Hakim Ziyech: The Contenders to Sign Him & Where He Might End Up

​Ajax have confirmed that their star winger Hakim Ziyech is going to leave the club this summer, sparking a mass scramble for the Moroccan’s services among Europe’s elite in the coming weeks.

The 26-year-old was named the club’s player of the year for a second consecutive season and has been outstanding throughout the campaign, scoring 21 times and assisting 24 in all competitions.

Hakim Ziyech

Like many of his Ajax teammates, it has been his displays in the Champions League in particular which has seen his stock rise this season, leading to some of the world’s biggest clubs attempting to secure his signature.

With an incredibly low €25m release clause in his contract, Ziyech is surely set to be one of the bargains of this summer’s transfer window but who wants him and will be the one to get him?

Here is a list of the contenders and how likely he is to join them.


Juventus

Juventus v Atalanta BC - Serie A

The Serie A champions are preparing for a summer of change with manager Massimiliano Allegri set to depart the club when the season finishes and there are reports attackers Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa are also set to leave the Old Lady come the end of the campaign.

If that is the case the new manager, whoever that may be, could well see Ziyech as a perfect player to bring in as a replacement for the two South American stars, with the Ajax man’s ability to create goalscoring opportunities for his teammates sure to excite Juve’s main man Cristiano Ronaldo.

With so much uncertainty surrounding the Italian side at present, however, the opportunity to sign Ziyech may well pass Juventus by.

Likelihood rating: 3/10


Liverpool

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Despite having one of the most dangerous attacking tridents in world football it is no secret that Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is on the lookout for another versatile forward for his squad and Ziyech may well fit the bill.

The former FC Twente man is able to play in all positions across the front three with his pace and creativity seemingly ideal for the way Klopp likes to play.

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With Sadio ManeMohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino assured of their places in the starting XI however, Ziyech may decide he is more likely to get regular first-team football elsewhere, while Liverpool look for cheaper backup.

Likelihood rating: 3/10


Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are crying out for a new right winger and have been since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Jadon Sancho

While reports suggest their main target for the position was Borussia Dortmund‘s Jadon Sancho, before the failure to qualify for the Champions League all but ruled that deal out, it would be extremely remiss of the Red Devils not to target a deal for Ziyech during this window.

With the club needing so many players in a variety of positions, the chance to obtain such a high-quality player for just €25m is one they should seriously consider, especially having paid over the odds on multiple occasions in the last few years.

With United unable to offer Champions League football however, it would be a surprise for Ziyech to choose them over other teams who will be in next season’s competition.

Likelihood rating: 4/10


Paris Saint-Germain

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The Ligue 1 champions are always on the hunt for attacking players to improve their squad and, having come up short in the European Cup once again this year, they may well look to freshen up their frontline with a move for one of the competition’s star performers this season.

With the future of Edinson Cavani up in the air, PSG may well look to Ziyech to fill the void if he is to depart.

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Assuming Kylian Mbappe stays, ​following PSG’s latest statement on his future, an attack consisting of the French superstar, Neymar and Ziyech could be enough to take them all the way in Europe next season.

Likelihood rating: 5/10


Bayern Munich

Despite picking up their seventh consecutive Bundesliga title recently it is set to be a summer of upheaval in Bavaria with an ageing squad requiring an injection of youth as they attempt to challenge again for the Champions League.

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In no position is this more apparent than out-wide where stalwart wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are both leaving this summer.

While they have Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry in their ranks, Ziyech may well prove to be a step-up in quality from those two and, with the Bayern board known for not paying excessive fees, the release clause could lead to them taking the plunge on a player with such huge potential.

Likelihood rating: 7/10


Arsenal

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An interview from two years ago has resurfaced recently where ​Ziyech described a move to Arsenal as his ‘dream’ and that Gunners star Mesut Ozil was his ‘idol’.

With manager Unai Emery in the market for a winger this summer, it could end up being a match made in heaven, with Arsenal desperate for a player of Ziyech’s quality in the wide positions.

Unai Emery

Despite claiming it was his dream to come to the Emirates, in reality Ziyech will not want to spend a year out of the Champions League as he approaches the peak of his career and this deal may well be dependant on whether or not Arsenal make next year’s competition by winning the Europa League final against Chelsea on 29 May.

If they do though, Ziyech’s dream may well come to fruition.

Likelihood rating: 7/10 (8/10 with Europa League victory)

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Transfer Rumours: Firpo to Madrid, Willems to Newcastle, Spurs in for Portuguese Starlet and More

​To paraphrase Smash Mouth, the rumours have started coming, and they won’t stop coming.

Of course, they were talking about time passing you by, and not about being bogged down by wave after wave of transfer speculation, invented specifically to give us all something to talk about in the purgatory between seasons, but we can only take things as they apply to us. 

Here are six of Monday’s transfer rumours, ranging from the red-hot to the lukewarm at best. 


