5 stars who seem destined for the Premier League this summer

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With the season almost over and the attention of news websites beginning to focus on which players might be moving in the summer transfer window, some of football’s biggest names are being linked with the Premier League giants already.

This season saw the likes of Alvaro Morata, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Benjamin Mendy make moves to England’s top flight, but which overseas stars seem destined for a move to the Premier League this summer? If you believe the gossip columns it could be literally anyone from the world of football, but these five are probably more likely than most.

#1 Matthijs de Ligt

Previews - UEFA Europa League Final

Dutch football hasn’t had a lot to be proud of recently – the national side failed to qualify for this summer’s World Cup in Russia after already missing out on Euro 2016 – but one of the few shining lights for the future they do appear to have is Ajax wonderkid Matthijs de Ligt.

At just 18, he’s already an established member of the Netherlands national side – he became the youngest capped player since Mauk Weber in 1931 when he debuted in early 2017 – and he’s already enjoying his second full season with Ajax, who are currently in 2nd place in the Eredivisie.

A cultured, ball-playing centre-back, de Ligt has been praised for his range of passing and positional sense, and he has the highest pass completion rate of any defender in the Eredivisie at 89.3%. He’s also chipped in with 3 goals and 1 assist this season, and his former coach at Ajax’s academy Ruben Jongkind has already suggested he could move into a midfield role in the future.

Naturally Europe’s biggest clubs have been sniffing around him for a while – recent rumours even have Barcelona interested – but the Premier League seems his most likely destination as he’s been linked with moves to Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham. The word is that he’ll cost a cool £50m, but if he lives up to his potential then that fee doesn’t seem all that big in today’s market.

#2 Alisson

AS Roma v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Leg Two

Brazil and Roma’s #1 goalkeeper, Alisson has had a fantastic season as his club have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, upsetting Barcelona along the way. He’s kept 14 clean sheets in Serie A action and has conceded just 26 goals along the way – the third-best statistics in Italy – and at just 25 years old, the likelihood is that his best years are still ahead of him.

Former Roma and Italy goalkeeper Paolo Conti has already labelled him the best keeper in the world right now – claiming that his anticipation of the moves of his opponents and his positional skills mean he doesn’t need to perform spectacular saves. Conti also suggested that it’d be impossible to set a market value for him – but the riches of the Premier League might change that idea swiftly.

Sure, Roma have claimed that Alisson is not for sale – going as far as to state that they are “not a supermarket” – but, realistically, money is the only language in football that everyone understands and the word is that Liverpool – who ironically face Roma in the Champions League semis – are ready to part with £52m to bring the Brazilian to Anfield. With both Chelsea and Manchester United being reportedly interested too, it seems like only a matter of time before the keeper finds his way to the Premier League.

#3 Andre Gomes

FC Barcelona v Sampdoria: Joan Gamper Trophy

Portuguese midfielder Andre Gomes hasn’t had the best time at Barcelona since his move to the Nou Camp in the summer of 2016 – he was voted the worst signing of the season by Marca in 2016/17 and has only started 5 games in La Liga in the current season, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t add a lot to any Premier League club looking to sign him.

He’s a tremendous passer of the ball from the centre of midfield, but perhaps his best attribute is his ability to switch from defensive to offensive play. He’s also a very adaptable player, as he showed that he can play from the left side of midfield, the centre of midfield and as a holding man during his pre-Barcelona days at Valencia.

A move away from Barcelona seems a certainty for Gomes – he’s described his time at the Nou Camp as being hellish and has also been reported as criticising teammate Lionel Messi in “secret talks” with international teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, although he’s denied this. So which Premier League team is most likely to be in for the Portuguese international?

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Right now the team most linked with him is Tottenham and that seems to make sense – he’d probably come at a cut price due to his issues at Barcelona, and with Mousa Dembele rumoured to be leaving Spurs in the summer, a fit and on-form Gomes would provide the perfect replacement. It’s the sort of signing Mauricio Pochettino seems likely to go for – witness his capture of Lucas Moura this season – and so Gomes heading to the Premier League seems likely.

#4 Fred

Manchester City v Shakhtar Donetsk - UEFA Champions League

One of the bigger upsets from this season’s Champions League was that Shakhtar Donetsk were able to progress through the group stage ahead of Italian giants Napoli, even beating Manchester City along the way. They might’ve been eliminated since by Roma, but they opened some eyes and one of their key players was Brazilian midfielder Fred, who was ever-present during the campaign.

A fleet-footed midfielder who is capable of using either foot and has magnificent ball control, Fred has shown that he’s equally skilled as an attacker – he chipped in with 1 goal and 1 assist in the Champions League – and as a more defensive midfielder too – the position he learned under legendary holding man Dunga during his time at Internacional. And at just 25 he’s probably only just entering his prime.

Current rumours have both Manchester clubs interested in Fred, but it seems like City is his more likely destination – Pep Guardiola has apparently been promised a multi-million war chest to spend in the summer and sees Fred as the natural successor to another former Shakhtar midfielder in Fernandinho. The Brazilian wouldn’t necessarily be the most glamorous signing, but he’d certainly fill a role in Guardiola’s side – and could cost a lot of money too if he impresses in this summer’s World Cup.

#5 Gareth Bale

Real Sociedad de Futbol v Real Madrid CF - La Liga

Considered one of the Premier League’s greatest ever players during his time at Tottenham – in which he inspired Spurs to their first Champions League appearances and won the Player of the Year award in 2010/11 and 2012/13 – you’d have to be a fool to claim that Gareth Bale hasn’t been a hit at Real Madrid. Since moving there in the summer of 2013 he’s won La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the Champions League on three occasions.

Unfortunately for the flying Welshman, despite all his success and manager Zinedine Zidane recently claiming there’s no problem with him at the club, it feels more and more like Bale’s time at the Bernabeu is likely up. His playing time has been restricted over the last two seasons due to injuries and to Zidane preferring other players – obviously being at Real he has plenty to choose from – and he’s never quite matched the form he showed in his first two seasons there.

If a move back to the Premier League is likely to happen, then, it’ll probably be in this summer’s transfer window. Bale won’t command the kind of hefty transfer fee he did when Madrid signed him back in 2013, but he’ll probably still cost well over £50m for any potential suitor. That kind of fee likely rules out his old club Tottenham – who have been said to be keeping tabs on him – so who else is in the running?

Current rumours suggest Chelsea have already put together a bid of £51m for Bale, but the Welshman may be the subject of a bidding war if Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United also want to bring him home. Quite where he’d fit in at Old Trafford given they just signed Alexis Sanchez is anyone’s guess, but United’s recent transfer history suggests that’s his most likely destination.

Regardless, a move back to the Premier League for the Welshman almost seems a formality at this stage.

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