World Football

Predicting the 40 Biggest Summer Transfer Window Targets

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentFebruary 13, 2014

Predicting the 40 Biggest Summer Transfer Window Targets

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    Whether it is Samuel Eto'o, Wayne Rooney or Toni Kroos, this slideshow will predict the 40 biggest summer transfer window targets.

    It will be ordered via name recognition, so feel free to comment below with your own examples as no list will ever be exhaustive.


    Honourable Mentions

    Juan Iturbe, Hellas Verona RF (Porto Loanee), Age: 20
    Oliver Baumann, Freiburg GK, Age: 23
    Vincent Aboubakar, Lorient CF, Age: 22
    Sebastian Jung, Eintracht Frankfurt RB, Age: 23
    Felipe Gutierrez, Twente CM, Age: 23
    William Carvalho, Sporting Lisbon CM, Age: 21
    Filip Kostic, Groningen LF, Age: 21
    Andre Hahn, Augsburg RAM, Age: 23
    Hakim Ziyech, Heerenveen CAM, Age: 20
    Jonathan Schmid, Freiburg RW/RB, Age: 23

40. Keylor Navas, Levante GK, Age: 27

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    Levante goalkeeper Keylor Navas leads La Liga in saves made (98), per a tweet via OptaJose, or 95 if you are following Fox Soccer's statistics.

    He is a remarkable shot-stopper which Barcelona deep-lying forward Lionel Messi can attest to when the Argentine international had a one-on-one shot blocked by Navas during a 1-1 draw. 

    In a 0-0 draw against Real Sociedad, left attacking midfielder Antoine Griezmann, who is La Liga's third topscorer, went 0-for-4 against Navas (Griezmann also mishit three other shots). 

    If Navas keeps up his world-class form and makes several highlight reel saves at the FIFA World Cup, expect him to become a summer transfer target. 

     

     

     

39. Hiroshi Kiyotake, Nurnberg CAM, Age: 24

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    Nurnberg centre attacking midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake has directly set up 20.8 percent of the club's goals in the Bundesliga.

    Prior to a 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich, Nurnberg were on a five-game unbeaten run (three draws, two wins) and Kiyotake had accumulated three assists during that stretch. 

    He is vital to Nurnberg, currently 16th, avoiding relegation or a relegation play-off. 

    Kiyotake is an exceptionally gifted playmaker who should be at a better club than Nurnberg as he does not get the recognition he deserves and is often forced to do the hard-lifting on a struggling team. 

     

38. Dusan Tadic, Twente LF/DLF, Age: 25

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    Do you know which player has the most assists in the Eredivisie this season? 

    It is Twente's Dusan Tadic with 11, who generally starts as a left forward, but can also play centrally in a deep-lying forward role. 

    He is not just a creator because he is also a set-piece specialist, as eight of his nine goals have come via dead-ball situations (seven penalties and one free-kick). 

    If you are to assume set pieces directed on goal register as a shot, then he has only scored one goal from 49 shots in open play, so he needs to work on his finishing. 

    He is set to complete his fourth season in the Eredivisie and he is ready to take the next step up in the summer transfer window. 

     

     

37. Sime Vrsaljko, Genoa RWB, Age: 22

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    Genoa right wing-back Sime Vrsaljko was named in La Gazzetta dello Sport's best summer transfers XI (h/t Football Italia). 

    Vrsaljko is formidable in the air contesting headers 2.6 times per game, but he needs to shore up his defending, as a 40 percent tackle success rate is inefficient. 

    He is a solid prospect and he is realistic about his development as a footballer. 

    "If I'd joined a big club I probably wouldn't have had much playing time," Vrsaljko said, per Il Secolo XIX (h/t Sky Sports). "I came to Genoa because the club give youth a chance. There are young, talented players who are ambitious like me."

