5 Obvious Moves That Europe's Top Clubs Should Make This SummerMay 18, 2020
The coronavirus has left football—and the world in general—in a state of uncertainty, and one of the chief knock-on effects will be how the transfer market is affected.
Clubs across the world are re-evaluating their intended moves, re-assessing how big their pot of cash to spend is, and as a result we may see some transfers that will have been in the pipeline for a long time scuppered.
But even in such an uncertain time, some moves are just obviously right, so staring-you-in-the-face smart and beneficial for all parties, they should happen regardless.
Listed here are five such deals—no-brainers, if you will—that could and should rise above market limitations and uncertainties. They're not potential €100 million deals, which helps, but they do involve some of the best players and major clubs in the world.
Andre Onana, Goalkeeper
Ajax to Chelsea
"The journey ends with an empty stadium, but full of pride and satisfaction. Thanks for all the love and support."
That's what Onana posted on his Instagram story (h/t SI) after the Eredivisie concluded its season early, heavily hinting that the next time we see the Cameroonian play football, it won't be for Ajax.
The 24-year-old has developed into one of the finest goalkeepers around, and he is particularly adept with his feet and playing a sweeping role—something almost every top club values highly in 2020.
One of said top clubs, Chelsea, appear to be in particular need of a goalkeeper, as incumbent Kepa Arrizabalaga endured a difficult season and is up for sale, per B/R's Dean Jones.
Given the Blues recently signed Hakim Ziyech from Ajax, they won't have to look far to dig out the right phone number to make this inquiry—and it's one they absolutely should make. Onana won't be the only goalkeeper on their radar, but he'll likely be the best combination of quality and price available.
Sandro Tonali, Midfielder
Brescia to Juventus or Inter Milan
Not to set your expectations too high, but here's what the legendary Andrea Pirlo had to say about Tonali:
"It is said that he may be my heir, but I don't see many things in common," the Italian said on an Instagram Live (h/t Goal).
"He is another type of player. He is much more complete both in the defensive phase and when he sets up. He is a mix between my characteristics and those of other players. He is the most promising of midfielders. He will surely become a great player."
He's got the hair and passing talents of Pirlo, but he adds a defensive bite that the World Cup winner never had. That's not to say he's a Daniele De Rossi either; Pirlo said it right: He's a mix of a few extremely talented players.
With Brescia almost certain to be relegated—they're 20th in Serie A, nine points off safety and have the worst goal difference in the league—Tonali's signature will be available this summer. It's vitally important that Juventus, Inter Milan and Italy's other big guns don't make the same mistake they made with Marco Verratti in 2012 and allow such a talent to escape the league.
He could be the homegrown bedrock of your midfield for the next decade. Don't overthink it, just make the deal.
Leroy Sane, Winger
Manchester City to Bayern Munich
This one's been rumbling on for a while, and the latest reports this week suggest some progress has been made. Kicker (h/t AFP, via Yahoo) reported City and Bayern are just €10 million apart in valuations, and Sane has already agreed personal terms with the Bavarian giants.
It's not as if Bayern are in poor shape offensively; Robert Lewandowski is arguably the best No. 9 in the world, Thomas Muller's back to his best and there's so much speed and creativity from elsewhere in their ranks.
But with Alphonso Davies seemingly converting to a left-back for good and Kingsley Coman's injury record always one to be wary of and plan for, Sane—who is brilliant and fits Bayern's mould of an intended German core—makes more sense than ever.
With just one year left on his deal with City and the desire to leave clear, it's time for them to cash in, make a profit and carry on without him. Bayern can develop him into a superstar if they play their cards right—the key to which might be playing him from the right, not the left, as Round World Football Academy coach Harry Brooks told the B/R Football Ranks podcast in March.
Achraf Hakimi, Full-Back
Return and start for Real Madrid
Much is made of Liverpool's prolific full-back pairing of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, and rightly so; their goal and assist contributions (24 combined in 2018-19, 22 in 2019-20 so far) have set a new standard in football.
Borussia Dortmund's own version of that is Hakimi and Raphael Guerreiro, who both shone in Borussia Dortmund's 4-0 Revierderby win over Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga's big return Saturday. Guerreiro's two goals took him to seven for the season, with two assists, and Hakimi sits on three goals and 10 assists. The total between them is 10 and 12.
Sadly for BVB, they only own one of the pair, Guerreiro. Hakimi will return to Real Madrid after the campaign and re-assess where he stands after a brilliant loan spell. Given his performance levels over the last 18 months, the conclusion should be easily reached.
So this is less a transfer and more a decision to get right: He should be starting for Los Merengues at the Bernabeu in 2020-21.
If they wish to drip-feed him into the XI, initially playing him against the lesser sides (like they did with Danilo and Alvaro Odriozola), that makes sense. But give him a sniff, and it won't be long before he supplants Dani Carvajal.
Madrid's heavy bias towards the left side during build-up means the right-back has so much space to utilise, and he's frequently brought into play by switch passes. Hakimi's explosiveness and attacking prowess could do wonders with said space, allowing him to transfer his dominant level from Germany to Spain.
Edinson Cavani, Striker
Paris Saint-Germain to Atletico Madrid
It seems wrong that Cavani and Diego Simeone haven't linked up in their careers before now. They're a match made in heaven; almost the embodiment of each other on the pitch and in the dugout, respectively.
Simeone expects an unprecedented mix of work and team ethic from his No. 9, plus a sizeable amount of strength and mobility, in addition to finishing prowess. It results in a short list for him to pick from, but Cavani ticks all of those boxes.
The Uruguay international is available for free this summer as his contract with PSG expires. He's 33 years of age, but if any other forward is approaching Cristiano Ronaldo levels of chiselled and cared for, it's this guy.
He's still strong, fast and relentless in his running. He thrives on crosses, can work the front line alone and has that typical Uruguayan "Garra charrua"—an overwhelming determination, bravery and tenacity.
This alone makes him a great option at the Wanda Metropolitano; the fact that Atleti have struggled so badly for goals in 2019-20—their paltry tally of 31 from 27 games is the 12th best in La Liga—makes the fit even more snug.
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All statistics via WhoScored.com.