Lewandowski, Mane and the other sagas set to dominate this transfer window

By Sports Desk June 10, 2022

The 2021-22 season may still be ongoing at international level, but Premier League and Ligue 1 clubs can officially register new signings for the next campaign following the opening of the transfer window on Friday.

Teams in LaLiga, Serie A and the Bundesliga must wait until July 1 for their business to go through – though that is not to say preparations are not already in full swing behind the scenes.

Indeed, a number of big deals are already in place and waiting to get the seal of approval, with Antonio Rudiger heading to Real Madrid and Karim Adeyemi brought in by Borussia Dortmund to replace Manchester City-bound Erling Haaland, while others – Darwin Nunez to Liverpool and Aurelien Tchouameni to Madrid – appear to be all-but complete.

One transfer saga came to an end before the window even officially opened, meanwhile, with Kylian Mbappe confirming that he is staying put at Paris Saint-Germain, despite strong interest from Madrid.

For others, there are weeks of uncertainty ahead. Having already picked out the big-name free agents up for grabs this window, Stats Perform looks at the transfer sagas that are likely to rumble on for a little while longer yet.


Player: Robert Lewandowski
Current club: Bayern Munich
Rumoured suitors: Barcelona, Real Madrid

While the futures of Mbappe and Haaland have already been resolved, arguably the world's best striker in Lewandowski is seeking pastures new after recently declaring that his time at Bayern "has come to an end" – even if the German champions do not quite see it that way.

The Poland international still has 12 months to run on his contract and Bayern are understandably reluctant to sell, even if that means forgoing a transfer fee in a year's time, making things particularly difficult for Barcelona, who are the rumoured frontrunners for his signature.

He was once again the hottest striker across Europe's top five leagues in 2021-22 when taking all competitions into account, the 33-year-old scoring 50 goals in 46 games for Bayern in what was his second-best goalscoring campaign across eight years in Bavaria, behind only the 55 netted in 2019-20.

 

Player: Sadio Mane
Current club: Liverpool
Rumoured suitors: Real Madrid

Whether it is to replace wantaway Lewandowski or to play alongside the prolific striker, Bayern are seemingly intent on bringing Liverpool and Senegal forward Mane to the Allianz Arena.

Bayern are reported to have had a second bid of €35.3million (£30m) turned down by Liverpool earlier this week, with the ball very much in the Reds' court – just like it is with the Bavarians and Lewandowski.

Mane would be a huge loss to Liverpool, having scored 90 goals in 196 Premier League appearances since joining at the start of 2016-17 – only Jamie Vardy (104), team-mate Mohamed Salah (118) and Harry Kane (134) have more – explaining their desire to snap up Nunez from Benfica.

 

Player: Gabriel Jesus
Current club: Manchester City
Rumoured suitors: Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Real Madrid

Manchester City striker Jesus may just about be the most in-demand player up for grabs this window, with his agent confirming as many as seven clubs are interested in signing the Brazil international.

Arsenal are the only known team to be in discussions with Jesus' camp, though they are expected to face interest from the likes of rivals Tottenham and Chelsea, as well as reigning European and Spanish champions Madrid.

The stats reflect exactly why Jesus is so highly regarded – albeit not by City following the arrival of Haaland – as he has scored or assisted in 57 per cent of matches he has started in the Premier League, a figure bettered only by Salah (62 per cent), Thierry Henry (61 per cent) and City legend Sergio Aguero (60 per cent) among those to have started at least 10 games.

 

Player: Frenkie de Jong
Current club: Barcelona
Rumoured suitors: Manchester United

De Jong has not quite been able to match expectations at Barcelona since arriving from Ajax in a big-money deal two years ago, which the midfielder has regularly put down to being used out of position in central midfield.

The arrival of the Netherlands international's former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag at United has only intensified speculation that he could be on his way out of Camp Nou, with Barca themselves needing to offload players if they are to seriously strengthen elsewhere.

De Jong will leave a void to be filled if he does move on, though, as Sergio Busquets (51) was the only Barca outfielder to feature in more games in the 2021-22 campaign than the 25-year-old (47 apps).

 

Player: Christopher Nkunku
Current club: RB Leipzig
Rumoured suitors: Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid

Nkunku well and truly burst onto the scene in the 2021-22 campaign with a combined 51 goals and assists in 52 games for Leipzig across all competitions, meaning he near enough directly contributed to a goal per game.

Only Europe's absolute elite players, Lewandowski (56 goal involvements), Benzema (59) and Mbappe (60), outperformed Nkunku in that regard, making links with Europe's top clubs unsurprising.

Still aged only 24, the four-cap France international may well be a Ballon d'Or winner in waiting if his trajectory over the past couple of seasons is anything to go by. But with two years to run on his Leipzig contract, it will take a huge sum for the Bundesliga side to even consider cashing in. 

 

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  • Rumour Has It: Wolves in final stages of £35m move for Valencia's Goncalo Guedes Rumour Has It: Wolves in final stages of £35m move for Valencia's Goncalo Guedes

    After the best goalscoring season of his career, Valencia's Goncalo Guedes has reportedly earned a move to the Premier League, with Wolves said to be finalising a transfer worth up to £35million.

    After arriving at the Spanish side back in 2017 from Paris Saint-Germain, the 25-year-old forward has established himself as a regular in Portugal's international side, collecting 32 senior caps and scoring the only goal in their 1-0 Nations League final win against the Netherlands in 2019.

    Having never previously scored more than five league goals in a season, Guedes racked up 11, as well as six assists, in Valencia's last LaLiga campaign, and helped his side through to the final of the Copa del Rey.


    TOP STORY – WOLVES CLOSE IN ON GUEDES

    Wolves have no shortage of talent, boasting arguably the strongest Portuguese contingent in the Premier League, including manager Bruno Lage, and four starters from their opening fixture against Leeds United – Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence, Ruben Neves and Jose Sa, with Joao Moutinho and Nelson Semedo among the others in their ranks.

    According to the Daily Mail, all signs point to Guedes being added to that list, while at the same time a starting position may be opening up as Morgan Gibbs-White's name continues to be included in heavy transfer speculation, with Nottingham Forest keen to sign him for a similar price Wolves will fork out in this reported deal.

    Flipping an unproven talent like Gibbs-White into an established international performer like Guedes would likely be seen as a win by the club, but if they do wish to retain their English midfielder, the Daily Mail is also reporting they should be able to collect £12m from Everton in exchange for centre-back Conor Coady.


    ROUND-UP

    – The Guardian is reporting Leicester City and Southampton are interested in Callum Hudson-Odoi after the 21-year-old informed Chelsea he would like to leave on loan, and the Daily Mail claim Borussia Dortmund are also a potential landing spot.

    – The Mail is also reporting that Chelsea's Timo Werner is close to a permanent deal to return to RB Leipzig, with the fee said to be around £30m.

    – According to the Northern Echo, Newcastle United have decided to make a run at in-demand 19-year-old striker and Manchester United target Benjamin Sesko from Salzburg.

    Feyenoord have accepted a £12.6m bid from Bournemouth for 25-year-old Argentine defender Marcos Senesi, per The Sun.

    – The Athletic is reporting United have made a £6.8m bid for 33-year-old Bologna striker Marko Arnautovic, who has previously spent six seasons in the Premier League between Stoke City and West Ham.

  • 'We want him to stay at Barcelona' – Barca president Joan Laporta confirms plan to keep De Jong 'We want him to stay at Barcelona' – Barca president Joan Laporta confirms plan to keep De Jong

    Frenkie de Jong appears likely to remain at Barcelona for this season, if the comments from club president Joan Laporta after their side's 6-0 pre-season win against Pumas are to be believed.

    De Jong scored the sixth goal in the rout, coming off the bench at half-time and finding the net in the 84th minute.

    He has been one of the main names featured in transfer rumours this off-season, with Barcelona's questionable finances making it seem like the club would have to part ways with the 25-year-old Dutch international to fund their sizeable moves for Leeds United winger Raphinha, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde.

    However, having been outspoken about his desire to remain at Camp Nou, it now seems more likely he will not be sold during this transfer window, with Laporta saying before the match against Pumas that it is what both parties want.

    "Frenkie is our player and we want him to stay at Barcelona," he said. "He wants to stay, too.

    "With him and his teammates, we have a very powerful midfield. He has offers, but we want him to stay."

    After the match, Xavi was less emphatic about De Jong's future when interviewed by TV3, but insisted that he's "counting on" the midfielder this season.

    "I don’t know what will happen to Frenkie, as until August 31st anything can happen," he said.

    "He knows what I think, and what the club want and need. Of course I’m counting on him, he’s a great player."

    Barcelona will open their LaLiga campaign at home against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

  • Pedri describes playing with Lewandowski as a 'luxury' after Barca hammer Pumas UNAM Pedri describes playing with Lewandowski as a 'luxury' after Barca hammer Pumas UNAM

    Pedri described playing with Robert Lewandowski as a "luxury" after both players starred in Barcelona's 6-0 demolition of Pumas UNAM in the Joan Gamper trophy on Sunday.

    The Blaugrana ran riot in their traditional Camp Nou curtain-raiser, with goals from Pedri (two), Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembele, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Frenkie de Jong condemning the Mexican side to a crushing loss.

    Barca took just 20 minutes to establish a 4-0 lead as Pedri scored twice after laying on new signing Lewandowski's opener, with the Poland striker returning the favour to tee up the skilful midfielder's second strike.

    Lewandowski – who scored 50 goals in all competitions during his final season with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich last term – was named as man of the match, leading Pedri to shower him with praise. 

    "It was important for us to win in front of our fans and we have achieved it by playing a good game," the midfielder said.

    "The coach asks us all to reach the top and that we score goals, and I hope it continues like this. We've had a good pre-season and we wanted to start scoring soon.

    "It is a luxury to play with Lewandowski, I really enjoy seeing how he finishes and how he links up.

    "The president [Joan Laporta] and everyone have done a great job, and we will fight until May for it to be a very beautiful year for us all."

    With Lewandowski joining Franck Kessie, Andreas Christensen, Jules Kounde and Raphinha in moving to Camp Nou ahead of the 2022-23 season, hopes are high that Barca can challenge for silverware – even if speculation persists that they may be unable to register their newcomers.

    For Xavi, the performance against Pumas – for whom Barca legend Dani Alves featured – represented the standard the Catalan giants must hit in every match.

    "Everything went well tonight, I'm very happy with the good game and for the fans, who have been excited. This is the way," Xavi declared.

    "We are in a good dynamic of play and results, but we have to continue working for this to work. The sensations are good, yes, but there is no need to lower the pace or the intensity during the 90 minutes.

    "Today it is understood that we relaxed a bit because we were 4-0 very early and it was a friendly, but in official competition you cannot lower your guard."

    Barca begin their LaLiga campaign at home to Rayo Vallecano next Saturday.

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