Junior Firpo Comments on Real Madrid Speculation

Rodrigo Moreno,Junior Firpo

Back in March, shortly after they had reappointed Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid had been linked with as many as ​20 summer signings with a total transfer value well in excess of £1bn, so god only knows what that figure stands at now. 

The latest player linked with a move to Los Blancos, anyway, is Real Betis left-back Junior Firpo, who has enjoyed a stellar season in La Liga, and had this to say about a potential switch to Madrid, via ​Mundo Deportivo.

“My father is excited when he is related to ​Real Madrid, because he knows there is a lot of work behind and it is not easy to reach the level we are at.”

So…not a lot to go on there really, but regardless it seems far from an unlikely move for the 22-year-old. 


Darren Fletcher Advises Manchester United on Teenage Centre-Back

If there are two things ​Manchester United are really good at being linked with, it’s young players who are in all likelihood miles off first team quality and centre-backs. The ​Sun have combined the two, here and tell us that United will make an offer for Stoke City’s Nathan Collins.

The 18-year-old has made a handful of first team appearances for Stoke since their relegation from the Premier League, and United’s interest reportedly comes as a result of a summer transfer policy centred around taking the advice of their former players. The report adds that interest in Daniel James comes from Ryan Giggs, while Rio Ferdinand recommended Ben Godfrey of Norwich, and now Darren Fletcher – still on the books at Stoke – has scouted Collins. 

It would be horribly cynical to suggest that this could be lazy journalism and that the links have only arisen because Fletcher, a former Manchester United player, is indeed currently at Stoke. 


Tottenham ‘Step Up’ Interest in Highly Rated Benfica Winger

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It seems almost dead-certain that ​Tottenham will call an end to their self-imposed transfer embargo before the summer is out, especially with that unexpected Champions League final windfall set to swell up the coffers. But it remains to be seen where – and who – they will recruit. 

Portuguese newspaper Record report, as per ​Sky, say that a move for Benfica winger Jota – not the Wolves one – could be on the table, with Mauricio Pochettino ‘stepping up’ his interest in the 20-year-old.

They seem to be ahead of the game with this one. All the spotlight is on Joao Felix at present, and Jota’s eight goals and eight assists in 20 Primeira Liga appearances have gone somewhat under the radar as a result. He is reported to have a release clause of around £26m in his contract, so if Spurs move quickly, he looks like a very good addition.


Arsenal Make ‘First Contact’ Over Petr Cech Replacement 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang,Norberto Murara Neto,Jose Luis Gaya

Petr Cech will retire from football this summer, leaving Arsenal with a space to fill between the sticks for European games and on the bench the rest of the time. 

With a questionable translated headline that reads ‘Arsenal gropes Neto’, Spanish outlet ​Plaza Deportiva report that the Gunners see Valencia keeper Neto as the solution to that, and have made initial contact over securing the 29-year-old’s services for next season. 

He featured in both legs of the Europa League semi-final, which Arsenal won quite comfortably, and although he is believed to have been ‘unconvinced’ by their initial advances, it is believed a deal could be done with a bit of persistence – especially if Arsenal qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League next week. 

The report also notes interest in Keylor Navas of Real Madrid, but it seems unlikely he’d be happy to work as an understudy to Bernd Leno.


Newcastle and Fulham ‘Interested’ in Eintracht Frankfurt Left-Back

Jetro Willems

​Newcastle could be in line for a cut-price move for Eintracht Frankfurt left-back Jetro Willems, as a report from Germany claims both the Magpies and Fulham are ‘interested’ in a move for the Dutch defender. 

Once one of the most highly-rated young defenders on the planet while at PSV, the 25-year-old has had a rough couple of years since moving to Germany in 2017, and having been used in a number of positions and failing to nail down a starting spot this season, he looks set to move on in the summer.

​Bild say that both Newcastle and Fulham could come in with a bid around the €4.5m Frankfurt paid for him two years ago, with the Magpies’ Premier League status giving them the edge. 


Christian Fuchs Opens Door to Extended Leicester City Stay

Christian Fuchs

After signing a one-year contract extension, Leicester’s back-up left-back and former title winner will hang around for another season – but has left the door open to staying beyond the expiry of his new deal.

Fuchs has been expected to leave in each of the last two close seasons to join his family in New York, but each time has opted to stay put, and if his words are anything to go by, he could do so again in 12 months.

“I want to keep playing, I definitely want to keep playing,” he said, via ​Leicester Mercury. “It might be my last year over there, but you can never say never, especially in this sport, but as of right now, it’s going to be my last season in England and then I want to come to New York and be with my family.”

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Leandro Trossard Hints at Summer Transfer Amid Rumoured Arsenal Interested

Belgian forward Leandro Trossard has admitted that he may leave Genk this summer, giving hope to long-term admirers Arsenal.

