Eight Leverkusen stars who could be up for grabs this summer - including Man Utd, Arsenal & Liverpool targets

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What the rumour mill thinks might happen with Bayer Leverkusen’s best players this summer, with Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs & Newcastle all in the hunt for their stars.

The extraordinary, unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen side that became champions of Germany for the first time after thumping Werder Bremen 5-0 on Sunday has plenty of work left to do this year – there’s the chance of an unprecedented ‘invincible’ treble, for starters – but many other teams watching Xabi Alonso work his magic from a distance will inevitably start to wonder exactly how they can pull this team apart and pick off all their best players.

Whenever ‘smaller’ sides succeed in such extravagant fashion, a feeding frenzy usually develops at speed. One thinks of the AS Monaco side that won Ligue 1 and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2017 and was promptly stripped of its star players, or the Leicester City squad that won the Premier League and lost N’Golo Kanté and Riyad Mahrez before they could finish spraying the last of the celebratory champagne.

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That may well be the fate that awaits an immensely talented Leverkusen side come June. It will help that manager Xabi Alonso has unexpectedly announced his decision to stay for the coming title defence and Champions League run, a statement of faith and intent that may help to keep some of the other crown jewels in place – but it’s more than likely that at least a few of Leverkusen’s best and brightest will be tempted away by the of hefty contracts on offer at some of Europe’s biggest clubs. So we’re going to take a look at some of the stars of their so-far unbeaten side and what the rumour mill reckons might happen to them next season.

Florian Wirtz

The shiniest and most valuable of those crown jewels, Wirtz has been both creative orchestrator and goalscoring finisher for Leverkusen. Darting down the channels and flitting between half-spaces as a versatile hybrid between traditional number ten and inside forward, Wirtz has hit double figures for both goals and assists after scoring a sensational hat-trick against Bremen.

Depending on which media outlets you choose to believe, Wirtz will either be heading to one of Europe’s giants for a fee close to £100m (Real Madrid, Chelsea and Liverpool have all been linked) or will join Alonso in staying put for another year, preferring to finish what he started next season. But one assumes that one of the most gifted attacking players in Europe will be on the open market soon enough, and that will be a problem for every other team in the world. Wirtz is truly special.

Jeremie Frimpong

The 23-year-old Dutchman is an attacking right wing-back who contributed 15 goals and assists in the league, using his extreme pace and dribbling skills to surge through gaps in opposing defences and create havoc. Equally dangerous cutting inside or sticking to the byline like glue, he’s a huge headache to defend against and would suit practically any side who either play a back three like Leverkusen or a gung-ho, Liverpool-style back four. So, naturally, Manchester United, who play completely differently, have been heavily linked with a bid of around £35m. Arsenal have been mentioned, too. Perhaps the most likely of Leverkusen’s big-ticket players to move on.

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Victor Boniface

Leverkusen’s leading goalscorer with 18 in all competitions, the 23-year-old Nigerian has been linked with Arsenal, Napoli, AC Milan and others just a year after a £17.2m move from Belgium. An excellent dribbler with superb movement, a decent turn of speed and rock-solid finishing, he won’t be the top target for many teams but with so many big sides in need of a new number nine he may well be the subject of a number of bids by clubs who either can’t afford the Victor Osimhens of the world or who miss out on them.

Edmond Tapsoba

A ball-playing Burkinabe defender with the strength and size to be effective in the air and in one-on-one situations, Tapsoba’s name has come up in the rumour mill dozens of times in recent years and has been linked with just about every side in the Premier League at some stage or another. Now 25 and in his prime, Manchester United, again, are the side whose name is coming up the most, although he’s one of a great many central defenders who could head to Old Trafford.

Exequiel Palacios

A World Cup winner with Argentina, the 25-year-old holding midfielder was reportedly a target for Arsenal back in 2020 before he moved to Leverkusen. A tough tackler who makes a lot of important defensive plays, he’s also a fine passer with a good range and a high completion rate, and has been superb in a double pivot alongside Granit Xhaka. There have been some rather loose rumours connecting him with a Premier League move this summer, but very little concrete so far. Arsenal and Newcastle United have been mentioned.

Piero Hincapié

Just 22 years of age, the Ecuadorian wide centre-half isn’t the sturdiest defender in the game but is a superb passer who is supremely confident with the ball at his feet. Liverpool have come up quite a few times as a possible destination, which may be an odd fit unless rumours that Rúben Amorim will take over as manager prove true – the Portuguese coach is something of a back-three purist, and Hincapié would make far more sense covering for an aggressive wing-back in a three-man defence than he would in a back four. Tottenham Hotspur have been suggested recently as well. Expect him to cost around £25m.

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Jonathan Tah

Another rumour mill staple, the Germany international centre-back provides an impressive physical presence but is also a superb positional player, adept at marking and cutting out passing angles for opposing playmakers. Liverpool, Spurs and Newcastle have all been described as interested over the past few months, with a suggested price tag in the region of £35m. A fine player, but one who has been linked with so many clubs so many times that it’s hard to put much stock in any given story at this stage.

Álex Grimaldo

The 28-year-old Spaniard has been simply sublime as Leverkusen’s attacking left wing-back this season, with a massive 21 goal contributions including nine goals and 12 assists – and that’s just in the league. Given how good he’s been, the rumour mill has been really rather quiet about his future, although a recent report suggested a possible race between Arsenal, Liverpool and Bayern Munich. Like Frimpong, he’s the kind of player who thrives in a system which pushes him as far up the field as possible at all times.

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