Eden Hazard: The talented 20-year-old Belgian winger has caught the attention of clubs such as Liverpool, Arsenal, and Tottenham and for good reason. The Lille youngster has already been compared to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Pretty good company to sit in, right? Zinedine Zidane has even gone out of his way to describe the player as “technically gifted…very fast…I would take him to Real Madrid with my eyes closed”. Watch out for a big summer move for Hazard. He’s a potential superstar in the next few years.
Lisandro Lopez: Though the surprisingly sparingly used Argentinian international is getting up there in age at 28, he is as prolific as most elite strikers out there and he’d present a pretty good value considering his consistent goal scoring rate throughout his career. The Lyon striker has notched goals at a bit more than a goal every two games and has kept nearly this rate at his previous clubs, Porto and Racing Club. The versatile player likely has a chance to play in Spain or Germany so he may hear a few knocks on his door by bigger name clubs this summer.
Miralem Pjanic: You may not have heard of this Lyon youngster, but he’s an up-and-coming talent, too. The 20-year-old Bosnian international has been apparently tracked by Real Madrid, Chelsea, and cash-heavy Manchester City for a summer move. The attacking midfielder already has tons of experience despite his age and could slot into a mid-level Spanish or English club immediately. I’m hoping he doesn’t ride the bench for a club like City for a few years with his immense potential.
Hugo Lloris: Another immensely talented Lyon player, the starting French goalkeeper has been linked with Transfer moves since his move to Lyon in 2008. Manchester United and Arsenal have expressed interest in the goalkeeper, as both clubs will certainly be looking for a shot-stopper in the transfer period with neither club likely not to have an established reliable starter going into next year’s campaign. Though his stature is not immense (sit at 6 foot, 2 inches), his instincts are phenomenal and worthy of being at a top club like United.
Romelu Lukaku: Amazingly, one of the hottest European prospects did not move in the winter period, so rumors will rampant about the “next Didier Drogba”. The 17-year-old Belgian international is an absolute freak of nature, just like Drogba. He’s a clinical finisher, a physical monstrosity (and still developing), and has loads of potential. Questions of his maturity level may arise due to how young he is, but let’s not get it wrong; there’s a reason Real Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United are all interested.
Gareth Bale: Does the next Ryan Giggs really require introduction? The 21 year-old Welshman burst into the European football spotlight after terrorizing champions league performances, including making the former great right back, Maicon (he still plays, but not in my mind) ridiculous in a group game, annihilating the Brazilian for 90 minutes. Though he just signed a four year contract extension, Hotspur may be willing to listen to offers thrown their way considering Andy Carroll became one of the more expensive football transfers in history this past winter.
Didier Drogba: A man in limbo. The once Chelsea talisman has seen his form hit a fairly big dip with the arrival of $80 million Fernando Torres and he seems to have grown frustrated with his amount of playing time at the club. Either Nicholas Anelka, Drogba, or both men will likely leave Stamford Bridge this summer, depending on their chemistry with the Spaniard up top. Tottenham and Marseille have reportedly shown interest. Who could blame them?
Peter Crouch: The giant Tottenham striker hasn’t been awful; it’s just Tottenham have been performing too well to have Peter Crouch be the lead striker at the club. The England International has hit up 9 clubs in his career so it might as well be time to make it ten, right? Someone will surely be interested in his game changing height and general awkwardness, right? Amazingly, I expect him to garner a fee between $15-20 million, despite his age and lack of production.
Pepe Reina: The Liverpool keeper is seeming to become increasingly frustrated by the lack of Champions League football arriving to Anfield, however, John Henry and the new ownership team clearly have an intention of mixing up the squad. Amazingly, Reina may be one of the pieces to go, despite his performances being rock solid since his arrival from Villarreal six short years ago. Manchester United and Arsenal have been highly linked to the Spaniard. A move within the EPL is a real possibility.
Florent Malouda: A major part of the aging attacking Chelsea front line, Malouda’s best years are starting to be behind him, despite his good form the past two campaigns. A move back to France could be in the works, as that’s where he spent the majority of his career. Bottom line, if Abramovich is serious about revamping his team again, the 30-year-old must be out the door and some fresh blood must be brought to the Bridge.
Cesc Fabregas: If the 23-year-old Spanish international doesn’t transfer back to boyhood club Barcelona by the end of the summer transfer period, I may eat my own socks. Someone may need to hold me to this should he not transfer. The midfield maestro has plenty of years ahead of him and his valuation will never be higher. Arsene Wenger will do the fiscally responsible thing and offload the club’s supposed leader.
