Power Ranking the Week's 20 Hottest Transfer Rumours: Mario Balotelli to Arsenal

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentFebruary 13, 2014

Power Ranking the Week's 20 Hottest Transfer Rumours: Mario Balotelli to Arsenal

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    Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

    Bleacher Report presents a power ranking of the 20 hottest transfer rumours, news and signings.

    So, how will these 20 transfer window rumours be ranked? The rumours will be ranked according to name recognition.

    The less identifiable the rumoured player is, the lower the rumour will be ranked and vice versa.

20. Joseph Minala

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    Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

    Lazio are so taken aback by accusations that their 17-year-old Cameroonian prodigy Joseph Minala is actually 41 years of age that the Serie A club is threatening legal action against those who believe there is something improper going on in the club's youth sector, per BBC Sport

    Here are Minala's Twitter photos.

    Does he look older than 17? Yes, but that only matters in the court of public opinion.

    Lazio can easily debunk the accusations of Minala being an age fraud by having him undergo an MRI wrist-scan at a medical facility with no affiliations to Lazio that would reveal his age. 

    You would like to think Lazio and all top-flight European clubs conduct MRI wrist-scans on teenage prospects before granting them a contract. 

    As mentioned in the BBC Sport report, Italian journalist Max Evangelista revealed that Minala had scored five times and created six goals for Lazio's youth team that has precipitated the vitriol against him and Lazio. 

    If he turns out to be 17 years of age, then Lazio might have another wunderkind in the squad; 18-year-old left forward Keita Balde Diao is having a breakout season for the first team.

19. Maximilian Arnold

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    Martin Meissner/Associated Press

    Arsenal are keeping track of Wolfsburg deep-lying forward Maximilian Arnold, per Sami Mokbel at the Daily Mail

    Arnold has scored six times in the Bundesliga this season, five times more than Schalke left attacking midfielder Julian Draxler, a rumoured transfer target for Arsenal.

    With the signing of centre attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne from Chelsea, Arnold is likely to be played as an inverted left-footed winger on the right flank. 

    It would be more beneficial for Arnold's development to stay at Wolfsburg than sign with the Gunners.

18. Davy Klaassen

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur are two Premier League teams interested in signing Ajax attacking midfielder Davy Klaassen, per talkSPORT

    After being elevated into the first team from Jong Ajax (the reserve team), Klaassen has not looked back in his breakout season that includes starts against AC Milan, Barcelona and a hat-trick against NAC Breda.

    When Klaassen isn't trying to score goals, he is pressing opposing players and putting in tackles that shows how complete of a footballer he is. 

17. Juan Iturbe

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    Paolo Giovannini/Associated Press

    Porto's Hellas Verona loanee Juan Iturbe is open to a move to Juventus.

    "I do not know anything about my future," Iturbe said, per Tuttosport (h/t talkSPORT)."Certainly Juventus are a real team, the strongest in Italy, and who would not [want to play there]?"

    Iturbe has scored five Serie A goals, mainly playing as a right forward for Verona.

    Unless Juventus switch back to a 4-3-3, their current 3-5-2 is not a right fit for Iturbe.

    He needs to make a savvy career-focused decision on his next destination.

    He moved to Porto amid a lot of fanfare, couldn't get regular playing time, went under the radar and signed on loan with Verona, a team that has revitalised his career.

    Perhaps, he should seriously consider staying at Verona long-term.

16. Samuel Inkoom

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    West Ham United are willing to take a punt on right wing-back Samuel Inkoom, who is currently on loan at Platanias with his playing rights owned by Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, per talkSPORT

    A few years ago, Inkoom was playing in the UEFA Champions League at Basel with Xherdan Shaqiri.

    Fast-forward to the present and Inkoom has tried to resurrect his career with loan spells at modest clubs such as Bastia and Platanias.

15. Fernando Reges

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Porto defensive midfielder Fernando Reges will be moving to a Premier League club in the summer transfer window, according to his agent, per Colin Harvey at the Daily Star.

    If that is the case, then why did Reges sign a contract extension with Porto when he could have just run down his contract and leave on a free transfer in the summer window?

    Reges has given away his leverage to Porto. 

    Should Reges leave Porto, it will only be for a substantially inflated transfer fee. 

14. Aymeric Laporte

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    Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press

    Athletic Bilbao centre-back Aymeric Laporte is being earmarked as a potential Barcelona player by the Catalan club's scouts, per Football Espana.

    Laporte has made 48 tackles and intercepted 49 passes in 22 La Liga games this season. 

    He extended his contract at Bilbao last December, per Inside Spanish Football, so it is unlikely that the club will relinquish him anytime soon. 

13. Papiss Cisse

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    Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has challenged centre-forward Papiss Cisse to prove his worth or otherwise risk being sold in the summer transfer window, per Ben Jefferson at the Express.

    Cisse has toiled this season to no avail: one goal from 16 Premier League games. 

    The presence of loanees Loic Remy and Luuk de Jong suggests Newcastle management has already moved on from Cisse.

