2014 Winter Transfer Speculation: 20 Players Who Need a Change of Scenery
If the rampant speculation is anything to go by, lots of players could be on the move in the January transfer window.
For some, it's the right time to go.
Be it through lack of playing time, falling too far down the pecking order, needing a step up to the next level or making sure they cement a place at the 2014 World Cup—whatever the reason, they would be wise to book a one-way ticket to pastures new this winter.
Over the following slides, which are arranged in alphabetical order, we look at 20 players who need to leave their respective clubs in the new year.
Do you agree with the choices? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below!
Aiden McGeady, Spartak Moscow
In 2010, Aiden McGeady swapped the Scottish Premiership for the Russian Premier Liga.
The winger was a product of the Celtic youth academy where, after breaking into the first team, he went on to make almost 200 appearances for the club.
The Republic of Ireland international has been at Spartak Moscow for over three years now, and it looks like he might be ready to come back to more familiar ground.
In an interview with the The Guardian's Ewan Murray published earlier this month, the 27-year-old reacted to the speculation that Everton, Newcastle United and Fulham were interested in bringing him to the Premier League:
When I am with the Ireland squad sometimes I look at the guys who are playing in England and feel a bit jealous. I feel I could be in the back of people's minds now, that I could be forgotten about. People ask me: 'Where are you playing now?' 'Oh are you still there?' I have made no secret of the fact that one day I would like to play in England.I would be disappointed if I never get the chance to do that.
I didn't think I would be here this long, I didn't see myself being here longer than a couple of years. But no footballer really looks four or five years ahead.
I only have until next summer left on my contract. The club have offered me a new one but I'm not of a mind to sign it. It is in my mind to get back somewhere closer to home. I have told the club that and they are fine.
Ashley Young, Manchester United
Ashley Young has not featured in a single minute of Manchester United's last six Premier League outings, and it doesn't look like the winger will be winning a place in David Moyes' starting lineup anytime soon.
A combination of injuries, lack of confidence and losing his place in the England squad have seen the England international suffer a significant drop in form.
Accusations of being "a cheat" and "a diver" have probably not helped in the confidence stakes. In fact, in light of the most recent incident—in which Young appeared to dive theatrically in a Champions League tie against Real Sociedad, the The Independent's Ian Herbert wrote: "Ashley Young has fallen so low at United there may be no way back."
Whatever the reason for Young's poor form, it appears that a move away from Old Trafford is the answer and he could be on his way out of Old Trafford in January.
According to the Express' Ben Jefferson, former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini wants to bring Young to Galatasaray in the New Year.
The Mirror's Dave Kidd suggested last month that United may be tempted to send the 28-year-old out on loan, with West Ham and Newcastle mooted as potential destinations.
Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders
Clint Dempsey could be making a temporary return to the Premier League this January.
According to Darren Witcoop in the Mirror, the former Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur man will return to the English top flight during the Major League Soccer offseason in a bid to maintain his fitness ahead of the 2014 World Cup.
Witcoop says that Fulham, Aston Villa and Everton are interested, with Spurs also said to have first refusal on the USA national team captain.
Demba Ba, Chelsea
This season, Demba Ba has played such a small role at Stamford Bridge that he hasn't even made the bench for seven of Chelsea's 11 Premier League matches.
With just 163 minutes of top-flight action under his belt in 2013/14, Ba has not had the chance to remind us of what he is capable of in front on goal.
It looks increasingly unlikely that the Senegalese striker will find himself part of Jose Mourinho's plans, and a move in January beckons.
There are plenty of clubs that would welcome the striker, who scored 29 goals in 58 games for Newcastle.
Edin Dzeko, Manchester City
Already known as a City "super sub," the summer arrival of Alvaro Negredo looks like that moniker might be hard to shake off.
Dzeko only completed nine full 90-minute Premier League games last season. This term he has stayed on the bench for four games and has only played one full match out of his seven top-flight appearances.
It's all well and good to have a game-changer on the sidelines but, Dzeko, at 27, is in his peak years, and a move must happen if we're to see the best of him.
The Bosnian striker was quoted in a Mirror article by David McDonnell earlier this month, as saying:
I think I could definitely have played more than I have done. It's difficult because you don’t have a run of games, then you come into the team after maybe four games and sometimes you want to do well, but you can't do it.
For three games in the Premier League I didn't play at all. That never happened last season. I didn't go three games without any minutes.
There's Champions League and Capital One Cup also, but that's not enough for me.
Ever Banega, Valencia
The Argentine international is said to have fallen out of favour with manager Miroslav Djukic, despite starting all but one of Los Che's games in La Liga this term.
As Jefferson reports from an interview that originally appeared on NapoliCalcioLive.com, Banega's agent, Marcelo Simonian, said: "I can only tell you that we are already talking with several clubs in relation to the next window. In the next few days I will be travelling to present all the options to Valencia."
If Banega and his agent are refusing to commit to Valencia, then the midfielder possibly faces a fall down the pecking order in Djukic's side.
