Soccer Fixed Matches

Transfer dominoes: How could Messi, Haaland, Mbappe or Pogba move affect the summer window?

Soccer’s long-simmering tension between tradition and hyper-capitalism came to a head with the announcement that 12 huge clubs would be breaking from UEFA to form a Super League. That the whole thing fell apart within 48 hours was certainly entertaining, but it didn’t really help us to understand what structural changes, if any, await the sport in the near- and long-term future.

We do know one thing, however: The 2020-21 European season will end in a few weeks, and teams are about to spend money — whether they actually have any to spend, or not.

The transfer window will open around June 9 and close across Europe on Aug. 31, so let’s talk about the most interesting possible moves that could — we stress could, as we still need to see the fallout from the failed breakaway — have a domino effect on the market.

The cast of lead characters

If you’ve allowed the firehose of transfer rumors — which never actually stop, no matter the time, current events or level of realism — to catch your eye for even a few seconds in recent months, you know the potential players at the top of most wish lists. These are the guys whose moves (or non-moves) could create the largest sets of dominoes to topple.

Lionel Messi, FW, Barcelona (33)
Maybe the greatest player in the sport’s history. Almost left Barca after last season and will be eligible to leave for free as of July 1 after 17 seasons in Catalonia.

Erling Haaland, ST, Borussia Dortmund (20)
Already one of the best finishers in the game. Has seemingly already set every possible “youngest player to score X goals in Y competition” record. Also has a firmly set transfer fee of €180m.



Jadon Sancho, FW, Borussia Dortmund (21)
Has battled injury and “only” has eight goals and 12 assists in the Bundesliga and Champions League this year. He remains one of the sport’s brightest young stars and will inevitably move on at some point soon.

Kylian Mbappe, FW, Paris Saint-Germain (22)
Already a World Cup winner, he is maybe the only young player better than Haaland right now. Mbappe could end the drama and sign a contract extension soon … but also he might not.


Paul Pogba, MID, Manchester United (28)
He said kind things about his manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, while slamming his former boss Jose Mourinho recently. But his agent, Mino Raiola, claimed “it’s over between Manchester United and Pogba” in December.

Cristiano Ronaldo, FW, Juventus (36)
Still scores a million goals a year and has a massive contract. But he hasn’t brought transformative success to Turin since arriving for €100m in 2018 — Juve’s run of Serie A titles is ending this year after winning the past nine — and could move on.

Soccer Fixed Matches