With the summer transfer window mercifully slated to close on Monday, here are six players whose respective futures are still very much up in the air.
Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)
The summer transfer window’s most ennui-ridden saga has been Neymar’s not-so-reticent desire to return to Barcelona following a two-season spell at Paris Saint-Germain.
Neymar left Barcelona to escape Lionel Messi’s shadow, and now it appears the theatrical Brazilian is looking to duck Kylian Mbappe’s charismatic reign in the French capital. After splashing the GDP of a Caribbean island on Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong, Neto, Junior Firpo, and others, the Blaugrana will need to be creative to lure Neymar back to the Camp Nou.
Barcelona have offered the likes of Ivan Rakitic, Rafinha, Philippe Coutinho, and Ousmane Dembele in return to no avail, according to reports.
Prediction: Remains at Paris Saint-Germain
Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)
Speaking of Dembele, the Frenchman will likely be the key piece in a move for Neymar, with Barcelona reportedly tabling a third offer that includes the 22-year-old French winger plus a few coins found in the couch.
Barcelona is irked that the oft-injured speedster failed to disclose the severity of his current hamstring ailment, and that, plus perpetual off-pitch tardiness, has alienated Ernesto Valverde and Co. Dembele also faces a logjam of more decorated attackers ahead of him in the pecking order, something that may encourage a deadline-day departure.
If Barcelona can convince Dembele to take the bait, a last-second Neymar transfer might be in the cards. Who are we kidding? It’s not happening.
Prediction: Remains at Barcelona
Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)
Christian Eriksen is now languishing in football purgatory after his celebrated six years and change at Tottenham, with the Middelfart, Denmark-born midfielder entering the final year of his current contract no nearer to a resolution.
Amid reports of Real Madrid’s interest, Eriksen has expressed a desire to seek a new challenge, and manager Mauricio Pochettino remains worried that the purveyor of long-distance strikes is unsettled. Spurs risk losing the 27-year-old for nothing in the summer during a period that could see Tottenham endure a handful of high-profile exits.
Saturday’s north London derby marks a D-Day of sorts for Eriksen, though it seems a stretch to think Real will offer a nine-digit fee for the wantaway Dane.
Prediction: Remains at Tottenham
Mauro Icardi (Inter)
Adding Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez may have opened the door for Mauro Icardi’s long-awaited Inter exit, and the Argentine striker’s reported intention to sue the club would lead to a one-way ticket out of town.
Stripped of the captaincy last season amid a contractual impasse and exiled from the preseason, Antonio Conte has told Icardi that he’s free to leave. Now, all the 26-year-old requires is a suitor, and with the seventh-largest wages in Serie A, that list is an abbreviated one featuring Atletico Madrid at the top. If there’s a manager who can restrain Icardi’s off-pitch antics, it’s Antonio Conte.
Nikola Kalinic’s impending transfer to Roma would open a spot for Icardi as a loan with an option to buy looms for the two-time Capocannoniere winner.
Prediction: Moves to Atletico Madrid
Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich)
Through three league matches, Jerome Boateng has yet to play a single minute for Bayern Munich despite appearing on Niko Kovac’s team sheet during each occasion.
Links with Fenerbache and Roma have since gone cold, and the World Cup winner appears surplus to requirements as Kovac opts instead to pair recruits Benjamin Pavard and full-back Lucas Hernandez with Niklas Sule in central defense. Bayern Munich Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said Boateng “will not find it easy to get regular game time,” a sentiment president Uli Hoeness doubled down on while advising the 30-year-old to “find a new club.”
Even with all the signs signaling toward a change of scenery, the absence of material rumors is a hint that Boateng will stick around until at least January.
Prediction: Remains at Bayern Munich
Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal)
Arsenal center-back Shkodran Mustafi’s calamitous spell in north London has become untenable, prompting talk of a potential summer exit for the error-prone German at a cut-rate fee.
David Luiz’s move to the Emirates Stadium and manager Unai Emery saying that Mustafi should seek “another challenge” all but cements the 27-year-old’s persona-non-grata status at Arsenal. With an unprecedented and widespread squad overhaul also leading to recent departures for Nacho Monreal and Mohamed Elneny, several clubs have been alerted about Mustafi’s availability.
Links with Milan, Sampdoria, and Lazio have gone quiet, meaning Monaco remain the only club left that can end Arsenal’s enduring defensive nightmare.
Prediction: Remains at Arsenal