Transfer fever in early summer is always awash with sensational gossip and conjecture.
But after Real Madrid completed the first major signing of the summer in Eden Hazard on the same day that it was revealed Mino Raiola will soon be free to trade again, we may be about to see more substance to the soundbites.
The Spanish giants finally announced the signing of Belgian playmaker Hazard on Friday after managing to come to an agreement with Chelsea for a fee, which could rise as high as £150million.
Real Madrid have announced the first major signing of the summer in Chelsea’s Eden Hazard
Agent Mino Raiola is expected to see his ban suspended by the Court of Arbitration for Sport
The 28-year-old has signed on a five-year contract and will become the highest earner at the Bernabeu, earning £400,000 per week.
But will he hold that title for long?
Poignantly, on the same night that one of this year’s eagerly awaited transfers transitioned from rumour to reality, Raiola saw his FIFA-imposed operating ban suspended by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The return of the Dutch football influencer to the negotiating tables of Europe’s elite clubs is likely to have the impact of oil on a straining engine.
The super-agent holds the cards to some of this summer’s other supposed big movers, with his return likely to have consequences for the futures of stars including Matthijs De Ligt and Frenchman Pogba.
So will the return of Raiola finally push through the deals in waiting? Here, Sportsmail’s looks at the players who are likely to see their transfer stories accelerate in the very near future.
Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is one of Raiola’s clients and could be affected
Matthijs De Ligt
Matthijs De Ligt has made it clear he is leaving Amsterdam this summer, but where to is another matter.
Manchester United, Barcelona, Liverpool and Juventus have all been linked with the £75million-rated defender.
Speaking to RTL Boulevard last month, De Ligt said: ‘I am very excited about what the nearest future may bring me, but I am also calm, I see it as a challenge, that is the most important thing.’
‘There are several options, what I do is to see which is the best option, it seems logical that one option is better than the other.’
Options certainly are on the table but with Raiola out of action, any movement seemed to have ceased.
But with the agent back in the game, De Ligt may finally get his ticket out of Amsterdam – once Holland are finished in the quest for Nations League glory.
Matthijs De Ligt could get some clarity on his future now that super-agent Raiola is back
Paul Pogba was reportedly offered the Manchester United captaincy by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but the Frenchman is still supposedly angling for a way out of Old Trafford.
Real Madrid have been tipped as the World Cup winner’s most likely destination, with coach Zinedine Zidane already making it clear that he would like to work with the former Juventus star.
Pogba’s price has proven to be a stumbling block for Real and with Hazard now through the door following a club-record deal, keeping any deal below £100million has become a necessity.
But that is unlikely to wash with the Red Devils with Pogba contracted for another two years and the club having an option to extend his deal by another 12 months to June 2022.
Nevertheless, with Real Madrid’s transfer operation now in full swing, departures of stars like James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale and Isco all still in play – not to mention Raiola’s return to the game, Pogba’s future is likely to receive some clarity.
Key to it all however, is Raiola’s presence on the transfer battlefield.
The agent was central United’s recruitment of Pogba from Juventus in 2017 and is likely to pull the strings when it comes to whether United can tie him down, or if a deal with another club is need instead.
Paul Pogba’s dream move to Real Madrid could be back after Raiola’s ban was lifted
It is abundantly clear that Arsenal require defensive reinforcements and reportedly in the Gunners’ sights is Roma rearguard Kostas Manolas.
The centre-half has a minimum-fee release clause in his contract at the Stadio Olimpicio, which stands at around £30.5million.
Leicester, Everton and Wolves all conceded fewer goals than the north London side last season.
The Gunners have been expected to meet that clause and Roma were reportedly willing to accept a cut-price deal after failing to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
But as yet Unai Emery has not managed to bring Manolas’s five-year spell with the Giallorossi to an end, with no movement on the transfer front.
A nudge in the right direction could kickstart the Greek’s expected move, and as a Raiola client, that could now happen sooner rather than later.
Kostas Manolas has a £30.5m clause in his contract although it only activates in the summer
P.S. It’s not just Raiola’s stable that could be on the move…
There are other major transfers in the offing besides the clientele of Mr Raiola and Christian Eriksen is one of them.
The Danish midfielder made it crystal clear that he wants to have his head turned this summer as he seeks a new challenge away from Tottenham.
‘I feel that I am at a place in my career where I might want to try something new,’ he said on Wedensday.
‘I have the wildest and deepest respect for everything that has happened in Tottenham, nor will it be negative. But I have also said that I would like to try something new.’
Real Madrid have been linked with the Dane, but when I asked on Friday if he had anything more to say on his future, Eriksen said: ‘I’ve said all I want to on that. Goodbye’.
Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen has confirmed he wants to leave Tottenham this summer
The Brazilian has had a wretched 2019 and leaving Paris Saint-Germain could be seen as a way out of his misfortune.
The 27-year-old was stripped of the Brazilian captaincy by coach Tite following his indiscretions at PSG, which included a vulgar Instagram post that led to a three-match UEFA ban following PSG’s Champions League exit, and also a punch against a Rennes fan after the French Cup final defeat.
He was also ruled out of Copa America this week after picking up an ankle injury.
But he could be on the move this summer after telling PSG that he wants a move to ‘Barcelona or nothing’, according to Spanish outlet SPORT.
Neymar has told PSG that he would only be interested in rejoining Lionel Messi at Barcelona