Sancho to Sarr: six stars looking for a suitor before the window shuts | Football

Jadon Sancho

Manchester United’s protracted pursuit of the England forward has been the most talked-about potential transfer of the year, but the basics have remained the same for some time: Borussia Dortmund want €120m (£108m) for Sancho with United reluctant to match that valuation. Even though their latest bid was significantly short of the required sum and United have opened talks about loaning Ousmane Dembélé from Barcelona, there remains a slim chance a deal for the 20-year-old can still be done before the end of the window, especially given his willingness to move to Old Trafford.

A poor performance in Dortmund’s surprise defeat to Augsburg last week led to some questioning whether Sancho’s form had been affected by the speculation, although it was later revealed he has had a respiratory infection that, which meant he sat out the defeat to Bayern in the German Super Cup on Wednesday.

But having left Manchester City to seek his fortune in Germany and emerged as one of the world’s best young players, Sancho arriving at Old Trafford would be a real statement of intent from Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

Wilfried Zaha

Having made no secret of his desire to leave Selhurst Park, time is running out for the Ivory Coast international. Everton were his most persistent pursuers earlier in the year, having also tried to sign him last summer, but that trail appears to have gone cold for now, even if Zaha may have thrived in an attack alongside James Rodríguez and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

His £130,000-a-week salary and importance to Palace have proved major stumbling blocks to any move, however, with Monaco and Borussia Dortmund effectively priced out of a move despite their strong interest. But could Zaha’s performance against Manchester United in the 3-1 victory at Old Trafford last month have tempted Ed Woodward and co to return for the player who was Alex Ferguson’s last signing if their move for Jadon Sancho doesn’t materialise? United are entitled to a 25% sell-on fee on his next transfer and so would be able to purchase the 27-year-old for a much reduced price.

Atlético Madrid could be another option, although that move would be contingent on the club finding a buyer for the France international Thomas Lemar.



Antonio Rüdiger is now well down the pecking order at Chelsea. Photograph: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC/Getty Images

Antonio Rüdiger

Frank Lampard’s summer spending spree does not appear to have solved Chelsea’s defensive issues and the Germany international has fallen way down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge. He has been selected for one match-day squad in the Premier League season and has yet to feature this season in any competition, with reports he made it clear he did not want to play in the Carabao Cup against Tottenham last week.

The 27-year-old is desperate to retain his place in the Germany squad for next summer’s European Championship and has been strongly linked with a move to Spurs, with José Mourinho keen to strengthen his defence having been put off by Internazionale’s £45m asking price for the Slovakian international Milan Skriniar.

With less than two years of Rüdiger’s contract remaining, Chelsea are understood to be weighing up whether to sell the player they purchased from Roma for £29m in 2017 or to offer a one-year extension and allow him to leave on loan. Paris Saint-Germain and West Ham, who have been foiled in various attempts to sign a defender during this window, are also interested.

Ismaïla Sarr

Unlike Bournemouth, who have lost Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser, Aaron Ramsdale and Nathan Aké since their relegation, Watford have largely kept hold of their players, aside from selling Abdoulaye Doucouré to Everton. Interest in Sarr has not yet turned into an offer, although it is understood Liverpool were in touch with his agents before deciding to move for Diogo Jota of Wolves.

But the performances of Sarr for Watford last season – including two goals in the 3-0 victory over Liverpool that ended their 44-match unbeaten run – caught the eye of several other clubs, with Manchester United the latest to be credited with an interest. Crystal Palace are also longtime admirers of the Senegal forward who began his career at the same academy as Sadio Mané in Dakar and could seek to bring him in if Zaha leaves.

Having paid £30m to sign the 22-year-old from Rennes last year, Watford are understood to have placed a £40m valuation on him although they may be persuaded to lessen those demands as the deadlines gets closer.

Houssem Aouar

The Frenchman was outstanding in Lyon’s victory over Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-final and has been earmarked for sale in this window by his club’s president, Jean-Michel Aulas. Until Paris Saint-Germain’s late entrance to the race on Friday Arsenal had looked his most likely destination, with Aulas dismissing their opening offer as timid. “If [Nicolas] Pépé is worth the price [£72m] that they paid for him, then Houssem, who is an international player, is worth more than €30m,” he said.

Arsenal’s chances of bringing Aouar to the Premier League may rest on offloading some of their unwanted players, with Sead Kolsanic, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi all deemed surplus to requirements. Atlético Madrid’s interest in Torreira could open the door to the potential signing of the Ghana midfielder Thomas Partey, whose release clause is €50m (£42m) from the Spanish side.

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Kalidou Koulibaly

Manchester City were expected to be the club who end up signing the Senegal defender, so much so that their club website mistakenly invited fans to ask “new signing Kalidou Koulibaly” a question when the arrival of Rúben Dias from Benfica was confirmed last week. Napoli have placed a £70m price tag on the 29-year-old. “Koulibaly has a precise asking price,” said manager Gennaro Gattuso. “If the club doesn’t get the money it is asking for, then he won’t leave.”

With his agent still hoping to engineer a move, there remain potential suitors for a defender who has been recognised as one of the best in Serie A for several seasons. Liverpool have been credited with an interest, while Manchester United could also be tempted given their defensive deficiencies. The chances of him joining Juventus appear to be slim, although, as another of his representatives said last November, “anything can happen in the mercado”.


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