Those who follow the sport of professional soccer have probably realized that a contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. It seems everybody is fair game regardless of their current contract status and pledges of allegiance to their employer. There’s rarely any loyalty in the sport anymore as both owners and players are mainly interested in the almighty dollar proving that just about anybody can be bought or sold in pro soccer.
With the summer transfer window in Europe opening in early June and running until August 31st, fans should expect to see numerous players swapping teams for inordinate amounts of money. In fact the spending frenzy has already begun as teams try to secure the services of players with verbal agreements before the official signing period kicks off. These players below should be 11 biggest summer transfer targets.
11. Ivan Perisic
Croatian international Ivan Perisic of Inter Milan is a good bet to move clubs this summer and in fact he may move countries as Manchester United and Chelsea are interested in him. The Italian Serie A side will likely let the 28-year-old winger go even though he scored 11 goals and set up eight others in league action this season. However, they’ll probably hold out for about 35 million pounds for him. The attacker is good in tight spaces and isn’t afraid to shoot as well as send in crosses. He prefers to get inside the box before shooting though and can be a handful for opposing defenders. Ironically, Perisic’s a better scorer than playmaker and may have all the tools to make an ideal striker. He’s a hard-working player who’s responsible defensively and should be able to quickly adjust to the style of the Premier League if he ends up in England.
10. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Former Swedish international striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be getting long in the tooth at the age of 35, but he still knows how to deposit the ball in the back of the net. Ibrahimovic managed to lead Manchester United in scoring this season with 17 Premier League goals and 28 in all competitions even though he played just 46 of his team’s games due to injury. He’s currently under contract with the English Premier League giants until the end of June and he’s already received several offers urging him to leave. Ibrahimovic joined Man United on a free transfer last year from French club Paris Saint Germain and signed a one-year deal. However, his ACL injury means he may not be ready for the start of the 2017/18 season. Regardless, expect Ibrahimovic to be a top target this summer even though he’s likely to extend his contract at Old Trafford since he wants to remain in England.
9.David De Gea
Manchester United’s Spanish international goalkeeper David De Gea has long been a target of Spanish champions Real Madrid and they almost signed their hometown hero a couple of years ago. Man United has told Real not to bother making on offer for him though as De Gea’s not for sale. It’s easy to see why United wants to hang onto their shot- stopper since he’s really been their most valuable player over the past two seasons. Real likely won’t give up though as they have the money to make a more-than-generous offer to both the 26-year-old De Gea and United. This saga could get interesting over the summer, but at this point it’s quite obvious that United needs De Gea much more than Real Madrid does.
8. Kylian Mbappe
It looks like Monaco striker Kylian Mbappe will be in play this summer as the French Ligue 1 champions may have to prepare for life without him. Look for both Manchester City and Real Madrid to make offers for the French international who has 26 goals in 44 career games with Monaco. However, if he decides to join the Spanish champions there’s a good chance the 18-year-old Mbappe will find himself on the bench more often than not. In reality, Mbappe would be better off staying where he is and helping Monaco defend their title and make another run at the European Champions League. It’ already been rumored that the attacker would rather join Real than Man City, but it will come down to Monaco’s eagerness to sell him. Let’s not forget Mbappe’s still a teenager and there’s no need to make any rushed decisions on his future.
7. Tiemoue Bakayoko
Another Monaco player who may be on the move this summer is Tiemoue Bakayoko as English Premier League champions Chelsea are allegedly hot on the Frenchman’s trail. It’s believed the Blues are prepared to offer at least 40 million pounds for him and then let Nemanja Matic leave for Manchester United to make room for Bakayoko. The 22-year-old interests Chelsea manager Antonio Conte as he’d like to play Bakayoko as a defensive midfielder alongside N’Golo Kante. If Conte gets his way, then look for Serbian international Matic to join Man United as manager Jose Mourinho is one of his biggest fans. Bakayoko’s just 22 years old and made his French senior debut in a 2-0 home loss to Spain in March when Paul Pogba was injured.
