Fekir, Bale & Neymar: 10 names set to dominate this summer’s gossip columns

Come September you'll never want to read about these players ever again.


REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Every year it’s the same.

From May to September, there are ever-presents of the gossip columns: Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008 and 2009, Gareth Bale in 2013, Paul Pogba in 2016 and Neymar most recently.

There’s a whole month of glorious football taking place in Russia, but that will provide little distraction for those who like to fantasise about the next exotic continental superpower that will finally – actually, seriously, this time – be the one to transform their club and take them forward.

If anything, eye-catching performances at the World Cup would simply accelerate the gossip merchants.

By September you’ll be happy to never hear these ten names again.

  1. 1 Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

    Current club: Lazio

    Position: CM

    The tall Serbian has been a colossus in the centre of the park as Lazio made an unlikely push for a Champions League place in Serie A. At just 23, the time appears right for a move and his agent, former Chelsea striker Mateja Kezman, has done little to quell rumours.

    He's long been linked to a move to Manchester United, which appears the most likely option with Michael Carrick's retirement and Marouane Fellaini's possible exit leaving the club a little light in midfield.

    However, his greatest asset - his versatility and dynamism in the centre of the park - also raises questions over Paul Pogba's future, given that he fits the same powerful profile as the Frenchman.

    Given his age and contracted length until 2022, any move could cost in excess of £100m, though it's not problematic for the financial might of the Red Devils.

    Any club would do well to wrap up a deal for him before he features for Serbia at the World Cup. 

  2. 2 Neymar


    REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

    Current club: Paris Saint-Germain

    Position: LW

    The Brazilian has become known for his lavish parties, as much as he has for any of his on-field activities since moving to PSG, earning him a reputation as a kind of footballing Lord Byron.

    However, this doesn't appear well-suited to the intense demands of his meticulous new coach Thomas Tuchel.

    Murmurings from the French capital around a long-touted move to Real Madrid persist, but it simply isn't feasible given his transfer fee and contract situation.

    It's very unlikely he'll move this summer.

    Nonetheless, he's a player who'd be a natural fit as a modern Galactico. If he can shake off his injury and play at his best in Russia, there will be a lot of noise about a departure.

    Expect this one to rumble on and on, yet ultimately not go anywhere - at least until next year.

  3. 3 Alisson Becker


    REUTERS/Max Rossi

    Current club: Roma

    Position: GK

    Stepping into the Roma side after the departure of Wojciech Szczęsny, Alisson Becker has burst onto the scene as one of the best goalkeepers in world football, and will deservedly play for Brazil this summer ahead of Manchester City's Ederson.

    He's been one of Roma's standout performers as they finished third in Serie A and made the Champions League semi-finals. At 6'4 he has the frame of a formidable shot-stopper and reaction times that rival David de Gea and Jan Oblak.

    Most clubs are settled with their goalkeeper at present, but there are a few possibilities.

    PSG need a goalkeeping upgrade, for example, though they're linked with Gigi Buffon, whilst it's still up for debate if the improved Loris Karius has done quite enough to convince Liverpool that he's a long-term solution to a long-persisting problem.

    Meanwhile, Keylor Navas has made a number of high-profile errors in the Champions League for Real Madrid, who might look to replace him if he's similarly shaky in the final against Liverpool. Los Blancoshowever, are linked with Thibaut Courtois.

    Previous form suggests they have a propensity to sign the World Cup's most outstanding performers and there's every chance Alisson is just that this summer.

  4. 4 Jorginho


    REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

    Current club: Napoli

    Position: CM

    Napoli's defensive midfielder had an excellent season and he looks to be just one of a number of departures this summer.

    Like with Liverpool in 2014, their title challenge had a "now or never" feel to it and the impending break-up of their exceptional squad added an extra layer of melancholy to their failure to catch Juventus.

    Still, they set a new record points total for themselves in an exceptional campaign, and Jorginho was one of their standout performers.

    The deep-lying playmaker  looks every bit a suitable heir to Manchester City's Fernandinho, and can offer them extra depth in the short-term.

    Guardiola made no secret of his admiration for Napoli's football and this is a player who was at the fulcrum of their style.

  5. 5 Fred

    Current club: Shakhtar Donetsk

    Position: CM

    Like many of Shakhtar Donetsk's exceptional Brazilians before him - Willian, Douglas Costa, Fernandinho - he has developed his game at the Ukrainian giants and looks set to play for one of European football's major clubs.