Nicklas Bendtner: The increasingly forgotten and frankly non-Arsenal worthy striker has moved down the pecking order with the arrival of Chamakh and the reemergence of Robin Van Persie (when he isn’t injured every other game). The plain fact is that despite his insistence on being a world class striker, he simply is pretty average on the ball save an occasional glimpse of spectacular movement. Those movement are too far and few between for Wenger to put up with anymore. Time to ship out. Lazio and Newcastle are reported destinations.
Carlos Vela: The on-loan Gunner attacker may have his best years ahead of him, but sitting behind Robin Van Persie, Marouane Chamakh, and Nicklas Bendtner in the pecking order doesn’t exactly give much incentive for the young Mexican international to stay. He certainly has the choice of making limited appearances for the North London club, but more attractive opportunities lie in Spain, a place where he could get immediate playing time a mid-level club.
Andrey Arshavin: Some may be surprised to know that Arshavin is having one of his better statistical years since his arrival at the Emirates, notching 10 goals and 16 assists in 45 appearances. However, his form has been erratic at best over the span of all competitions. He’s been increasingly relegated to the bench in favor of the English speedster Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri (who has been electric this campaign). Zenit St. Petersburg are reportedly interested in a move to acquire the little Russian again and Wenger may be willing to listen to offers, especially considering he’ll be 30 at the end of this season.
Phil Jones: The towering Blackburn center back is touted as the potential successor to John Terry and for good reason. He’s an imposing physical specimen that is good in the air, a great tackler, and is only 19 years old right now. Though he’s a bit short, he still has time to grow into a monster and he’s already pretty experienced, notching 27 appearances for Blackburn already. He’s tied to the club until 2016, but does that really mean anything in this day and age in football?
Charlie Adam: the inspiring leader of perhaps one of the cooler stories in English football this campaign, Blackpool. Adam was supposedly disappointed not to have transfered away in the winter period after requesting a transfer away from the club. Liverpool had a bid rejected, as confirmed by hilariously entertaining manager Ian Holloway. Though the man surely has a lot of spirit and some talent, does he really belong as a starter at a top-level club? I hope he stays at Blackpool.
Fabio Coentrao: The 22-year-old Portuguese wingback has been a breakout star for Benfica over the past two seasons and has broken into the talented Portuguese national squad, notching 12 appearances already. Manchester City reportedly are ready to bid for the speedy back as well as a slew of other English clubs. His best years are certainly ahead of him and he’s a can’t miss talent provided that he continues his terrific form.
Jack Rodwell: The young raw English talent has yet to find a consistent starting spot for the Everton Toffees, however his stock may rise should he finally establish himself with Marouane Fellaini getting a season ending injury. His talent potential is immense and top European squads have taken notice, despite his relative lack of experience. Real Madrid, Arsenal, and Manchester City are reportedly all interested in making high profile bids for the defensive midfielder. He still has plenty of time to be a star player. His potential needs to be realized pretty soon, however.
Brede Hangeland: The veteran Norwegian center back is as consistent a performer as they come for Fulham. At 29 years old, however, he may find it hard to make a move to a big name European contender unless it’s this summer. His aerial ability, passing technique, and strength are on par with some of the best in England and his experience is unrivaled by most. Liverpool, Chelsea, and Arsenal may all be in the running for a summer raid on the Cottager’s defender. If the deal isn’t done this summer, don’t expect to hear his name much again in transfer news.
Marouane Fellaini: The immediately recognizable head of hair that is Everton’s defensive midfielder rock and occasional goalscorer has been terrific since his arrival at Goodison Park. He’s a terrific box to box midfielder, a hard worker, and a terrific ball winner. He distributes well enough in the center of the park and has attracted the interest of Chelsea and Arsenal (supposedly, of course). While he sits on the sidelines nursing an injury the rest of the campaign, he can start thinking about his future at a top club, where he deserves to be.
Carlos Tevez: It seemed at one point in the fall, one week couldn’t pass by without the Manchester City captain complaining about how he misses his home and family or how relationships with the club’s management had broken down since his arrival. He even handed in a written transfer request, which the club later called “ludicrous”. Roberto Mancini will do everything to keep his star player, however Tevez is so unhappy, I don’t see him staying at Eastlands. Expect a move out of England and perhaps back to his boyhood club, Boca Juniors, or even into retirement to be with his family. It’s a shame it has come to this.
