Time is running out for teams to make a splash in the summer transfer window. With the shopping period set to close next week and a flurry of late activity expected in the coming days, we highlight one player that Europe’s top clubs should be targeting at the 11th hour.
Note: Estimated transfer values provided by transfermarkt.com.
Arsenal: Pedro Neto
Club: Wolverhampton Wanderers | Position: Winger | Value: €32M
Arsenal, enjoying their best start to a Premier League season since 2004, can keep the good vibes going with one more splash in the transfer market before the window closes Sept. 1. With Nicolas Pepe, mercifully, on the verge of a loan move, another option out wide should be on the agenda for Mikel Arteta and the Gunners. Neto, 22, could prove very difficult to obtain on such short notice – Wolves would surely demand a handsome fee – but the exciting Portuguese winger would bolster Arteta’s squad while fitting the club’s ethos of procuring young talent with high upside.
Chelsea: Wesley Fofana
Club: Leicester City | Position: Center-back | Value: €40M
One of the summer’s most protracted sagas needs a resolution, for the good of all involved. By all accounts, the 21-year-old Fofana wants to leave Leicester City; Brendan Rodgers has resorted to leaving him out of the squad amid rampant speculation over his future. And Chelsea, on the back of a rough start to the season, intend to be active before the deadline. Signing another central defender would allow Thomas Tuchel to continue utilizing his preferred back-three while simultaneously pushing the outstanding Reece James back to his best position at wing-back. Everyone wins.
Liverpool: Ismael Bennacer
Club: AC Milan | Position: Midfielder | Value: €33M
Jurgen Klopp won’t openly question Liverpool’s directors – he’s been diplomatic when discussing transfer matters this summer – but it’s clear he’d appreciate having another midfielder at his disposal, particularly as injuries mount and James Milner’s age finally begins to show. Jude Bellingham remains the dream signing for next summer, it seems, but presenting a tempting offer to AC Milan for Bennacer would be wise. One of the game’s most underrated players, the Algerian conductor could slot in immediately and help the Reds recover from a poor start to the campaign.
Manchester City: Raphael Guerreiro
Club: Borussia Dortmund | Position: Left-back | Value: €25M
He may claim that Sergio Gomez was signed with the intention of playing first-team minutes this year, but if you offered Pep Guardiola the opportunity to add a more seasoned left-back to his team, he likely wouldn’t protest. If Joao Cancelo were to be sidelined for any reason, Manchester City would suddenly look far less menacing. Guerreiro could help alleviate that concern. The 28-year-old doesn’t offer the same unique attacking output as his compatriot – almost nobody can – but he’s a forward-thinking left-back who’s tactically flexible enough to occupy various spaces on the pitch. He can also tuck into central areas in possession, which is a staple of Guardiola’s teams.
Manchester United: Victor Osimhen
Club: Napoli | Position: Striker | Value: €65M
Manchester United are still under construction, and they have several holes to fill in order to provide Erik ten Hag with the right personnel to play his desired style. Though both are exciting players who’d improve the team, continued links to Antony and Cody Gakpo don’t solve one of the Red Devils’ most glaring issues: Ten Hag needs a striker. Even if he stays put, Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t a fit. Considering some of the figures being touted in a potential Antony deal – and the fact that United just spent £70 million on a 30-year-old Casemiro – money isn’t an obstacle. With that in mind, the club should throw the kitchen sink at Napoli in order to acquire Osimhen. He’s a superlative striker who, at 23, would have a transformative effect on United’s attack.
Tottenham Hotspur: Ruslan Malinovskyi
Club: Atalanta | Position: Midfielder | Value: €28M
Tottenham have invested heavily so far this summer in order to give Antonio Conte the squad he desires, and the early returns have been quite promising. The squad still lacks some creativity and attacking impetus from central midfield, though; the burden to fashion chances and score goals shouldn’t fall exclusively on Spurs’ vaunted crop of forwards. Malinovskyi, like others before him, has seemingly butted heads with Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini. He appears open to a move. The Ukrainian, who has a piledriver for a left foot, would add the type of scoring ability from midfield that Conte’s current options don’t possess.
Atletico Madrid: Sergino Dest
Club: Barcelona | Position: Right-back | Value: €18M
Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone is desperate for the transfer window to close so he can have some clarity surrounding his squad, which is mired in uncertainty amid rumblings that several players could yet depart. All eyes are on the exit door at the Wanda Metropolitano right now. But Atleti could still benefit from adding depth at right-back, where new signing Nahuel Molina is still adjusting. Dest, 21, has been told in no uncertain terms that he’s not part of Xavi’s plans. He could prove an intriguing addition for a relatively low cost. Any move that allows Marcos Llorente to permanently slot back into his natural position in central midfield is a positive, too.