Gunners head coach Unai Emery has been keeping an eye on Trossard for some time, and may now be even more motivated to make an offer after the player admitted he may not be staying put.

Prior to his side’s final match of the season, the Mirror reports that Trossard said: “Sunday’s game against Standard Liege might be my last one in a Genk shirt.”

Similarities have been drawn between Trossard and the ​Gunners’ outbound striker Danny Welbeck, making him the ideal player to replace the former Manchester United man.

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The news of his potential departure won’t be welcomed by fans of the Belgian club. Trossard has been particularly productive this season, scoring a total of 22 goals and accumulating 11 assists.

Stats like that will mean that Arsenal will have to pay a fee reportedly in the region of £20m, but that is unlikely to deter the Gunners, despite their small transfer budget.

A cost of this amount may seem rather steep for a player who is largely unknown in the world of football, but he would be a cheaper alternative to another mooted Arsenal target, Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha.

Unai Emery

The Mirror also suggests that Arsenal could attempt a player-plus-cash deal for Zaha, but the Ivorian’s desire for Champions League football means any deal would hinge on the Gunners Europa League final with Chelsea at the end of the month.

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Arsenal Weighing Up Potential Summer Move for Saint Etienne’s William Saliba

​Arsenal are said to be weighing up a potential move for Manchester United target William Saliba this summer.

Saliba has enjoyed a breakthrough season in France with Saint Etienne, making 18 appearances in all competitions – despite only turning 18 in March. After a string of impressive performances, the defender signed a new four year deal last month to keep him at the club until 2023.

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According to ​Goal, ​Arsenal have been monitoring the youngster’s progress for quite some time and he has now become a top transfer target for the Gunners as they look to bolster their defensive options ahead of the 2019/20 season.

Arsenal recently watched on as Saliba featured for Saint Etienne in a 3-0 win over Nice on Saturday, indicating that the Gunners are more than interested in making a move for the youngster this summer.

Saliba has previously attracted interest from ​Manchester United and former manager Jose Mourinho recently lauded him with praise, saying: “‘I think he has everything needed to become a good player, much like Kurt Zouma, who I signed [for Chelsea].”

Although Saliba recently extended his contract with Saint Etienne, the French side understand that it will be incredibly difficult to hang on to him if they receive an attractive offer.

Interest is growing across Europe and the report from Goal suggests that it will take a £25m bid to prize him away from France.

It’s been widely reported that Arsenal will have a restricted budget of £40m to play with this summer, although that could increase if they win the Europa League final against Chelsea at the end of May.

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Arsenal Ready to Capitalise on Roma’s Troubles & Meet Kostas Manolas’ £31.5m Release Clause

​Arsenal are set to take advantage of Roma’s transitional summer by ramping up their interest in Kostas Manolas – and the Gunners are willing to meet the defender’s £31.5m release clause.

Unai Emery’s side have enjoyed steady progression this season, finishing seven points better off than last term in the Premier League, and have also gone a stage further in the Europa League by reaching this season’s final against Chelsea.

Defensive struggles have still proved problematic at the Emirates, though, with Arsenal having conceded 51 Premier League goals this season – 28 more than champions Manchester City and 12 more than fourth-placed Tottenham.

Shkodran Mustafi is among the struggling defenders who look to be on their way out of north London this summer and, according to ​II Messaggero, the Gunners could be set to meet Roma’s £31.5m demands to bring Kostas Manolas to the Premier League club.

Kostas Manolas

The Gunners have been linked with a move for the Greek international in previous years, whilst London rivals Chelsea are also interested in the 27-year-old, but it is suggested that the Blues’ transfer ban could work in Arsenal’s favour in the race to sign Manolas.

Maurizio Sarri’s side are unable to sign players in each of the next two transfer windows, whilst central defensive reinforcements are widely suggested to be among Unai Emery’s transfer priorities this summer.

Manolas could potentially form a formidable partnership with compatriot Sokratis Papastathopoulos at the Emirates, and the Gunners could be aided in their efforts to recruit the former Olympiacos star by the period of upheaval in the Italian capital in the coming months.

Kostas Manolas

It is suggested that Daniele De Rossi’s departure could be the first of a number of high-profile changes over the summer, with former Manchester City star Edin Dzeko also said to be edging towards the exit at the Stadio Olimpico.

Roma are apparently set to appoint Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini as their new manager, with Claudio Ranieri departing as interim boss at the end of the season, and the Serie A giants having seemingly failed to tempt former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte to take the reins.

The club are said to be seeking an overhaul of their coaching setup, with a number of star players also likely to head out of Rome, and those circumstances could benefit Arsenal’s cause in their bid to lure Manolas to north London.

However, the Gunners are apparently not alone in their willingness to meet the defender’s buyout clause, with Serie A champions Juventus also waiting in the wings and able to match the £31.5m figure, meaning that any deal for Arsenal remains far from a formality.

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