10 Premier League Transfer Targets That Bring the Highest Expectations

Dan SheridanContributor IJune 23, 2013

10 Premier League Transfer Targets That Bring the Highest Expectations

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    As we lurch toward the final seven days of June—and with the start of the new Premier League season just eight weeks away—fresh transfer rumours are emerging by the hour.

    While some clubs concentrate on youth, or players with experience in the top flight, a handful of the biggest names in world football are being linked with a switch to England.

    Among them are ready-made superstars—household names with sparkling reputations and trophy cabinets to match—alongside youngsters tipped by many to be the game’s next big thing.

    One thing they cannot escape, should their proposed moves to the Premier League come off, is expectancy, and here we take a look at just 10 names that would trigger anticipation and hope in equal measure on the terraces.  

Gonzalo Higuain

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    Arsenal’s pursuit of Gonzalo Higuain has been one of football’s worst-kept secrets this summer, with the Real Madrid striker edging closer to a move to North London by the day.

    According to David Hytner in The Guardian, the Argentina forward’s switch to the Emirates Stadium is all but done, with the Gunners set to smash their transfer record.

    Despite their top-four finish last term, Robin van Persie’s move to Manchester United highlighted the lack of an out-and-out goalscorer in Arsene Wenger’s squad.

    But Higuain’s arrival could change all that. The 25-year-old has regularly found the net over the past seven seasons at one of the world’s most demanding football clubs, and Arsenal fans will be hoping for more of the same.     

Paulinho

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    With his mind currently preoccupied by his country’s Confederations Cup campaign, Brazil midfielder Paulinho can be forgiven for placing all transfer talk firmly on the back burner.

    But as Ben Smith at BBC Sport reports today, that hasn’t stopped Tottenham Hotspur from lodging a £17 million bid for the Corinthians star.

    The 24-year-old has become a central figure in Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil team and proved his worth with goals against England in a recent friendly against Japan last week.

    And as Tottenham look to make a bold statement in the transfer market ahead of the new campaign, the capture of Paulinho would certainly grab the attention of the White Hart Lane faithful.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

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    Another player linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur recently is Saint Etienne striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who netted 21 goals for his side last term.

    The 24-year-old is interesting the likes of Newcastle United and Monaco, but Andre Villas-Boas could jump to the head of the queue as he looks to bolster his attack.

    According to David Kent of the Daily Mail, the fee demanded by his club is somewhere in the region of £10 million.

    Should the Gabon international end up at Tottenham in time for next season, he’d be expected to chip in with his share of goals as they look to reshape their limited striking options.  

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

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    Henrikh Mkhitaryan may not herald from one of Europe’s most prolific footballing nations, but that hasn’t stopped the Armenian from turning heads for current club Shakhtar Donetsk.

    The attacking midfielder has an appealing eye for goal—a fact propped up by his impressive return of 16 goals in his first 14 league games last season, and his instincts have not gone unnoticed.

    Phil McNulty from BBC Sport flagged up Liverpool’s interest in the player recently, and with a reported buyout clause of £20 million, the 24-year-old won’t come cheap.

    But if Brendan Rodgers can lure Mkhitaryan to Anfield, last term’s leading scorer in the Ukraine has all the ingredients to become a firm favourite with the fans—providing he can justify his price tag. 

Isco

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    Buoyed by his recent performances for all-conquering Spain in the European Under-21 Championships, Isco’s stock has risen of late—so much so that Manchester City and Real Madrid are on red alert.

    The Malaga starlet enjoyed a successful season under new City boss Manuel Pellegrini last term, and all eyes are now fixed on the 21-year-old as he looks to choose between the two clubs.

    Despite Pete Jenson of the Daily Mail indicating that a fee has been agreed with Madrid, City retain a genuine interest in a player Pellegrini knows all too well.

    And if he does end up at the Etihad Stadium, a possibility reported by Phil McNulty from BBC Sport, much will be expected of the youngster given his relationship with the manager.

Thiago Alcantara

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    With wise words from his Barcelona peers ringing in his ears about patience and endurance, Thiago Alcantara has reached something of a fork in the road in his short career.

    Manchester United’s interest in the 22-year-old is well documented, with Jamie Jackson of The Guardian reporting on David Moyes’ efforts to convince him that his future lies at Old Trafford.

    And should the new United boss’ powers of persuasion succeed, all eyes will be on the youngster who scored a hat-trick in Spain’s final win over Italy in the Euro Under-21 Championships.

    Known to crave first-team football at the Camp Nou, the midfielder must also seek assurances that those desires will be met in the English Premier League. 

David Villa

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    Another Spaniard rousing interest on English shores is Barcelona frontman and World Cup winner David Villa.

    Tottenham Hotspur are the latest Premier League club to be credited with an interest in the former Valencia striker, but according to Matt Law from Mirror Football, they face competition from Serie A side Fiorentina.

    Villa’s pedigree saw Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas hail him as “one of the world’s best strikers” last month, and such praise could yet convince the 31-year-old to try his luck in North London.

    But a new set of questions would await Villa at White Hart Lane, and first and foremost, the club and its supporters would look to his goals to fire them back into the Champions League.

Edinson Cavani

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    With Manchester City reportedly refusing to meet Napoli’s asking price for Edinson Cavani, as reported by BBC Sport, a new potential destination has emerged for the Uruguayan striker. 

    Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea are the latest name to the table, with Nadia Carminati from Sky Sports suggesting that the £54 million buyout clause in his contract could yet be activated this summer.

    Real Madrid are the other name in the frame, with Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis suggesting a decision will be made by the middle of next month.

    And with expectations at Stamford Bridge already sky high following the return of Mourinho, they would escalate further still if Cavani’s signature could be secured.

Robert Lewandowski

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    The immediate future of one of Europe’s most sought-after stars is still in the balance, with Robert Lewandowski mulling over his next move.

    The striker has bided his time in the hope that a switch to Bayern Munich would come to fruition, but with Borussia Dortmund chief executive officer Hans-Joachim Watzke insisting the move won’t happen, the player’s options are open once more.

    Mark Ogden of The Telegraph suggests that David Moyes has renewed his interest in the 24-year-old and is keen to bring the Polish international to Manchester United.

    Such a move would catapult Lewandowski further into the spotlight, with Moyes looking to get off to a good start in his new job, and any big-money signings expected to prove that there is life after Sir Alex Ferguson.

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Perhaps the ultimate signing that could feasibly be made this summer is that of Cristiano Ronaldo—the Real Madrid superstar widely regarded by many to be the best player in the world alongside Lionel Messi.

    The Portuguese international has been linked with a sensational swap deal by Steve Millar in the Daily Star that would see Manchester United and England forward Wayne Rooney move in the other direction. 

    Earlier this month, Neil Custis on The Sun suggested United were ready to turn to former manager Sir Alex Ferguson in an effort to persuade Ronaldo to return to Old Trafford.

    And should their audacious attempt succeed, the former Red Devils favourite would be welcomed back with open arms—provided he brought with him the form that has landed him so many plaudits over the years.