The international break provides a last chance for clubs to take stock of their squads before the conclusion of the season, which will be swiftly followed by the transfer window reopening. January was quieter than normal due to the impact of the global pandemic and it remains to be seen if clubs are ready to splash the cash with games still being played behind closed doors across the continent, hitting teams in the pocket with the loss of matchday revenue. Regardless, many players are sure to be on the move, though the pool of potential destinations for the elite may be a little smaller than in a typical window. Here are a the five biggest summer transfers that could take place during 2021.
5 huge summer transfers 2021
The first place to start is with Messi, who failed in a bid to force a move away from Barcelona last year. He will be a free agent who can walk away from Camp Nou for nothing.
Messi has actually seemed a lot happier at Barca in the last couple of months, as well as getting back to top form after a slow campaign by his incredibly high standards.
But while talented youngsters like Pedri and Ansu Fati have emerged to offer signs of a bright future for the club, Barca’s latest Champions League exit may have convinced Messi it is time to move on.
Very few teams would be able to afford Messi’s gigantic wages even on a free transfer, though he could certainly afford to take a substantial pay cut, with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain widely acknowledged to be the two leading options for the superstar.
City boss Pep Guardiola has repeatedly asserted his desire to see Messi complete his career at Barca, but the prospect of the pair reuniting in Manchester is truly mouth-watering. It would be the biggest of the 2021 summer transfers if it occurred.
PSG are a less romantic proposition but Messi would have the chance to play with his former Barca team-mate Neymar again. A possible frontline of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Messi would rival the famous ‘MSN’ attack including Luis Suarez that conquered Europe at Barcelona.
Messi will celebrate his 34th birthday before the start of next season but he should still have a couple of years playing at the top level before a potential return to Argentina ahead of retirement.
Barca’s new president Joan Laporta has signalled he is confident of persuading Messi to sign a new deal and commit the rest of his future to the club. Barca’s ruined finances would surely mean the captain having to agree to substantially reduced terms if he was to stay on.
PSG being able to team Messi up with their existing two megastars, Neymar and Mbappe, ultimately depends on the Ligue 1 giants holding on to the France forward, however.
While Neymar finally seems settled in Paris, Mbappe has yet to indicate whether he is ready to extend his PSG contract, which is set to expire in 2022. While PSG are perhaps the richest club on the planet, losing Mbappe on a free transfer in 12 months’ time is surely not something that can be considered. Mbappe recently became the youngest striker to reach 100 goals in Ligue 1.
Mbappe has long been a target for Real Madrid and they have kept their powder dry for two windows in a row, which some have taken as a sign they are preparing a huge bid for the striker.
Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has said Neymar and Mbappe “will always remain Parisians” but new deals for the duo will be needed if that is to be true. Liverpool have also been linked with the 22-year-old and buying him would refresh a slightly ageing attack.
PSG are reportedly interested in Kane, which perhaps indicates they are planning ahead for the potential departure of Mbappe. Kane would be expensive, but few can guarantee goals like him.
Reuniting with former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino would likely be appealing for Kane, whose prowess in front of goal is not reflected in a lack of club honours to go along with individual prizes such as the Golden Boot that he won at the last World Cup.
Manchester City are likely to be in the market for a new striker this summer and Kane would seem an ideal fit given his propensity to drop deep and create chances for team-mates. Tottenham will clearly be hoping that this is one of the 2021 summer transfers that doesn’t happen as it would virtually end their chances of competing with the elite Premier League clubs.
City are also said to be keen on Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland, whose father Alf-Inge played in midfield for the club back in the 1990s.
Haaland has been nothing less than a revelation since joining Dortmund from Salzburg but it might already be time for him to move on. Though Haaland has hit 21 Bundesliga goals this term Dortmund are just fifth in the table, a whopping 18 points behind leaders Bayern Munich.
Like Kane, Haaland might feel he needs to leave his current club to win silverware. Haaland has a reported €75 million clause in his contract, but this comes into effect in 2022 so clubs may opt to wait for 12 months. The striker might be keen to leave if Dortmund miss out on Champions League qualification, though, while winger Jadon Sancho could also leave BVB this year.
Lastly, there have been noises that Ronaldo might look to leave Juventus rather than staying in Turin for the last year of his contract.
There are rumours Madrid could welcome Ronaldo back – perhaps acting as a bridge before a future move for Mbappe? – but Juve have indicated they want to retain the Portugal forward.
Despite Ronaldo’s signing failing to deliver the European success Juve crave, the club’s chief football officer Fabio Paratici recently said: “We’ve decided to keep Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s the best player in the world and he’ll stay with us.”
Ronaldo might have other ideas, of course. With Juve potentially enduring their first season without a single trophy for a decade, could the 36-year-old be on the move? A return to Manchester United has been cited as a possibility for Ronaldo, who is also linked with PSG. Any move for Ronaldo would be among the hugest summer transfers to happen in 2021.
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