Euro 2020 is a matter of days away from kicking off, but even the deluge of national team squad announcements has not managed to drown out the more significant rumblings and rumors that continue to swirl regarding where top players will ply their trade next season.
Here we cast an eye over some of the Euro 2020 stars whose tournaments may be disrupted by the pesky transfer speculation that refuses to let them play in peace.
Gareth Bale – Wales and Real Madrid
Gareth Bale and Real Madrid have both been at pains to reiterate that the man who has been on loan at Spurs since January will not decide his future until after Wales’ Euro 2020 campaign is done. However, it is wishful thinking to expect online tipsters and experts not to speculate about his club’s future, especially considering his fractious relationship with the Madrid hierarchy.
With his weekly wage demands being as astronomical as they are, there are only a few clubs who can probably afford to have him on their wage bill, meaning savvy sports bettors will already have ideas about where he could be headed post-Madrid. One thing that is for sure is that Bale will be out to put himself in the shop window for prospective buyers by delivering for those fans who backed him with their Euro 2020 free bets and bonuses. With Group A being relatively soft compared to others, Bale will fancy his chances of causing a giant-killing or two and should not be too negatively impacted by the sort of press and sportsbook speculation that has pursued him in recent years.
Kylian Mbappé – France and PSG
Wholesale changes could be afoot in the French capital this summer, after the team that usually wins Ligue 1 at a canter was embarrassed by a group of unheralded players from Lille.
Mbappé lit up World Cup 2018 with his performances, even if he left the bulk of the goal scoring to his teammates.
At Euro 2020 he will be out to play an even more pivotal role, but with pressure for places in the team from Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann, he will need to prove himself all over again to Didier Deschamps. That pressure combined with the constant chatter of a possible move to Real Madrid might be too much for the young 22-year-old to handle. Time will tell.
Matthijs de Ligt – Netherlands and Juventus
There is something of a Dutch revolution underway in Barcelona as the club’s embattled manager Ronald Koeman reinforces his squad with potential cheap Bosman signings such as Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay.
However, it is expected that Koeman and newly installed president Joan Laporta will look to make one headline-grabbing signing. The name being touted for such a move is another Dutchman, Matthijs de Ligt, who at the age of just 21 has shown his mettle for Juventus.
With the Dutch regularly falling flat at major tournaments, the distraction of such a career-defining transfer might just be enough to unsettle De Ligt, not that Barcelona fans will care.
Jude Bellingham – England and Borussia Dortmund
This prodigious attacking talent is due to turn 18 during Euro 2020 and there appears to be no ceiling to the heights he can reach in the game, having already proven himself in the Bundesliga.
Just making it into Gareth Southgate’s talent-packed squad is an achievement for someone so young, but if he knocks in a few group stage goals in, then he should expect the clamoring for his signature to reach a crescendo. That added expectation, allied with having to play in front of eager home fans throughout Euro 2020, could mean he gets stage fright, not that he has shown signs of any thus far in his burgeoning career.