The future of Lionel Messi, at the end of his contract in June and free to leave Barcelona, should spice up an apparently discreet winter transfer window, open from Friday in Europe, many clubs in financial difficulty not being ready to make follies.
« I have not decided anything », assured the star of Barça to the television channel La Sexta. But at 33, the man with the six Ballons d’Or makes the big teams dream (Paris SG, Manchester City …).
Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is also coming to the end of his contract, but the White House has a better chance of keeping its « president ».
The future of these two sacred monsters, whose departure is not planned this winter, should occupy the transfer sections, for lack of a more consistent cookie.
The great ones of Spain, struck by the pandemic at a time when they were investing heavily in the renovation of their stadium, the Barnabeu and the Camp Nou, do not have the means to recruit at great expense.
They do not have the stature of Lionel Messi, but stars of the French championship also find themselves in the same situation as the Argentinian: Florian Thauvin in Marseille and Memphis Depay in Lyon.
Thauvin, 2018 world champion, could leave Marseille this winter, for the club to cash in a transfer rather than see him leave for free, but it would be against a modest sum compared to the 80 million euros estimated a year ago and half.
But the Covid-19 has been there and Marseille needs both money and to reduce its payroll.
Lyon find themselves in the same configuration with their Dutch captain Memphis Depay, who still dreams of a bigger club.
Finally the one who should be the new coach of Paris SG, Mauricio Pochettino, could get a player for his reigns, with his former Danish leader in Tottenham, Christian Eriksen (Inter).
In the Premier League, the clubs have not been particularly thrifty this summer, like Chelsea, the winter transfer window (until February 1), the first after Brexit, promises to be rather calm, with maybe more departures than arrivals.
Faced with several injuries in defense, defending champion Liverpool could be tempted to find something to grow in this sector, but the quality, and financially feasible, opportunities will not be legion.
Pep Guardiola has also already clearly stated that Manchester City will not recruit in attack, while Chelsea and Tottenham have no obvious shortcomings or very defined targets.
For the rest, the big English teams rather hope to get rid of players with low playing time.
Alaba is also free
Liverpool (Divok Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri), Tottenham (Dele Alli), Manchester United (Odion Ighalo, Daniel James), Chelsea (Fikayo Tomori), Arsenal (Sokratis Papastathopoulos), all have players who never play.
On the side of Italy, Antonio Conte, poorly recovered from elimination in the Champions League of Inter Milan, railed against his workforce, yet provided. He still hopes to strengthen himself to pursue his dream of « Scudetto ».
Juventus, only sixth at the break, but with one game less, should not move too much. Newbie Andrea Pirlo needs time to get the most out of a well-built squad.
The nine-time defending champion could just recase Sami Khedira and Federico Bernardeschi who are no longer playing.
Finally, little movement also to be expected in Germany. Traditionally, Bayern Munich are hardly active in January to strengthen in the short term.
The hottest issue is that of Austrian side David Alaba. His contract expires in June, Real Madrid are in the running, but Bayern are still hoping to keep him.
The president of Borussia Dortmund, Hans-Joachim Watzke, has already warned that « there will be almost no activity during the winter transfer window », pandemic obliges, while the Ruhr club had offered the prolific scorer Norwegian Erling Haaland last winter.
His great rival Schalke 04, dead last without the slightest victory, will have to move.
With its already fourth coach, Switzerland’s Christian Gross, the Gelsenkirchen club are looking in particular for a defender and a center-forward. Here is at least one buyer …