The transfer market in 2020 promised so much but failed to deliver the big-name moves wed hoped for as football was heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Lionel Messi and Jadon Sancho were strongly linked with transfers to the Premier League but they stayed put, with most clubs – Chelsea among the notable exceptions – refraining from splashing out big.
Sancho did not get a move to Man United in the summer – but could it happen in 2021?
But that could change in 2021 with fans hopefully allowed back in grounds soon and clubs able to thrive again.
Here are some huge transfers that could happen in the next 12 months…
Erling Haaland
The Norwegian striker has been at Borussia Dortmund for close to a year, but his record has been nothing short of remarkable.
Haaland has racked up 33 goals in 32 games since his move from Red Bull Salzburg and he is one of the most coveted talents in world football.
His buyout clause was a modest £18million and it is believed that his contract at Dortmund includes a clause of £68m – but that doesnt become active until 2022.
Haaland chose Dortmund over Man United last January
However, that’s unlikely to stop a team going all out to break the bank and sign Haaland next summer.
Manchester United, Man City, Liverpool and Real Madrid have all been linked.
It is likely to require an astronomical fee to prise him away from the German club but they may have to reluctantly take the offer or accept that hell go for a much lower fee in 2022.
‘Man City must sign Erling Haaland to challenge for the PL title’ – Trevor Sinclair tells former club to smash transfer record to sign Borussia Dortmund star
Jadon Sancho
The will he/wont he Sancho storyline over the summer kept everyones attention.
United were very keen on signing the Borussia Dortmund star but were unwilling to meet the £100m+ price tag set by the Bundesliga side.
Sancho is arguably one of the brightest young talents in world football and would have been a great addition to Ole Gunnar Solskjaers side.
Bids were reportedly made, deadlines were set and missed and nothing eventually happened.
Last season, Sancho had 17 goals and 16 assists in the Bundesliga but that form has dipped somewhat in 2020/21.
He has so far failed to score in 11 appearances but does have three assists.
Despite the drop off in form, there are likely to be plenty of suitors either in January or next summer.
United were the only realistic bidder last summer but may find competition for his signature in windows to come.
Sancho joined Dortmund from Man City in 2017
Kylian Mbappe
Its easy to forget Mbappe is still only 22. The striker is at the top of his game having already won four Ligue 1 titles and a World Cup.
Hes also scored 150 career goals already and shows no sign of slowing down.
His current club, Paris Saint-Germain, would be foolish to sell him, right? But things arent as straight forward as that.
Mbappes contact runs out in June 2022, meaning in just over a years time he can start negotiating a new contract with another club.
PSG have been desperate to get him to sign a new deal but he remains coy over his future plans.
Offers are likely to come in the summer knowing that PSG may have to accept a fee or risk losing him for nothing 12 months later.
Liverpool and Real Madrid have been linked with the 22-year-old superstar and he has spoken openly about his admiration of both teams.
PSG still remain confident of agreeing a new deal, though, and hope to hold on to one of the brightest young talents in football.
Leonardo told Canal+ earlier this month: Were talking. We want to discuss, and he also wants to discuss.
Mbappe helped France win the 2018 World Cup
PSG face a similar situation with Neymar as his contract as expires in June 2022.
The Brazil attacker has enjoyed a successful, but somewhat injury plagued, time at the Parc de Princes.
When hes played hes often scored, netting 79 times in 97 games, but staying fit for a complete season has been something that has eluded him so far.
Transfer rumours have persisted around Neymar for the last couple of seasons now with some reports linking him with a return to Barcelona.
Messi was really keen for him to move back and urged the club to go and get him – it didnt work out.
PSG may be more amenable to an offer in January or the summer knowing they are in a slightly weaker position.
Neymar was part of the famous MSN trio at Barcelona
Lionel Messi
Messi and Barcelona have seemed like a perfect match throughout most of his career.
They nurtured him as a youngster and he went on to become the clubs record goalscorer.
Hes won an impressive haul of 34 trophies over that time and been part of some truly groundbreaking teams.
The relationship between one of footballs best ever players and Barcelona broke down over the summer, though, and he requested to leave.
Messi wanted out of Barcelona over the summer
In August, Messi wanted to exercise a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave for free but the club insisted his release clause (of £624m) was still active.
After a very public spat, he agreed to stay and his form at the start of the season dipped somewhat.
Josep Maria Bartomeu then quit as president and the relationship with Messi and the club has improved.
“I dragged everything into the start of the season a bit, he admitted.
“The truth is right now I’m feeling fine, but in the summer I had a very bad time.
Messis contract is still up in the summer and rumours still persist of a link-up with Pep Guardiola at Man City, although he maintains he is in no hurry to decide on his future and has indicated that America could be his likely next destination.
Trevor Sinclair believes it’s inevitable that Lionel Messi will end up signing for Manchester City and Pep Guardiola
Mohamed Salah
The Egypt superstar has been a revelation at Liverpool since joining from Roma in 2017, and it is no surprise the worlds biggest clubs want to sign him.
In three-and-a-half seasons, hes scored 110 goals in just 173 appearances, winning the Premier League and Champions League.
He has also won two Golden Boots and the Player of the Season award in 2017/18.
Speculation about Salahs future has been persistent. Reports have emerged claiming Liverpool were considering selling Salah with a former teammate saying he is upset about his situation at Anfield.
Earlier this month, Salah admitted he was very disappointed not to captain Liverpool in a Champions League clash with Midtjylland, with the armband instead given to youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold.
In the same interview in which he expressed his disappointment at not captaining the Reds, Salah refused to rule out a future transfer to Real Madrid or Barcelona.
Liverpool paid £36.9million for Salah in 2017
Paulo Dybala
Undoubtedly talented but he has certainly been sidelined a bit since Juventus signed Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata.
The Argentina international has been integral since joining Juve in 2015 and has so far won the Serie A title in each of his five full seasons.
His goalscoring record is reasonable too having netted 97 times in 241 games.
Transfer rumours been there over the last 18 months and he was reportedly close to joining Tottenham while Manchester United were also known to have been keen.
Juve boss Andrea Pirlo insists hes still a key part of his future plans.
In a recent interview, he said: Absolutely. Champions like him are always fundamental in strong teams.
I train all the players. Dybala is one of them. He behaviour is great.
Despite Pirlos comments, there is still speculation that the forward could move on in the summer, especially with his contract ending in 2022.
Rumours of a Dybala exit just won’t go away
Paul Pogba
His future at United has been the subject of intense speculation ever since he returned to the club from Juventus in a then world-record £89m deal in 2016.
The Frenchman is tied to United until 2022, after an option to extend his contract by one year was triggered by the club last month.
However, Pogba has never seemed fully committed to United and has publicly courted interest from Real Madrid.
According to his agent Mino Raiola, the World Cup winner is unhappy at Old Trafford and unable to express himself and the best solution for all parties is to let him leave in the next transfer window.
But Pogba has insisted he is 1000 per cent involved at Manchester United.
The Frenchmans future continues to dominate the headlines and it might finally be the last straw for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ed Woodward over the next 12 months.
Pogba’s Man United days appear they may be numbered