    The latter quote is a reference to Genoa giving chances to 20-year-old centre-forward Moussa Konate, 21-year-old goalkeeper Mattia Perin, 22-year-old central midfielder Isaac Cofie, 23-year-old central midfielder Andrea Bertolacci and 23-year-old forward Ioannis Fetfatzidis. 

    Arsenal targeted Vrsaljko for several years, so perhaps the Gunners may rekindle their interest in him during the summer transfer window. 

    • November 25, 2010, per Stefan Coerts at Goal.com.
    • January 27, 2011, per Joe Ridge at the Daily Mail.
    • October 4, 2012, per Alex Varney at talkSPORT.
    • October 16, 2013, per Ben Jefferson at the Express.

36. Alfred Finnbogason, Heerenveen CF, Age: 25

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    Heerenveen centre forward Alfred Finnbogason has scored 21 goals in 20 Eredivisie games this season.

    Finnbogason has shown a propensity to outwit opposing defenders and has created goals for his teammates (six assists). 

    The three concerns potential summer transfer window suitors should hold is that eight of Finnbogason's 21 goals are penalties, he loses out in 73.5 percent of aerial contests and there is always the possibility that he cannot replicate his prolific goalscoring in a stronger league. 

35. Keita Balde Diao, Lazio LF, Age: 18

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    Lazio have three prominent youngsters: 20-year-old centre-forward Brayan Perea, 20-year-old wide forward Felipe Anderson, but 18-year-old left forward Keita Balde Diao is the one who has demonstrated glimpses of superstar potential this season. 

    Keita has three assists in the UEFA Europa League and scored a "wow-did-you-see-that" solo golazo against Napoli. 

    He is a former Barcelona prospect, so he has world-class pedigree and it is up to him to fulfill his potential.

    Within the next few years, he might be involved in a tug-of-war at club and international level. 

    He is Spanish-born but is eligible to represent Senegal.

    Given that Italy have naturalised Dani Osvaldo and Thiago Motta in recent memory, don't be surprised if they attempt to find a loophole to speed up Keita's eligibility for the Azzurri should Spain dilly-dally on elevating Keita into the Spanish national team. 

34. Clement Grenier, Lyon CAM/CM, Age: 23

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    Lyon central midfielder Clement Grenier, who has filled in at the No. 10 role when Yoann Gourcuff has not played, was identified by Newcastle United as Yohan Cabaye's replacement.

    Grenier did not want to leave Lyon in the January transfer window, according to his agent Frederic Guerra.

    "Clement would have arrived at Newcastle not as Clement Grenier but as Yohan Cabaye's replacement," Guerra said, per Le 10 Sport (h/t Sky Sports). "I have the upmost respect for a player of Cabaye's quality. But who deserves to have that tag?"

    Cabaye has five years on Grenier, so of course comparing the two right now is unfair to the Lyon midfielder. 

    But Grenier has the potential to live up to what Cabaye achieved at Newcastle.

    Grenier has an expansive passing range, is two-footed and has scored four free-kicks (Nice, Rennes, Nantes and Sochaux) since last May. 

    Newcastle have yet to replace Cabaye, so Grenier is still an option in the summer transfer window. 

33. Roberto Firmino, Hoffenheim DLF/LF, Age: 22

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    Michael Probst/Associated Press

    Hoffenheim deep-lying forward Roberto Firmino is one of the most complete players in the Bundesliga.

    During his career at Hoffenheim, he has played in midfield, played out wide and up front. 

    He averages more tackles per game (2.3) than Schalke defensive midfielder Roman Neustadter (2.1), scored more goals (nine) than Bayern Munich right winger Thomas Muller (eight) and registered more assists (seven) than Borussia Dortmund central attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan (five).

    Surely, Firmino will be a primary summer transfer target for major clubs because he is one of the most dominant players in the Bundesliga.

32. Adrian Ramos, Hertha Berlin CF, Age: 28

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    Hertha Berlin centre-forward Adrian Ramos has scored seven goals in his last six league games to lead the Bundesliga in goals scored (14; one more than Borussia Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski [12]).

