Well, it’s been an interesting few weeks. Leo Messi retired from international football while his nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal (though not in the final itself) to European glory. Ryan Giggs left Man United, Antonio Conte is now Chelsea’s 40th or 50th manager in a decade, while former Limerick player-manager Big Sam is looking increasingly likely to be the next England manager.
Of course we are also now in the summer transfer window. Let’s have a look at some done deals, as well as rumours from the press around Europe:
In the Premier League, Liverpool have unsurprisingly bought a Southampton player in Sadio Mané for a mere £34 million. Arsenal have acquired the frankly excellent Granit Xhaka from Moenchengladbach while Man City, under new boss Pep Guardiola, have got their hands on Dortmund’s brilliant (if slightly injury-prone) Ilkay Gündoğan and the hugely under-rated Nolito from Celta Vigo.
Elsewhere in Blighty, more players have left Southampton in Victor Wanyama to Spurs and Graziano Pellé to Chinese Super League side Shandong Luneng – a league worth keeping an eye on for the plethora of talented players flocking there for, I can only assume, the prestige of the league.
Andros Townsend has left the North East for South London in Crystal Palace, who also managed to get the supremely talented French goalkeeper Steve Mandanda from Marseille for just £1.5 million, while Manchester United captured the biggest headlines so far in acquiring Heinrikh Mkhitaryan and a little-known player called Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
There were some massive and interesting signings outside of England too.
In Germany, Borussia Dortmund got the brilliant Barcelona defender Marc Bartra to replace the supremely gifted Mats Hummels who left for Bayern Munich. Carlo Ancelotti also has Portugese midfielder Renato Sanches at his disposal following his move from Benfica.
In Spain, while Barcelona said goodbye to Dani Alves, Bartra and Sandro, they purchased two French defenders in Samuel Umtiti and (just today) Lucas Digne from PSG. Rivals Real Madrid excercised their buy-back clause of Alvaro Morata from Juventus, while Nani just a few days ago became a Valencia player.
There’s also been plenty of rumours.
The biggest name being mentioned by the world’s media is Paul Pogba. The French star has been linked with both Manchester United and Real Madrid and various media outlets have reported different fees – but they are all the nine figures. A great player, but a ridiculous sum for him – even in footballing terms.
Arsenal have been keeping an eye out for either Gonzalo Higuain or Julian Draxler. Both players could be a bit pricey for Arsene Wenger (the former valued at a staggering €80 million, the latter €50 million), but Draxler (who I’ve written about before) has many of the attributes of a player that Wenger would want.
Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that Mario Balotelli has more or less no future at Anfield, prompting Sampdoria to take an interest in the former Man City striker. Another striker who could be on his way out is Christian Benteke, who is linked with Crystal Palace for a fee of approximately £30 million.
West Ham could be busy in the striker department too, with Carlos Bacca looking likely to join the Hammers from AC Milan, which could see Enner Valencia leave for Lazio.
Man City have got a firm eye on Schalke’s Leroy Sané and a fee of around £40 million plus has been mentioned a number of times. Pep Guardiola is also keen on Everton’s John Stones, but the Toffees won’t entertain the idea unless £50 million is on the table. Speaking of Everton, they are thought to be interested in Galatasaray’s Wesley Sneijder. I’m sure they Merseysiders could get the Dutchman at a cut-price given the Istanbul side’s European ban.
Finally, and a little closer to home, Jeff Hendrick is being persued by Burnley following his impressive performances at Euro 2016. The Times reported that Galatasaray were interested in the Dubliner, but wouldn’t pay more than £2 million for his services.
Ireland’s Euro 2016 hero Robbie Brady looks set to leave Norwich with Premier League champions Leicester City, Southampton, West Brom, West Ham, Stoke City and Sunderland all said to be interested in the 24-year-old.
It’s still mid-July. Plenty more time to go.
Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)