EPL Transfer Window: Predicting 5 Shock Summer Exits
The unpredictability of the English transfer window never fails to disappoint. With the biggest TV deal in soccer history providing an even larger share of the already overflowing revenue, be prepared for some shock arrivals and departures that nobody saw coming.
Just to clarify, this article is about potential surprise departures and where they may end up. If predicted transfers have already received plenty of column inches, you won't find them in here.
For example, Wayne Rooney's rumored exit to Paris Saint-Germain won’t be mentioned.
However, an as yet unreported Manchester City player moving across to Manchester United in a $20 million deal—that would be a shock move!
Read on further to see who this mysterious player might be.
5. Scott Sinclair: Manchester City
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Brought in for huge money last summer from Swansea City, Sinclair has rarely failed to live up to the reputation that preceded him.
The 25-year-old has had to settle for a place on the bench, but even making the matchday squad has proved difficult at times for the $10 million signing.
But it's not all Sinclair's fault; constant squad rotation has relegated the midfielder to a very expensive cameo role.
It's not the first time this has happened under Roberto Mancini, and it clearly won't be the last.
Many footballers that play every week and see a lot more of the ball are bound to be more successful than those who are given spot starts and expected to produce in their previous club form.
Sinclair has fallen victim to the same problem that caused Charlie Adam to leave Liverpool after dominating at Blackpool, and teammate Gareth Barry who continues to be under-used after flourishing at Aston Villa.
If Mancini stays, changes seem to be inevitable, and although Sinclair's name may not be at the top of the list, don't be surprised if the England U-21 international does not come back for a second season.
Potential destination: A return to Swansea would be the obvious destination, but the price tag may well put many off.
Although they might not quite be in the EPL just yet, expect Hull City to make a marquee move for the playmaker. They desperately need someone to pull the strings in midfield, and the new ownership are not short on cash.
4. Hatem Ben Arfa: Newcastle United
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Ben Arfa's move to Newcastle has been one of utter brilliance and immense frustration.
After biding his time on the bench and making his feelings known to the manager, the midfielder was given his chance to shine and did not disappoint.
Eye-catching displays both home and away made him a pivotal, albeit luxurious, player that propelled Newcastle to European football last season.
However, a series of injuries and loss of form have left fans and manager frustrated. Their alarming slide down the table has to be worrying, and it remains to be seen whether Ben Arfa will fit into plans next season—such is the volatile nature of his availability.
Potential destination: A new striker will be Alan Pardew's main goal next season, and they could well be welcoming back a friendly face in the form of Andy Carroll. The forward looks to have got over his injury problems and is finishing the season strong on loan at West Ham.
Should Newcastle make a move, the deal could be more attractive to Liverpool if Ben Arfa is part of the package. It may be that Newcastle may not have to pay too much more to get their man should Ben Arfa head to Anfield.
Brendan Rodgers has made it no secret that Carroll does no fit the way he wants to play football, but Ben Arfa surely would.
Quick, direct and powerful, a transfer would potentially allow Luis Suarez to play in a more central role.
3. James Milner: Manchester City
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James Milner has done an admirable job since moving from Aston Villa.
Following in the footsteps of Gareth Barry, Milner came to City after a career-best campaign, hoping to ply his trade on the European stage.
However, it hasn't quite happened for the England international who continues to struggle to find any consistency on an already fractured team.
Milner desperately needs to get back to playing week in, week out for a manager that values his work rate and attacking contribution.
When Milner was thriving at Villa, not only was he given plenty of responsibility going forward, he was also prominent in nearly every set-piece that came his way.
But try taking the ball away from Aguero, Tevez and Toure—it's not going to happen.
It could be that Milner asks for and is granted a transfer to reignite his ambition of becoming world-class rather than club-class.
Potential destination: Everything that Milner offers says Manchester United. Whether or not the two clubs would complete a deal remains to be seen, but it has happened before—just ask Carlos Tevez.
United's midfield has been heavily criticised this season, and quite rightly so. How they have won the league by the margin they have is testament to Sir Alex Ferguson, the strikers and the defence.
Nani, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia—when either fit or injured—have been a major disappointment. The Giggs' and Scholes' of this world cannot go on forever making Milner the perfect addition, especially with the youngster's versatility.
2. Michu: Swansea City
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The signing of the season could well be the biggest shock departure of the summer.
Michu has been nothing short of fantastic for Michael Laudrup despite the initial transfer from Rayo Vallecano slipping under the radar.
The goals, the results and the impact the Spaniard have provided have helped Swansea gain EPL security, win their first major trophy and guarantee European football in Wales next season.
So why would you sell someone who is the heart and soul of the team?
It would be a drastic step, but that's what this article is all about. Not only is he the main man in the lineup, the forward also recently signed a contract extension to stay.
Don't let that fool you. A contract is not worth the paper it is written on these days. All the contract did was ensure Swansea could get even bigger money if a crazy offer came in for the Spaniard.
Michu's stock is at an all-time high, and there are plenty of suitors who could provide Swansea with a seven- or eight-fold return on their initial investment.
Additionally, there is no guarantee of another repeat season. In fact, there are already worrying signs of regression. Just four goals in his last 15 appearances is concerning, while his demeanor on the pitch has definitely changed. A certainty for PFA Player of the Year just three months ago, he failed to even make the final short-list.
Laudrup is one of the most astute young managers in the game and would back himself to unearth the next Michu if given the chance.
Potential destination: Manchester City is a club that could easily offer silly money and get Michu away from Swansea, with Scott Sinclair potentially used a trade bait. With Balotelli gone and Dzeko primed to leave, Michu may be the man to reignite their EPL title challenge next season.
1. Leighton Baines: Everton
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Leighton Baines has been and still is one of the best fullbacks in the EPL. He's everyone’s fantasy football friend and continues to produce year after year.
But with Everton set to miss out on Champions League qualification yet again, David Moyes could well grant the 28-year-old a dream move to one of the big four.
There is also speculation concerning Moyes' future, with plenty of potential managerial destinations being mentioned.
Both men have huge respect for one another, and Baines' loyalty can't and will not be questioned, even with a move away.
It would be nothing more than the England international deserves after a prolific club career where he has produced at the highest level for so long.
The left-back would also command big money, and a tasty transfer fee would be more than welcomed by Everton.
Potential destination: With Ashley Cole at Chelsea and Pablo Zabaletta at Manchester City, Baines' options are limited. There is currently a left-back battle at Arsenal that does not need another addition, leaving Manchester United and long-time admirer Sir Alex Ferguson in pole position.
Patrice Evra will have something to say about the transfer, but United needs strengthening down the left, and it’s not inconceivable that the two could play on the same side. That said, Evra has been overused this season and will need to split playing time in order to prolong a glittering United career.