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Europe’s Top Transfer Targets: From Mbappé to Aubameyang via Verratti - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London- Andrea Belotti, Torino

After Manchester United’s pursuit of Antoine Griezmann ran into a brick wall, their search for a replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimovic took them to Real Madrid’s Álvaro Morata. The Spanish striker remains top of their list but United have also been keeping an eye on a young Italian who looks destined to enjoy a wonderful career. Strong and relentless, Belotti has scored 40 goals in 73 appearances since joining Torino two years ago and Milan have already seen one bid turned down for the 23-year-old Italy international. Torino are holding out for as much money as possible, though they would not mind hanging on to Belotti for another season.

Douglas Costa, Bayern Munich

The Brazilian winger fell out of favour in his second season at Bayern, making only 14 starts in the Bundesliga under Carlo Ancelotti, and he has also clashed with the club’s new board during negotiations for a fresh contract. The 26-year-old was labelled “desperate” in February by the club president, Uli Hoeness, and his departure looks certain this summer. But there is no doubting his talent and Juventus are poised to take advantage of Costa’s situation by bringing him to Turin. He would be an excellent signing for the Serie A champions, who are determined to push on after their Champions League final defeat.

Virgil van Dijk, Southampton

The centre-back remains in demand despite Liverpool ending their interest in him after Southampton reported them to the Premier League for an alleged illegal approach this month. Southampton were furious when reports emerged that Liverpool were ready to complete a £60m transfer for the Holland international and their strident response indicated their determination to keep the 25-year-old, whose contract runs until 2022. Chelsea and Manchester City continue to monitor Van Dijk, who has been outstanding since his move from Celtic two years ago, but will the asking price force them to look elsewhere?

Kylian Mbappé, Monaco

The 18-year-old is the most exciting young talent in Europe after shooting to prominence last season. Likened to Thierry Henry because of his searing speed, skill and lethal finishing, Mbappé played a starring role in Monaco’s charge to the Ligue 1 title and proved that he can flourish at the highest level by helping Leonardo Jardim’s side reach the Champions League semi-finals. And his 24 goals in all competitions saw him become the youngest player to break into the France senior team since Maryan Wisniewski in 1955. Inevitably there have been covetous glances from top clubs in England and Spain – but it may take a record fee for Monaco to do business, especially if Paris Saint-Germain make an inquiry.

Alexandre Lacazette, Lyon

The striker appeared to be bound for Atlético Madrid before the court of arbitration for sport upheld the Spanish club’s transfer ban, opening the door for Arsenal. Lacazette could be the top striker they have been trying to buy ever since selling Robin van Persie five years ago. The 26-year-old scored 36 goals for Lyon last season and the French side could be tempted to sell him for £60m. Arsenal, who have made their interest clear, should not shy away from stumping up the cash for a forward who more than makes up for his lack of height with his pace, movement and deadliness.

Alexis Sánchez, Arsenal

All the dog posters in the world may not be enough to convince the Chilean to stay at Arsenal after their failure to qualify for the Champions League. Although Arsenal ended the season on a high, beating Chelsea in the FA Cup final, there were times when Sánchez could not hide his frustration about playing for a team that constantly fall short in the biggest competitions. The 28-year-old is entering the final 12 months of his contract and can be forgiven for thinking that he is above the Europa League. Chelsea and Manchester City are interested, although Arsenal’s reluctance to sell to a rival could push Bayern or PSG to the top of the queue.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Borussia Dortmund

PSG looked favourites to sign the forward after he told Dortmund he wanted to leave at the end of last season, but the French side’s interest in the 28-year-old appears to have cooled. Not that Dortmund can rest easy yet. The speedy Aubameyang, who has scored 113 goals in his four seasons with the German side, would make a fine addition for any team in Europe. He has been heavily linked with both Manchester clubs, and he would be an obvious replacement for Diego Costa at Chelsea, but those close to the Gabon international have said his dream is to play for Barcelona or Real Madrid.

Nélson Semedo, Benfica

The Portuguese champions could do with hanging on to Semedo after selling Victor Lindelof to Manchester United and hope that an exorbitant asking price will deter clubs. But Barcelona need a new right-back. They have been chasing Arsenal’s Héctor Bellerín, but Semedo also features on their list. The 23-year-old is already a Portugal international and has been linked with United, who could pounce if Barcelona fail to make their move.

James Rodríguez, Real Madrid

The Colombian was the star of the last World Cup, with his outstanding performances in Brazil earning him a lucrative move to Real Madrid. But while he shone in his first season at the Bernabéu, the golden boy has become the forgotten man under Zinédine Zidane. His attitude and commitment to training have been criticised and he was not even on the bench in the Champions League final. He badly needs a fresh start. There have been suggestions that Chelsea might offer him one, although he might not fit into Antonio Conte’s system, and United are also said to be keen. Whatever happens, Real will want a hefty fee.

Marco Verratti, PSG

Barcelona’s desire to sign the Italian is easy to understand. Verratti might not score many goals or win many awards, but he is a midfielder with a deep understanding of football, a player who can control games with his technique, anticipation and passing. It is clear to see how the 24-year-old would fit in at Barcelona, who believe that he can be the long-term replacement for Xavi Hernández. While some players can struggle to adapt to their style, it is unlikely that would be a problem for Verratti.

Gianluigi Donnarumma, Milan

The Italian prodigy is widely regarded as the heir to Gianluigi Buffon’s throne, which is no surprise bearing in mind his outstandingly precocious performances in the two years since he became the youngest goalkeeper to start a Serie A game. Donnarumma made his international debut at the age of 17 and is expected to be Italy’s No1 when Buffon finally steps aside. But the 18-year-old’s future is uncertain after turning down Milan’s offer of a new contract worth £80,000 a week, a development that caused angry fans to shower his goalmouth with fake dollar bills during Italy’s victory over Denmark in the European Under-21 Championship on Sunday night. His agent, Mino Raiola, holds the club’s board to blame, however, and the stand-off could force Milan to sell, with United and Real closely monitoring the situation.

Guardian Sport