    Aside from contesting 6.9 headers per game, what makes Ramos' achievements more significant is that his main playmaker, Alexander Baumjohann, has not played since last August when he unfortunately suffered a ruptured cruciate ligament. 

    What about Ronny? He is mainly a super-sub, making 62.5 percent of his appearances off the bench.

    Ramos can create his own shots, as he tops Hertha in dribbles (60) this season. 

    According to former FIFA World Cup winner and Ballon d'Or recipient Lothar Matthaus, Dortmund will target Ramos in the summer transfer window. 

    "I know that [Dortmund manager] Jurgen Klopp is a big fan of Adrian Ramos," Matthaus said, per Sky (h/t Stefan Coerts at Goal.com. "I am convinced that Ramos will be Lewandowski's replacement at Dortmund."

    Lewandowski signed a pre-contract to join Bayern Munich in the summer, per BBC Sport.

31. Remy Cabella, Montpellier CAM/LAM, Age: 23

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    David Vincent/Associated Press

    Montpellier central attacking midfielder Remy Cabella, who has scored nine times and created four goals, is valiantly keeping the club in Ligue 1. 

    Cabella has inspired the club to a six-game unbeaten streak and Montpellier are now seven points ahead of 18th-placed Valenciennes, the club that occupies the last relegation spot. 

    He has revealed that he will leave Montpellier in the summer transfer window, but did not confirm a mooted move to Newcastle United. 

    "We have agreed with the chairman [Laurent Nicollin] to leave next summer rather than during the January transfer window," Cabella said, per L'Equipe (h/t Patrick Haond at Sky Sports). "Newcastle? We will see."

     

30. Juan Cuadrado, Fiorentina RWB/RF/LF, Age: 25

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    Fiorentina right wing-back Juan Cuadrado is an explosive player who's so dangerous with the ball that he's had a spell in a wide-forward role during the UEFA Europa League. 

    He played as a left forward in a 2-1 win over Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, scoring once, creating a goal and completing eight dribbles. 

    Could Cuadrado cut it as a full-back? No.

    His tackle success percentage is 39 and given his attack-minded attitude, he's ideal in a wing-back role. 

     

     

29. Ricardo Rodriguez, Wolfsburg LB, Age: 21

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    Fredrik von Erichsen/Associated Press

    Wolfsburg left-back Ricardo Rodriguez motors up and down the left flank, sometimes popping up alongside Ivica Olic to take a shot. 

    Rodriguez has scored four times, created three goals and made 60 tackles. 

    He has been one of the best left-backs in the Bundesliga.

    His agent Gianluca Di Domenico revealed that AC Milan were one of several clubs vying for his client's signature. 

    "In January, he will not move from Wolfsburg. Maybe after the [FIFA] World Cup in June," Di Domenico said, per Calciomercatonews (h/t talkSPORT). "But it will not be easy for Milan as many clubs are interested in him [Rodriguez]."

28. Eliaquim Mangala, Porto CB, Age: 22

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    Paulo Duarte/Associated Press

    Porto centre-back Eliaquim Mangala has prototypical centre-back height at 6'2" and completed 87 percent of his passes in the UEFA Champions League this season. 

    He is a rock for Porto and at 22 years of age, he will have his best years ahead of him.

    He was subject to a failed January transfer deadline day move along with teammate Fernando Reges to Manchester City, per Jamie Jackson at the Guardian.

    While Fernando has extended his contract at Porto, per O Jogo (h/t Simon Bajkowski at the Manchester Evening News), Mangala could still be sold in the summer transfer window. 

27. Maxime Gonalons, Lyon DM/CB, Age: 24

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    Thibault Camus/Associated Press

    Lyon defensive midfielder Maxime Gonalons is looking to follow in the footsteps of Michael Essien and Mahamadou Diarra, both of whom lived up to the hype at Chelsea and Real Madrid respectively. 