Hulk: First, let’s all bask in the glory that is the 24 year old Brazilian’s name. Alright, now I’m over it. The Porto striker is a highly talented attacker who is pretty prolific in front of the goal, has a knack to pick out teammates for goals, and is quite strong on the ball. He’s currently averaging about a goal a game in league play, which has caught the attention of some big name clubs, including Manchester City, Tottenham, and Manchester United. Imagine getting a jersey with Hulk on the back of it? I can’t wait for him to make a big club move.
Falcao: Playing alongside Hulk at Porto, the Colombian international has been on nearly as impressive form as his strike partner, notching just under a goal a game average in league play. The 25-year-old speedster has shined since his move from River Plate, and other clubs are ready to bring in the talented man. AC Milan, Valencia, and Tottenham have all expressed deep interest in Falcao. Maybe he makes a move to Tottenham with Hulk? Ah, the glory of starting transfer rumors.
Jan Vertonghen: Arsene Wenger has been a keen admirer of the Belgian center back, who currently plays for Dutch giants Ajax. A virtual carbon copy of often injured Thomas Vermaelen, Vertonghen is almost the same height, has good aerial ability, is a great tackler, and possesses terrific instinct. He’s already partnered with Vermaelen in his early years already so a move to the Emirates makes perfect sense. AC Milan think they have a chance to sign him, too. Expect his stock to rise significantly in the coming months
Neymar: One of Brazil’s most exciting prospects in years, the goofy-haired youngster nearly transfered away from his home country to Chelsea but the deal fell threw the cracks. The Blues are reportedly in to sign the 19-year old winger for an enormous transfer fee, considering he has no European experience. His talent is undoubted and he’s still a bit immature, but that will not deter top clubs from chasing after the teenager’s signature with all their might. I’ve got feeling Neymar may be a carbon copy story of Robinho.
Ganso: Another young Santos talented has emerged. Surprise, surprise. Ganso has drawn comparisons to Kaka at the ripe age of 21, though it’s been a while since we’ve seen either of them play in a while. The injury concerns are somewhat frightening this early on in his career but his talent is too much to ignore. The Brazilian breakthrough player of the year is primed for a fruitful career. You’ll be hearing his name all the time in a few years.
Javier Pastore: Another potential superstar talent sitting at a mid-level European club, Pastore has dazzled clubs with his flair, passing ability, and individual brilliance in beating defenders. The young Argentinian international is primed for a huge money move this summer, with Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Manchester City all knocking down Palermo’s door to get access to the highly rated attacking midfielder. This has been a breakout season for the player and transfer rumors of his exit will be to the point of being obnoxious. But still fun.
Marek Hamsik: The strange looking Slovakian is no stranger to big clubs desiring his talents: Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Barcelona are all apparently interested in the Slovakian captain and Napoli playmaker. His movement on the ball is brilliant for a player his age and his experience is immense. His best years are certainly ahead of him so he doesn’t deserve to lets his talents sit stagnant at only a pretty good club. He should garner a $20 million fee.
Alexis Sanchez: The breakout Udinese winger is a highly versatile attacker, who can slot in on either side of the striker or play a striker, too. The 22-year-old Chilean is becoming more prolific with each passing season, notching about a goal every two games. Udinese has already confirmed an anonymous bid (highly speculated it was Liverpool) arrived in the winter transfer period for $30-35 million, but obviously, the offer was rejected. It’s been rumored Sanchez has his heart set on a move to Old Trafford, though breaking into that squad will be touch with the spectacular form of Nani and the reemergence of Antonia Valencia, plus the timeless Ryan Giggs.
Phillipe Mexes: The experienced French international is right at the prime of his career and would be a solid addition to most any back line in most major leagues. As Mexes himself has said, “I have many offers, but I will not decide my future until the season ends,” he said. “Right now, I could go to any of the major leagues in the world, but I have to evaluate many things when I make my decision.” Mexes’ contract expires at the end of this campaign, so many teams such as Arsenal will be looking to pen his signature to a deal.
