LONDON: Alexis Sanchez and Philippe Coutinho were among the superstar players linked with deadline-day moves on Thursday at the close of a record-breaking transfer window dramatically shaped by big-spending Paris Saint-Germain. Arsenal forward Sanchez is the subject of interest from Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, while Liverpool have repeatedly rebuffed Barcelona’s attempts to lure Brazil playmaker Coutinho to Camp Nou.
Barca turned to Coutinho after sensationally ceding Neymar to PSG in a world-record 222 million euros ($264 million) deal that has sent transfer fees skyrocketing across the continent.
“It’s mind-boggling, the figures that are out there — especially for the average players,” former Manchester United captain Roy Keane commented this week.
“That’s the market place at the moment. There aren’t many top players out there. The really big players are going for big money and it’s filtering down.”
In addition to Brazilian icon Neymar, PSG are also poised to wrap up a deal for 18-year-old Monaco wonderkid Kylian Mbappe.
The French teenager is expected to join on a season-long loan before signing for 180 million euros next year in a move designed to prevent PSG falling foul of Uefa’s Financial Fair Play regulations.
Barcelona have already paid Borussia Dortmund an initial fee of 105 million euros, rising to 145 million euros, for Mbappe’s France team-mate Ousmane Dembele.
But Liverpool remain insistent that Coutinho will not follow in Dembele’s footsteps, having rejected three bids from Barcelona, and are instead determined to bolster their squad.
Liverpool have already agreed a club-record £48 million deal for Naby Keita, who will arrive from RB Leipzig next year, and are also interested in Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk and Monaco winger Thomas Lemar.
Mahrez on the move
But in a situation replicated across the world, efforts to recruit the latter are complicated by the fact he is on international duty with France and due to line up in a World Cup qualifier against the Netherlands.
Sanchez could follow Oxlade-Chamberlain through the exit door at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium amid reports Manchester City were preparing a second bid for the Chile international.
City are reported to have been unsuccessful with an opening £50 million offer for Sanchez, whose Arsenal contract expires at the end of the season.
Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur are expected to make PSG’s Ivorian right-back Serge Aurier their second big-money recruit after a club-record £42 million swoop for Davinson Sanchez.
Spurs have also been linked with a deadline-day move for Swansea City’s Spain international striker Fernando Llorente.
Chelsea, meanwhile, were still looking to ship out striker Diego Costa after he fell out with manager Antonio Conte in the aftermath of last season’s title triumph.
The Algerian Football Federation announced on Twitter late on Wednesday that Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez had been given permission to leave the Algeria camp to complete a transfer.
The 26-year-old, one of the stars of Leicester’s fairytale Premier League title win in 2016, has been linked with Roma and was photographed at an airport in Paris early on Thursday.
In one of the more intriguing mooted deals, out-of-favour Bayern Munich midfielder Renato Sanches was believed to be on the verge of joining Swansea on loan.
While the transfer window closes on Thursday in England, France, Germany and Italy, Spanish clubs have an extra day to complete any deals. — AFP