Herrera, Sarabia, Brandt and the best bargains of the transfer window
London, May 16: Premier League clubs can begin reinforcing their squads for next season in earnest after the transfer window opened on Thursday and there are plenty of shrewd signings to be made.
Manchester United look set for a particularly busy close-season, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hinting on more than one occasion that several players could depart Old Trafford, while Manchester City and Liverpool will be eager to keep pushing themselves.
Tottenham have reached the Champions League final this term despite not adding to their first-team squad since January 2018, so presumably Mauricio Pochettino will be liaising with Daniel Levy about what business can be done this time around.
Then there will be those eager to bridge the gap to the top four, others wanting to move further away from the relegation zone and the promoted clubs desperate to stay up.
Money is not a problem for most Premier League clubs, though it is always more satisfying when you strike a bargain.
Pablo Sarabia (Sevilla) – £19m release clause
One of the standout players in LaLiga this term, Sarabia would represent remarkable value. With 25 goal involvements, the Spain Under-21 international is the only player in the division other than Lionel Messi to reach double figures for goals (12) and assists (13) this term. Even when not performing particularly well, the winger has the ability to produce out of nothing and has been involved in a goal every 109.12 minutes. Sevilla are desperately trying to sign him to a new contract, but in the meantime his release clause stands at just under £19m.
Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen) – £21m release clause
Long tipped as one of Germany’s next great hopes, Brandt is finally expected to depart Leverkusen for bigger things at the end of the season. A winger who can also feature centrally, Brandt has been involved in 17 Bundesliga goals (six scored, 11 assists) this season and is a real creative hub, laying on 85 chances for team-mates. He is also a fine dribbler, attempting 100 and completing exactly half of them. According to reports, a clause in his contract means he will be available for just £21m, making the apparent interest of Liverpool and Spurs understandable.
Ander Herrera (Manchester United) – Free
With his contract at Old Trafford set to expire, tireless midfielder Ander Herrera – who would otherwise likely command a substantial fee – is available on a free transfer. The Spaniard is a well-rounded player, completing 87.76 per cent of his passes and 66.67 per cent of his attempted dribbles. Despite only playing 22 Premier League games for United this term, he has still managed 54 tackles and 37 interceptions, meaning he could be a useful option in an all-action midfield role. However, Paris Saint-Germain are said to be circling, so any potential suitors will have to act quickly.
Pablo Fornals (Villarreal) – £23m release clause
Villarreal have done just about enough to retain their top-flight status after a dire season, but they will likely be forced into player sales and Fornals is arguably their prized asset. With just five goal involvements in 35 games, the 23-year-old winger has been a little disappointing, but he has laid on 45 chances to team-mates, completed 53.42 per cent of his 73 attempted dribbles and made 49 tackles. Fornals might suggest he has been affected by the turbulence surrounding his team’s campaign, as the Malaga youth product led the assist charts with Messi and Luis Suarez (12) in 2017-18 when things were going better for the club. With a £23m buyout clause said to be in his contract, many clubs could do a lot worse than Villarreal’s star man.
Juan Mata (Manchester United) – Free
Mata’s United career has been somewhat unfulfilling. After joining from Chelsea in 2014, the club arguably should have built their team around him, as his best period at Stamford Bridge showed he could be world class. But he has rarely been played in his favoured attacking midfield role, often shunted out to the wing. As such, that has seen him score just three and set up another two in 22 Premier League games this term, but the Real Madrid product has crafted 30 chances and found a team-mate with 86 per cent of his 700 passes. In the right team, the 31-year-old could thrive again.
Kostas Manolas (Roma) – £31m release clause
There aren’t many world class centre-backs available for less than £50m these days, but Manolas is one of them. The Greece international has developed into a fine player who is capable from a physical and technical point of view. Manolas has completed 87.36 per cent of his 1,038 passes this season, highlighting his proficiency on the ball, while the 27-year-old succeeded with 75 per cent of his tackles. He came out on top in 67 of his 105 aerial duels and made 116 clearances. A £31m release clause should make him a very attractive target for those keen to bolster their defensive options.