Richard Buxton: 7 young guns who could be on the move
Europe's heavyweights have set their sights on the likes of de Ligt and Felix
Flying the nest is never easy but Europe's young guns have made it into an art form.
Bold moves paid dividends for the likes of Jadon Sancho, Ousmane Dembele and Vinicius in recent years and the trend promises to continue with the latest crop of burgeoning talent.
Here are seven starlets potentially flocking elsewhere this summer:
KYLIAN MBAPPE (PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN)
Barely 12 months since having the world at his feet, Mbappe continues to crave more.
A veiled threat of leaving the Parc des Princes in pursuit of greater responsibilities has been interpreted as a glorified power move to step out of Neymar's increasingly murky shadow.
PSG are adamant that the 20-year-old will not leave the French capital this summer but that stance might change if the likes of Real Madrid or Manchester City come knocking.
The former appears more likely, not least with Zinedine Zidane undertaking a significant rebuild.
MATTHIJS DE LIGT (AJAX AMSTERDAM)
Fearless leadership has seen de Ligt steer his boyhood club to both the Eredivisie title and to within seconds of reaching a first Champions League final since 1996 this season.
A starring role for Holland in this summer's Nations League Finals will only whet appetites further and there are no shortage of takers in the highly rated teenager, with City and Liverpool spearheading the interested parties.
Barcelona, however, appear the most likely destination for the 19-year-old, with the signing of Ajax teammate Frenkie de Jong continuing the Catalan side's long-standing Dutch connection.
LUKA JOVIC (EINTRACHT FRANKFURT)
Just weeks into a permanent stay with the Bundesliga side, Jovic is on the move again.
A prolific campaign where he recorded 27 goals in 48 games for Adi Huetter's side, including a double in their Europa League semi-final loss to Chelsea, has caught Real's eye.
Eintracht will multiply their initial £6 million (S$10.5m) outlay tenfold for the 21-year-old, who was a peripheral figure during Serbia's ill-fated World Cup campaign last summer.
NICOLAS PEPE (LILLE)
Following in Eden Hazard's footsteps is never easy, as Christian Pulisic will soon discover, but Pepe has comfortably assumed the Chelsea winger's mantle at his former club this term.
In a season where they finished a distant second to PSG in the Ligue 1 title race, the 23-year-old has been a driving force in Lille's attack with 23 goals in 39 domestic appearances.
Both Arsenal and Manchester United are possible destinations, but a lack of Champions League football could steer the Ivory Coast international to clubs of a higher plane.
JOAO FELIX (BENFICA)
The latest talent to emerge from Portugal's current golden generation, hopes remain high that the 19-year-old will emulate the success of Benfica alumni Rui Costa and Joao Pinto.
Europe's elite are tracking the versatile midfielder, with United, Juventus and Real said to be among them, after contributing 20 goals and 11 assists as the Eagles won the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
But the Red Devils would need to smash the British transfer record to land Felix, with the Portuguese champions setting an eye-watering £105m release clause as a potential deterrent.
RODRI (ATLETICO MADRID)
Antoine Griezmann's protracted exit could lead to further upheaval in the Spanish capital.
La Liga's runners-up are already in the midst of being dismantled, with as many as four first-team players set to depart this summer, but Rodri could be among their biggest losses.
The midfielder has become a household name in his debut season under Diego Simeone and has alerted the likes of Bayern Munich, City and Barca with a playing style that bears striking similarities with Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso in their respective heydays.
Pep Guardiola is reportedly planning to offer striker Gabriel Jesus as a potential makeweight in any deal that sees the English Premier League champions meeting Atleti's £62m valuation.
RYAN SESSEGNON (FULHAM)
Now in the final 12 months of his current deal at Craven Cottage, the Londoners' relegation from the EPL is expected to spark a scramble for Sessegnon's signature this summer.
United, Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur are leading the chase for the prodigious fullback, who was integral in Fuham's return to the top flight but conspicuous by his absence in their downfall.
Spurs' interest is long-standing but a £40m valuation may prove a sticking point for them, despite the player's preference to remain in the EPL next season.
A dream move to Liverpool should also not be discounted, especially with Juergen Klopp needing back-up to Andy Robertson on the left side of his defence.
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