Fernado Llorente: Standing at a towering 6 foot 5 inches, Llorente reminds me of a more developed, experienced version of Andy Carroll. His talent is undoubted and his physical presence is terrifying to opposing defenses. He’s got a great presence in the air and he’s surprisingly talented and agile on the ball and he’s not the worst distributor of the ball either. Llorente claimed Liverpool attempted to make a raid for him, but his club, Athletic Bilbao, rejected the move. Real Madrid are heavily interested in the tall striker’s services, as well as Manchester United and Liverpool. His move to the spotlight is coming soon. Stay tuned.
Juan Mata: The zippy agile winger was reportedly captured by Barcelona from Valencia last summer, but that didn’t happen. The intelligent, pacey wide man has helped lead Valencia’s attack following the departure of David Villa and David Silva in the summer and has performed respectably. At 22, the skies the limit for the unsuccessful graduate of the Real Madrid youth system. Manchester City, Manchester United, Barcelona, and Arsenal have all been tracking the talented Spaniard for quite some time. His contract will be up this summer.
Sergio Aguero: Being married to Diego Maradona’s daughter has a lot of flask behind it and surely a lot of benefit. Besides listening to hilarious antics of the legendary player, Aguero surely has acquired some tips to use in his time at Athletic Madrid. The talent advice has paid dividends; he’s having a fantastic season while his strike partner, Diego Forlan, struggles for form. Both strikers may be offered to Tottenham in a $50 million deal this summer as Spurs look to solidify their spot amongst Europe’s elite instead of just being a one-time “feel-good” story (not true if you are a Gunner fan). The pacey short striker certainly has the skills to make it in the EPL.
Bojan Krkic: Many Barcelona fans were ecstatic at the potential Bojan brings to the table. Out of nowhere, this excitement dissipated quickly with the emergence of Pedro this season. Bojan was figured to slot in next to Messi with the departure of Ibrahimovic, however the arrival of David Villa saw him reserve his spot on the bench for one more year. At 20 years old, loads of team will be willing to make a risk on the Barcelona youth product for his great dribbling skills, agile nature, and decent goal scoring return. Manchester United and Arsenal have supposedly been alerted of the young striker’s availability in the summer, as the player may be used as a bargaining chip to land a big name from either club (Fabregas, anyone?)
Kaka: The former FIFA World Player of the Year has struggled for form since arriving at Real Madrid and since arriving back from injury, Jose Mourinho has preferred the scintillating starlet Mesut Ozil over Kaka. 1 year ago, I would have called for insanity if a transfer were possible for the once incredible Brazilian. However, his amazing fall from prominence to the bench has been swift and warranted. Manchester City are reportedly interested in the Brazilian, but Madrid won’t accept anything less than a whopping transfer fee.
Fernando Gago: The talented Argentinian holding midfielder has been reduced to only making 4 appearances this season for Madrid this season, with Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso, and Lassan Diarra all taking precedence over the 24-year old. When Gago is supposed to be entering the prime of his career, he is instead reduced to cameo appearances that develop him as a player minimally. Liverpool, Juventus, and Arsenal all have been linked with the outcast. He would be a steal should someone pick up him up for a pretty low transfer fee.
David de Gea: The talented Athletic Madrid goalkeeper has been starting between the posts for 2 seasons now and has performed terrifically. Did I mention he’s only 20 years old. Wow, this kid is going to be the future of Spanish national team goalkeeping if he keeps on developing. Manchester United and Arsenal will be likely destinations for de Gea, considering their pressing needs for a reliable man between the sticks. Arsene Wenger will love his youth and experienced nature but expect him to fetch quite a fee, despite his young age. $10-15 million is a likely price.
Sergio Ramos: The temperamental Spanish international defender has apparently been at ends since the Special One’s arrival at the Bernabeu in the fall. Though his performances have been as solid as ever, he apparently is unhappy with how Mourinho coaches and is willing to make a big move to a contending club. Chelsea are leading the way for a mammoth bid to get his signature, as the Blues look to rebuild their aging squad, however, Sir Alex Ferguson is apparently also been tracking the talented outside back, despite the fact the emerging Rafael is beginning to find a comfortable spot at the back line. He should command a hefty transfer fee, in the range of up to $40-50 million (considering what Andy Carroll fetched, this is not too far fetched) thanks to his immense experience and his best years likely ahead of him at 24 years old.
Giusepe Rossi: As an American, it’s still sad for me to think “what could have been” for the USMNT had Rossi had his affiliation to be with the United States. At any rate, the 24-year-old New Jersey born striker and Italian International is highly regarded and has had a breakout year for Villarreal this season. His club is still nowhere nearer to cracking the mighty powers of Real Madrid or Barcelona so a move to either club would certainly make sense. Tottenham are also reportedly interested, although Rossi’s first spell in England didn’t exactly go over well with Manchester United. Always time for a second chance, right?