If Banega wants to be sure of cementing his place in Alejandro Sabella's Argentina squad, perhaps a move would be best—with Manchester United, Southampton and Arsenal all credited with interest in the Express article above.
Fabio Coentrao, Real Madrid
It was no secret that Fabio Coentrao wanted to leave Real Madrid over the summer.
The 25-year-old came close to leaving the Bernabeu in September, when a move to Manchester United failed to go through on transfer deadline day, as seen on BBC Sport.
Coentrao was left out of Madrid's opening game of the season against Real Betis. When asked why the Portugal international was omitted from his squad, manager Carlo Ancelotti said, via Ben Jefferson in the Express, that it was because: "he has asked to leave."
Since then, the full-back has featured in just four La Liga games.
A regular in Paulo Bento's Portugal side, Coentrao must move in January to stay fit for the World Cup. It's clear that he is only going to be on the fringes of the Madrid team this season.
As the Daily Mail's John Edwards has reported, Manchester United and Spurs look set to battle it out for Coentrao's signature in January.
Javier Hernandez, Manchester United
Much as it may aggrieve Manchester United fans to see him go, Javier Hernandez is just too good to be a benchwarmer.
The 25-year-old would walk into most other Premier League sides. Yet, at Old Trafford, he must wait in the wings, where he is merely part of the support cast behind star men Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.
This season, the Mexican has played just 111 minutes of top-flight football and has started just one game out of a possible 11.
There are no shortage of clubs that would snap him up in January. As the Daily Mail's Sami Mokbel reports, Arsenal are interested in bringing the striker to the Emirates.
Elsewhere, Hernandez has been linked with a move to Spurs by The Telegraph's Jason Burt.
Joleon Lescott, Manchester City
Joleon Lescott needs to get a move in January if he wants regular first-team football.
The 31-year-old has fallen down the pecking order at Manchester City, and it does not look like Manuel Pellegrini will field Lescott—who has made just five Premier League appearances this term—unless injuries force his hand.
The centre-back has been rumoured to be on his way to Stoke City, where he could link up with former boss Mark Hughes, as reported by Matt Law in the Mirror.
Lescott has just seven months remaining on his current City contract.
Juan Mata, Chelsea
When the January transfer window opens, Juan Mata will be one of the most coveted players in Europe.
The Spaniard is yet to play a full 90 minutes in the Premier League under Jose Mourinho, whose reluctance to field Mata has been one of the focal points of the 2013/14 season.
Earlier in the campaign, Mourinho said that Mata must adapt his game to be certain of a place in his starting XI, as reported by Martin Lipton in the Mirror.
Mata, who was voted Chelsea's player of the year for the last two seasons, really shouldn't have to.
The 25-year-old is said to be a transfer target of Paris Saint-Germain and Spurs, as seen in this article by the Telegraph's Jason Burt.
Elsewhere, the playmaker is linked with Manchester United and Arsenal by the Express' James Dickenson.
Jucilei, Anzhi Makhachkala
It seems likely that Brazilian midfielder Jucilei will want an escape route out of Anzhi Makhachkala this January.
Most of the club's biggest stars departed over the summer, when the team's budget was cut significantly by owner Suleyman Kerimov.
Tuttosport (via Sambafoot.com) has reported that Jucilei, along with fellow countryman Ewerton, is expected to leave the Russian club in the New Year, with Inter Milan and Napoli each said to be lining up a move for the 25-year-old.
Anzhi are currently at the bottom of the Premier Liga, after recording 10 losses, six draws and zero wins this season.
Julio Cesar, Queens Park Rangers
The Brazilian goalkeeper was expected to leave Loftus Road during the summer transfer window, but a move failed to materialize.
If he wants to remain at the forefront of Luiz Felipe Scolari's plans for the 2014 World Cup, he needs to play.
According to the Fulham Chronicle, via the Mirror's Alex Richards, QPR manager Harry Redknapp has said he will sanction a January switch:
We wouldn't stand in Julio's way and we aren't asking a fee for him. He needs to play and he could play anywhere for any team. He's just been unlucky.
Rob's been fantastic and I can't take him out of the team. However, Julio's a great guy, and he needs to play soon, so he can play in the World Cup.
As Paulo Freitas reported on Skysports.com this week, Cesar is contemplating a return to Brazil, with Sao Paulo a possible destination.
Kevin de Bruyne, Chelsea
Kevin de Bruyne has been linked with a move away from Chelsea in January.
The 22-year-old has started just two Premier League games for the Blues since returning from last season's loan spell with Werder Bremen.
For sure, playing at a World Cup without having been in action for a year, I think that's very difficult. I think for him that leaving and playing, that would be good. If we want to get the best out of Kevin, I think that it's best if he leaves.
To add extra pressure, Belgium manager Marc Wilmots said this week that if players want to make next year's World Cup squad, they must play. Wilmots was quoted by Raf Casert in the Daily Mail as saying: "We have quality, but quality needs match rhythm. You need matches, minutes of play. If you don’t play, and sit in the stands, it becomes difficult."
