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Havertz, Werner, Sancho — will they stay or go?

April 14, 2020

With German football on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, no one knows how the league will play out. But behind the scenes, transfer plans continue, and several Bundesliga stars could be moving this summer.

Havertz Kai Team Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Image: imago images/L. Perenyi

Kai Havertz (20)
Club: Bayer Leverkusen (contract until: 2021)
Position: Attacking midfielder
Value: €81 million
Interest from: Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, others.

It was merely a question of where to and how much? As well as the inevitable interest from Bayern Munich, Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, European champions Liverpool and several other top clubs have also expressed an interest in Kai Havertz.

One thing is for sure, the young German international was set to become one of the most expensive transfers in Bundesliga history this summer, with Bayer Leverkusen expected to ask for at least €100 million ($109 million) for the attacking midfielder.

But the coronavirus has changed everything. The potential loss of television, sponsorship and matchday income has left the future of many clubs both in Germany and abroad unclear. The transfer market itself is also at a crossroads, and the Havertz saga is on ice.

The 20-year-old's contract runs until 2021 but the Bayer-backed "works club” will be unwilling to let Havertz leave on a free in 15 months' time — and certainly not to a domestic rival. They may consider a bespoke deal with the youngster, similar to the deal RB Leipzig have struck with Timo Werner (see below): an extended and improved contract but with a buyout clause so that Havertz could still leave next summer. Maybe not for €100 million, but at least for between €40 million and €60 million.

Bundesliga - RB Leipzig v Union Berlin
Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)Image: Getty Images/Bongarts/M. Hitij

Timo Werner (24)
Club: RB Leipzig (contract until: 2023)
Position: Striker
Value: €64 million
Interest from: Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United

"Timo Werner to Bayern Munich" was the Bundesliga transfer saga of last summer before Bayern decided to place all their eggs in the "Leroy Sane" basket instead. The Manchester City winger was and still is the preferred choice of sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, but his cruciate knee injury put an end to negotiations.

Soon after, Werner extended his contract with RB Leipzig, leaving Bayern to turn to Croatian veteran Ivan Perisic as backup for Robert Lewandowski. But new head coach Hansi Flick is an admirer of Werner and stipulated that he be given a say in transfers before signing his own permanent contract at the start of April.

And Flick could yet get his man. Werner's new contract in Leipzig contains a buyout clause which Bayern could activate with a bid of €60 million — although the player himself has not ruled out a move abroad, name-checking Premier League giants Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United in recent months.

Still, RB sporting director Oliver Mintzlaff is remaining calm. "I am completely relaxed about the Werner situation," he told Sky recently. "He's not signaled that he wants to stay beyond the summer, but he doesn't have to: he has a contract until 2023." But Mintzlaff will know that the chances of Werner seeing out that contract are very low indeed.

Bundesliga Fußball FC Bayern München | Fussballspieler | Philippe Coutinho
Philippe Coutinho (Bayern Munich)Image: AFP/C. Stache

Philippe Coutinho (27)
Club: Bayern Munich (on a one-year loan from Barcelona)
Position: Attacking midfielder
Value: €56 million
Interest from: Chelsea, Tottenham, Bayern Munich

As Philippe Coutinho nears the end of his season-long loan from Barcelona, the question is not just whether he will stay at Bayern Munich, but whether he even wants to?

Bayern have an option to buy the 27-year-old for just over €100 million but, despite eight goals and six assists in 22 Bundesliga games, Coutinho has never quite settled in Munich. Reports suggest that London could be his next destination — but where exactly?

In the west of the city, Chelsea have long been admirers of the Brazilian but, to the north of town, Tottenham Hotspur are now also said to have entered the race. Both, however, are only interested in loan deals, rather than a permanent transfer.

A loan extension might suit Bayern, too, if Coutinho wants it.

Fußball Bundesliga Borussia Dortmund - 1. FC Köln
Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)Image: Reuters/L. Kuegeler

Jadon Sancho (20)
Club: Borussia Dortmund (contract until: 2022)
Position: Winger
Value: €117 million
Interest from: Manchester United, Chelsea

It's no secret that several of England's biggest clubs want to bring Jadon Sancho back home and, after almost three years in Germany, the 20-year-old is also open to a move to the Premier League. But where exactly?

Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool have signalled that Borussia Dortmund's asking price of over €120 million is too high, but Manchester United and Chelsea remain interested. Reports in England suggest that Sancho himself would prefer a move back to Manchester, where he still has friends from his time in Manchester City's youth team.

At United, Sancho would be the jewel in the crown around which manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is trying to build a new team. He would be offered the club's famous number seven shirt, worn previously by Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham and Eric Cantona, and would link up with England teammate Marcus Rashford. But first, United need to qualify for the Champions League.

The 20-time English champions were fifth when the Premier League was suspended with nine games to play, three points behind fourth-place Chelsea. But with UEFA having banned rivals City from the Champions League for two seasons, fifth place could conceivably be enough.

Read more: How a Jadon Sancho move to Manchester United has become more likely

Torwart Alexander Nübel wechselt zu FC Bayern München
Alexander Nübel (Schalke)Image: picture-alliance/dpa/R. Vennenbernd

Alexander Nübel (23)
Club: Schalke (moving to Bayern Munich in summer)
Position: Goalkeeper
Value: €9.5 million
Interest from: loan move?

In contrast to some of his peers, Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nübel made up his mind early and already knows where his future lies: Bayern Munich. The 23-year-old has already agreed to join the German champions this summer, but will he actually play there?

Current Bayern goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer (34) has no intention of vacating his spot between the posts just yet and, despite board member Oliver Kahn insisting that Nübel is happy to play second fiddle, the ambitious young stopper will surely want guaranteed game time.

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has also ruled out loaning Nübel out, but Bayern do have form for such moves: Philipp Lahm went to Stuttgart, Toni Kroos went to Leverkusen, and David Alaba and Serge Gnabry went to Hoffenheim.

If Nübel wants match practise, perhaps that's something he — and Bayern — should consider.

Zitattafel | Mario Götze redet über seine Zukunft mit BVB
Mario Götze (Borussia Dortmund)

Mario Götze (27)
Club: Borussia Dortmund (out of contract this summer)
Position: Attacking midfielder
Value: €10.5 million (available on a free)
Interest from: Italy, England, Spain

Mario Götze is out of contract at Borussia Dortmund this summer and Germany's 2014 World Cup winning hero looks set to be on the move again.

The 27-year-old notched up seven goals and seven assists in the Bundesliga last season and recently changed agents, telling DPA he had decided to "restructure his career planning" — in other words: he's looking for a transfer.

But where to? The most likely destination would appear to be abroad and reports suggest there has been interest from unnamed La Liga, Serie A and Premier League clubs.

There are some private changes on the horizon too, with Götze's wife Ann-Kathrin expecting a child. So, for the father-to-be, it isn't just a question of where he wants to play football, but where he wants to raise a family.

Read more: Where next for Mario Götze?

RB Leipzig vs FC Augsburg | Dayot Upamecano
Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig)Image: picture-alliance/AP Images/J. Meyer

Dayot Upamecano (21)
Club: RB Leipzig (contract until: 2021)
Position: Central defender
Value: €45 million
Interest from: Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, others.

One of 19 Red Bull players to have made the step from Salzburg to Leipzig, Dayot Upamecano's performances in the Bundesliga and Champions League have attracted the attention of half of Europe.

RB Leipzig have conceded just 18 goals in 19 league games so far this season — the best defense in the Bundesliga — thanks in large part to the 21-year-old central defender.

Upamecano, who has represented France from under-16 to under-21 level, demonstrates an authority and presence at the back beyond his years and has a €60 million buyout clause in his contact, which runs until next summer.

RB Leipzig sporting director Markus Krösche recently told Kicker magazine that "such a sum is unrealistic, in this summer at least," referring to the effect that the coronavirus crisis could have on the finances of clubs across Europe.

However, given the identities of the clubs allegedly interested in Upamecano, it seems unlikely that they would be put off: Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester United are among several big names who have reportedly put out feelers.

Speaking to French television two years ago, an even younger Upamecano specifically mentioned Real and United as "dream destinations," adding: "But if you want to play for one of those clubs, you have to work hard." He's certainly done that, and his reward could be just around the corner.

Kommentarbild von Andreas Sten-Ziemons
Andreas Sten-Ziemons Editor and reporter
DW Matthew Ford Sports
Matt Ford Reporter and editor for DW Sports specializing in European football, fan culture & sports politics.@matt_4d