The 2019-20 season is just a month away and some of the biggest names in football go into the campaign with question marks over their future, both on and off the pitch.
Where will they be playing and, when they get their boots on, can they deliver and live up to their reputations?
– When does the transfer window close?
– All major completed transfer deals
Wherever the Paris Saint-Germain forward is playing his football next season — and the most likely outcome is that he remains at PSG due to the sheer cost of trying to sign him — he simply has to get back to being a footballer first and a celebrity a distant second.
At 27, the Brazilian should be at the peak of his career, but he has endured two injury-hit seasons in Paris since becoming the world’s most expensive player following his €222m switch from Barcelona in 2017.
PSG signed Neymar to take the club to the next level in the Champions League, yet they have not gone beyond the round of 16 since he arrived. A three-match ban hangs over him following last season’s exit against Manchester United, when he was sanctioned for insulting match officials on social media while injured, so if he stays in Paris he really needs to start delivering.
Little has gone right for the Brazilian since his £142m move from Liverpool to Barcelona in Jan 2018 and this summer’s arrival of Antoine Griezmann at Camp Nou is more bad news for the 27-year-old.
Booed by his own fans last season, Coutinho has cut an unhappy figure with the Spanish champions and a move would appear to be the best solution for player and club.
Barca are making it clear that Coutinho is not for sale, but with potential of interest from the Premier League before the English window closes on Aug. 8, there is a chance that the forward will get the chance to rebuild his career elsewhere.
A loan move looks most likely for Coutinho unless Barca are prepared to take a huge loss on their initial outlay.
Paul Pogba‘s future at Manchester United has now been a rumbling saga for over a year, with the midfielder upping the ante this summer by admitting recently that he wants a new challenge elsewhere.
United are determined not to sell and value him at over £150m anyway, so with potential buyers such as Real Madrid and Juventus committing their transfer funds elsewhere, there is an increasing likelihood that Pogba will still be at Old Trafford next season.
If he does stay, Pogba must show what he is capable of on a more consistent basis, otherwise the big clubs will look elsewhere and the United supporters, who have already started to lose patience, could become hostile towards their £89.3m star signing.
The Manchester City defender was signed by the club for £47.5m in 2016 to become the long-term replacement for Vincent Kompany, with Pep Guardiola comparing the England man to a young Gerard Pique.
But while Stones has since helped City to two Premier League titles and both domestic cups in England, the 25-year-old has seen his development stall at the Etihad, with Aymeric Laporte moving ahead of him as the cornerstone of the defence.
Kompany’s departure at the end of last season has opened up a vacancy alongside Laporte at the heart of the defence, but with Guardiola still to be convinced by the former Everton defender’s consistency, Stones faces a make-or-break season at City.
Having scored just five goals in 45 appearances for Manchester United since arriving from Arsenal in January 2018, Sanchez has been a huge disappointment at Old Trafford.
Injuries, Jose Mourinho’s tactics and a general loss of form by the Chilean have all conspired against him in a United shirt, but with striker Romelu Lukaku likely to leave for Italy this summer and few, if any, takers for Sanchez due to his £400,000-a-week wages, the 30-year-old will get the chance to prove his worth under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
But the big question about Sanchez, and the one that only he can answer, is whether he still has the desire and energy to turn his situation around at United. If the answer is yes, United will have a world-class forward to call upon.
Remember when Dele Alli was being billed as English football’s next thing — a goalscoring midfielder destined to end up at Real Madrid or Barcelona? Still only 23, the Tottenham player faces a big season in 2019-20 because his progress has slowed alarmingly for his club and he is no longer certain of his place in the England team.
Having hit 10 and then 18 goals in his first two Premier League seasons with Spurs, Alli scored 9 in 2017-18 before netting just five last season, so it is clear where his game has deteriorated.
He still has time on his side to rediscover the form that made him one of the most sought-after players in Europe, but Alli needs to perform.
It is the same old story every summer for Gareth Bale. His Real Madrid future is always the subject of intense speculation, but with coach Zinedine Zidane making it clear that the Welshman will not be a central figure in his plans, this time around might finally signal the end of his six-year spell at the Bernabeu.
But Bale is 30 on Tuesday and is on huge wages at Real, so potential buying clubs will not be prepared to spend a big fee to land a player who, while clearly a world-class talent, has been plagued by injury problems in recent seasons.
Bale has vowed to fight on in Madrid, yet a loan move elsewhere looks the most likely outcome and it could be a last-minute deadline day deal that finally resolves his future.
A player with undoubted talent, Anthony Martial must prove he belongs in the Premier League with Manchester United.
The 23-year-old enjoyed his second-best season in terms of Premier League goals at United last term, hitting 10 in 36 appearances, but he always leaves the impression that there is so much more to come.
When he signed for United in 2015, he was touted as one of the most exciting young players in Europe, but he has since been eclipsed by the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele, so can Martial become a 20-goal a season forward or have we already seen the best of him?
The Arsenal midfielder divides opinion like few others. Many regard him as a luxury player who is out of place in the modern game, while others point to his ability to turn a game with a pass or moment of brilliance.
Arsenal coach Unai Emery appears to have a foot in both camps, although there were many times last season when the Spaniard’s patience with Ozil looked to have run out.
Still, in 166 Premier League games for Arsenal, Ozil has scored 32 goals and racked up 52 assists, so his numbers deserve respect. But can he still do it, and more pertinently, does he want to?
The Chelsea midfielder was key figure in Maurizio Sarri’s passing style last season, but Premier League opponents quickly realised the Italy international was too slow and lightweight to inflict real damage.
Sarri stuck with him, however, and towards the end of the season, Jorginho began to win over the Chelsea fans and show signs of being able to make a difference in English football.
But he now faces perhaps the biggest challenge of his Chelsea career: persuading new manager Frank Lampard that he can fit into his system. It is not just a make-or-break season for Jorginho — it could be make-or-break in the opening month of the campaign.