With leagues around Europe now finally drawing to a close, attention can fully turn to the 2020 summer transfer market.
Discussing it feels a bit like a leap into the unknown; the full impact of the coronavirus on clubs’ ability to spend is not yet fully understood, and as a result, fees are up in the air, players’ futures are less secure than ever and mega-money deals flip from looking on the cards to impossible in an instant.
Here, we’ve tried to simplify things amid all the noise, choosing one player for a selection of top European clubs to target each. If business is limited, then you have to make what you do count, so this is an exercise of identifying the most critical need at each side and finding a solution.
Arsenal: Dani Ceballos, CM, Real Madrid
Julian Finney/Associated Press
It feels strange to pick a player for Arsenal who isn’t a defensive midfielder or centre-back, as those remain glaring, long-term needs, but in light of the plasters Mikel Arteta has been able to apply over the course of 2020, their No. 1 priority feels a bit different.
With Granit Xhaka improving drastically under Arteta, William Saliba set to bolster the defence next season and the emergence of Kieran Tierney as an outside centre-back, Arsenal would now be most impacted by not tying down Dani Ceballos permanently.
He’s been a revelation post-lockdown, looking much more like the midfield genius we saw at Real Betis and for Spain’s under-21 setup, and his impact on the fluency and press-resistance of the Gunners’ midfield is now crucial.
As Dean Jones explained on the B/R Football Ranks podcast this week, it’s going to be a tough deal to strike given Arsenal’s lack of disposable cash, but it’s something they have to manage, one way or the other.
Atletico Madrid: Edinson Cavani, ST, Free Agent
Michel Euler/Associated Press
There appears to be a serious tug-of-war scenario emerging for Edinson Cavani’s services—something that shouldn’t surprise, given his glittering record at the top level and lack of transfer fee attached.
The Sun reported that Bayern Munich have entered the chase for him, joining Leeds United and Benfica (what a mix of suitors!), but Atletico Madrid should be elbowing their way back into the queue, reinstating the interest they held in him early this year.
He is the perfect Diego Simeone striker: a workhorse lone forward, all hustle and bustle, extremely team-oriented and a force in the air. It’s a great match, let’s see it happen.
Barcelona: Lautaro Martinez, ST, Inter Milan
Antonio Calanni/Associated Press
You’ll be no stranger to this rumour.
Lautaro to Barcelona has been touted non-stop throughout 2020, and with good reason: The Argentinian looks a lot like one of the world’s next elite forwards, and the Catalan club need a youthful refresh up front perhaps more than anything else.
He’ll cost money Barcelona simply don’t seem to have right now, but Mundo the Daily Mail’s Kate McGreavy reported in July that all sorts of player-plus-cash options are on the table, keeping the deal alive.
It’s easy to see why Barca seem so hell-bent on signing him, and if they come out of the summer having sealed one incoming transfer, it should be this. Continue reading