It had promised to be one of the most feverish summer transfer markets in several years, with blockbuster names moving all over the place and sagas galore.
But the tight grip of the coronavirus pandemic means we now don’t even know when the transfer window will be let alone whether Europe’s leading clubs have any money to spend.
What is clear is that no club, however wealthy, is immune from taking an enormous financial hit as a result of football’s almost total shutdown in recent weeks and months.
Paul Pogba could be among a host of leading players forced to wait another year to secure lucrative transfers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled all of football
Deals worth tens of millions of pounds that looked highly likely to go through could now be on the scrapheap with no club entirely certain how far their shrinking budgets will get them.
While it’s certainly true that the value of many players will fall as a result of these extraordinary times, it’s also fair to say that those players at the top of the game will retain their value.
But who can afford them now? Sportsmail takes a look at 10 potential transfers this summer that could now be scuppered by coronavirus.
Paris Saint-Germain to Real Madrid
This looked like being the statement signing of the summer, a very impressive argument from Real Madrid that they wanted to return to the pinnacle of European football.
Mbappe, just 21, is Europe’s most prolific young goalscorer and already a World Cup winner and whoever bought him was assured of getting his best years.
Real are among the few clubs that could afford PSG’s asking price approaching £200million but, according to reports last week, the move will be put on ice for 12 months until 2021.
Reports in Spain suggest Real Madrid will wait another 12 months for PSG ace Kylian Mbappe
The Bernabeu club believe that Mbappe’s asking price will fall to around £130m by then as he will only have one year remaining on his contract and market values will dip generally.
So the virus could mean Mbappe having one final season with PSG before his mega-money move next year.
Tottenham Hotspur to Manchester United or Real Madrid
A quite remarkable transfer possibility that has emerged in recent weeks with Tottenham letting Manchester United know their talismanic striker Harry Kane could be available.
It would take a transfer fee close to the world record of £200m to seal the deal and Spurs always drive a hard bargain, but United know they could be one world class centre forward away from a Premier League title challenge.
Harry Kane has been linked with a move away from Tottenham – but can anyone afford him?
The Old Trafford club are also among the few who could afford such a transfer sum plus Kane’s salary but coronavirus will hit United as hard as anyone.
Kane, 26, has spoken of his desire to win trophies before it’s too late and United wouldn’t be in a position to guarantee that right away. A Real Madrid or a Juventus, by contrast, would but can they afford him?
The incredibly high transfer fee in the current climate, Spurs’ refusal to budge far in negotiations and possible unwillingness to sell to a domestic rival could all mean Kane spends another season under Jose Mourinho in north London.
Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United or Chelsea
Another transfer that seemed an absolute certainty to happen this summer and for a nine-figure transfer fee as well.
Manchester United had identified England star Sancho as a top target and Borussia Dortmund were willing to come to the negotiating table. Chelsea had also been linked with the 20-year-old.
Now all suitors of Sancho would probably have a crack at driving down the £100m price tag on the forward, which could make Dortmund reluctant to sell.
Jadon Sancho’s return to the Premier League from Dortmund has long looked likely to happen
And with Kane now potentially available, it could become a matter of priorities this summer and given United already have plenty of wide forwards, the move for Spurs’ talisman may take precedence.
Mind you, with Dortmund taking a big hit from their vast empty stadium when and if the Bundesliga resumes, this is a deal that looks more likely than most to still go through.
RB Leipzig to Liverpool
There aren’t many better strikers around Europe at the moment than Timo Werner and it really was only a matter of time before one of the elite clubs came enquiring.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp knows all too well that the best teams must never rest on their laurels, even if they have won the Champions League and – pandemic permitting – Premier League in consecutive seasons.
Liverpool are favourites to sign RB Leipzig’s prolific goalscorer Timo Werner this summer
Adding Werner to their already formidable forward line would be quite the statement and the German is available for a relatively cheap £51m.
But it goes without saying that Liverpool are taking a buffeting during this crisis – from a PR perspective after furloughing staff, something they reversed after intense criticism, and financially too.
The money aspect could lead to a reappraisal of transfer priorities and the travel restrictions have also prevented Klopp from setting up a personal meeting in which he aimed to convince Werner of the merits of coming to Anfield.
