Biggest "What If" Scenarios in the World Football Transfer Window
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There are three things you're almost guaranteed to hear about, or see, during the close season in world football—rumours, speculation and transfer activity. And this close season doesn't appear that it's going to be any different.
Speculation is something that gets fans talking and gets debate going about whether "Player X" is good enough to be signed for their club, or why "Player Y" shouldn't come in.
Some of the world's top players have been the focus of intense transfer speculation already, including Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (pictured), Napoli's Edinson Cavani and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo among others, so with the transfer window open until the end of August, there's still plenty of time for some staggering deals to be done.
Join me to take a look at some of the biggest "what if" transfer scenarios of the summer.
What If Luis Suarez Leaves Liverpool
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Luis Suarez is undoubtedly one of the world's most talented footballers, but he definitely has some demons. A tormented genius perhaps? There's definitely a case to call him that.
Sometimes, he can be magical on the pitch. He lights up the crowd when he's on the ball because you never quite know what's going to happen. But other times, Suarez cuts a frustrating figure, particularly when it comes to diving or abusing other players.
The question is, can Liverpool afford to lose him?
They're at the stage now where they will struggle to attract the very best players in Europe because they are unable to offer them Champions League football. Yes, Liverpool have a tremendous heritage, but in recent years, they've struggled to break into the top four and there's only so long you can live on past glories for.
If Liverpool lost Suarez, and according to Andy Hunter at The Guardian it's a distinct possibility given recent statements from the player about his future at the club, he's virtually irreplaceable and it could set their hopes of progress back a couple of steps.
What If Real Madrid Sign Gareth Bale
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Gareth Bale had a terrific season last year, picking up awards left, right and centre, and he scored some phenomenal goals at crucial times for Tottenham. His performances were breath-taking at times, and he was almost talismanic as Tottenham's quest for Champions League football went down to the wire.
Unfortunately, they didn't quite make it and that disappointment has raised questions about his future.
Bale's form last season has drawn admiring glances from some of Europe's biggest clubs, with PSG the latest club credited with an interest in the talented Welshman as reported by the Daily Mail's Simon Jones and Sami Mokbel. Other teams rumoured to be interested in Bale include the likes of both Manchester clubs, Chelsea and Real Madrid as suggested by John Cross of The Daily Mirror—so it seems like Bale pretty much has his pick of clubs if he wants to leave Tottenham.
No one knows what Bale's future holds, but one thing's for sure—whether he stays at Tottenham or leaves for pastures new—all eyes will be on him again next season.
What If Gareth Bale Signing for Real Madrid Means Ronaldo Goes Back to Man Utd?
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The last slide dealt with Gareth Bale and his future may yet play a role in deciding where Cristiano Ronaldo plays his football next year. Let's take a look at things objectively.
If Bale does sign for Real Madrid in the summer, then Real will have two extremely similar players on their books. Explosive wide men who can cut in from the wing and cause havoc for defenders with their pace and skill. Furthermore, both players have a penchant and frightening ability to score spectacular goals.
But, at the age of 28, Real might feel that this summer is their best chance of recouping a massive transfer fee for him. In the last few hours, Ronaldo has gone to great lengths to distance himself from reports by Mark Ogden of The Telegraph in Spain that he'd agreed a new contract at the Bernabeu.
If he isn't willing to sign a new contract and Real sign Gareth Bale to (effectively) replace him, what's to stop Ronaldo from returning to Manchester United? The Sun newspaper speculated yesterday that a potential move back to United could only happen if Gareth Bale ends up leaving Tottenham for Real.
One way or another, my gut feeling is that we'll see Ronaldo play for United again in the next couple of years, but whether that's next season or not remains to be seen.
What If Edinson Cavani Chooses City over Chelsea?
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Napoli's Edinson Cavani is one of the hottest properties in European football. The Uruguayan has hit the headlines for all the right reasons with his performances in Serie A over the last few seasons.
He's seemingly always linked with a move away from Italy, but his potential destination is a little more difficult to determine. Rumours linking him with Chelsea persist, but the latest news today via Laurie Whitwell of The Daily Mail is that he's in talks with Manchester City and Real Madrid.
Both are huge clubs in their own right, but with Chelsea completing the European double in the last 12 months (and with Jose Mourinho back at the helm), what would it say about them if Cavani chooses a club like City or Real Madrid, clubs who've not exactly tasted European glory in recent years?
It would be a setback to Chelsea if they failed to secure Cavani's signature, especially as he's been a long-term transfer target of theirs.
What If Cesc Fabregas Chooses to Return to England?
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Since moving to Barcelona from Arsenal, Cesc Fabregas has found a regular starting place hard to come by. His departure from Arsenal must have been emotional. He'd been there from a young age, but when Barcelona come calling, and especially if they were your first club, you don't say no do you?
As difficult as it's been for him to nail down a starting place over the last couple of years, it will be even harder now that Barca have secured the signing of the Brazilian starlet Neymar. Would Cesc consider a return to England, and if so, where would he go?
He could easily walk into any side in the Premier League. It would be a major coup for new Manchester United manager David Moyes if he could persuade Cesc to swap the Barca colours for United.
United's midfield has been unsettled for some time now, especially in the centre of the pitch, so if Moyes could add Fabregas to the squad to play alongside Shinji Kagawa and the impressive Michael Carrick, it would send out a statement of intent.
However, earlier today the player himself has labelled rumours of a potential move back to England as "absurd" according to Simon Rice of The Independent. He wouldn't be the first player to come out and deny that he's unhappy, but you'd have to think that the lure of a club like Manchester United would make him think twice, as would the potential offer of a return to Arsenal and with it, a reunion with Arsene Wenger.
For my money, if Cesc does decide a return to England is on the cards, it wouldn't surprise me to see him link up with his old boss once again and give Arsenal fans hope of challenging for the Premier League title.
What If Rooney Is Replaced with Lewandowski?
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These two players are among the best strikers in Europe on their day.
Wayne Rooney has been at the centre of attention during his near decade at Old Trafford, winning plaudits for some of his match-winning performances and sensational work ethic. But over the last 12 months, something hasn't seemed right with the striker.
He's seemed disillusioned with life at Manchester United, and outgoing boss Sir Alex Ferguson brought things to a head after his final home game as manager last month when he claimed via the BBC:
I don't think Wayne was keen to play, simply because he has asked for a transfer
Since then, speculation about Rooney's future has been in doubt. Will he stay at United or will he end up at Chelsea or PSG? It's entirely up to Wayne at this stage. He's already asked for a transfer once before, and he was persuaded to stay. Will David Moyes be able to do the same, or will he cut his losses with the seemingly unsettled striker and move to replace him?
Let's face it, no one player is bigger than United and if Rooney is unhappy with the way things are, maybe a fresh start would be best for all concerned?
If Rooney does leave, then a mooted replacement for him would be Borussia Dortmund's in-demand Polish striker Robert Lewandowski. The Pole has been in excellent form for the German side in recent seasons and at the age of just 24, he has his best years ahead of him.
But much like Rooney's future, Lewandowski's is uncertain too. The striker is out of contract next summer, yet his current club seem hell-bent on keeping him for another year at the risk of losing him for nothing in 12 months time.
Although Lewandowski is an important player for Dortmund, surely the club wouldn't cut off their nose to spite their face and risk him walking away without commanding a transfer fee for him next summer?
These strikers find themselves in strange, strange situations right now, but if United were to replace Rooney with Lewandowski, they may find themselves with a happier player who can offer them the best years of his career.