The summer transfer window has really featured it all.
Just think about who's been involved, in moves or rumors that go beyond the usual madness of tabloid fodder. Neymar moved in a seismic transfer that cost the GDP of a country. Cristiano Ronaldo had an apparent transfer demand from Real Madrid subside, but not after a couple of chaotic weeks. Even Lionel Messi's future and his €300 million release clause have been in the crosshairs, with him still yet to sign the contract extension he agreed to, while his Barcelona treads water and throws obscene offers out of desperation, aiming to remain among Europe's top tier.
Elsewhere, AC Milan has remade itself, Juventus continues to find bargain buys to reinforce its squad and Antoine Griezmann showed his dedication to Atletico Madrid, when he appeared destined for Manchester United (wait till next summer, MUFC fans). The world's young rising star, Kylian Mbappe, appears set to trade one Ligue 1 powerhouse for the other, while Arsenal fans, who once held hope of landing the "next Thierry Henry" have cowered as they brace for the worst prior to the closing of the window.
Factor in that the deadline is happening when the vast majority of players involved in heated talks are on international duty, and it all adds up to one phenomenal circus. All that's missing is a player driving himself from one club's training ground to another in hopes of forcing a move–but there's time, yet, for that to happen.
With the deadline fast approaching, here are the biggest stars who remain in the shop window and who could be on the move to bring a raucous close to an already outrageous summer leading into the World Cup year:
It appears to be all but certain that Mbappe heads to PSG, with reports suggesting it'll be on loan before PSG ponies up a cool €180 million next summer. That figure might not be as high as what it paid for Neymar, but it should still shock you. Monaco, meanwhile, has added Stevan Jovetic (and given him Mbappe's number!) and Keita Balde as reinforcements in anticipation of the worst-kept secret out there. Make no mistake: PSG managing to land Neymar and Mbappe–while weakening European and domestic rivals in the process–is the absolute coup of the summer.
PSG'S SURPLUS OF ATTACKING PLAYERS
If you're going to add Neymar and Mbappe, and pay through the roof to do it, someone is going to have to make way–both for a lineup logjam and for Financial Fair Play reasons. Given how many international stars on PSG need playing time entering a World Cup, it's hard to see the club holding onto its full cast. Angel Di Maria, Julian Draxler and Lucas Moura all should be attractive assets in the market, but will buyers emerge in time?
Arsenal is floundering, Manchester City is circling and it all adds up to one pretty simple solution. City will have to come up with the cash to make it happen (uh, that shouldn't be too difficult), and Arsenal will have to relent after months of saying Alexis isn't for sale. But what's the alternative? Keep a player who appears to want out, watch him sign a pre-contract in the winter and lose him for nothing in the summer? Unless Arsenal can make a compelling case to Alexis to stay for the long haul, it should name its price and set a legitimate purchasing plan for the winter.
It's not happening. Liverpool has said it time and again. But with the club's attack looking fantastic behind Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Emre Can and the likes of Thomas Lemar or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain potentially on the way as reinforcement, does the club really want a malcontent in the locker room when it could subsidize the bulk of its transfer expenditures with what Barcelona is said to be offering? Liverpool is making a point, and if Jurgen Klopp can convince Coutinho to buy in again and be part of his squad, then there's obvious value in that. But if Coutinho really doesn't want to be there, what's the harm in cashing in now?
Monaco has made a killing off of its 2016-17 stars, and Lemar is one of the few remaining holdovers. For now. Liverpool is said to be interested, and Arsenal has made its interest clear as well, but Monaco has no reason to sell on the cheap. Will either Premier League power step up to the plate?
Chelsea and Liverpool are engaged in a battle over Arsenal's wantaway, miscast England international, and it's hard to see any resolution that involves him remaining at the Emirates at this point.
It seems far-fetched to believe that Real Madrid would sell Bale, despite the repeated links to Manchester United. But with Ronaldo staying put and Marco Asensio rising to stardom, Real certainly has the flexibility, if the price is right.
VIRGIL VAN DIJK
Liverpool fans have been tracking flights and van rides en masse, hoping for a conclusion to one of the more drawn-out transfer sagas of the summer. Southampton's Dutch defender could be costly, but if Liverpool has a weakness, it's in defense, and Van Dijk could be the remedy.
Everton missed out on cashing in on Barkley while he was healthy, and now that he's hurt, the club either has to hold onto a player with whom it clearly has severed ties, or accept defeat and sell for a discounted rate. It's unfortunate for the Toffees, who have rebuilt their squad well after Romelu Lukaku's departure, but their hands are tied on this one.
Chelsea will want a resolution for this saga before the window closes, and loan moves have been touted prior to an expected, eventual full transfer to Atletico Madrid, once the Spanish club's transfer ban is lifted in the winter. Will a club take on the mercurial, yet talented, forward for a rental?
One of the brightest stars at Euro 2016, the time since hasn't been kind to the Portugal midfielder, who clearly doesn't have much of a place at Bayern Munich. Can he secure the loan move he needs to get back on the international radar leading into the World Cup? Swansea City, shockingly, has been touted as the likeliest destination.