As the summer transfer window continues to gradually tick towards its customary anti-climactic conclusion, clubs from the Premier League and Europe still have around two weeks to conclude a few late signings and strengthen their squads before the window shuts on September 2.
Speculation naturally begins to run amok in the latter stages of the window and it becomes increasingly tricky when trying to differentiate between fact and fiction in the gossip columns.
However, there remains a strong feeling that there are still a number of big summer deals to go through before the window snaps shut. Here are the five most likely to be completed.
Asier Illarramendi: Real Madrid > Liverpool
Despite spending more than £63 million this summer on seven new additions and acquiring James Milner on a free transfer to plug the hole left by Steven Gerrard, it seems Brendan Rodgers remains in the market for midfield reinforcements.
A move for Real Madrid midfielder Illarramendi is “inevitable” according to Mundo Deportivo, with the out-of-favour Spaniard expected to fall further down the pecking order at the Bernabeu once Mateo Kovacic completes his transfer from Inter Milan. Kop boss Rodgers is primed to swoop in a bid to make his side genuine top four challengers.
Julian Draxler: Schalke > Juventus
Talks are reportedly ongoing between Schalke and Juventus over the transfer of Germany international Draxler, with the Serie A champions eager to strengthen ahead of their title defence.
A long-term target for Arsenal, the 21-year-old winger has emerged as a primary target for manager Massimilano Allegri this summer and Gazzetta dello Sport claim the Italian club will submit a £19.1 million bid – £12.7m of which will be paid up front – in an effort to fend off interest from the Gunners, while attempting to entice Draxler with a £2.3m-a-season deal that will last for five years.
William Carvalho: Sporting Lisbon > Real Madrid
Arsene Wenger is known to be an admirer of Carvalho, a player whose progress he has tracked for a number of years, but the Arsenal boss’ hesitancy looks set to be punished with Real Madrid chief Rafael Benitez preparing a £32 million bid for the 23-year-old defensive midfielder according to AS.
A lingering uncertainty has hovered over Carvalho’s future at Sporting Lisbon all summer, a situation Benitez is ready to capitalise on, and the Portugal international’s agent Jorge Mendes is scheduled to hold imminent talks with Real officials to discuss the finer points of the deal.
Kevin de Bruyne: Wolfsburg > Manchester City
Despite the fact De Bruyne stated that he will “definitely” be a Wolfsburg player at a recent awards ceremony, the Belgian international’s agent, Patrick De Koster, angrily denied that his client had committed his immediate future to the Bundesliga club; instead suggesting the 24-year-old’s didn’t understand the question as he isn’t a native German speaker.
City have pursued De Bruyne relentlessly this summer and are readying an increased £50 million bid for the former Chelsea man. Dieter Hecking, the Wolfsburg manager, has already wished his star player luck for the future and it looks nailed on that he will be playing at the Etihad Stadium this season.
Ilkay Gundogan: Borussia Dortmund > Juventus
Reports in Italy and Germany claim Juventus boss Massimilano Allegri will target Borussia Dortmund midfielder Gundogan as a cheaper option to Mario Gotze as he chases a replacement for Arturo Vidal following the Chilean’s summer switch to Bayern Munich.
The Germany international is valued at around £15 million, which is significantly less than the £31m price tag on the head of international compatriot Gotze, and is being earmarked to provide back up for the injury-prone Sami Khedira