Barcelona: Sergio Reguilon
Club: Tottenham Hotspur | Position: Left-back | Value: €25M
Barcelona’s mystifying summer isn’t over just yet. After selling off future assets to fund exorbitant, immediate spending, the Catalan club remains active on the transfer front. Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso has long been the primary target to improve the left-back position, currently occupied by 33-year-old Jordi Alba and unproven teenager Alex Balde. Is Alonso really the answer, though? He provides goals from the position, but he’s a defensive liability who’s already 31 years old himself. Reguilon, meanwhile, is a younger, more mobile player who could help stabilize the left-back spot for longer. He’d also be a better fit for Xavi’s aggressive system, which requires athleticism and constant movement.
Real Madrid: Armando Broja
Club: Chelsea | Position: Striker | Value: €22M
Karim Benzema, likely the next winner of the Ballon d’Or, is a phenomenon. He’ll also be 35 years old in December. It’d behoove Real Madrid to ensure a proper succession plan is in place, just as they did in midfield by proactively adding Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni. Either Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland – or perhaps both – was supposed to be the ultimate succession plan. But with Madrid having missed out on both, at least for now, other options need to be considered. Broja, 20, isn’t nearly as polished as the aforementioned young stars, but he’s shown signs that he can grow into a striker capable of leading the attack for a top club.
AC Milan: Evan Ndicka
Club: Eintracht Frankfurt | Position: Center-back | Value: €32M
AC Milan have been seeking additional defensive cover all summer as they look to retain the Serie A crown they captured last season. The Rossoneri fought hard to sign Sven Botman but were ultimately beaten out by Newcastle. Therefore, the club’s excellent scouting department has been forced to scour the market for alternative options. Ndicka, 23, fits the bill. Experienced despite his age – he started at least 20 Bundesliga matches in each of the last four seasons – he’d offer depth upon arrival and would have time to settle in before potentially developing into a future starter. Milan’s current backup center-backs are either coming off serious injury (Simon Kjaer) or are still too raw (Matteo Gabbia). Another option would be welcome.
Inter Milan: Trevoh Chalobah
Club: Chelsea | Position: Center-back | Value: €20M
Much like their hated city rivals, Inter Milan are also on the hunt for some defensive reinforcements. Veteran Italian Francesco Acerbi, who worked with manager Simone Inzaghi at Lazio, is in the mix, but his possible signing has a very clear, very limited ceiling. The 34-year-old lefty would simply be a short-term backup. Chalobah, though, ticks more boxes. Far younger, the Chelsea player can operate in multiple positions. He also offers potential long-term stability should Inter lose one of their current central defenders, either in the final days of the window – which now seems highly unlikely – or in the future. An initial loan with a purchase option, the favored transfer formula of many Serie A clubs amid tight financial times, could do the trick.
Juventus: Renan Lodi
Club: Atletico Madrid | Position: Left-back | Value: €30M
Juventus have a few significant issues to resolve in the final days of the summer window, but none are quite so glaring as the dire left-back situation. Longstanding midfield concerns are based more on how Massimiliano Allegri is utilizing his current troops – the talent, for the most part, is there. But the personnel at left-back is simply not good enough for a team looking to return to the Serie A summit. Alex Sandro is declining rapidly, and Mattia De Sciglio, when fit, is an underwhelming backup at best. Lodi, an unused substitute in Atletico Madrid’s first two matches of the season, is precisely the type of attack-minded full-back that could help invigorate a team that’s playing insipid football at the moment.
Bayern Munich: Florian Neuhaus
Club: Borussia Monchengladbach | Position: Midfielder | Value: €20M
What the heck do you get for the team that already has everything? Even without Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich boast arguably the most complete squad in Europe. They’re doing just fine without the prolific Pole. Including the DFL-Supercup, Bayern have scored 20 goals in four matches to open the new campaign. Not bad. The Bavarians have been trying to add more midfield depth this summer, but with their well-documented pursuit of Konrad Laimer firmly put to bed by RB Leipzig coach Domenico Tedesco, circling back to old flame Neuhaus could be a solid alternative.
Borussia Dortmund: Christian Pulisic
Club: Chelsea | Position: Winger | Value: €42M
Speaking of old flames. Borussia Dortmund have expressed interest in signing Callum Hudson-Odoi, but the return of Pulisic to his former digs might make more sense for both BVB and the American winger alike. The 23-year-old needs more playing time ahead of the World Cup than Chelsea seem interested in affording. Instead of moving to unfamiliar surroundings where there’d be a period of acclimatization, Pulisic may have a better chance of hitting the ground running back in the familiar surroundings of the Westfalenstadion, where he first rose to prominence.
Paris Saint-Germain: Ivan Ilic
Club: Hellas Verona | Position: Midfielder | Value: €14M
Ever since new adviser Luis Campos started overseeing transfer activity, Paris Saint-Germain have very clearly targeted younger, relatively cost-effective talent. Outrageous fees and hefty salaries for players already in their prime is no longer the modus operandi at PSG, at least this summer. In a similar vein to deals for Hugo Ekitike, Renato Sanches, and Nordi Mukiele, the star-studded French champions could spring for Ilic, the creative Serbian midfielder who’s caught some eyes since joining Hellas Verona. If they can secure the services of the 21-year-old and ship out some more elder members of the squad who are no longer viewed as key contributors, Campos will have very quickly put his stamp on the club.