The effect of the most chaotic summer transition ever is still being felt, but it won’t be long before the winter window opens, bringing a new layer of chaos throughout the European game.
Clubs are separated from the ability to drive and tackle again by a month, and while mid-season shouldn’t be hectic and all-out when it comes to the biggest names in the sport, there is still the potential for some seasons – and club change decisions to be made from 1 January 2022.
Chief among them is the lottery for Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic, the 21-year-old Serbian who has become the hot young name in the transfer market (his 12-goal Serie A goal is a good reason for that). Questions also surround Man City’s unique role as a potential seller, with Ferran Torres and Raheem Sterling linked with a move away, even with the team’s recent resurgence.
The Africa Cup of Nations is another crease this winter, with players in the competition likely to miss a month with their clubs, which could bring in reinforcements when required. Liverpool, in particular, could be hit hard with the participation of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
These are just a few of the top areas of focus this winter. Here’s a closer look at three of the other key pressing issues as another transfer window approaches:
Mbappe and all the stars who are out of the contract
The biggest impact of this January window could end with non-contract stars who sign pre-contracts elsewhere to secure their summer moves six months ahead of schedule. And there’s no bigger name than Kylian Mbappé, who has been flirting with Real Madrid this summer even as PSG have been filling their transfer spree of the ages. He has rejected all of PSG’s efforts to sign a new contract so far, and the latest reports suggest the two sides are no closer to bridging that gap. He is eligible to sign a pre-contract elsewhere as soon as the window opens, and Real Madrid, who have made it look like they are paying to sign him this summer, are at the front of the waiting list.
Just to be clear, there is no guarantee that Mbappé will pre-sign a contract anywhere this winter. He can simply choose what his current team-mate Lionel Messi did last winter and stop his contract before evaluating the options in the summer (Messi’s situation, of course, played differently than he intended due to Barcelona’s financial mismanagement). Mbappé may not want to have a pre-contract suspended over the rest of his season as a distraction, and if his heart is truly in Madrid, waiting a few more months isn’t going to change that.
However, he is not the only one who has entered the last six months of his current deal. Paul Pogba is in a similar situation at Manchester United, although a management change could alter the calculus at Old Trafford. The injured Ousmane Dembele is also getting close to freedom, despite Barcelona’s best attempts to re-sign him. German central defenders Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea) and Niklas Sule (Bayern Munich) can be free in the summer, while Serie A midfielders Frank Kessie (AC Milan) and Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan), and forwards Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli) and Andrea Belotti (Torino) is among the best talents that will soon be available for hire. The pandemic has cut costs at most clubs, as managers seek deals and while free transfers are not “free” when considering wages, bonuses and agent fees, not having to pay a transfer fee on top of all that makes an attractive proposition.
Will anyone sign as a result of this with Newcastle?
Newcastle faces a big dilemma. She now has all the money in the world and the highest aspirations, but she’s also staring down the pit of a relegation battle. Through 14 matches in the English Premier League, the club did not achieve any victory (0-7-7), in last place and six points behind safety.
It can get worse before it gets better, too. If Newcastle do not beat struggling team-mate Burnley at home on Saturday, the points could be hard to come by until 2022. Newcastle’s roster in December is really tough, with the Magpies playing Leicester, in Liverpool, versus Man City, against Man United. And at Everton between December 12 and the New Year. New manager Eddie Howe quit his job, and then some.
So where does that club with fresh dreams of joining the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Man City in the first division leave big spenders after the Saudi takeover? Her ability to compete at the top anytime soon is directly linked to her ability to stay in the top flight this season, and achieving that safety could prove challenging, especially with her team as it is currently built.
So which players will sign, even with a salary increase, knowing that next year can be spent in the tournament? There may be contractual clauses that could allow any new signings to be released upon relegation, but he spent six months playing for the last-place team in hopes of staying so he could consider competing at a higher level starting with the summer not looking attractive and requiring some real long-term buying. . Money speaks, but he will have to scream convincingly for the club to improve significantly on paper in January.
Who are the American players that could head abroad?
U.S. youth internationals and New York Red Bulls productions Caden Clark (RB Leipzig) and Kyle Duncan (Ostend) already secured their plans in January, as did Mexican-American left-back Jonathan Gomez (Real Sociedad, formerly of Louisville City FC). But all eyes are on the two MLS-based forwards to see if they follow.
Ricardo Pepe’s appearances in both the MLS and the US national team in World Cup qualifiers are said to have caught the attention of some of Europe’s top clubs. Meanwhile, Daryl Dyke has finished the season with eight goals in his last 10 games, recalling all the level that claimed Orlando $20 million while regularly scoring goals on loan at Barnsley in the spring.
Youngsters Justin Chee (FC Dallas), Kevin Paredes (DC United) and Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids), all of whom are candidates for the upcoming US camp in December, also apply to the bill as talents attracting outside interest. Che spent the first part of 2021 on loan with Bayern Munich as part of the FCD partnership with the club, while Bassett is said to be on the verge of moving to Benfica this summer.
Winter tends to be an active time for North American-based players relocating abroad, however, with no Major League Soccer seasons and players looking to make the leap. Just this past January, Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie left Philadelphia for Salzburg and Genk, respectively, while Brian Reynolds left Dallas for Rome. The loan market was also strong, with Che going to Bayern, Jordan Morris and Paul Areola going to Swansea and Dyke securing his way to Barnsley. Not all moves can materialize, as Reynolds, who would benefit greatly from a loan or direct sale given his inactivity under Jose Mourinho, can attest, but for players who want to test themselves in Europe’s top leagues, there’s only one way to find out. that.
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