In his first Exclusive Column for caughtoffside, Italian super-agent Roberto De Fanti lifts the lid on what’s really going on in European football.
The summer transfer window is nearly upon us and it’s going to be really interesting to see where some of the sport’s biggest names end up.
In my home country of Italy, we have Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who is one of the best players in Serie A and has been for a few years now. The chairman of Lazio, Mr Claudio Lotito, is somebody who is very outspoken and even said just the other day that the midfielder is not going to be up for sale this summer. But sometimes when chairs of clubs say this, it means the total opposite – often an attempt to raise the asking price.
I believe this summer could be the time that Milinkovic-Savic leaves Lazio and I won’t be surprised if the destination is Manchester United. I can say for sure that there are already whispers in the industry that he could move to Old Trafford in time for next season.
Manchester United are obviously about to lose several midfielders of their own, one of which is, of course, Paul Pogba and I think when it comes to Milinkovic-Savic, particularly his characteristics, he would be a great replacement, as well as a great fit in the Premier League.
Although his valuation is going to be fairly high, when I hear things about his price tag being set at something crazy like €100m, I just know it will never be that much, especially because he has just one year left on his contract.
Interestingly, a couple of years ago, I had the mandate to move Milinkovic-Savic to Manchester City. Unfortunately, at the time, he wasn’t ready for the move and the club didn’t take up the chance to sign him. The timing then meant he wasn’t ready, but now he is totally, totally ready for a move to England.
Another midfielder who Pep Guardiola has been eyeing more recently has been Pogba, but I don’t think that move will happen. I think it would be fair to say that Pogba would prefer a move away from England – away from the spotlight and to a club where he can just focus 100 per cent on his football. I wouldn’t be surprised if Carlo Ancelotti takes him to Real Madrid.
Not only is Pogba a big-name player, but he is also a free agent and although I wouldn’t completely rule out a return to Juventus purely because of how open he has been in the past about enjoying life in Turin, I do just feel that Real Madrid could be his next club.
Another club who are set for an important summer is Tottenham Hotspur – a club I know well.
The biggest question on fans’ lips right now is will Antonio Conte stay next season? – I always define Conte as a ‘serial winner’. Wherever he has managed, he has won and along the way, he has turned good players into very expensive players.
One of the reasons he signed an 18-month contract at Tottenham Hotspur was to allow himself time to assess and decide if Tottenham Hotspur will be a team for his future. Not only that, but Conte wants to understand if Daniel Levy is prepared to try and take the side to the same places that he envisions. Unfortunately, major silverware is something that has been missing at Tottenham Hotspur for too long.
I think he is going to stay this summer but I do also think there are some doubts in the corner of his mind over whether or not the chairman is going to spend and recruit accordingly.
He wants a striker to provide cover and competition for Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, a top midfielder and a left-footed centre-back – these are not going to be cheap players. We are talking £50m – £60m each. Will Levy sanction that? – Time will tell, but one thing I will say is, if Conte does walk away from Tottenham Hotspur, I think Kane will go too and if that does happen, the only club the Englishman would want to go to now is Manchester United.
That would be a terrifying prospect for Levy who will surely know that Kane is irreplaceable. Not only in terms of his ability and goalscoring output but also in terms of his entire mentality. He encompasses everything Tottenham Hotspur stands for.