Sunday, 18 May 2014

Top transfer-linked players with a potential move to the EPL:

Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog post, where I have analysis and a quick player profile of the top transfer-linked players in Europe who are linked to making moves to the EPL in the summer transfer window - transfer rumours and updates that have been spread across the world:

Club - Benfica
Linked with - Liverpool and Manchester United
Rumoured transfer fee: £25million pounds

It's not as if Liverpool and Manchester United are in desperate need of any new strikers, but Rodrigo seems as if he would benefit both clubs significantly if he were to make a move. He has scored 13 goals in 29 appearances for Benfica this season, and he split open Tottenham's defence in their Europa League knock-out round tie in mid-March.  

In-form: Rodrigo is attracting interest from many clubs,
including Liverpool and United
Club and country: Rodrigo has scored 15 goals in 16 games for Spain's highly-rated U-21 side
Antoine Griezmann:
Club - Real Sociedad
Linked with - Manchester United and Arsenal 
Rumoured transfer fee: £20million pounds

Griezmann has scored 19 goals this season for Sociedad in Liga BBVA from left wing, and has impressed scouts who have gone to watch him play in recent months. 

Among those who went to watch him included Manchester United manager David Moyes, who was reportedly impressed with what he saw and could be tempted to make a summer bid in an attempt to sign a winger who could replace Young and Nani on the flanks. 

Griezmann has been key for Sociedad this season, helping them to challenge for a CL spot. 
Wenger is reportedly also interested in Griezmann, who has developed significantly as a player in the last two years. 

Fabio Quagliarella:
Club - Juventus
Linked with - Southampton
Rumoured transfer fee: Anything up to £5million pounds

There is rumoured interest from a few clubs in the EPL for the services of 31-year-old striker Fabio Quagliarella from Juventus, including Southampton who could take advantage of the fact that he has not been playing as much first-team football for Juve since they signed on-loan striker Dani Osvaldo in January (from Southampton ironically!)

Not wanted: Quagliarella has been virtually frozen out of the Juve team this season
Quagliarella is desperate to play first-team football, would he be open to a move to England?
Mario Mandzukic:
Club - Bayern Munich
Linked with - Arsenal 
Rumoured transfer fee: £20-25million pounds

Bayern have already sealed the free transfer signing of Robert Lewandowski from rival club Borussia Dortmund, and he is set to join the club in July after his current contract expires. 

This will leave Mandzukic in a situation where he will have to think long and hard about his future at Bayern, because the chances are he will be benched for the majority of important matches and he would not be happy with that. 

Cue the interest from a host of EPL sides, including London club Arsenal who missed out on Higuain and Suarez in the summer transfer window but need a proven, clinical goal-scorer as soon as possible to help Giroud (IF he stays) up-top to provide more goals. 

England calling? Mandzukic may be open to a move abroad if Lewandowski is his replacement
Proven: Mandzukic has scored 20 goals this season, in the Bundesliga and Champions League

Handful: Mandzukic played against Arsenal in the CL, will he join The Gunners? 
FACT: Mandzukic has scored 17 goals in the Bundesliga this season, which means he is joint top goal-scorer along with Robert Lewandowski of Dortmund..

Ability in the air: Mandzukic has a real presence in the air, and is a useful asset for set-pieces
On the move? Mandzukic may be on his way, pending Lewandowski's arrival in the summer
Edinson Cavani:
Club - PSG
Linked with - Chelsea, Manchester United + Manchester City
Rumoured transfer fee: In excess of £50million

Cavani has struggled to settle in France after his big-money move to PSG in the summer transfer window last year, and even though he has not been favoured to start the major games for Paris Saint Germain, a host of clubs are interested in seeing how his situation develops. 

There have been rumours spread around in the past couple of months which suggest that Ibrahimovic and Cavani are not comfortable being in the same team together as both of them have to work harder than the other just to start for PSG, and clubs such as Manchester City admitted their interest in the Uruguayan striker before he joined Ligue Un at the start of the season. 

Despite failing to start every game, his stats have been impressive and if PSG are willing to sell him, the club will be reluctant to let him go for anything less than what they bought him for in the summer, around £50million pounds. 

Cavani has been under pressure to partner up Ibrahimovic in attack for PSG, but does not get played as much as he would like
Didier Drogba:
Club - Galatasaray 
Linked with - Chelsea
Rumoured transfer fee: Free

Drogba's contract deal with Turkish side Galatasaray expires in the summer and Mourinho has already publicly stated that he would be "open" to a possible Drogba return to Stamford Bridge, which could happen. 

Very real possibility: Drogba could be open to a move back to Chelsea in the summer
Didier played against Chelsea in both legs of their Champions League Last 16 tie in February which sparked an emotional return for him in London, and the Chelsea supporters would be open to have their legendary striker back in the Blues this summer.

Diego Costa:
Club - Atletico Madrid
Linked with - Chelsea
Rumoured transfer fee: £30million pounds

Now this is a heavily-linked story. Costa has been linked with a move to England constantly throughout this season, especially because of his good performances and goal-scoring record in Europe (both Spain and the Champions League) for Atletico have prompted one of their best seasons in over 15 years. 

Going to England? Costa has been heavily linked with a move to Chelsea
Proven goal-scorer: Costa has scored 27 goals in the Liga BBVA this season for Atletico.
Apparently, Chelsea have already agreed a fee around £30m for him, and if this is true then they will sign Costa on July 1st (when the transfer window officially opens). 

He is a quality striker who has proven himself, but the question will be whether he can settle well in England or struggle like many of Chelsea's strikers in recent years. 

