Summer Transfer Window 2012: Big Gambles to Be Taken
Risk is a big part of football. Players take risks every time they stretch for a ball, managers take risks every time they sign a player and owners do the same whenever they commit money to their club.
So, what potentially damaging decisions have a big enough potential upside to make them worthwhile this summer, both for players as individuals and for clubs?
Here's a look at some of the riskier decisions that should be taken during the fast approaching summer break.
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Carlos Tevez may well have put Manchester City through hell this season, but that does not change the fact that he is a very, very good player.
The Argentine striker looks set to leave the Etihad Stadium this summer, despite his recent return to the squad, and his disciplinary problems could well put teams off buying the striker.
However, someone needs to take a risk on Tevez. He is a proven goal scorer at the top level of football and is fantastic on the ball. Tevez is more than just a goal scorer; he's not afraid to work back and he is more than capable of providing assists.
Tevez attracted interest from AC Milan, Inter Milan and PSG in January, but wage demands and City's asking price derailed the moves.
There is a real chance that signing Tevez could backfire. However, a mixture of understanding and discipline from a determined manager might just make the risk pay off.
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The second Manchester City striker who could be waving goodbye to Eastlands is Italian Mario Balotelli.
Still, Balotelli can change a game with his ever-potent combination of power and speed. A record this season of 13 goals in 22 Premier League games is not something to be taken lightly.
Signing Balotelli would be a gamble, but it could be worth it, as there is a chance that he will mature. He can do some truly wonderful things on the pitch.
AC and Inter Milan are both reported to be interested in bringing Balotelli back to Italy, where he might find a bit more maturity.
Alessandro Del Piero
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Alessandro Del Piero's contract is up at the end of this season and he seems to have given up on getting another deal with the club he has been with since 1993.
At 37, Del Piero is not a long-term acquisition, especially for top-level clubs. However, he is perfectly capable of providing good backup for a team like Arsenal, who he has been linked to recently, for a couple of seasons.
Considering he's free, Del Piero might not seem like much of a risk, but he won't come cheap in terms of wages.
An MLS side or two might be interested in the veteran Italian, but he would take up a vital international slot and would use up a large chunk of the wage budget—something a bit risky considering Del Piero's age and the fact that he has started just three Serie A games this season.
However, there is no denying that Del Piero still has a touch of class about him, and his 206 league goals for Juve have left him with more experience than just about anyone else. He would certainly be a risk, but by no means a stupid one.
Roberto Di Matteo to Take over at Chelsea
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Interim Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo is doing a good job for Chelsea at the moment. He has engineered a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for the Southwest London club.
They now find themselves in a Champions League semifinal against Barcelona, an FA Cup semifinal and are still in the hunt for a Champions League spot next season.
Furthermore, he has overseen something of a turnaround in the fortunes of striker Fernando Torres. The £50 million acquisition scored twice in the FA Cup against Leicester, and grabbed himself another against Aston Villa.
David Luiz is also playing a lot better—as this article points out. The Brazilian has always been excellent going forward, but he seems to have improved in terms of discipline since Di Matteo has taken over.
There are still crunch games against Arsenal and Tottenham to be played, which will no doubt play a role in whether or not Di Matteo gets the job full-time, but even if Chelsea don't make the top four, Chelsea should still give the Italian the job.
Yes, he lacks managerial experience and that didn't work out so well with Andre Villas-Boas, but Di Matteo knows the club and is popular with the players. What's more, there's no need to shell out compensation as they had to with AVB.
There is clearly a risk that Di Matteo would crack under the pressure of a title challenge, as managers have done in the past, given the fact that he has never been in charge of a top-level title challenge.
However, with a bit of rebuilding over the summer, Di Matteo could well get the job done for Chelsea, assuming Roman Abramovich is prepared to take the risk.
Robin Van Persie to Stay at Arsenal
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Robin van Persie is pretty high on several clubs' "Most Wanted" lists, if reports are to be believed.
Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City are all said to be interested in Arsenal's captain, and he may find it hard to turn down big money and an increased chance of league and continental success.
However, RVP should gamble and stay at Arsenal for another season. Arsenal look set to finish third, guaranteeing Champions League football next season, but even Arsene Wenger must have realised that he will need to spend some cash if he is to bring in a first trophy since 2005.
Lukas Podolski will join Arsenal this summer, and there are likely to be more additions, perhaps making it worth RVP's time to stay a while longer.
However, Arsenal will be hard pressed to outdo Manchester United and City over 38 games and will have to get through the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona if they are to secure a Champions League crown.
Still only 28, Van Persie has the time to give Arsenal one more chance, although the Gunners may want him to commit to the club, given that he has just a year left on his contract.
Tottenham to Snap Up Brendan Rodgers
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Swansea, like Tottenham, are in an end-of-season slump. However, despite recent disappointments, Harry Redknapp must still be the favourite for the England job.
Swansea's recent poor form should not overshadow what Brendan Rodgers has achieved this season. He has developed a side that plays attractive but effective football and has picked up points against the likes of Chelsea, Newcastle, Liverpool and Arsenal.
Assuming Redknapp does take the England job, Spurs should not go after a big-name manager, but turn their attention towards the Northern Irishman.
His tactics would suit Tottenham and he could be a long-term manager for the North London club given his age—he is just 38 years old.
The risk, quite obviously, is that this would be his first top-level appointment. At the very least, Spurs will be playing Europa League football and looking to finish in the top four next season, and that is something Rodgers has never taken on before.
This makes it a risk for Rodgers as well. He has a good thing going at Swansea and an unsuccessful stint at Spurs could damage his reputation.
However, the rewards could be huge for both parties. Rodgers has proven that he is capable of beating teams with technically superior players and better resources, so the sky could be the limit for him at Spurs—a risk worth taking.
Barcelona to End Interest in Neymar
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Neymar's future has been the subject of one of the biggest transfer sagas of recent years. It's easy to see why: He is a mercurial talent and a huge brand in his own right.
However, would he fit in at Barcelona? They don't really need the Brazilian—they are hardly struggling in terms of goal-scoring potential—and his attitude could cause some problems.
So it doesn't seem like much of a risk not signing the 20-year-old. However, the thing is that not signing Neymar when given the chance could mean that the Catalan club miss out on one of the finest players in the world.
Neymar may not move to Europe this year, but Barcelona could wrap up a deal for him over the summer, if reports from Spain are to be believed.
Someone else getting hold of Neymar this summer, or even next year—especially if it's Real Madrid—could really come back to haunt Barcelona.
However, Barcelona should avoid the temptation to splash out on Neymar. He is not worth the many, many millions he would undoubtedly cost when they already have a squad that has seen them become the best side in the world.
The last thing they need is to waste valuable resources at a time of financial difficulties and risk dressing room harmony in the process.
However tempting or risky it might seem, Neymar is simply an unnecessary extravagance.
Shinji Kagawa to Leave Borussia Dortmund
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Shinji Kagawa has put on another series of fine displays this season and has played an important role in Borussia's Dortmund title challenge once again.
Dortmund have already managed to keep hold of Mario Gotze and will undoubtedly be looking to strengthen their position over the summer break as they look to be more competitive in the Champions League.
What's more, Dortmund would like to double Kagawa's wage, which would be nice, and he is used to the Bundesliga and has a guaranteed starting position. Why change any of that?
Well, when clubs like Chelsea and Manchester United are interested in you, things get a little more complicated.
Manchester United are always challenging for the Premier League title and, with the exception of this season, they are very competitive in Europe.
Chelsea, meanwhile, are in the Champions League semifinal and even if they fail to qualify for next year's Champions League, they will be revamping their side this summer and could very well be title contenders next season.
So, Kagawa would be giving up a good thing if he was to leave Dortmund, but he could also gain a lot from a potential move to another top European club, be it in the Premier League, La Liga or Serie A.