Neymar and Co: Five Soccer Stars Who Could Be on the Move This Summer

Over the past four weeks, the World Cup managed the rare feat of relegating transfer speculations to little more than an afterthought.

News of Cristiano Ronaldo swapping Real Madrid for Juventus resonated worldwide, but it was hard to dispel the feeling that Manchester City breaking their transfer record would have normally commanded more attention had it not been for the World Cup.

Likewise, Liverpool’s three summer signings have almost gone under the radar as has the fact Chelsea finally sacked Antonio Conte after leaving him in a limbo for two months.

However, with the World Cup now in the history books, the first chips have begun to fall and clubs can be expected to ramp up their business over the next couple of weeks.

Premier League clubs in particular could face a race against time after agreeing the transfer window will shut on August 9, a day before the beginning of the season.

In the rest of Europe, the window will remain open until the end of August as customary, meaning Premier League clubs will be able to sell until the end of the month but not buy.

Here are five of the biggest names who could change club before the beginning of the season.

Neymar

GettyImages-992964734 Brazil's forward Neymar looks on during the World Cup quarter-final against Belgium at the Kazan Arena in Kazan on July 6, 2018. The Brazilian might leave PSG this summer. Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

Not only did Kylian Mbappe’s electric performances at the World Cup threaten to shake up the established duopoly of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi at the top of world soccer, they might have also changed Paris Saint-Germain’s priorities.

The French champions have committed to pay $218 million to make Mbappe’s loan move permanent this summer after breaking the transfer record for Neymar last year.

As a result, they might have to sell some players to avoid breaching Financial Fair Play Regulations, and while Neymar seemed destined to become PSG’s poster boy last season, the plan no longer appears so straight-forward.

The Brazilian is reportedly unsettled in Paris, and during the World Cup rumours emerged suggesting he had bullied Mbappe in training. With the two not seeing eye-to-eye and Neymar’s antics in Russia attracting unwanted attention, it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibilities to see PSG opting to sell the Brazilian.

Last week, Real Madrid denied tabling a bid for Neymar but Madrid-based newspaper AS believes the Brazilian could indeed leave the French capital.

Eden Hazard

One of the star performers at the World Cup, the Belgian tops Real Madrid’s list of potential replacements for Cristiano Ronaldo and could command a world record fee in the region of $260 million.

Hazard has not explicitly requested to leave Chelsea but his comments after Belgium’s win against England in the third-place playoff game on Saturday did not exactly bode well for Blues fans.

“In the future, you never know what can happen,” the Belgian told reporters, a line which in modern soccer parlance very often means a player is considering his options.

At his unveiling as new Chelsea boss, Maurizio Sarri said he wanted to keep Hazard and make him a better player. The latter hinges on the former, which is far from guaranteed.

Gareth Bale

Such is the regularity of rumors linking Bale with a return to the Premier League that one could set a calendar by them. This year is no different and the Welshman’s future is again a topic of debate, with Manchester United understood to be monitoring the situation.

Bale’s two goals were the difference in last season’s Champions League final but not even that exploit and Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure might be enough to guarantee him a place in the starting XI next season.

GettyImages-962778694 Real Madrid's forward Gareth Bale celebrates after scoring the the 3-1 during the UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on May 26. The Welshman could leave Real Madrid this summer. Sergei Supinski/AFP/Getty Images

The former Tottenham Hotspur star is reportedly seeking assurances over his role at the Santiago Bernabeu next season, particularly given Julen Lopetegui has replaced Zinedine Zidane in the dugout.

The Welshman epitomizes the kind of blockbuster deal United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward loves to pull off, but will Real listen to offers?

Thibaut Courtois

Hazard is not the only Belgian who could swap London for Madrid, with Real Madrid working on a deal for Courtois. Belgium and Chelsea’s number one was among the best goalkeepers at the World Cup and has been linked with a move back to Madrid—where he previously played for Atletico—for over two years.

Likewise, despite winning the Champions League in the last three seasons, Real have been looking for a world class goalkeeper since Iker Casillas left for Porto in 2015.

Having seemingly given up on Manchester United’s David De Gea and with Liverpool winning the race to Alisson, the Spanish giants appear to have made Courtois their number one target.

Robert Lewandowski

Last month, Lewandowski reportedly told Bayern Munich that he wanted a change of scenery, placing a number of clubs on alert. The Poland international has scored an incredible 151 goals in 195 appearances in all competitions since joining Bayern Munich from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2014.

Jose Mourinho has long been an admirer of the striker and on Tuesday the Independent reported Manchester United were considering a bid. However, it is hard to see where the 29-year-old would fit in Mourinho’s plans, given the Portuguese has operated with a lone striker supported by two wide players in his two seasons at United.

Chelsea and Real Madrid have also been linked with the Polish. The former are looking for a replacement for Alvaro Morata, who did not settle in his first season in the Premier League and could leave this summer despite becoming Chelsea’s record signing 12 months ago.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, could use part of the fee they received for Ronaldo to bid for Lewandoswki, who is four years younger than the five-time ballon d'or winner.