Will Real Madrid replace Cristiano Ronaldo? W2W4 as Europe's transfer window closes
The summer transfer window has closed in England and Italy, but clubs in Spain, Germany and France have until Aug. 31 to complete their squads for the 2018-19 campaign. So what are the major talking points before the deadline passes?
Spain: Will Real Madrid replace Cristiano Ronaldo?
With Real Madrid still to sign a marquee name to fill the huge void created by Ronaldo's €100m departure to Juventus, the presidents of elite clubs across Europe will be keeping a nervous eye on their fax machines right up until the window shuts.
If the Madrid media are to be believed, Florentino Perez could yet be tempted to test Paris Saint-Germain's resolve with a late mega-money offer for either Neymar or Kylian Mbappe, while Chelsea's supporters will cross their fingers that the Bernabeu's decision-makers do not resurrect their interest in Eden Hazard.
It seems more likely that the European champions will move for a striker to ease some of the pressure on Karim Benzema, who turns 31 in December. Madrid have been linked with their former players Rodrigo (Valencia) and Mariano Diaz (Lyon), as well as Mauro Icardi of Inter Milan, Timo Werner of RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski.
Defending champions Barcelona have already spent around €126m to sign four new players -- centre-back Clement Lenglet, midfielders Arturo Vidal and Arthur, and wide forward Malcom -- but they continue to be linked with central midfielders, among them PSG's Adrien Rabiot, who has entered the last year of his contract, and Mino Raiola's Paul Pogba. Kevin Kampl, Leipzig's Slovenian midfielder, has emerged as a potential deputy for Sergio Busquets.
Sevilla have reportedly been deterred by Julian Draxler's wage demands after making enquiries about a loan deal for the out-of-favour PSG midfielder, but could yet make moves for Borussia Dortmund playmaker Shinji Kagawa and Lyon striker Diaz. Valencia may consider another attempt to bring Portugal forward Goncalo Guedes back to the Mestalla from PSG on a permanent basis after his impressive loan spell there last season.
Germany: Bayern stick, Dortmund twist
Bayern Munich have kept their powder dry in the transfer window, with midfielder Leon Goretzka, who signed a pre-contract agreement whilst at Schalke in January, the only new arrival (Renato Sanches and Serge Gnabry have also returned to the club after loan spells). Bild have linked the Bavarian giants with Antoine Griezmann and Paulo Dybala in recent days, but in both cases, Bayern would not be expected to make their move until next summer.
Schalke, Bayern's closest rivals last season, are reported to have won the race to sign midfielder Sebastian Rudy from the champions in a deal worth around €16m, having seen off interest from Leipzig and Hoffenheim. But the Gelsenkirchen club are reported to have been rebuffed in their attempt to take left-back Danny Rose on loan from Tottenham.
Leipzig can be expected to go back in for 20-year-old Everton winger Ademola Lookman, who spent the second half of last season on loan at the Red Bull Arena, after seeing a succession of bids turned down by the Merseyside club.
Borussia Dortmund's search for a replacement for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang appears set to come to an end amid reports that they have struck a deal to bring in Paco Alcacer from Barcelona on a season-long loan with an option to buy of between €20-25m. Dortmund, who have already signed Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel and Denmark international Thomas Delaney, had also been in talks with Liverpool's Divock Origi but a move appears to have broken down.
France: PSG WLTM a DM and LB
PSG are a holding midfielder short following Thiago Motta's retirement, although there are suggestions that Rabiot could be asked to play in a deeper role under Thomas Tuchel this season. The French champions are also light at left-back, where Layvin Kurzawa is their only senior player, and have been linked with Rose and Atletico Madrid's Filipe Luis. Rumours of a move for Rose's Tottenham teammate Christian Eriksen look fanciful though.
Monaco are reported to be close to completing a move for Bayer Leverkusen right-back Benjamin Henrichs and are also said to feature in the group of clubs monitoring Claudio Marchisio, who has been a free agent since leaving Juventus.
Lyon could move for another new centre-back despite having already brought in Jason Denayer from Manchester City.
Marseille put on a brave face after missing out on Mario Balotelli, who elected to stay at Nice, with club president Jacques-Henri Eyraud insisting that their sole transfer objective was to bring in a central midfielder to replace Fulham new boy Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa. The Europa League finalists are expected to complete an eye-catching €25m move for Kevin Strootman, who previously worked under OM coach Rudi Garcia at Roma.
Hatem Ben Arfa, released by PSG at the end of last season, is reported to have received propositions from Rennes and Nice, where he spent a memorable season in 2015-16.