    Gonalons is second at Lyon in tackles per game (3.5) and leads the club in interceptions per game (2.2).

    During the January transfer window, Lyon management veto'd his proposed move to Napoli, per Football Italia.

26. Ever Banega, Valencia CM, Age: 25

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    After six years, you don't remember Ever Banega for his crisp passing in Valencia's midfield, but you do remember him for the bizarre: Wearing a Real Madrid shirt, his Ferrari being burnt and the time he broke his foot after another one of his expensive cars rolled back on him (that is why there is a handbrake). 

    Banega was not professional enough at Valencia to transition from a world-class prospect into a world-class footballer.

    The loan to Newell's Old Boys in the January transfer window is the writing on the wall for Banega's future at Valencia.

25. Vito Mannone, Sunderland GK, Age: 25

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    Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone is playing the best football of his career. 

    He made four saves when Sunderland defeated Manchester City 1-0. 

    Mannone was inspirational in the League Cup penalty shoot-out victory over Manchester United, when he thwarted Adnan Januzaj and Rafael from the spot. 

    Mannone is on a three-game clean-sheet streak in the Premier League and his elite form will attract potential suitors in the summer transfer window. 

24. Bafetimbi Gomis, Lyon CF, Age: 28

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    Lyon centre-forward Bafetimbi Gomis has scored nine goals in 19 Ligue 1 games. 

    That is an admirable return when you factor in management telling him to train by himself and at one point demoted him to the reserves, per Ian Holyman at ESPN FC

    Gomis has bounced back, but has yet to commit his long-term future at Lyon. 

    He is running down his contract and is likely to leave the club on a free transfer in the summer window.

23. Ivan Rakitic, Sevilla CAM/CM/DM, Age: 25

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    Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitic can sit deep and dictate play, he can be an all-action box-to-box midfielder, or be a dual threat to score or create as a central attacking midfielder. 

    Rakitic is a versatile footballer: He has scored 10 times, created seven goals, made 49 tackles and intercepted 43 passes. 

    How could Schalke let such a prospect leave?

    He said in 2010, per a tweet via Schalke UK news: "I'm very happy here and proud to play for Schalke, so I'd be happy to stay for a long time. A decision will be made soon."

    So be mindful of his flip-flop even after he has stated his intention to stay with Sevilla, per Sky Sports.

    It could be Schalke all over again: Rakitic tells the media he isn't leaving and then leaves.

     

22. Thibaut Courtois, Atletico Madrid GK (Chelsea Loanee), Age: 21

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    When asked about the future of Chelsea loanee Thibaut Courtois, Blues manager Jose Mourinho ruled out the chance of the Belgian permanently signing with Atletico Madrid, per Sky Sports

    Courtois has benefited from a cohesive Atleti side that play selfless football, are organised and efficient. 

    That said, his 77.7 save percentage is one of the reasons why Atleti have the best defence in La Liga, having conceded just 16 goals in 23 league games. 

21. Yoann Gourcuff, Lyon CAM, Age: 27

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    Laurent Cipriani/Associated Press

    Lyon central attacking midfielder Yoann Gourcuff was once seen as the new Zinedine Zidane, per Ben Lyttleton at the Guardian

    Gourcuff has played professionally for over a decade and while he continues to show snippets of Zizou-like skill, his career has plodded along, rather than sky-rocket. 

    Gourcuff has been in relatively decent form this season, accumulating five assists, which is the same amount as Monaco's Joao Moutinho.

    Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas revealed that the club "received a number of calls" about a possible move for Gourcuff during the January transfer window, so potentially he could leave in the summer transfer window.  

20. Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Borussia Monchengladbach GK, Age: 21

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    Nigel Treblin/Associated Press

    Yes, Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is widely accepted as Barcelona's new No. 1, even with former Barca assistant Andries Jonker discussing what Ter Stegen offers to the club, despite neither Gladbach or Barca officially announcing the deal. 

