Transfer talk could unsettle key Red Devils

CHANTILLY • Concerns have been raised within the Belgium squad that players may have been distracted before today's eagerly-anticipated Euro 2016 quarter-final against Wales, as they negotiate transfers to further their club careers.

The club futures of a number of key players in Marc Wilmots' squad are up in the air.

Chelsea were permitted to send a member of their medical staff to the team's base in Bordeaux on Wednesday, just 48 hours before the last-eight clash in Lille, to conduct basic medical tests on the striker Michy Batshuayi, before his proposed €40 million (S$60 million) move to Stamford Bridge.

The forward's club, Marseille, are under pressure to balance their books and deliver on the budget presented to the French league's financial watchdog, prompting them to request that the deal be concluded this week.

Belgium's management, in stark contrast to England's Football Association, which had been privately unimpressed to discover Jamie Vardy agreed a new contract with Leicester City during the team's stay in France, duly agreed.

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  • At least five Belgium players' club futures could be decided this summer, including:

    • Marseille striker Michy Batshuayi is set to move to Chelsea.

    • Club Brugge right-back Thomas Meunier was given time off for Paris Saint-Germain medical tests.

    • Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan has been asked regularly about Chelsea, as talks hit a deadlock.

    • Everton striker Romelu Lukaku is unsettled and says his future is in his agent's hands.

    • Liverpool forward Christian Benteke is drawing strong interest from Crystal Palace.

Yet, the issue has been talked about by members of the squad concerned that focus may be blurred as players spend time discussing moves with their representatives.

Another of Wilmots' players, the right-back Thomas Meunier, was granted time away from the squad on Wednesday to conduct a full medical examination with Paris Saint-Germain.

The Club Brugge defender will replace Gregory van der Wiel at the French champions.

Another player in the squad, the Liverpool forward Christian Benteke, is drawing strong interest from Crystal Palace as he prepares to leave Anfield after only a year.

Liverpool are aware that Palace can meet Benteke's wage demands but will be seeking at least £30 million for a player who cost marginally more, at £32.5 million, when joining from Aston Villa last summer.

Although Batshuayi was excused an appearance at a press conference on Wednesday evening, Wilmots has not prevented his players discussing club matters, or moves, over the tournament to date.

The midfielder Radja Nainggolan has been asked regularly about his potential transfer to Chelsea - discussions over that move have reached deadlock with Roma - and Romelu Lukaku has twice spoken about his future at Everton.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2016, with the headline 'Transfer talk could unsettle key Red Devils'. Print Edition | Subscribe