Mario Balotelli:
Club - AC Milan
Linked with - Arsenal and Chelsea
Rumoured transfer fee: £20million pounds

His first spell in England was very controversial, and he struggled under pressure from the media and his team-mates. But since his move to Italy, he has looked like a changed man. 

Clinical and quality: Balotelli is a great striker, but just needs time and patience!
Proven: Balotelli (left) stole the show at Euro 2012 with Italy, helping them get to the final
Infamous: Balotelli's celebration against Gerrmany was also a highlight back in the Euros

Balo was involved in many rows and controversies while at City, including this (pictured)
Yes, Balotelli is a changed man. He has settled well back in Italy, and has been the key for a disappointing Milan side who finished  this season in the Serie A. 

Based on the fact that Milan cannot offer Balotelli and a couple of his other stronger (in terms of quality) players Champions League, Seedorf may find himself being offered sums of money to take Balo off his hands.

Among those who are rumoured to be interested in taking the Italian "hothead" back to the Premier League are London club Arsenal, who are desperate for a world-class striker to help them on their quest for their first EPL trophy since 2004. 

Balotelli has been controversial in the past on and off the field, and there will obviously be questions as to whether managers will be reluctant to sign him, but he is a quality striker who is clinical. 14 goals this season. 

Balotelli will be eager to prove himself again at the World Cup, could he be on the move?
Angel Di Maria:
Club - Real Madrid 
Linked with - Tottenham and Arsenal 
Rumoured transfer fee: £30million pounds

This rumour has started to develop in the past couple of months, with Di Maria originally being linked with a move away from Real Madrid at the start of the season when Ozil left and he was apparently said to also be "surplus to requirements" in the summer transfer window. 

However, the Argentine winger said that he was happy to fight for his place in the starting line-up for the Spanish giants and did not want to leave, which instantly quashed any links with him possibly joining an English club - which was thought to be his preferred destination if he were to leave. 

Partnership: Di Maria has done his best to help assist Ronaldo this year, after the Portuguese forward expressed his anger at the sale of Ozil at the start of the season.
Encouraging: Di Maria has had his best campaign of his career; 11 goals and 22 assists.
Impressive: Di Maria's form has caught the eye of many clubs in Europe, in-case he is transfer listed
The rumour mill has brought Di Maria's future back into question because despite having a good season, Real have been thought to think of a suitable replacement for him (you'll find out later on in this post). 

Arsenal and Tottenham are among those interested in his services, and if he leaves it is thought that Spurs will get first pick on whether they want to sign him or not, as the two clubs (Real and Spurs) have an agreement which means they give each other "first pick" on players that they have expressed interest on. Sounds complicated, but it will be resolved in the summer.  

Karim Benzema:
Club - Real Madrid 
Linked with - Arsenal
Rumoured transfer fee: £30million pounds 

This rumour has been on and off for almost 3 years now, virtually since Benzema joined Real Madrid from Lyon back in 2009. 

Arsene Wenger had expressed his interest in Benzema as a youngster, when he was playing in Ligue 1. He signed for Real Madrid and the rumours over his future were therefore finished.

But, over the past few years, Real Madrid have been reportedly disappointed with his performances in terms of goals, despite being a world-class striker. 

Clinical: Benzema has scored 111 goals and made 62 assists so far during his Real career
Aerial threat: Benzema is a danger in the air from set-pieces as well as with his feet
Have a look at his stats and see for yourself: 

2010-11 season: 26 goals and 9 assists in 48 games
2011-12 season: 32 goals and 15 assists in 52 games
2012-13 season: 20 goals and 20 assists in 50 games
2013-14 season: 24 goals and 14 assists in 51 games

I would not be particularly surprised if Wenger tried to formally sign Benzema this summer, this could be the perfect time to get a world-class striker, he's French and proven at the top level in both club and international level.

Hard to beat: Benzema uses his strength and pace to beat defenders, could Arsenal sign him?
Marco Reus:
Club - Borussia Dortmund 
Linked with - Manchester United and Real Madrid
Rumoured transfer fee: Between £30-35million pounds

Now this man is the player who Real want to sign to replace the likes of Di Maria as their main attacking man behind Bale and Ronaldo. It's not surprising, he is one of the best in his position in Europe and has shone in a weakened Dortmund team without Gotze and now with Lewandowski (from July onwards)

And it's not exactly surprising either, Reus boasts having the quality to help his team out in awkward situations, and is the difference for Dortmund. The one key player that they can rely on, but the question will be whether they will keep him or not. 

Manchester United have been linked with Reus' signature, but he is thought to want to play Champions League football and Klopp will be reluctant to sell one of his best players. 

Reliable: Reus has scored 23 goals and made 18 assists this season.
Reus' close control dribbling, pace and attacking intelligence makes him one of the best in Europe
Reus has already said he would like to stay at Dortmund, but will clubs make a move for him?
Toni Kroos:
Club - Bayern Munich
Linked with: Manchester United
Transfer fee: £40million pounds

Another Manchester United target, Toni Kroos. The Bayern Munich midfielder has been heavily linked with a move to the Manchester club, after reports suggested that he wanted a move away from the German side at the end of the season.

He was not getting regular first-team football, and as a result gave Bayern an ultimatum; play me or let me leave. He was eventually given more playing time, and has repaid the faith shown in him by manager Pep Guardiola with some consistent performances in both the Champions League and Bundesliga.

Kroos was said to be unhappy and disappointed about the lack of match time he was getting
Proven German international: Kroos has been chosen for the World Cup squad.
He had a pivotal role against United this season in the Champions League. Will he join?
But the question remains. Will he stay at Bayern, or join United and help bolster their midfield?