One down, three to go.
The pool of the most talented and sought-after midfielders thinned on deadline day when Chelsea completed their mega-money move for Enzo Fernandez.
Blues co-owner Todd Boehly shelled out a whopping £107million – a new British transfer record – to Benfica for the Argentine but it means the options are now dwindling for clubs who want to sign the best of the best in midfield.
And with Fernandez now no longer on the market, who are the other elite midfielders that will be available on the market this summer?
Sportsmail has a look at the three men that could go for huge sums at the end of the season.
Chelsea smashed the British transfer record to sign Enzo Fernandez for £107m on deadline day
Liverpool, Manchester City and Real Madrid
The midfielder every man and his dog wants but only a few can afford. Jude Bellingham will spark a bidding war this summer with Borussia Dortmund willing to let him leave for a big offer.
The 19-year-old’s current deal expires in summer 2025 but the England international is now ready for the next chapter in his career and there are three clubs in the race to sign him.
Liverpool are ready to go all in on signing Bellingham this summer, having had a quiet January window. The Reds have long admired the teenager and are now planning for the future, given Jurgen Klopp is desperate to bolster his midfield.
Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham will spark a bidding war between Europe’s elite this summer
The England star is one of the most sought-after players in world football at the moment
Thiago, Jordan Henderson and James Milner are all the wrong side of 30 while Fabinho, 29, is also getting on.
Bellingham, who has been compared to Steven Gerrard, got the thumbs up from the Liverpool legend himself and a move to Anfield is being considered by the Dortmund star.
However, Liverpool aren’t the only horse in this race.
Their Premier League rivals Manchester City are also keen on Bellingham and have earmarked him over a summer move.
As exclusively revealed by Sportsmail, City are also plotting a move for James Maddison but Bellingham remains high on their list with Pep Guardiola looking to reunite the Englishman with his former Dortmund team-mate and good pal Erling Haaland.
Bellingham will freshen up Liverpool’s midfield with Thiago, Henderson and Milner all over 30
Unlike Liverpool, City have plenty of strength in depth when it comes to midfield but there’s no denying that Bellingham would be an assured starter alongside Rodri in the centre of the park.
City also have the financial firepower behind them and have the resources to match and out-bid any offer made to Bellingham.
But while a move to the Premier League, and back to his native England, promises to be an enticing opportunity, the pull that Real Madrid possess could prove to be the difference.
Should Real manage to tempt Bellingham, he would become only the sixth Englishman to have donned the all white kit, and a Galactico in his own right.
A reunion with former Dortmund team-mate and good pal Erling Haaland could be on the cards
Ancelotti will want to freshen up his midfield with Modric and Kroos in their twilight years
However, while Carlo Ancelotti, like Klopp, is keen to freshen up his midfield given Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are in the twilight years of their career, Bellingham will face competition for minutes alongside Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni and Federico Valverde.
Expect the £107m figure Chelsea paid for Fernandez to be beaten, wherever Bellingham chooses to go.
Having long been linked with a return to boyhood club Chelsea – where he started his academy career – it’s looks like a move back to Stamford Bridge is no longer on the cards, following Fernandez’s arrival.
And while a move to west London is now unlikely, Rice will look to bring the curtain down on his time in east London this summer.
Rice has been at West Ham his whole senior career, making 221 appearances for the Hammers in all competitions since he made his debut in 2017.
Declan Rice looks set to leave West Ham this summer with Arsenal plotting an £80m move
However, the club find themselves in the middle of a relegation battle and with a European finish uncertain, Rice will look to push for a move away at the end of the season, having already turned down a number of contract renewals at the London Stadium.
The 24-year-old has made it no secret that he wants to play in the Champions League – something West Ham have failed to offer him – which saw him speak openly of his desire to play at the top level in the game, making the point that you only get ‘one’ career.
‘I see my friends who play in the Champions League, winning the big trophies,’ he said prior to England’s last-16 tie with Senegal. You only get one career and at the end of your career you want to look at what you’ve won.’
And barring a total capitulation of their season, Arsenal will be able to offer him just that next season.
The midfielder looks set to depart the east London club this year in search of European football
Mikel Arteta’s Gunners have made £80m Rice their top priority in the summer transfer window
The Gunners emerged as a surprise runner in the race for Rice last month and have made the midfielder their top summer target.
Mikel Arteta’s side are also prepared to break the club’s transfer record to sign the England international, with the midfielder valued around £80m.
West Ham want a deal worth £100million for their skipper but though there looks little hope of receiving that fee.
And despite making a number of big-money bids for Moises Caicedo before the deadline (more on that shortly), Arsenal will focus all their attentions on securing a move for Rice come the summer.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool
One of the biggest moves that never materialised in the final days of the January window was Moises Caicedo’s exit from Brighton.
Sportsmail revealed last Friday that Caicedo was desperate to force through a move to Arsenal or Chelsea – who were also interested – before Tuesday’s deadline and was prepared to agitate to get his wish.
The Gunners failed with two offers, the second worth £70million, to sign the Ecuador international with Brighton adamant he was not for sale.
Moises Caicedo was linked with a January exit but could now leave Brighton in the summer
The 21-year-old even took to social media where he posted a controversial statement asking for Brighton to grant him his move.
The fact the midfielder has remained at the Amex will be viewed as a victory for the club and De Zerbi. The Italian manager appeared to open the door to Caicedo’s exit on Sunday saying the team were ready to move on without him.
However, in private, it is understood De Zerbi made clear how important Caicedo is to his team and reinforced the importance of keeping him.
With that in mind, Brighton can expect to face another barrage of bids for the youngster when the window reopens in the summer.
Caicedo is under contract at the Amex Stadium until 2025 but Brighton want £80m for him
The 21-year-old controversially expressed his desire to leave Brighton in a social media post
Arsenal are one of the most likely contenders to go back in for Caicedo while Chelsea could splash the cash again, but like with Rice, may be unwilling given they’ve just forked out £107m for Fernandez.
Liverpool were also linked with Caicedo earlier in the window and could go back in for him in the summer should they fail to lure Bellingham to Anfield.
Caicedo is under contract at the Amex until 2025 but another big-money offer in the summer could see the Seagulls cash-in next time round.
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