12 and 11. Luke Shaw and Seamus Coleman

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    Luke Shaw (right)
    Luke Shaw (right)Ian Walton/Getty Images

    Manchester United will spend a combined £45 million to sign Southampton left-back Luke Shaw and Everton right-back Seamus Coleman, per Ben Burrows at the Mirror

    Shaw was blooded by Southampton, while Coleman was a £60,000 signing from Sligo Rovers and a great example of Everton striking gold with their scouting system. 

    Why do United have to spend such an exorbitant amount on two full-backs? It is an absurd amount of money to pay when both have risen to the Premier League in modest surroundings, so there is no reason why United cannot find their answers to Shaw or Coleman.

10. Matija Nastasic

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    Galatasaray are aiming to sign Manchester City centre-back Matija Nastasic, per talkSPORT.

    The common link is Roberto Mancini, the current Galatasaray manager who coached Nastasic at City.

    Nastasic has only played two seasons and has a long-term contract at City, a club that do not need to sell.

9. Martin Caceres

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    Massimo Pinca/Associated Press

    Juventus backup defender Martin Caceres is earmarked as Nemanja Vidic's replacement at Manchester United, per talkSPORT

    Caceres is a utility player who can start at centre-back, right-back, wing-back and even in midfield. 

    What has hindered his career is consistent injuries and that is the concern United management should have regarding Caceres.

     

8. Julian Draxler

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    Martin Meissner/Associated Press

    Schalke manager Jens Keller is already planning the post-Julian Draxler era.

    "I am delighted that we have him on board for the second half of the season but, because of his clause, he can leave when a club puts the money on the table," Keller said, per Bild (h/t ESPN). "That's why I can't plan with him."

    The clause in Draxler's contract that Keller is referring to is a €45.5 million buyout clause (£37.4 million).

    Reading between the lines, Keller is suggesting that a club will trigger Draxler's clause in the summer transfer window. 

    Draxler has been wayward in the Bundesliga this season, scoring once from 25 shots. 

7. Claudio Pizarro

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    Michael Probst/Associated Press

    Bayern Munich backup centre-forward Claudio Pizarro does not know if the club will extend his contract, but pointed out that when he first arrived at the club, there were five strikers, per Kicker (h/t Thomas Zocher at Sky Sports).

    It could be Pizarro's way of saying he would be fine with an even more diminished role next season with Robert Lewandowski arriving at the club. 

    When Pizarro has been given a chance, he has been sensational: a hat-trick against Lille in 2012, four goals against Hamburg in 2013 and a headed goal against Stuttgart several weeks ago. 

6. Hugo Lloris

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    Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood responded to Arsenal centre-forward Olivier Giroud's claims that Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris wanted to join the Gunners.

    "I don't know where he [Giroud] dreamt that one up from," Sherwood said, per Paul Collins at the Daily Mail. "It would annoy his [Giroud's] goalie [Wojciech Szczesny], you would have thought."

    By making the statement that Lloris was open to joining Arsenal, Giroud inadvertently put Szczesny down.

5. Sami Khedira

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    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is looking to sign Real Madrid centre midfielder Sami Khedira, per talkSPORT

    If Khedira arrives at Chelsea, it could spell the end of John Obi Mikel's tenure, who has started 47.4 percent of Premier League games that he has been involved in. 

    Theoretically, Khedira, Nemanja Matic and Ramires would be a dominant three-pronged midfield should Mourinho make a permanent switch to a 4-3-3. 

    Chelsea need to see the 26-year-old Khedira play post-anterior cruciate ligament injury before sanctioning the transfer.

4. Pepe Reina

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    Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

    Recent comments made by Napoli's Liverpool loanee Pepe Reina indicates that is likely he will be offloaded in the summer transfer window. 

    "I don't know where I'll be next year, but my plan is to enjoy this season and do a good job," Reina said, per Marca (h/t Sky Sports). "Then I'll have to go to Liverpool and make a decision."

    The fact Liverpool and Reina have not even begun preliminary discussions over what the future holds tells you the Spanish goalkeeper is looking to move on. 

3. Fernando Torres

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    PAUL WHITE/Associated Press

    Chelsea will attempt to sign Atletico Madrid centre forward Diego Costa by offering Fernando Torres in a packaged deal, per Jamie Sanderson at the Metro.

    Sentiment aside, what would Torres, who has scored four goals in 18 Premier League games this season for the Blues, offer to Atleti?

    Next season, Leo Baptistao will be back at Atleti from his Real Betis loan, so signing Torres could hinder the 21-year-old's progress. 

2. David Luiz

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Barcelona will again set their sights on Chelsea centre-back/defensive midfielder David Luiz, per John Cross at the Mirror.

    What is with Barca's infatuation with Luiz?

    • He averages more fouls (1.6) than tackles (1.1).
    • He was at fault when Victor Anichebe nicked a late equaliser against Chelsea for West Bromwich Albion. 
    • Oh, and Luiz's long-pass completion percentage is 56.1. 

     

1. Mario Balotelli

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    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger met with Mino Riola, Mario Balotelli's agent, to discuss a potential move to the Gunners, per Mediaset (h/t Jamie Sanderson at the Metro).

    If Balotelli did not break down on the bench, would this link even have a shred of validity? No. 

    Balotelli once wore an AC Milan shirt while still contracted to Inter Milan, so that gives you an idea where his real allegiance lies—with Milan. 

     

    @allanjianga

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