Javier Mascherano: One of the world’s best holding midfielders has been confined to a firm spot on the Camp Nou bench, thanks to the outstanding form of Sergio Busquets and Pep Guardiola’s firm stance on playing a nearly identical starting 11 game in and game out (it sure works, so why fix it?). At any rate, despite just arriving last summer, Mascherano surely can’t be pleased at spending his best years of soccer being a cameo star for the Blaugrana. Though he scoffs at an exit from Barcelona, does he really want to be reduced to becoming a super-sub?
Dani Alves: The highly talented Brazilian wingback has been mumbling about his contract for quite some time and he’s looking to feel the love from Barcelona management and it seems both sides have hit a crossroads. Alves talent and consistency is undeniable and his ability to add to the Blaugrana’s menacing attack is terrific. However, every person has a price and negotiations are stalled. Latest reports say that Manchester City are 90% of the way there to drawing up a contract for Alves and securing his services for a long term deal.
Manuel Neuer: The monster German starting international goalkeeper has been at Schalke his entire playing career, growing up from the youth system to the 2nd team to the 1st team, paying his dues along the way. He’s widely considered the next Jens Lehman, though comparisons to the legendary keeper are a bit hasty with Neuer. His rocket arm and incredible strength are rare for a goalkeeper and his talents can launch counter attacks in a heartbeat. Manchester United and Arsenal are again interested, as they are both in need of a reliability.
Mario Goetze: lauded by German Football Association’s technical director Matthias Sammer as “one of the best talents that we’ve ever had”, Gotze is yet another incredibly German international who is very young. At 18 years old, the attacking midfielder has a contract until 2014, however, Gotze has been quoted as saying, “who would not dream of playing with a club like Real Madrid, Barcelona, or Manchester United?”. Very wise, Gotze. Hopefully, these teams are listening so he can come to more prominence in the public eye outside of Borussia Dortmund.
Keisuke Honda: Let’s look at the clubs interested in Honda before you tell me he’s not worth it: Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Athletic Madrid. The deep lying playmaker and talented free kick specialist has Spanish football written all over him, as his technical abilities and tremendous versatility allow him to fit into almost any system out there. He just arrived to CSKA Moscow this past fall, however, Moscow are reportedly ready to cash in on Honda’s potentially huge transfer fee if the right offer were to come around.
Igor Akinfeev: The starting goalkeeper for CSKA Moscow since 2004, Akinfeev is a highly experienced, but undersized keeper with tremendous experience. The 24-year-old Russian international has had issues with positioning, especially on breakaway situations, however his instincts are world class. AC Milan may try to replace the erratic Dida with Akinfeev, however a more likely destination is Manchester United or Arsenal, who have glaring goalkeeper needs come summertime. When you draw comparisons to Iker Casillas, you know you’re probably a pretty good keeper.
Sergio Canales: The highly talented Real Madrid attacking midfielder is young, quick, and instinctive, however he’s unlikely to receive significant chunks of playing time with Angel Di Maria, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Mesut Ozil working well as a starting trio. A loan deal for the prospect is more likely than a full transfer, as the Spanish youth international just arrived at Los Blancos in the fall. Liverpool and Blackburn are reportedly tracking the emerging talent very closely. Putting Canales in a place where he’ll receive consistent playing time now should help him develop quickly into a potential future star at Real.
Charles N’Zogbia: One of the bright spots of a spotty Wigan Athletic starting 11, N’Zogbia has all the tools to become a threat at a high level. Sunderland, Liverpool, and Birmingham City have all expressed interest in the French International. Amazingly, even Bayern Munich are lined up to make a bid. His price should go up with all the potential interest in him, ballooning his value to about $15 million. This will net Roberto Martinez a nice transfer sum to go and chase after some young talented winger in the summer.
Mirko Vucinic: A pretty consistent talented striker at Roma, Vucinic averages about a goal every other game, a decent return rate that has attracted many potential suitors as he hits the prime of his career. Blackburn are ready to make an overvalued $25 million bid this summer after failing out on Ronaldinho and David Beckham, while Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester City are all calling out for his services. A wage issue seems to be the main concern in Vucinic staying at Roma so expect Arsenal to quickly exit the race for his signature.
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