablo Zabaleta could be one of the first departures in a new era at the club, reported the Manchester Evening News.
His agent is quoted as saying Pep Guardiola wants to keep him—but that Zabaleta himself wants to play in another league, having been in England for several years.
Italy is a potential destination, and the MEN suggested that a move to Inter Milan could see him link up with former City boss Roberto Mancini.
17. Moussa Konate
Tottenham Hotspur want Moussa Konate for next season, according to the Mirror.
Spurs just missed out on the Premier League title this term and want to bolster their front line to go one better in 2016-17, with Konate reportedly available for around £6 million from Swiss club FC Sion.
Konate has scored nine times in the Super League this season, totalling 13 in 35 in all competitions, and is said to be appealing to Tottenham as he can play either from the wings or through the centre.
16. Thorgan Hazard
Leicester City want Hazard—not a headline most would have expected at the beginning of the season.
The new Premier League champions are in party mode after claiming an unlikely title and are ready to begin their defence next season by splashing out on Eden Hazard's brother, Thorgan Hazard, who has been playing in Germany with Borussia Monchengladbach.
The midfielder is the Foxes' No. 1 target, according to Belgian outlet Het Laatste Nieuws (h/t the Daily Express).
15. Olivier Giroud
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud is being targeted by Wolfsburg, according to the Mirror.
The Gunners forward has scored 12 in league play this season, but none at all since mid-January and has fallen to a sub role since Danny Welbeck's return to fitness.
Wolfsburg are willing to offer Giroud £5 million a year, according to the report, and are also looking at Villarreal's Cedric Bakambu as an alternative.
14. Jordon Ibe
Jordon Ibe will be allowed to leave Liverpool next season, reported Squawka, but only on a loan deal.
The Reds' boss, Jurgen Klopp, believes the 20-year-old can still fulfil his potential—but playing time will be at a premium next term if the German manager spends big to add established names to his squad.
Watford, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are all said to be keeping an eye on Ibe.
13. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is out of contract at the end of the season and a move to the city of Milan is on the cards.
Ibrahimovic's agent, Mino Raiola, is quoted by GQ magazine (h/t the Mirror) as saying the Swedish attacker could return to Serie A, though he did not specify between the Milan clubs Inter or AC—with the 34-year-old previously playing for both.
Clubs from the Premier League, Major League Soccer and Qatar are also interested.
12. Denis Suarez
Villarreal's attacking midfielder Denis Suarez has attracted interest from abroad, according to Marca.
The report indicates that Barcelona are still expected to sign Suarez as they have a €3 million option to re-sign him, but that he could be sold on again for a major profit with a number of teams interested.
Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham have all asked about Suarez, while Russian club Zenit St Petersbug also made a move in winter.
11. Wojciech Szczesny
Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has been on loan at AS Roma this season, but the Serie A club are unlikely to be able to extend the deal, as reported by Corriere dello Sport (h/t the Mirror).
The Gunners are refusing to contribute any of the Polish goalkeeper's wages if they loan him out again next season, while Roma are unable to up the amount paid out to Szczesny, meaning he'll have to look elsewhere.
He has kept eight clean sheets in 40 appearances this season.
10. Joe Hart
France Football reported (h/t the Daily Express) that Liverpool will make a summer move for England and Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart.
The suggestion is that incoming City boss Pep Guardiola does not want Hart, instead moving for Marc-Andre ter Stegen, which will leave the way clear for Liverpool to sign the English stopper.
Hart was part of the City team which lost in the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg this week.
9. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen
German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been hunted by both Liverpool and Manchester City over the last few months, but the Mirror reported he'll be staying in place at Barcelona.
Ter Stegen is quoted as saying he's "very happy" at the Catalan club and wants to fight for a place in the team in La Liga, as he is currently only first-choice stopper for cup action—both the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League are his domain, with Claudio Bravo playing league matches.
8. Jackson Martinez
Only a few months after leaving Atletico Madrid for the Chinese Super League, Jackson Martinez is being linked with another transfer—this time to AC Milan in Serie A.
Gazzetta World reports that a potential sale of Silvio Berlosconi's stake in the club to a Chinese consortium could lead to Milan signing a number of formerly Europe-based stars, including the Colombian striker.
Two more potential targets are former Chelsea midfielder Ramires and Alex Teixeira, who both only moved to China in the winter.
7. Kevin Gameiro
Sevilla forward Kevin Gameiro has been a bright spot in a patchy campaign for the Andalucian club, and his goals have attracted the interest of Barcelona, according to the Mirror.
Barca are after a fourth-choice forward who can fill in for any of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar for next season and could be tempted to offer Denis Suarez as a makeweight in the deal.
The report also cites Spanish outlet Sport suggesting Deportivo La Coruna's Lucas Perez as an alternative.
6. Ayoze Perez
Same theme, slightly different result—the Mirror has claimed that Ayoze Perez is on Barcelona's wish list for the summer as a back-up to the first-choice front three of Neymar, Suarez and Messi.
Summer departures for both Munir and Sandro Ramirez mean the Catalan club need a quality, yet versatile, option to take the place of the MSN attack when required, with Perez's ability to operate both centrally and from the flank an appealing trait.
The report indicates that much depends on Newcastle United's relegation fight, with Perez having to choose between being a regular at the Magpies or a mere back-up at the Camp Nou.
5. Mauro Icardi
Inter Milan forward Mauro Icardi heads Arsenal's wish list for the summer, claimed the Mirror.
The Gunners are known to want a new leader for their attack, and Icardi is being looked at by Arsene Wenger, with a potential £25 million price tag not particularly prohibitive should the boss opt to make his move.
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United are also said to be looking at Icardi, who has 15 goals this season from 32 Serie A matches.
4. Nemanja Matic
The Daily Star have reported that Chelsea already have a £20 million agreement in place to sell Nemanja Matic to Juventus this summer.
A poor campaign from the Serbian has seen him lose his regular place in the team, and he looks set to be one of several players offloaded as Chelsea look to hand incoming boss Antonio Conte a huge transfer kitty to rebuild the team.
Winger Juan Cuadrado, meanwhile, will return to Chelsea from Juventus where he has been on loan this season.
3. Thomas Lemar
Liverpool have made a move to sign AS Monaco midfielder Thomas Lemar, according to L'Equipe (h/t the Metro).
The 20-year-old had already been looked at by the Merseyside club before swapping Caen for Monaco a year ago, and now the Reds want to make a move for the attacker after being impressed with his exploits over the second half of this season.
The Daily Express suggested Liverpool would have to pay a similar fee to that paid by Manchester United for Anthony Martial—around £58 million.
2. Aymeric Laporte
Ideally, Pep Guardiola will end the season by announcing the exact and specific defender he wants to buy when he joins Manchester City in summer.
In the absence of that unlikely event happening, the rumour mill continues to be filled with prospective centre-back signings for the Etihad Stadium club, and Aymeric Laporte still leads the way as the most frequently touted name.
Basque paper EITB (h/t the Guardian) reported that City would pay the €50 million release clause Aymeric currently has with Athletic Club Bilbao—but the defender himself quickly released a statement denying any move was in place, according to the Manchester Evening News.
1. Gonzalo Higuain
Antoino Conte has told Chelsea of his wish to sign Gonzalo Higuain over the summer, the Daily Mail claimed.
A problem to overcome is that Higuain refuses to move as second-choice behind Diego Costa, but the same report indicated possible interest from China in the Spanish striker, as well as from Atletico Madrid.
If Costa departs, then a £42 million move for Higuain is on the cards, even though Chelsea cannot offer Champions League football next season.