Bale, Lewandowski and More: Predicting the 5 Biggest Summer Transfers
The January transfer window has been slammed shut for two weeks, and there is still around a third of most European domestic seasons left to be played, but that hasn't stopped the transfer rumor mill from churning out speculation about summer moves.
Here, B/R anticipates the five biggest moves that will be agreed at the conclusion of the 2012/13 season...
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After the volcanic ash cloud of 2010 prevented Blackburn from signing Robert Lewandowski (how different things could have been!), the Polish striker joined Borussia Dortmund and became an instant hit.
In 2011/12 he was the Budesliga's third-highest scorer with 22 goals, and has already netted 21 times in 31 appearances in this campaign.
Leaving the German champions—and strong Champions League contenders—in such prolific form may seem like a curious career choice, but the 24-year-old's contract expires in 2014 and Die Borussen are keen to earn a transfer fee before he leaves for free.
Currently, there appear to be two main competitors for his signature. Manchester Utd were linked with a move for the Pole last summer, but they invested in a young man named Robert van Persie instead.
A host of newspapers, including The Sun, believe the Red Devils have rekindled their interest, tabling an offer of £18 million and a weekly wage of £80,000-a-week—double his Dortmund remuneration.
Driving up the price, however, will be current Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich. Lothar Matthaus told sky.de (English source here) that he believes his former side already have an agreement in place for something in the region of "£20-25 million."
While a move to Manchester may be tempting, the Red Devils aren't struggling for offensive talent, and the lure of remaining in Germany and being a key component of Pep Guardiola's new project will surely be greater.
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Despite the headlines being hogged by Mr. Ronaldo and Mr. Messi, Radamel Falcao has been a revelation since arriving in Spain from Porto in August 2011.
The Colombian has scored 70 goals since his Atletico Madrid debut, has been the Europa League top scorer for the past two seasons and has almost single-handedly helped his side stay four points clear of their big-spending city rivals in the title race.
Since paying €40 million for the 27-year-old, it has been a question of how long Atleti can keep him. As a thank you to the club, he agreed to stay until the summer, but his future looks to lay elsewhere beyond this season.
Chelsea have long been touted as favourites to activate his €47 million release clause, and The Express are carrying a report from a Spanish radio station which said Roman Abramovich has already agreed a deal to bring him to Stamford Bridge.
A few weeks ago, however, the same newspaper said El Tigre may turn down the bright lights of London to be a part of PSG's well-paying project.
Meanwhile, in early January, The Mirror were among the papers reporting the assertion that Falcao already had a deal in place with the big boys across town, Real Madrid.
Clearly, the Colombian can't have a deal in place with all these clubs, but based on the frequency and duration of the rumors, and the persuasiveness of Mr Abramovich, one would assume that he is most likely to solve Chelsea's Fernando Torres problem next season.
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It is believed the 21-year-old is saying in Brazil to hone his craft and increase his strength before moving onto the faster and more physical game in Europe after the 2014 World Cup, but the small matter of having 11 separate commercial sponsors in his homeland may also be a factor.
Last year, reports circulated that the forward had already signed a $71 million deal with Barcelona, with the intention of moving this summer, or after the World Cup. This week, however, Goal.com carry quotes from the Brazilian denying any deal.
While in Europe for a friendly with England last week, Neymar also mentioned that he could picture himself playing for Bayern Munich, prompting many to believe Pep Guardiola may use a chunk of his transfer kitty to bring the Brazilian to Germany.
Manchester City have also thrown their hat in the Neymar transfer ring, with the Manchester Evening News (via tribalfootball.com) reporting the fact that their director of football Txiki Begiristain recently dined with his father and agent Pini Zahavi.
Whether or not Neymar decides to stay in Brazil until after the World Cup, it seems quite likely that a deal will be agreed before or during the summer.
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With 18 goals in 21 league matches for Napoli this season, it's no surprise that Serie A's leading scorer Edinson Canavi is attracting the attention of some of Europe's high-spending clubs.
According to The Mirror, the prolific Uruguayan—who moved to Napoli from Palermo for a fee of €17 million in 2010—has a buyout clause of £45 million in his contract, which would explain why Chelsea had a £35 million offer turned down last summer.
The Mirror also believe Arsene Wenger is particularly keen to bring Cavani to the Emirates, but the kind of price tag he would command will surely price Arsenal out of the market.
The price tag won't be much of a concern for Manchester City though, who seem keen to clear out their squad and bring in some fresh talent at the conclusion of the season.
Other interested parties include PSG and Real Madrid, the latter of whom would "stimulate the imagination," according to the striker. That's a vaguely cryptic way of saying he would like to play for them, and may well do quite soon.
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It's hard to believe that Gareth Bale was thought to be a curse when he first moved to Tottenham from Southampton in 2007. The precocious winger went 24 games with the Lilywhites without being on the winning side but is now one of the hottest properties in Europe.
His brace of stunning free kicks against Lyon on Thursday will do nothing to drive away his continental suitors.
The two main clubs reported to be vying for the 23-year-old Welshman's signature are Spain's two biggest teams. Barcelona reportedly offered €40 million for him last season, while rumours of a move to Real Madrid have been persistent for the past few transfer windows.
Spanish news outlet El Confidencial (via ibtimes.com) have this week reported a £38 million bid to bring Bale to the Bernabeu. Apparently, they would be willing to sell Fabio Coentrao to finance the move and would even consider paying amounts of up to £50 million for his services.
The Guardian reports Andres Villas Boas' belief that Spurs can retain Bale if they qualify for the Champions League, but if an astronomical fee of £50 million is waved under their noses in the summer, there is little chance of the financially astute Daniel Levy turning it down.