Transfer deadline day preview – Man United, Chelsea, Barcelona all active as clock ticks down

The transfer window for the big leagues in Europe closes on Thursday and many of the big sides have already made plenty of deals this summer. However, as the deadline is approaching, there are still a few things to be sorted out.

Will Chelsea and Arsenal add to their squads? Do Barcelona still need to move some players before trying to sign others? And will Cristiano Ronaldo still be a Manchester United player next week?

ESPN’s writers recap some of the key storylines to watch ahead of Thursday’s deadline.

All fees of completed deals as reported by Transfermarkt.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, more (USA)

Manchester United departure and Ronaldo’s future

Having sealed deals for Antony (€95m) and Martin Dubravka (loan) in recent days, Man United will focus on spending ahead of the deadline. Defenders Phil Jones, Axel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams are all available for a move but with all three injured their departures may have to wait until January.

There is also interest from Crystal Palace and West Ham in right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka and while he is not in Erik ten Hag’s immediate first-team plans, the Dutchman would want to sign a replacement before letting him go. United have been eyeing Inter Milan’s Denzel Dumfries, Barcelona’s Sergino Dest, Borussia Dortmund’s Thomas Meunier and Norwich’s Max Aarons, but time is running out to get anything over the line – especially with very little budget left after overall €240m was spent on the additions of Tyrell Malacia (€15m), Christian Eriksen (free transfer), Lisandro Martinez (€57m) and Casemiro (€70m).

The other topic is Ronaldo’s future. Seeing the wins against Liverpool and Southampton from the bench will only have increased his desire to leave Old Trafford, but the question is: where will he go? Napoli have shown interest and can offer Champions League football, but they would count on United to make a compromise on the 37-year-old’s salaries, which they have been unwilling to do so far. — Rob Dawson



Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens discuss Wesley Fofana’s potential impact on Chelsea’s defensive lineup.

Chelsea are eyeing Fofana, Aubameyang and Gordon

Chelsea are expected to announce the signing of Leicester defender Wesley Fofana for a fee of around €85m. They remain hopeful of striking a deal for Barcelona striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with talks pending the payment structure of a transfer fee of over €25m and the 33-year-old’s wish for a contract of at least two years.

Everton have been firm on Anthony Gordon so far but a new offer from Chelsea could force a rethink. However, the Blues are considering alternatives with Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha on their shortlist. Callum Hudson-Odoi has joined Bayer Leverkusen on loan while Ajax continue to seek an agreement for Hakim Ziyech to replace Man United-bound Antony.

Christian Pulisic is open to a late move but Chelsea are unlikely to let Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech and the USMNT international leave without several signings. Elsewhere, Spezia is keen on defender Ethan Ampadu, midfielder Billy Gilmour could be on loan – Brighton are currently leading the race for him – and Conor Gallagher is raising late interest at the Palace window, where the 22-year-old was last season Loan deal successful. — James Olley

Barcelona is not ready yet

Barcelona have already had quite a window of opportunity but are still hoping to be busy before the deadline. After signing Robert Lewandowski (€45m), Raphinha (€60m), Franck Kessie (free transfer), Andreas Christensen (free transfer) and Jules Kounde (€55m), they have focused on strengthening the full-back positions concentrated.

Barca have agreed personal terms with Chelsea left-back Marcos Alonso but must now decide whether to go ahead with the deal after 18-year-old Alejandro Balde emerged as a competitor for Jordi Alba. They are also looking for a right-back as USMNT star Dest has been told he will not play this season. Villarreal’s Juan Foyth was their target of choice but the Argentinean is now sidelined with an injury and has a €42m release clause anyway.

All other income is heavily dependent on expenses. After raising over €700m through the sale of club assets, Barca are now working within the spending cap imposed by LaLiga, although they can only spend what they earn in fees or save in wages. Aubameyang is expected to join Chelsea for around €20m while Memphis Depay is also allowed to leave for the right offer. Martin Braithwaite, Miralem Pjanic and Ez Abde are likely to leave either permanently or on loan. However, after a summer of rumors surrounding his future, midfielder Frenkie de Jong remains determined to remain in the interests of Man United and Chelsea.

In a dream scenario, Barca would sign enough players and raise enough money to fund a €80m+ move from Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva – “that would be icing on the cake,” a source told ESPN – but City are likely to all Ignore progress so late in the window. — Sam Marsden.



Herculez Gomez says a move to Man Utd would be worse for Sergino Dest than staying on the bench at Barcelona.

Will Arsenal Tielemans, Neto land?

Arsenal are keen to sign Wolves winger Pedro Neto – having loaned Nicolas Pepe to Nice – but the two clubs remain far apart in their ratings of the player. Wolves are believed to be asking around €60m and as of today, a deal in that window is unlikely. Crystal Palace winger Zaha is seen as a possible alternative but no offer had been made as of Tuesday morning.

Pressure will mount on Arsenal to move for a central midfielder after Mohamed Elneny suffered a hamstring injury. The length of Elneny’s absence is unclear, but the midfield squad is arguably lacking in quality. The club have long been interested in Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans but a deal fell through because the Gunners were unwilling to pay a price tag of around €50m for a player with just one year left on his contract. Here, too, the end of the window could force a rethink on both sides.

The Gunners remain in talks with right-back Hector Bellerin over a possible contract termination amid interest from Barcelona and Real Betis, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles has also attracted interest from Southampton and Bournemouth. – James Olley

Anything else to watch from the Premier League?

Liverpool’s injury crisis has sharpened the focus on Jurgen Klopp’s midfield options – with Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones, Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – but the view at Anfield is awaiting a potential €120m move Making Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham next summer remains the best course of action, rather than hastily expanding the squad now to cover a short-term problem. The club have recently been linked with Brighton’s Moises Caicedo and Wolves’ Ruben Neves.

On the other side of town at Everton, manager Frank Lampard is struggling to retain homegrown striker Gordon and fend off Chelsea’s attempts to sign the 20-year-old for around €70m while also trying to land a move for a new striker with Southampton Che complete Adams the most likely target. Blackburn striker Ben Brereton Diaz is another option but Everton face competition from Celta Vigo for the Chile international.

And keep an eye on Manchester United winger Amad Diallo’s situation. The 20-year-old has made little progress at Old Trafford since joining from Atalanta in January 2021 for €41m and spending part of last season on loan at Rangers. United are now looking to return the Ivory Coast international on loan, with Championship sides Blackpool and Sunderland both interested in the player. — Markus Ogden Transfer deadline day preview – Man United, Chelsea, Barcelona all active as clock ticks down

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