Bale, Sancho, Thiago: Which summer transfer sagas will get resolved, and which won't?

Are Premier League clubs really 'blackmailing' Bayern Munich? (1:42)
Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens talk about Uli Hoeness' claims that Bayern are being blackmailed over Thiago.

The summer transfer window has now entered its final three weeks, with all business in Europe's major leagues needing to be completed by Oct. 5. So far, most top clubs have been cautious with big-money moves in the market because of the financial uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Chelsea have been an exception, with £72m Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz leading a £220m spending spree at Stamford Bridge. Premier League champions Liverpool have spent just £11.8m on Olympiakos left-back Kostas Tsimikas (having raised £10.9m with the sale of Dejan Lovren to Zenit St Petersburg), while traditional big spenders Manchester City and Manchester United have spent a mere £65m and £35m respectively.

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But despite the financial prudence that is sweeping the market, there are still some big deals on the table and high-profile players looking to move. So with just 21 days to go until the window shuts, ESPN looks at which players will get their move and which ones will be left frustrated.


WHO WANTS HIM? Liverpool, Manchester United


The 29-year-old midfielder is out of contract at Bayern in 2021 and has so far rejected the offer of a new deal, but finances are proving to be a roadblock for both Liverpool and Manchester United in terms of getting a deal done.

Liverpool need to sell before they can buy, with Georginio Wijnaldum -- also out of contract next summer -- the player most likely to unlock the door to a deal. If Wijnaldum is prepared to leave, the fee and money saved on the Dutchman's wages would free up cash for Liverpool to sign Thiago. But as it stands, Wijnaldum doesn't want to leave, so Liverpool are struggling to make progress with Bayern.

United can afford the fee, but they are reluctant to meet Thiago's wage demands, which are in excess of £200,000-a-week.

Unless Thiago is prepared to accept less, United will not pursue a deal. Bayern may have to significantly lower their asking price to do a deal and avoid losing Thiago for nothing next summer.

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JADON SANCHO, FW, Borussia Dortmund

WHO WANTS HIM? Manchester United


United have tracked England winger Sancho for over a year, but they have yet to agree on a deal with Dortmund or the player, despite being given encouragement from Germany that a transfer can be done. Dortmund, who value Sancho at £100m, have left United to negotiate with agents tasked with getting a deal over the line, but although sources have told ESPN that progress is being made, a breakthrough is yet to happen.

United have made it clear that they will not meet Dortmund's valuation of the player, insisting that the pandemic has changed the financial landscape, but the German club have yet to drop their asking price. Dortmund are under no pressure to sell and Sancho has not gone public to push for a move, so the ball is in United's court. They are running out of time to make a deal happen.

Who should Manchester United sign if they can't get Sancho?
Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens discuss alternatives to Jadon Sancho including Bale, Perisic and Douglas Costa.


WHO WANTS HIM? Manchester City


Napoli are prepared to sell Senegalese defender Koulibaly, but they are determined to hold out for £70m.

City manager Pep Guardiola, who has already signed Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake, wants an experienced, proven centre-half to fill the void left by Vincent Kompany's departure in 2019, and he believes Koulibaly can be the key addition to play alongside Aymeric Laporte. But at 29, City are reluctant to meet Napoli's valuation and negotiations between the clubs are unlikely to progress smoothly due to anger at the Etihad over Napoli's decision to sell Jorginho to Chelsea two years ago, when a move to City looked to have been agreed.

Koulibaly is keen to move this summer after six years at the Italian club, so he could hold the key to a deal if he is prepared to push for a transfer to City.


WHO WANTS HIM? Manchester United


French defender Upamecano signed a contract extension earlier this summer that could keep him at Leipzig until 2023, replacing a previous deal that was due to expire at the end of this season. Reports in Germany have said that the new contract includes a €42m escape clause, which can be triggered from next summer.

Despite the 21-year-old's new deal, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rates Upamecano as the perfect defensive partner for captain Harry Maguire and could yet persuade Old Trafford executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward to make a late bid for the player. Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann told ESPN last week that Upamecano will not be sold during this window and United will have to offload the likes of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo before being in a position to make a move.

But there is a belief within United that, if they can clear the decks, Leipzig could be prepared to cash in now for a higher fee than the €42m they would receive next summer.




West Ham manager David Moyes has said it will take "Bank of England money" to tempt the club to sell England midfielder Rice, but Chelsea remain in the hunt for a player they initially had as a youngster before releasing at the age of 14.

Chelsea's £220m summer outlay has been largely funded by the £100m fee for selling Eden Hazard to Real Madrid in 2019 and the £50m earned by the completion of Alvaro Morata's move to Atletico Madrid this year, so they still have money to spend. The Stamford Bridge club are reluctant to meet West Ham's valuation of Rice, but the Hammers have only completed one signing this summer -- a £14.5m deal for Czech midfielder Tomas Soucek -- and the temptation to sell Rice to raise funds before the deadline could yet play into Chelsea's hands.

As it stands, Chelsea won't do a deal for £65m.

GARETH BALE, FW, Real Madrid

WHO WANTS HIM? Interest from China, speculation linking him to Spurs, Manchester United


Bale, 31, said earlier this month that Real have made it "very difficult" for him to leave the Santiago Bernabeu, despite coach Zinedine Zidane making it clear that the former Tottenham winger does not figure in his plans.

With two years remaining on a contract worth as much as £600,000 with bonuses, Bale is beyond the reach of every club in world football unless he takes a huge pay cut. Real are holding out for a fee of £18m for the Wales international, who has been at the club since Aug 2013, and that asking price is also likely to put off interested buyers.

For Bale to have any hope of relaunching his career with a move away, both he and Real must significantly cut their losses to create realistic interest from Premier League clubs.


WHO WANTS HIM? Fenerbahce. Al-Nassr (Saudi Arabia), interest from Qatar


The 31-year-old midfielder has not kicked a ball for Arsenal since football returned post-lockdown, and manager Mikel Arteta has made it clear the German has no future at the Emirates. But with a year to run on his £350,000-a-week contract, Ozil will not leave unless Arsenal pay up the remainder of his deal.

Arsenal are unlikely to cancel Ozil's contract and let him leave for nothing, but they are willing to offload him if a club is prepared to take over his contract or subsidise his wages.

With interest from Fenerbahce and wealthy clubs in the Middle East, Ozil has opportunities to play regular football elsewhere, but Arsenal will have to accept a big financial hit in order to grease the wheels of any potential deal.