Manchester United to Real Madrid or Juventus
Paul Pogba leaving Manchester United a second time to join Real Madrid has been a saga that has rumbled on for months now.
And it very much looked set to be the theme of this summer as well with Pogba nearing recovery from the foot and ankle issues which had prevented him playing for United since Boxing Day.
Paul Pogba could find himself stuck at Man United given the new financial climate in football
The fact United had started to play perfectly well in his absence further increased the likelihood of Pogba’s departure, with a return to Juventus also possible.
But the financial climate has led to these European heavyweights wondering whether Pogba is a worthwhile purchase for the time being, even though United could let him go for as little as £50m.
So when we see him playing again, it could well be for United, having been unable to escape and trying to shoehorn himself back into their midfield, for better or worse.
Paris Saint-Germain to Barcelona
Yet another headline move in prospect for this summer.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, momentum was gathering at Barcelona for Neymar’s return to happen with a series of stories expressing confidence they could sign the Brazilian and striker Lautaro Martinez from Inter Milan.
Now the players are taking enormous wage cuts, plans for redeveloping the Nou Camp are on hold and the financial impact of this crisis looks set to run deep.
Neymar’s much mooted return to Barcelona from PSG could well be on hold for a while yet
The chances of Barcelona being able to afford Neymar at around £150m are diminishing rapidly and, to add further insult, his wages look set to be slashed as PSG compensate for a lack of TV revenue coming in.
Neymar would no doubt relish the prospect of reuniting with Lionel Messi and other old colleagues in Barcelona after three years in Paris but they just can’t afford him.
DONNY VAN DE BEEK
Ajax to Real Madrid
Ajax and Real Madrid reportedly agreed a £47m deal to bring the 22-year-old midfielder to the Bernabeu back in January.
But, speaking this week, Van de Beek’s agent Guido Albers expressed some concern that the deal might not actually happen given the coronavirus.
Donny van de Beek’s £47m move from Ajax to Real Madrid may not go through as expected
‘What’s going to happen to Donny? No one knows at this time,’ Albers told Mundo Deportivo.
‘We will see what will come out in the coming weeks. I don’t dare say anything about it, also because some things are confidential, although the coronavirus will have changed the situation of some clubs and we have to look closely at that.’
It will become increasingly apparent if this is true in the months ahead.
Manchester City to Bayern Munich
A transfer that should have happened last summer only for Sane to suffer an anterior cruciate ligament injury that has ruled him out of the entire season.
Bayern kept alive their interest in the Manchester City man, however, and were looking to get the deal done once the window opened this summer.
Leroy Sane’s £100m move to Bayern Munich from Manchester City may prove too expensive
The coronavirus came at a bad time for the 24-year-old, who was closing in on a return from injury, and now there’s speculation Bayern won’t be able to afford the £100m asking price.
However, there are grounds for hope in the fact Sane now enters the final year of his contract and the price could be reduced.
Chelsea to Real Madrid or Barcelona
Stories linking Chelsea midfielder Kante with a move to one of Spain’s leading two have been springing up regularly over the past week.
Zinedine Zidane has reportedly placed the Frenchman on a shortlist as he looks to bolster his midfield and help out Casemiro in the holding role.
N’Golo Kante’s time at Chelsea be drawing to a close with two Spanish giants both interested
And Barcelona reportedly want to include Kante in the deal that sees Philippe Coutinho head the other way to Chelsea.
But as we’ve mentioned, these are belt-tightening times for both Barca and Real and it seems that both clubs have more pressing priorities for their squeezed budgets.
Barcelona to Chelsea or Arsenal
It’s long been apparent that Coutinho is surplus to requirements at Barcelona, as shown by the fact he’s currently out on loan at Bayern Munich.
The German club haven’t been impressed enough to buy him outright and Barcelona seemingly don’t want him back.
So the Brazilian, formerly of Liverpool, has been linked with a Premier League comeback with London duo Chelsea and Arsenal reportedly front of the queue.
Philippe Coutinho is surplus to requirements at Barcelona with links to two English clubs
But Chelsea don’t want to stump up £70m for him and some reports suggest they’re only interested in a loan deal where their only liability would be his wages.
Throw a part-exchange involving the likes of Kante into the equation and it could become very messy indeed.
Coutinho could well end up warming the bench at the Nou Camp next year if nobody matches the asking price in these strange times.