Konstantinos Mitroglou, Olympiacos
This season, Konstantinos Mitroglou has scored 14 goals in 10 Super League games, he became the first Greek to net a hat-trick in the Champions League, and he blasted Greece through to the finals of the World Cup.
It comes as little surprise that the 25-year-old is being tipped for a move in January.
According to the Mirror's David Maddock, Liverpool are preparing a £7 million bid to bring the striker to Anfield. Elsewhere, talkSport.com suggest that Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund are also interested in securing his services in the New Year.
If Mitroglou wants to step up a level ahead of the World Cup, January would be a good time to make a switch.
Lacina Traore, Anzhi Makhachkala
Just like Jucilei, it looks like Lacina Traore will leave Anzhi Makhachkala in January. According to the Daily Mail's David Kent, the Russian club have told the Ivorian that he can go.
Traore, who scored 17 goals in 36 games (in all competitions) for Anzhi last season, is reportedly being pursued by Liverpool, as written by Kent.
Elsewhere, the Daily Star's Jack Wilson suggests that the 6'8" striker could go to Galatasaray.
After starting just three games in the Premier Liga in 2013/14, the Ivory Coast international should push to make a move this winter.
Martin Montoya, Barcelona
One thing is for certain—if Martin Montoya does decide to leave Barcelona in January, he will have no shortage of suitors.
The 22-year-old has started just four games in La Liga this season and has not featured in any Champions League ties in 2013/14.
Montoya is one of the most highly rated young defenders in Spain, yet he remains behind Dani Alves in the Barca pecking order.
The right-back's current contract runs out in summer 2014, which means that (in accordance with FIFA rules) he will be free to negotiate with prospective clubs in January.
Perhaps Barca will not let him leave; maybe Montoya will decide to stay and fight for his place. However, with the likes of Liverpool, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen rumoured to be intent on signing him in the New Year, as reported by Alex Richards in the Mirror, this will be one to watch.
Ola Toivonen, PSV Eindhoven
PSV Eindhoven's Ola Toivonen has been open about his wishes to leave the Philips Stadion in January.
The Swede has been at PSV since 2009 and has made 195 appearances for the Dutch side, where he has scored 78 goals.
The Mirror's John Cross has reported that PSV will be willing to sell the 27-year-old in January, rather than letting him leave for free next summer. Cross credits Newcastle with interest in the attacking midfielder, who could cost a bargain price of £2.5 million.
Toivonen told Fotbollskanalen.se (via Skysports.com) that he's ready to go:
We have had a meeting with the club and I told them how I feel. It was an open and honest talk.
I want to find a new club. But PSV also want that I sign and help the club.
The dream would be to move in January, then PSV also get money.
Radamel Falcao, Monaco
In the weeks and months before the summer window, one name was ever-present in transfer talk.
Ahead of the January window, it's no different.
In a report from Le10Sport, via the Express' Ben Jefferson, it is claimed that Monaco want to offload Falcao to comply with UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations.
Jefferson says that both Chelsea and Real Madrid are interested:
Instead of holding off until the summer Chelsea will make a pre-emptive strike in the upcoming transfer window in an attempt to bring the hitman to Stamford Bridge.
It is thought that Portugese [sic] winger Cristiano Ronaldo has personally appealed to Real president Florentino Perez to sign Falcao but Chelsea are preparing to rival the Spanish giants.
Does Falcao need a January transfer? Not really. He's featured in every single Ligue 1 game for his side so far this season and is a shoo-in for the Colombia squad next summer.
However, if the striker is genuinely unsettled, perhaps we'll see him on the move a little sooner than expected.
Sebastian Giovinco, Juventus
Sebastian Giovinco's career needs a shot in the arm.
He has failed to rediscover the form that saw him bag 23 goals and 22 assists in 70 games with Parma, since rejoining Juventus in 2012.
Part of this may be down to a loss of confidence—up against the likes of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente for a starting berth in Antonio Conte's team, it's perhaps easy to see why.
Whatever the reason, memories of the dynamic striker we saw at Parma have been replaced by the reality of a player who has started just two games all season.
Giovinco needs a transfer to regain his form, his confidence and a place in Cesare Prandelli's Italy squad.
Wilfried Zaha, Manchester United
Wilfried Zaha was Sir Alex Ferguson's last signing as Manchester United manager. Yet under new boss David Moyes, the 21-year-old does not seem to have much of a future at Old Trafford.
Zaha has not played in the Premier League this season—his two appearances coming in the Community Shield and a League Cup tie against Norwich.
For a player so highly lauded for his performances with promotion-hunting Crystal Palace last term, the 2013/14 Premier League campaign must feel like a letdown.
He needs to go.
A move could revive Zaha's season and provide an opportunity to force his way into Roy Hodgson's plans for the 2014 World Cup.