    Until Ter Stegen signs on the dotted line to become a Barca player, he is still on the open market. 

    Rejecting a contract extension at Gladbach, per Sky Sports, is an indication of Ter Stegen's intent to leave in the summer transfer window. 

19. Kevin Strootman, Roma CM, Age: 23

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    Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

    Why Manchester United did not actively pursue Kevin Strootman in the summer transfer window is a question United supporters should ask chief executive Ed Woodward.

    Roma spent €20 [£16.8] million on Strootman.

    Strootman has scored five times, registered six assists, made 74 tackles and averages 62.4 passes per game: He does it all in midfield. 

    He has been such a presence that surely Europe's wealthiest clubs will be targeting him in the summer transfer window. 

    To think United may have had him, instead they start Tom Cleverley. 

    United need a dominant and commanding player like him, as opposed to a meek role player in Cleverley, who has claimed he is the scapegoat for disgruntled United supporters, per Oliver Holt at the Mirror.

    Roma rejected a derisive bid from United for Strootman in the January transfer window, per La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Football Italia).

     

18. Antoine Griezmann, Real Sociedad LAM, Age: 22

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    Real Sociedad left attacking midfielder Antoine Griezmann is his club's answer to Cristiano Ronaldo: Taking shots from all angles and being a gunner in front of goal. 

    You can't blame Griezmann's selfishness if he has scored 14 times in La Liga, the most for any Sociedad player this season. 

    He has scored against Real Madrid in league play and netted against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey.

    Griezmann is one of the brightest prospects in European football.

    He is ready to make the next step up in playing for one of Europe's major clubs. 

17. Mario Mandzukic, Bayern Munich CF, Age: 27

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    Bayern Munich announcing the signing of Robert Lewandowski raises doubts over the future of centre-forward Mario Mandzukic. 

    If he wants to take a reduced role and be a bit-part player, like Claudio Pizarro, then you could see Mandzukic staying with Bayern.

    But he is 27 years of age, has scored 12 times in the Bundesliga, works hard without the ball, can lead the line and still has several elite years in him. 

    This is why he is a summer transfer window target for Arsenal, per Jeremy Wilson at the Telegraph.

16. Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal CB, Age: 28

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    Arsenal backup centre-back Thomas Vermaelen has only started three Premier League games this season. 

    Talk about a stark contrast to the 2009-10 season when he started 33 league games for the Gunners. 

    He has not been able to break the Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker partnership. 

    Vermaelen needs regular playing time, so expect him to consider leaving Arsenal in the summer transfer window. 

15. Julian Draxler, Schalke LAM/DLF, Age: 20

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    Martin Meissner/Associated Press

    Schalke manager Jens Keller revealed that he is not planning around left attacking midfielder Julian Draxler as the club expect his €45.5 [£37.3] million release clause to be activated in the summer transfer window, per Bild (h/t ESPN). 

    Draxler has been inconsistent this season, only scoring one goal from 14 Bundesliga games, but he has the potential to be one of the best footballers in the world.  

    What makes him stand out is his propensity to beat opposing defenders at will: He averages 5.1 dribbles per game, 3.1 DPG higher than Real Madrid left attacking midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo (2.0).

14. Fabio Coentrao, Real Madrid LB, Age: 25

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    Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

    Real Madrid backup left-back Fabio Coentrao has only played five La Liga games this season and when he came on to replace an injured Marcelo in a 4-2 win over Villarreal, the Portuguese had to be subbed off after 27 minutes due to injury. 

    Since signing with Real in 2011, Coentrao has yet to start 35 La Liga games or more in one season as he is not fit enough. 

    He is generally being held back either for precautionary measures or is injured. 

    When he was at Benfica, he was one of the best attacking left-backs in Europe, once conjuring up 10 assists in a season, but nowadays he is just a squad player. 

