The January transfer window has already produced plenty of fireworks, but there's still a final act to go.
With Wednesday's deadline creeping up, a number of big names remain on the market–and that's after the slew of stars who have already changed teams this winter. From Philippe Coutinho getting his dream move to Barcelona, to Virgil van Dijk finally landing at Liverpool to the sensational Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap between Arsenal and Manchester United, to Man City dropping another massive fee on a defender, it's been a transfer window full of headlines.
More remain on the way, though, and through all of the rumors that persist, let's distill what is left to be decided as clubs make the final push for season run-in:
PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG, Borussia Dortmund
This isn't as straightforward as it could be. It appears that the usual key factors have been decided. Arsenal has reportedly met Dortmund's asking price and come to terms with Aubameyang. There's a catch, though. Dortmund won't sell Aubameyang until it has a replacement. Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi have been the names touted, with Giroud apparently not wanting to leave London and Chelsea only willing to part ways with Batshuayi as long as it gets a replacement–which could well be Giroud, as long as Arsenal would sanction a move for its striker to a chief rival.
It's an absolutely tangled mess and one that could become less complicated if Dortmund finds its successor elsewhere. Reports indicate Anthony Modeste, who left the Bundesliga for China after a 25-goal season with Cologne last year (only six fewer tallies than Aubameyang), could be the answer to what's turned into a very complicated problem. The clock is ticking on all parties involved to get it right, or else Aubameyang will have an awkward few months ahead before being embroiled in another transfer saga this summer.
LUCAS MOURA, Paris Saint-Germain
PSG is in selling mode when it comes to its "spare" parts (only at PSG would Lucas Moura, Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore be considered spare parts), as it tries to meet Financial Fair Play requirements after last summer's outlay all while ridding itself of unhappy players who have fallen down the pecking order following the arrivals of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
Tottenham is reportedly on the verge of a very reasonable £25 million move for the Brazilian midfielder, which in today's outrageous market almost instinctively appears shockingly low.
Of the three players touted to be leaving PSG, it appears Moura is the most likely, followed by Pastore and then Di Maria as a distant third.
EMRE CAN, Liverpool
Can won't leave Anfield this winter, but given that he is out of contract, he can agree to a pre-contract with any number of suitors. Juventus is the most prominently named one and has been quite vocal in its efforts to land the German. His transfer situation is not unlike his countryman, Leon Goretzka, who agreed to join Bayern Munich in the summer while playing out the string for Schalke.
CHICHARITO, West Ham
Javier Hernandez's move to West Ham has not gone as hoped, with Slaven Bilic ousted and his old nemesis, David Moyes, brought in as manager. That coincided with an injury, leaving the Mexican star in a tough spot and in need of playing time entering a World Cup summer. An injury to Andy Carroll makes it far less likely that West Ham would sell, though Besiktas was reported to be interested in a deal.
MAURO ICARDI, Inter Milan
There was no real indication that Icardi would leave Inter Milan ... until he posted a cryptic message on his Instagram feed that "to say goodbye means to grow." At this point in the game a move this massive to come out of nowhere would be stunning, but with Real Madrid feeling awfully desperate these days, you never know ...
EMERSON PALMIERI, Roma
Chelsea was reportedly hoping to do a double deal with Roma for the Brazilian fullback and Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko, and while the latter fell apart, the former appears to be on the verge of completion for €20 million. (UPDATE: Roma has confirmed the transfer of Palmieri for an initial fee of €20 million and add-ons up to €9 million).
RIYAD MAHREZ, Leicester City
It seems as if Mahrez has been on his way out of Leicester ever since the club won the Premier League, yet he's remained. He's been linked to Liverpool and Manchester City (which could have a need with Leroy Sane out injured) recently, but it'd be a surprise to see him leave this winter.
JONNY EVANS, West Brom
Evans is a cut below on the "wow" factor, but dependable center backs don't come around as often as they used to. Man City would figure to be out of the running after landing Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao for a club-record fee, but could Arsenal, which has been way more active this window than expected, still be a factor? West Brom has been holding out for a club to overpay for the 30-year-old, but it shouldn't count on Arsenal to do that. Evans may well be stuck for a second straight window.
NAMES TO WATCH THIS SUMMER
France internationals Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid) and Thomas Lemar (Monaco) don't figure to be going anywhere this winter, but they'll be the top two names on the transfer wishlist come summertime, regardless of how Les Bleus fare at the World Cup. The wonder around Griezmann is that by doing Atletico a solid and remaining through its transfer ban, did it cost him a pair of suitors? Manchester United just spent big to add Alexis, and Barcelona has loaded up in the attack with Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho. Both would likely find room and spending money for Griezmann, but it's not as straightforward as it appeared last summer.
Then there's the matter of Cristiano Ronaldo, whose time at Real Madrid could be coming to an abrupt end. There was the transfer saga of last summer that ultimately quieted, but that doesn't mean the buzz will stay dormant forever, and the chatter is already picking up about his potential exit. The club won't win La Liga or the Copa del Rey, and if it doesn't find its past Champions League form, it could be out in the round of 16 against PSG. All of that would set off the sirens for change at the Bernabeu, and the 32-year-old Ronaldo figures to be a more likely candidate to be sent elsewhere than the 28-year-old Gareth Bale. The biggest question, though, is given his demands and what it would take to sign him–at his age and his cost–is there a legitimate suitor?
David Luiz doesn't appear long for Chelsea, but if he's not sold before the January deadline and Antonio Conte leaves this summer, perhaps the Brazilian defender hangs on at Stamford Bridge.
For U.S. fans, it's worth monitoring the race for Christian Pulisic, with Manchester United and Liverpool reportedly set for a bidding war for the Dortmund rising star. Given the rising prices in the transfer market, his transfer fee would shatter a record for an American. Unfortunately for Pulisic, he won't have the World Cup stage to increase his appeal even more.