A lengthy European season is coming to a close this week with the Europa Conference League and Champions League finals, meaning the transfer rumor mill is starting to churn.
And without any major international tournaments this summer, the transfer market will be at the forefront of soccer news this summer.
Here is a roundup of the week’s biggest transfer rumors from around the world:
The biggest domino to fall this summer will be the newly crowned World Cup champion. PSG announced Messi’s departure over the weekend after he was booed by home supporters in the season-ending loss to Clermont, and now, the bidding war will begin to land the superstar in the twilight of his career. The Athletic reports that Barcelona is making a strong push to re-sign Messi, who turns 36 this month. However, despite manager Xavi saying he wants to bring Messi back two years after his stunning departure, Barça’s bid is complicated by its financial troubles and a viability plan that needs to be approved by La Liga before it can make an offer. Waiting in the wings is Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal, which is reportedly offering a contract worth €400 million ($427 million) per year. Let the race begin.
The weekend was a whirlwind for Real Madrid fans trying to keep track of Benzema’s whims. First, reports emerged that the 35-year-old forward had accepted a nine-figure offer to move to Saudi Arabia. Then, Benzema refuted those reports. On Saturday, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti then threw his support behind the striker, saying he expected Benzema at the club. On Sunday, Real Madrid announced Benzema’s departure after 14 seasons. Today, Reuters confirmed Benzema has agreed to a two-year deal with Saudi side Al-Ittihad, with reports saying the deal is worth €200 million per season. But until that deal is officially announced, be prepared for more twists and turns.
With Benzema’s departure, it seems like the perfect time for the Mbappé-to-Real Madrid rumors to pick back up with real force. Instead, the 24-year-old put an end to any speculation before it even began. After the Ligue 1 finale this weekend, Mbappé said he won’t be going anywhere this summer with a year still left on the contract he signed last summer: “I’ve always wanted to leave a mark. I didn’t expect to win so much so early [in my career], but I’m happy to make history in my country. I’m happy and I’ll be here next season.”
The budding English international is expected to be one of the biggest names to move this summer. The only question is where will he land? Real Madrid is considered the heavy favorite to land the midfielder, who turns 20 this month, while Manchester City and Liverpool are also waiting in the wings. But so far, all is calm. Last week, Borussia Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl said the club had yet to receive any concrete offers for Bellingham, who is valued at more than $100 million.
“I assume that there will now be movement,” Kehl told Bild, via The Athletic. “We know that the player is of great value to us, and that he has an ongoing contract with no release clause. Everything else will be revealed in the near future. We are preparing for different scenarios.”
The longtime Spurs forward has had his fair share of transfer whispers over the last two seasons, but expect those whispers to turn to rumblings this summer. The 29-year-old striker’s contract expires at the end of next season, and this could be Tottenham’s last chance to cash in on its all-time leading goalscorer. With Benzema leaving Real Madrid, Spurs may have its best chance at finding a landing spot. The BBC reports that Real has made Kane its top target to replace Benzema this summer. That could also relieve Spurs of having to sell to a Premier League rival with Manchester United making a push for Kane. However, a £100 million ($124 million) valuation with only a year remaining on his contract will be a massive issue to be resolved.
The 24-year-old midfielder once looked like the future of Chelsea; now, he seems completely disposable. Mount had his least productive year with the Blues, setting career lows in Premier League appearances (24) and goals (three) after three stellar seasons. All signs point to a summer move, with Chelsea looking to offload several players in order to balance a bloated roster as Mauricio Pochettino enters the picture. The Telegraph reports that Manchester United has made Mount a top target this summer and is ready to make a £50 million bid.
It was always assumed Ibrahimović would leave AC Milan at the end of the season, with the general consensus expecting him to move to the Middle East to finish his career. But on Sunday, the 41-year-old forward announced his retirement after an injury-plagued couple of seasons with Milan. There will be no swan song for one of modern soccer’s greatest strikers and entertainers.