    Reportedly set to reinforce Manchester City in January, the deal failed to materialise after the club prioritised centre-half Aymeric Laporte. It now appears unlikely the move will happen as they've turned their attention to the aforementioned Jorginho.

    Instead, he could move to the other side of Manchester, for Jose Mourinho's team who will need to invest in midfield, although this is far from confirmed. 

    This is a player who would offer a lot to most major clubs in Europe, including Liverpool, who might look to add a traditional defensive midfielder following the departure of Emre Can. 

  6. 6 Gareth Bale


    REUTERS/Heino Kalis

    Current club: Real Madrid

    Position: RW

    A month ago, the Welshman looked as if he was being frozen out at Real Madrid after Zinedine Zidane didn't pick him in some of their most important Champions League encounters. 

    However, when picked to allow others a rest, he has looked back to his explosive best, scoring five goals in his last five games, including a stunner in the Clasico against Barcelona.

    He's even done enough give himself a shout of playing the Champions League final, something that was unthinkable a month ago.

    Yet, the fact remains he looks the most expendable of Real Madrid's assets as they look to give the squad a major do-over for the first time since he arrived as their record signing in 2013. His recent form served as a reminder on his day he's one of the very best players in the world.

    Whilst a return to Tottenham has been touted, Manchester United under Ed Woodward have a made a habit of signing flashy, late-20s superstars that don't make a lot of logical sense in terms of squad structure.

    Could it happen again? 

  7. 7 Mauro Icardi


    REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

    Current club: Inter Milan

    Position: ST

    Inter Milan's last-dash qualification for the Champions League on the final day made it a lot more likely that the Argentine will stay at the club next season, but that has not stopped his frequently publicised wife and agent talking up his ability to contribute elsewhere. 

    Left out of the Argentina squad, he will not be out of the headlines.

    With a reported €110m release clause, he may be an option for Real Madrid or Bayern Munich if they end up replacing their superstar strikers, whilst he has been loosely linked to Tottenham to support Harry Kane.

    He scored 29 times this season in Serie A, making him joint-top scorer with Lazio's Ciro Immobile.

    With exactly a hundred league goals in five seasons with Inter, he's proven his ability as a goalscorer over a long period.

  8. 8 Robert Lewandowski


    REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

    Current club: Bayern Munich

    Position: ST

    The Polish striker has cut an increasingly frustrated figure at Bayern Munich this season, swapping agents in an apparent bid to force a move elsewhere. 

    Having complained about a lack of inadequate cover and the burden of goal-scoring responsibility, he then complained he wasn't getting enough minutes after the club brought in Sandro Wagner.

    Bayern's club hierarchy have remained firm against the suggestion he might depart, and if he's to earn his dream move to Real Madrid he would have to do something seriously special in the World Cup after firing blanks against them in both legs of the Champions League semi-final.

    If not Madrid, then it might be elsewhere.

    Paper talk has already begun, with The Telegraph reporting he's a top target for Chelsea. If a player isn't totally satisfied, expect the rumour mill to turn and turn. 

  9. 9 Eden Hazard


    REUTERS/Andrew Yates

    Current club: Chelsea

    Position: LW

    After playing under a number of different managers in his six seasons at Chelsea, the Belgian winger might look for a more settled environment elsewhere if Antonio Conte departs the club.

    A player too good not to be in the Champions League, he demonstrated his quality as he bamboozled Phil Jones to win a penalty before tucking it away in the FA Cup final.

    Similar performances in the World Cup could make a long-mooted move to Real Madrid finally happen. He was coy, however, when asked about his future following the cup final.

  10. 10 Nabil Fekir


    EUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot

    Current club: Lyon

    Position: CAM/ST

    It was only in the last week that Lyon's brilliant playmaker was certain to move to Liverpool, though their president Jean Michel Aulas has since suggested any club would have to be "very, very rich" in order to secure his services next season.

    Fekir, though, would make sense as a direct Coutinho replacement.

    After another outstanding performance to underpin Lyon's qualification for the Champions League, he was non-committal when speaking to the media. 

    Fekir might have made the move sooner were it not for terrible injuries, but now looking back to his best the time could be right.

    Should Liverpool miss out on him, he would improve most of their Premier League rivals and offer a lot to continental giants too.

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