8 South American Stars Who May Be Premier League Bound in January
It's that time of year again—the January transfer window. It's the time of the year when transfer fees reach their most inflated, and clubs scramble around in one last desperate attempt to fulfill their seasonal objectives.
The Premier League is the most affluent league in the world—it has been for some time. However, for a long time it was not considered particularly suited to South American talent.
Following the successful path trodden by the likes of Gilberto Silva, Carlos Tevez and Luis Suarez, though, that has all changed.
The 2013 calendar year will be no different. South Americans will be linked in their droves, and of course, some of those mentioned will eventually rock up on British shores.
So of all those linked, which South American stars could realistically be heading to England this January?
Willian (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Willian is a player who has been on the Premier League horizon for some time. Having cost Shakhtar a hefty $19 million in 2007 and played an important role for them in European competition, it is safe to say he has not simply emerged from nowhere.
However, with four goals in this year's Champions League group stage, including starring roles in victories over both Chelsea and Juventus, there is no question that his stock is now peaking.
A technically-gifted attacking midfielder, Willian likes to wander behind the forward line from his usual starting position on the left flank. His dribbling abilities and calmness in front of goal make him a fearsome proposition if given space in these areas.
Both Chelsea and Tottenham have previously seen bids rejected for the former Corinthians youngster and could both make a further attempt in January, whilst in the past month, Manchester City have also emerged as a potential suitor.
The Brazilian has revealed that he will be allowed to leave should a bid of €30 million appear. Now it just remains to be seen if anybody is willing to part with such a substantial amount to secure his services.
Fernando Gago (Valencia)
New Valencia manager Ernesto Valverde insisted this week that he hopes to retain the Argentine in January, but links to Manchester City continue to circle.
Gago, now 26, was once tipped to be a world-beater, but he has never fully lived up to his reputation since moving to Real Madrid five years ago from Boca Juniors. His talent, though, has never been disputed.
The Citizens may lie second in the Premier League at present, but they are already six points behind rivals Manchester United despite neither side being convincing so far this season. It is in midfield that both sides have failed to step up on the big occasions.
Spaniard Javi Garcia was brought in to be the man to rejuvenate Roberto Mancini's side in the summer, but has thus far failed to live up to initial expectations. So, could it be that Gago is the answer to their questions as City seek to retain their title come next May?
Taison (Metalist Kharkiv)
Reports emerged at the end of November linking Brazilian forward Taison with a move to Chelsea in January, with the Metalist Kharkiv player having arrived in London for talks with the Blues' hierarchy.
The news came as a shock to most, with Taison not previously considered to have been good enough to play at an elite level. However, reports in Brazil were confident in their assertion that a £12 million deal was being discussed and was nearing completion.
With the former Internacional man, it has never been a question of talent. Taison, without doubt, has all the natural ability required to play at any level of the game worldwide. It is more a matter of consistency.
His recent Europa League strike against Rosenborg was an Internet sensation, such was the quality of the finish. The issue is for all his quality playing off the main striker, Taison has managed just five goals in his past 36 Ukrainian league appearances.
He can be sensational—the goal mentioned is not his only stunning strike in recent times. The return is just not consistent enough. Five goals in Metalist's run to the Europa League quarter-finals last year, though, may suggest to Chelsea that he has a talent that could blossom in a better all-around team.
Falcao (Atlético Madrid)
Colombian forward Radamel Falcao needs no introduction these days and is another player heavily linked with a move to European champions Chelsea in January.
The Blues may have achieved Champions League glory last campaign, but they have struggled on the big occasion this season. Defeats to rivals in the Premier League have been compounded by their exit from the Champions League and failure in both the Club World Cup and the European Super Cup.
Owner Roman Abramovich has spent a small fortune amassing a dazzling collection of attacking talent, with some of the best attacking players in the world on the Blues' books. The issue has been getting the best out of £50 million forward Fernando Torres.
Chelsea's patience in Torres look to have run out, and it is Falcao who has emerged as the leading candidate to take over the role.
After phenomenal scoring feats in Europa League triumphs with both Porto and current side Atlético Madrid, Falcao will not come cheap. But the man who has scored 17 goals in 15 La Liga games this season may just be worth the outlay.
Luiz Gustavo (Bayern Munich)
Another transfer rumour that has appeared out of the blue in the past few weeks is the link between Brazilian defensive midfielder Luiz Gustavo and Arsenal.
The Bayern Munich anchorman has seen his playing time greatly diminished since the €40 arrival of Javi Martinez this summer and is believed to be keen on a move with his chances of playing in the 2014 World Cup slipping away.
Able to play either at centre-back or in his preferred role at the base of the midfield, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger would hope that the Brazilian could add a physical presence to the Gunners in central areas.
Arsenal have often been accused of being lightweight in midfield, and this is certainly something Luiz Gustavo would help combat. The Brazilian has also proven that he would also have no problem fitting into Arsenal's desired slick passing game.
Gilberto Silva was a phenomenal success for the North London side in the same role. Could it be that Wenger turns to Brazil once more for a midfield solution?
If reports of Chelsea's interest in Corinthians' Paulinho are true, then the midfielder passed his audition with flying colours this week, as the Brazilian side sunk the European champions at the Club World Cup final in Yokohama.
Now a regular in the Brazil national team, Paulinho has gone from strength-to-strength over the past two seasons to play a major role in Corinthians winning both the Brazilian championship and the Copa Libertadores.
Alongside holding midfielder Ralf, Paulinho's presence has been integral to the side's success. The duo provide the solid base that Tite's compact side rely heavily upon, while the Blues' target also chips in with valuable goals on a regular basis.
Directness from midfield is a much sought-after quality these days, and with Frank Lampard heading towards retirement, Paulinho could very well be the answer.
Douglas (FC Twente)
The rumour that never goes away: Newcastle United have once more been tipped in the past week to return to FC Twente in search of a deal to bring Brazilian centre-back Douglas to St James' Park.
Now a possessor of Dutch citizenship and recently called to the Netherlands' national side, Newcastle will have no need to worry over a work permit for the defender. However, as they strive to keep costs down, the Magpies have never come to an agreement with the Eredivisie side for his services.
Tall and rangy, Douglas's natural strength make him a formidable defender, but he has also developed into a fine reader of the game during his time in Holland, and his speed off the mark is often under-appreciated.
With Newcastle struggling this campaign and captain Fabricio Coloccini often seemingly left to fight a lone battle in defence, the addition of Douglas may just help the Geordies sure up their creaking back line.
Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk)
The second member of Shakhtar's mini-Seleção to be linked with the Premier League, Fernandinho is reportedly a target for Manchester City this January—possibly competing with Fernando Gago for the same squad space.
Shakhtar's progression to the latter stages the Champions League won't have helped his chances of securing a move, but the Brazilian revealed earlier in December that he could well be heading to Manchester in the near future.
The vibrant midfielder has shone in European competition this season, demonstrating his fine ball-retention abilities, tireless industry and eye for a killer ball.
Part of the Brazil national setup just last year, Fernandinho's qualities are well known after seven years in Europe, and like colleague Willian, was also linked to Tottenham at the end of the summer transfer window.
At 27, Fernandinho is entering his prime years as a footballer and is desperate to shine at the highest levels ahead of the 2014 World Cup. Could Manchester City offer him the opportunity to impress?