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Top players who are proving unsellable

Wages and transfer fees for an elite group of players grow ever higher, meaning that when things go wrong it can be very difficult to move them on. This is the case for Neymar, Pogba, Bale and co.

1. Neymar (PSG)

It is no secret that the uneasy marriage between the Brazil No10 and Paris Saint-Germain could well be coming to an end. However, there could yet be an impasse. While PSG would probably settle for their money back, some €222 million (Sh25 billion) there are not many clubs out there willing or able to furnish that outlay. Barcelona would be one interested party but will need to make room in the budget for the transfer fee and wages. Neymar makes around €700,000 (Sh81 million) per week at Parc des Princes, meaning that only a very, very select few clubs can match his salary expectation. With the bases loaded at most top teams, as it were, there is simply nowhere else for him to go.

2. Paul Pogba (Man Utd)

He recently expressed his desire to seek a new challenge next season. However, it will not be straightforward. The duration of Pogba’s contract, another three years should the club take up their one-year option, means the value of any transfer would exceed the €100 million (Sh11.6 billion) world record fee United paid to Juventus three years ago. Real Madrid could probably afford it, even allowing for their record-breaking summer thus far, but it is by no means guaranteed that they will go in for the 26-year-old. If Madrid or Juventus fail to be convinced, his only option would probably be to stay put.

3. Alexis Sanchez (Man Utd)

Perhaps the most damaging signing of the Jose Mourinho reign, Sanchez’s reported near £600,000 (Sh77.6 million) weekly wage has distorted the salary picture inside the club and made it a hell of a lot more difficult to tie existing talents like Marcus Rashford to new deals. Sanchez output has been poor and that’s the reason United would happily accept any kind of deal for the Chilean. The problem is, who’s going to match that wage? Sanchez is well within his rights to work the terms of his contract should no suitable alternative materialise. And United? Well they would be stuck with the remnants of another Mourinho-Ed Woodward transfer botch.

4. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

The indications are that Ozil is happy to stay in north London and why wouldn’t he be for £350,000 (Sh45 million) a week? Arsenal, however, need space in their wage budget and, ideally, more money to improve the squad in the transfer market. But it’s not going to be easy to get those sums in any deal involving Ozil. Unai Emery showed last season he is no fan of Ozil and would happily dispense with him. The key obstruction, aside from his own inconsistent form, is the massive wage Ozil earns. Arsenal are stuck with a player they’d now rather not have with little in the way of a resolution anywhere in the horizon.

5. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)

Real Madrid paid a world record sum to sign Gareth Bale but the Welshman has outgrown his purpose at Santiago Bernabeu. That fresh contract he signed in October 2016 weighs heavily though, with his transfer value still high and his wages, like Ozil’s, gargantuan. Madrid would dearly love to move him on and despite his injury troubles, would feel entitled to recoup a good portion of the €100 million (Sh11.6 billion) transfer fee they paid to Tottenham six years ago. That is easier said than done.

6. Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona)

Another one who divides opinion, Coutinho signed for Barcelona with a big reputation from Liverpool in January 2018. However, he has failed to live up to expectations with widespread rumours that the Spanish giants want to move him on. With Barca close to signing Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid and also said to be interested in Neymar, they will need to let go some underperforming top earners and Coutinho is one of them. But it wont be easy, the player is reluctant to leave while the Catalans would want to recoup the £142 million (Sh18 billion) they splashed on him. Finding a buyer will not be easy.

7. James Rodriguez (Real Madrid)

Another big-money signing for Real Madrid who has failed to make an impact, James has played on loan at Bayern Munich for the last two years but the German giants have turned down the option to snap him up permanently. With Madrid in need of cash to fund other mega signings, they are not willing to let him leave on loan. However, with close to £90 million (Sh11.6 billion) needed to tie him down permanently, it has put off potential suitors, leaving the Colombian stuck.

8. Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan)

His quality is not in doubt but his character? Well…The Argentine striker is undoubtedly deadly but, unfortunately, controversy appears to follow him around. Icardi’s wife and agent, Wanda Nara, regularly criticised Inter’s handling of her husband and client last season. That led to the striker being suspended for one month and even after he returned, Inter seem to have had enough. The Italian giants are interested in signing Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United as a replacement for Icardi but finding suitors has proved problematic as no one is willing to take the risk.

9. Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)

Another controversial striker, Diego Costa spent most of last season either suspended or injured. His much-publicised eight-match ban for abusing a referee in April seems to have sealed his fate. The hierarchy at Atletico are tired of Costa and believe the team have been damaged by his antics. While coach Diego Simeone is willing to give him a second chance, the club believes this is the time to recoup the £58 million (Sh7.5 billion) they paid Chelsea to re-sign him. However, no top team is interested, only a handful of Chinese sides that are yet to submit concrete bids.

10. Jerome Boateng (Bayern)

Bayern do not want him, he wants to stay while most suitors cannot afford him. That is the dilemma facing Jerome Boateng, Germany’s best centre back in the last seven years. With coach Niko Kovac preferring Niklas Süle and Mats Hummels, Boateng found himself on the bench most of last season and the last nail came when club president Uli Hoeness told him to find a new club. However, Boateng is not in hurry to leave, preferring to fight for his place in the team or if he must go, then it must be a Champions League playing team willing to match his current salary of €135,000 (Sh15.6 million) a week. That has proved a tall order so far.

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