6. Romelu Lukaku
Belgian international striker Romelu Lukaku of Everton has shown over the years to be a consistent goalscorer no matter which squad he’s playing with. He’s still only 24 years old and was one of the English Premier League’s top scorers yet again this season with 25 goals. Everton would be silly to let him go, but the Liverpool-based club reportedly promised Lukaku they’d sell him if they received offers from specific big-name clubs. However, Everton will try to discourage his movement by allegedly asking a world record 100 million pounds for him. Lukaku’s good, but he’s not worth spending a new world-record transfer fee on when there are numerous goalscorers to be had. But since everybody knows Lukaku would prefer to leave Merseyside for a bigger team, Everton should expect several decent offers for him.
5. Andrea Belotti
Andrea Belotti is one of Italy’s best strikers at the moment and is playing for a smaller club in Torino. Fellow Serie A side Inter Milan is interested in the 23-year-old, but Torino would rather hold out and try to get some bigger bucks from free-spending English teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal. Belotti has three goals in seven international appearances for Italy and has found the net 39 times in 68 games with Torino. He has an escape clause in the contract he just signed with Torino in December, but the problem for the player and club is that he doesn’t have to be sold unless the team is offered 86 million pounds for him. Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal have balked at this asking price and are believed to value Belotti at between 50 and 60 million pounds.
4. Jermain Defoe
Yes, English striker Jermain Defoe has a lot of things going against him. He’s 34 years old, stands just 5-feet-7-inches tall and hasn’t played regular international soccer with England for the last three years. But this pure goalscorer still has a lot to offer and his career is on the upswing after being recalled to the English squad by manager Gareth Southgate in March. Defoe has scored close to 300 goals during his career and teams in the market for a dependable striker will be looking for him. Defoe’s heroics couldn’t save Sunderland from English Premier League relegation this season and he’s far too good and experienced for the second-tier Championship League. Look for the veteran to sign with another Premier League club this summer, possibly Bournemouth, West Ham or Newcastle United.
3. Riyad Mahrez
Leicester City enjoyed their fairytale season in 2015/16 by upsetting the apple cart and winning the English Premier League title despite astronomical odds against them. That squad has now come back to earth and Leicester fans are disappointed to hear that Algerian international forward Riyad Mahrez has asked for a transfer. The 26-year-old agreed to play for the Foxes this season, but now says it’s time to make a move. There will be a lot of interest in Mahrez as he was named the 2015/16 PFA player of the year. He slipped this season, but still scored 10 goals for the team and helped Leicester reach the final eight of the European Champions League. He signed a four-year deal with the English team after they paid just 400,000 pounds for him. Needless to say, Leicester will make a huge profit when they sell Mahrez.
2. Alexis Sanchez
Chilean international striker Alexis Sanchez has been quite a success with Arsenal of the English Premier League, but with the team failing to qualify for the European Champions League next season he may be leaving the Emirates. The Gunners have just re-signed much-maligned manager Arsene Wenger for two years and it’ll be his job to convince Sanchez to stay… and Mesut Ozil too for that matter. It’s been reported that Wenger has offered Sanchez 275,000 pounds a week up until 2020 if he signs on the dotted line as his current deal has just one year to go. The 28-year-old Sanchez scored 24 league goals and 30 in all competitions for Arsenal this season and helped them win an English record 13th FA Cup. However, he may try to squeeze more money out of the club.
1. Antoine Griezmann
It seems the player everybody is after this transfer window is 26-year-old French international striker Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid. Nobody would rather see him go than fellow Spanish La Liga rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona. Griezmann played 63 games in all competitions in 2016/17 and was on the pitch for more minutes than anybody else in Europe’s top leagues. The 26-year-old tallied 26 goals for Atletico during the campaign and he’s continuously being linked with a move to English Premier League giants Manchester United, especially after they won the Europa League to clinch a berth in the 2017/18 European Champions League. Griezmann signed a new contract with Atletico last summer which is supposed to keep him with the club until 2021. But hey, like we said, this is soccer and unfortunately contracts don’t mean a darn thing and neither do his 83 goals in 160 matches with the club.