25 Players Who Are Setting Themselves Up for Big Summer Transfers
Bleacher Report presents 25 footballers playing for European clubs who are setting themselves up for notable summer transfers.
Demba Ba, Chelsea CF, Age: 28
Idrissa Gueye, Lille CM, Age: 24
Joleon Lescott, Manchester City CB, Age: 31
Nicklas Bendtner, Arsenal CF, Age: 26
Prince Oniangue, Reims CM, Age: 25
25. Dusan Tadic, Twente LF, Age: 25
Twente left-forward Dusan Tadic has gone from playing at Vojvodina to being a star in the Eredivisie.
It is impossible not to notice Tadic because he has scored 13 times and registered 12 assists for Twente in league play this season.
Tadic mainly plays on the left but can also play centrally behind the No. 9, whether it is Luc Castaignos or Torgeir Borven.
24. Shkodran Mustafi, Sampdoria CB, Age: 22
Shkodran Mustafi did not make the grade at Everton, so the chances of him being called up to the German national team at the time were slim to none.
Since signing with Sampdoria, Mustafi has rebuilt his career and is on the fringe of Joachim Loew's Germany squad.
In hindsight, a Mustafi-John Stones centre-back pairing at Everton would have been one of the most promising defensive partnerships in the Premier League.
23. Gregory Sertic, Bordeaux CM/DM, Age: 24
Bordeaux central midfielder Gregory Sertic, who can also play the No. 6 role, is developing into one of the preeminent players in Ligue 1.
The likes of Abdou Traore, Andre Biyogo Poko and Landry N'Guemo have acted as foils to Sertic, who is the midfield maestro of Bordeaux.
In Sertic's last eight league games, he has accumulated four assists.
22. Allan, Udinese CM, Age: 23
Udinese central midfielder Allan is an outstanding footballer.
The 120 tackles stand out, but it's the lack of goals and assists that is so puzzling.
When you watch him, he is consistently rampaging deep into the opposing half, making incisive passes and being an attacking threat, yet he has only one assist.
If he can be more effective from an offensive perspective, he could have an Arturo Vidal-like presence for a major club.
Should Allan not do that, he will still be a world-class ball-winner.
21. Kevin Volland, Hoffenheim RAM, Age: 21
Hoffenheim right attacking midfielder Kevin Volland is a difficult proposition for opposing left-backs. When Volland cuts in from the right on to his left foot, it is hard to stop him.
He is highly rated, especially when you factor in him being a two-footed finisher able to create for his teammates.
In the future, he could make a smooth transition from out wide to a top-flight No. 9.
20. Remy Cabella, Montpellier CAM, Age: 24
Two seasons ago, Montpellier were Ligue 1 champions. Now they are 15th.
It would be worse without the influence of central attacking midfielder Remy Cabella, who is showing his versatility being able to dictate play centrally after making a name for himself out wide.
He is keeping Montpellier from being relegated as he has scored and created 41 percent of the club's goals this season.
19. Rafinha, Barcelona CM/RF, Age: 21
Rafinha is following in the footsteps of his brother, Thiago, a former Barcelona player now with Bayern Munich.
Is Rafinha a finished product right now? No.
But it is clear as daylight that he has world-class ability while on loan at Celta da Vigo.
He has played all over the pitch and can do a variety of jobs: control midfield proceedings, take on opposing players, score, create and tackle.
Barca made the error in making Thiago feel undervalued, which prompted him to force a move away.
Barca should not make the same error with Rafinha.
18. Juan Cuadrado, Fiorentina RWB/LF, Age: 25
If someone asks you to name the most explosive footballer, one name you must consider is Juan Cuadrado of Fiorentina.
He is like a Swiss army knife because he can fill in at multiple positions.
He has scored seven times, created three goals, made 53 tackles and has the X-factor.
17. Keylor Navas, