With just seven league games of the 2015/16 Premier League campaign remaining, the summer transfer window is looming.
And it looks likely to be an incredibly exciting one for the English top flight. Not only will the new television deal see revenues almost double from the current campaign, granting the Premier League even further financial firepower in the transfer market, but three of its top clubs – Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United – are expected to welcome new managers who will want their own signings.
Likewise, Jurgen Klopp is yet to truly print his mark on the Liverpool squad and Arsenal are expected to instigate a mini-overhaul, especially in the midfield, following yet another capitulation in the Premier League title race, whilst Champions League qualification will grant Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City access to a new bracket of the transfer market.
So the coming transfer window looks set to be yet another of record-breaking spending from the Premier League, but who is in the crosshairs of England’s top clubs? Giving you the low-down on our top flight’s likeliest arrivals, here’s the Premier League’s most wanted Xi for the summer 2016 transfer window.
Easily one of the most exciting young goalkeepers in world football, finding himself sharing game-time with elder team-mate Claudio Bravo at Barcelona, a number of Premier League sides are hoping to prize Marc-Andre ter Stegen away from the Nou Camp this summer.
Indeed, the ambiguity surrounding Simon Mignolet’s future has seen Liverpool emerge as the likeliest candidates to launch a bid, but Manchester United have been tipped to swoop if they’re forced to part with Real Madrid target David De Gea during the transfer window and Manchester City have also been credited with interest.
The Catalans remain reluctant to sell, however, and the guarantee of regular action in the Champions League and Copa del Rey could convince the German shot-stopper, aged just 23, to stay put for another season.
Price-tag: £20million upwards
John Stones was hot property last summer, with Chelsea launching a succession of failed bids for the prodigious Everton defender, and his avid admirers are almost certain to revive their interest at the end of the season – especially if he plays a big part in England’s progression at Euro 2016.
Along with the Blues, Manchester City and Manchester United have both been linked with the 21-year-old since the end of last season and all three clubs are expected to invest heavily in central defence this summer. Chelsea need a successor to John Terry, United need a long-term partner for Chris Smalling and the heart of City’s defence requires a complete makeover.
But Everton showed their resolve during the 2015 summer transfer window and won’t be letting Stones, who boasts unique mobility and technical flair for an English centre-half, leave without a monolithic fee involved.
The all-but-confirmed appointment of Antonio Conte as Chelsea manager initially saw Leonardo Bonucci, who won three Serie A titles with the Italy gaffer at Juventus and has gone on to feature under him regularly for Azzurri, linked with a transfer to Stamford Bridge as a replacement for John Terry.
But some flattering words from Pep Guardiola, dubbing the rugged centre-back ‘one of his favourite players’, has lead to rumours of an Etihad switch instead, whilst Manchester United have also been credited with interest amid their aforementioned need for a permanent partner for Chris Smalling.
If the 28-year-old isn’t one of the best in the business, he’s certainly one of the best of the rest. But seemingly enjoying life in Turin and under contract until 2020, the chances of a summer transfer to the Premier League remain rather slim.
Very much the John Stones of La Liga, youthful centre-back Aymeric Laporte has found himself in the transfer crosshairs of Europe’s top clubs for the best part of two years.
That’s in no small part due to him amassing almost 150 first team outings for Athletic Bilbao at just 21 years of age, holding down a regular berth at the heart of their defence since the start of the 2013/14 campaign.
Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United are all believed to be the mix to sign the France U21, who offers a sharp turn of pace and quality in possession, but Athletic Bilbao have made it clear any suitor will have to activate his €50million release clause.
Granit Xhaka is one of the Bundesliga’s rising stars, donning the captain’s armband at Borussia Monchengladbach at just 23 years of age. He’s been dubbed ‘young Schweinsteiger’ and offers a similar kind of service in the middle of the park, combining a faultless passing game with robustness and tenacity off the ball.
The Switzerland international can be a little hot-headed – picking up three red cards already this season – but that hasn’t nullified Premier League interest in his services, with Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City all believed to be chasing.
A move to the Premier League this summer is incredibly likely. First of all, Xhaka has been talking up a potential transfer to the English top flight relentlessly over the last few months, describing it as a ‘childhood dream’, and secondly, his Gladbach contract includes a £22.7m release clause for summer 2017 – meaning the Bundesliga outfit are running out of time to secure a higher fee.
Half of the Premier League were chasing Ilkay Gundogan last summer as his Dortmund contract entered its final twelve months, only for the German international to eventually agree a one-year extension at Westfalenstadion.
But that has only delayed his long-awaited departure by one year and the transfer vultures are circling once again ahead of the summer transfer window – namely Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
Indeed, competition for the 25-year-old, widely deemed one of the best in the business when it comes to box-to-box or deep-lying midfield roles, is fierce but recent speculation suggests the Citizens are currently leading the pack.
Having emerged as one of the leading midfielders in world football since swapping Manchester United for Juventus in summer 2012, combining technical trickery, ranging physicality and netting prowess, everybody wants a bit of Paul Pogba this summer.
Indeed, the Frenchman is the total package – somewhere between Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira on the goalscoring enforcer spectrum – and was the subject of huge interest from across Europe last summer, with Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich all linked.
The 23-year-old rebuffed interest then but will likely be more open to a move in the coming transfer window, once another Serie A campaign likely to result in yet another title and France’s Euro 2016 campaign are both behind him.
Manchester City and former club United are in the mix as well – but the Blues and the Red Devils face a daunting task in attempting to sign the 6 foot 2 centre-mid without the incentive of Champions League football.
Price-tag: £65million upwards
Ousmane Dembele finds himself amid the most meteoric of rises, notching up ten goals and five assists in 19 Ligue 1 appearances since making his Rennes debut in November, which could well end with a summer transfer to the Premier League.
Indeed, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Manchester City, Leicester City and Southampton – to name a few – are believed to have either scouted or expressed an interest in the 18-year-old in recent weeks, whilst some sources claim Barcelona have already seen a £27million bid for him rejected.
With his contract set to expire in 2018, Rennes could be tempted to cash in on the France U21 this summer – but widespread interest will undoubtedly inflate his price-tag.
Following a campaign which has seen him net 35 times across all competitions, including 22 strikes in the Bundesliga, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is set to enter the summer transfer window as probably the most sought-after frontman in world football.
The 26-year-old is now of optimum age and has three seasons of consistent scoring form under his belt, producing 76 goals in 134 appearances since signing for Borussia Dortmund in summer 2013, so with world-class strikers generally in short supply at the moment, a plethora of Europe’s top clubs have inevitably taken an interest.
Blessed with great power and speed, the Gabon international seems a particularly good fit for the Premier League, so interest from Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea is by no means surprising. With Barcelona and Real Madrid also in the mix however, the aforementioned English quartet might miss out.
Price tag: £50million-£70million
Manchester United want to make Neymar the poster boy of the new era at Old Trafford and Manchester City have similar plans.
That’s no great surprise; the 24-year-old has bagged 81 goals in 130 appearances since signing for Barcelona in summer 2013 and is already the face of Brazilian football, netting 46 times for the national team.
The winger-forward is desperate to clinch the Ballon d’Or but that will always be a near-impossible challenge whilst playing in the same team as Lionel Messi and curiously enough, Barcelona are yet to convince him to extend his Nou Camp contract past summer 2018.
If they fail to resolve negotiations before the summer transfer window, United and City will unquestionably look to test the Catalan outfit’s resolve – but they’re determined to hold onto the South American assassin.
Price-tag: £145million (release clause)
Arguably the greatest striker of his generation available on a free transfer – what’s not to like?
Indeed, the enigmatic Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be leaving Parc de Princes when his contract expires this summer, following a campaign which has seen him net a whopping 35 times across all competitions and fire PSG to a fourth consecutive Ligue 1 title, and he’s certainly not downplayed rumours of a move to the Premier League.
The usual suspects have all been linked, namely Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, but some outside contenders are in the mix too, such as Liverpool, West Ham and Newcastle United. One club the 6 foot 5 striker won’t be joining, however, is Manchester City – soon to be managed my infamous adversary Pep Guardiola.
Price-tag: £0 – but the net worth of Namibia in wages.