    He was a rumoured January transfer target for Manchester United, per Ben Jefferson at the Express.

13. Paul Pogba, Juventus CM, Age: 20

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    Juventus central midfielder Paul Pogba continues to talk about his fractious relationship with former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

    Pogba said he was "disgusted" by Ferguson's lack of faith, per Canal+ (h/t Richard Jolly at ESPN FC).

    A segment of United supporters are probably disgusted that the club banked on Tom Cleverley than Pogba. 

    Pogba is an all-round midfielder who bosses the midfield.

    This season, he has been a goal threat (six goals), can create for his teammates (five assists) and asserts his influence without the ball (completed 63 tackles in 23 games).

    Former FIFA World Cup winner, fellow Frenchman and Real Madrid assistant Zinedine Zidane proclaimed Pogba as a potential FIFA Ballon d'Or winner and that "everybody wants him," per La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Myfanwy Garman at Goal.com). 

    Everybody except Ferguson. 

12. Shinji Kagawa, Manchester United CAM/LAM, Age: 24

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Manchester United left attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa said he was "very irritated" with his form this season, per Sky Sports

    What he should have said was he is irritated by the lack of support from United manager David Moyes, being forced to the left despite being an elite No. 10, coupled with the signing of Juan Mata from Chelsea.

    Kagawa should get his agent Thomas Kroth to force a summer transfer move away from United. 

11. Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Manchester United CF, Age: 25

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    Chicharito's specialty is poaching goals against the run of play, so why did Manchester United manager David Moyes leave the Mexican international on the bench?

    Moyes' plan heading into the game against Arsenal was defend and hope to get a goal on a counter. 

    Yep, how about using Chicharito, who scored goals against Swansea City, Chelsea and Sunderland, despite not even getting regular playing minutes? 

    Chicharito deserves better treatment and his agent said at least six clubs wanted to sign his client, per ESPN Deportes (h/t David Lynch at the Manchester Evening News). 

10. Bacary Sagna, Arsenal RB/CB, Age: 30

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    Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna, who can also be a handy emergency centre-back, is set to exercise his Bosman rights by running down his contract. 

    He has not signed an extension and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Sagna wants to play the field, per John Cross at the Mirror: "He [Sagna] wants to keep his options open, because he is at the end of a contract. It is an important contract for him. He is 31 years old. I can understand."

     

    John Drayton at the Daily Mail is speculating that Sagna is eyeing a move to Monaco. 

    Sagna has won back possession 69 times in return for just 15 free-kicks conceded, so he has been an efficient ball-winner for the Gunners in the Premier League this season. 

     

     

9. Patrice Evra, Manchester United LB, Age: 32

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    The only reason why Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra has started 25 Premier League games this season is because the alternative is Alexander Buttner, a one-way player: forward, forward and when in doubt, go forward. 

    Buttner should be a winger and would be more suited to being a wing-back than a full-back, so Evra gets free reign in the team. 

    He only completes 50 percent of his tackles, which is not good enough. 

    With United in a rebuilding phase, they need to sign a world-class prospect at left-back in the summer transfer window to replace Evra.

8. Nemanja Vidic, Manchester United CB, Age: 32

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    Manchester United centre-back Nemanja Vidic was immense in the 0-0 draw against Arsenal, winning four headers, making 18 (yep, 18!) effective clearances and marshaling the defence in accordance to United manager David Moyes's pragmatic game plan.

    Too bad for Moyes, he will not be able to call on Vidic's leadership next season as he announced this would be his final season at United, per  Stuart Mathieson at the Manchester Evening News.

    If Vidic continues to play in the manner he did against the Gunners, most of Europe's elite clubs will target him in the summer transfer window.

    The only worry is his durability and whether or not he can play out an entire season without getting injured.

7. Ashley Cole, Chelsea LB, Age: 33

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    Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole has started and finished on the bench in 12 Premier League games this season. 

