Transfer speculation is already mounting over the future of several €100 million-plus players this summer — among them Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham, Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane and Napoli forward Victor Osimhen — but Europe’s elite clubs are also looking at signing some emerging talents with exciting potential who would be available for a less hefty fee.
Here are a few young stars who are attracting top-level interest months before the transfer window reopens.
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Club: Eintracht Frankfurt
Transfer valuation: €65m
Signed on a free transfer last summer when his contract at Nantes expired, the versatile centre-forward has made an astonishing impact in his debut Bundesliga season with Frankfurt. At 6-foot-1, with a long gait that helps him outsprint opponents, he has proven to be a handful for defences in the Bundesliga and Champions League alike, scoring 19 goals and laying on 14 assists from 37 games to date.
On top of his tidy finishing capabilities with either foot, or in the air, Kolo Muani presses well, takes on defenders with the ball at his feet, and is developing his hold-up game too.
Having impressed at the 2022 World Cup, he has now cemented a starting spot for France — unthinkable a year ago — and prestigious clubs such as Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United have been linked with a potential summer move. Frankfurt won’t want to let him go but will find it hard to say no to an offer than gives them such a large profit.
Club: Club Atletico Tigre (on loan from Boca Juniors)
Transfer valuation: €16m
Should Kolo-Muani leave Frankfurt, the German club are apparently considering Retegui as a replacement, even though the Argentina-born striker is more of a traditional No. 9 target man.
Qualifying to play for Italy through his Sicilian grandfather, Retegui made his senior national team debut in the recent Euro 2024 qualifying games and scored a consolation goal in the 2-1 defeat against England, while he added another in a 2-0 win against Malta a few days later. For Tigre, where he is on loan from Boca Juniors, he scored 19 league goals last season and has seven in 10 games this campaign.
Retegui’s development ceiling has been heavily debated among scouts who question whether his physicality, determination and aerial power can make up for a lack of mobility and technical shortcomings. Nevertheless, he is reportedly attracting attention from Leeds United, West Ham, AC Milan and Inter.
Club: Celta Vigo
Transfer valuation: €40m
There are few young midfielders that have more of the required attributes for the role than Veiga. The 20-year-old burst onto the LaLiga scene this season, showing a wonderful combination of natural quality on the ball, physical strength, a high level of tactical and positional awareness, as well as end product.
With the licence to express himself from his No. 8 role, Veiga has scored nine league goals — some of which have been intricate efforts from the edge of the box — and assisted four from 26 games. His ease at taking on opponents in midfield and gaining ground with the ball has generated excitement at many an analytics department.
With all due respect to Celta Vigo — who tend to alternate successful relegation battles with mid-table finishes — it is unlikely they will be able to stop the young star departing if a club pays his reported €40m release clause. Indeed, the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool are reportedly following his progress, while the fact that Pep Guardiola’s brother (Pere) is leading the race to become his agent means Manchester City will also inevitably be mentioned as a future destination.
Position: Defensive midfield
Club: Borussia Monchengladbach
Transfer valuation: €30m
Though still awaiting his first senior call-up for France, “Manu” has been highlighting his ever-developing game in the Bundesliga on a weekly basis. While generally asked to perform the less attractive aspects of midfield play in a double pivot, his strength, effortless mastery of the ball and industry — he closes down space well and presses with intent — are key to his success. He is a fine passer of the ball, but it’s his progressive dribbling skills which set him apart from his peers and he could be considered more of a box-to-box midfielder given the nature of his game.
Plying his trade in Ligue 2 before he moved to Germany for €10m in January 2021, Kone has adapted well and is fully capable of making another step up in quality. And, with a host of affluent suitors reportedly including Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and PSG, it may not be long before he is offered the chance.
Club: Athletico Paranaense
Transfer valuation: €15m
Since joining Athletico-PR from Cruzeiro for a club-record fee of €4.7m a year ago, Vitor Roque has become one of the best young players in Brazilian football.
Not only did he finish joint top scorer on six goals with teammate Andrey Santos (who has already been snapped up by Chelsea) at the South American U20 Championship earlier this year, Vitor Roque immediately took his form into the Parana State Championship with four goals in the last five games and then made his senior debut for the Selecao against Morocco in late March.
With an aggressive, instinctive style which has seen him likened to the legendary Luis Suarez, the teenager has outstandingly technique and movement for one so young. Barcelona looked set to sign him, but after a short tour of top clubs in Europe it seems Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are also in the running.
Transfer valuation: €25m
With 17th-placed Valencia in deep trouble in LaLiga this season, several elite Premier League clubs (including Man United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Leicester) are reportedly keeping a close eye on the 6-foot-5 Georgia international goalkeeper.
Despite his huge frame, Mamardashvili is exceptionally agile — he gets to the ground remarkably quickly for someone of his size — and has tremendous reflexes. Having only become a regular in the first XI this season, the 22-year-old still has things to improve and his distribution needs work. However, his bravery, mental alertness and ability to deal with crosses and unexpected shots, suggests that he could have a bright future at the highest level.
Transfer valuation: €24m
Unless Watford see a spectacular change in fortunes towards the end of the season to miraculously claim promotion via the Championship playoffs, it’s unlikely that the Brazilian will play for the Hornets next season (despite his contract running until 2028.)
The quick, sharp and skilful attacker — who can play in any position up front — already made an immediate impact in the Premier League last season and seems to have outgrown Watford as he approaches his 100th league game.
Blending unpredictable off-the-ball movement with tremendous high-speed dribbling ability (eight dribbles completed per game) and fine finishing skills, Joao Pedro would prove a fine addition. Newcastle United have reportedly been long-standing admirers, while recent reports in Italy have also linked him to AC Milan.