    He has lost his starting place to Cesar Azpilicueta, who is naturally a right-back and is still learning on the go. 

    Cole sitting on the bench at Chelsea this season could cost him playing time at the FIFA World Cup for England, according to national team manager Roy Hodgson, per Daniel Taylor at the Guardian

    Something has got to give: Either Cole wins back his starting position, or he leaves Chelsea in the summer transfer window. 

6. Victor Valdes, Barcelona GK, Age: 32

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    Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes still has several months left to do a 180 degree turn and change his original stance of leaving Barca for a new challenge, per ESPN FC

    Valdes has been steady since announcing his decision to play out his contract, but he reverted back to the calamitous Valdes in a 3-2 defeat to Valencia. 

    He was at fault for at least one goal and only made one save against a Valencia team that is in rebuilding mode. 

    Should Valdes stay true to his word, Manchester City and Monaco are possible destinations, per Tom Conn at Inside Spanish Football

5. Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid CF, Age: 25

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    Atletico Madrid centre-forward Diego Costa is a headline maker for positive and negative reasons.

    Positive because he has scored 20 La Liga goals. Negative since his moral compass on the football field is nonexistent. 

    He will dive, agitate and instigate. 

    The positive spin of his unsportsmanlike behaviour is a commitment to winning at all costs which is why Atleti are La Liga contenders this season.

    That said, Atleti are a selling club therefore Costa, a transfer target for Chelsea, per Jamie Sanderson at the Metro, could be sold in the summer transfer window. 

4. Angel Di Maria, Real Madrid RAM/CM, Age: 25

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    Angel Di Maria does not have a long-term future as a starting right attacking midfielder at Real Madrid so long as Gareth Bale is fit. 

    Real manager Carlo Ancelotti has experimented with Di Maria in central midfield, but it remains to be seen if he is on board with changing his position permanently at club level to suit the needs of Bale. 

    One aspect Di Maria needs to work on is his shooting which has been erratic this season (three La Liga goals from 43 shots).

3. Toni Kroos, Bayern Munich CM, Age: 24

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    Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

    When Bayern Munich central midfielder Toni Kroos has not been a starter, manager Pep Guardiola has said it was due to "tactical reasons," per Stefan Coerts at Goal.com.

    Factor in Kroos rejecting a contract extension at Bayern and you wonder if he is contemplating about leaving the UEFA Champions League winning club. 

    "I am unable to rule anything out anything," Kroos said, per Kicker (h/t FourFourTwo). "Sometime in the future a decision will be made."

2. Samuel Eto'o, Chelsea CF, Age: 32

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Chelsea centre-forward Samuel Eto'o, who has been a serviceable No. 9 for the Blues, scoring six times in the Premier League, is only on a one-year contract. 

    Romelu Lukaku returning to Chelsea from his loan spell at Everton in the summer is why Eto'o was only signed on a short-term contract.

    While Eto'o does not have the electric burst of pace anymore, he still has the instincts to poach goals and he is headed to Major League Soccer, per Dominic Fifield at the Guardian.

    Though, Eto'o's son wants his father to finish his career with former club Real Mallorca, per Sky Sports

1. Wayne Rooney, Manchester United DLF/CM, Age: 28

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    What is the cost of keeping deep-lying forward Wayne Rooney at Manchester United? A new contract worth £300,000-a-week, per Mark Ogden and Matt Law at the Telegraph.

    Rooney is superb as a deep-lying forward, he has often dropped deep to play in central midfield, but he is not worth that type of money. 

    A £300,000-a-week player would be covering United manager David Moyes's tactical inadequacies. 

    United should wait until the end of the season and see what Rooney has done for the club. If he has willed them to UEFA Champions League qualifications, then give him his money. If he hasn't, sell him should he want to leave. 

     

    Statistics via WhoScoredFFT Stats ZoneSquawka and Transfermarkt.

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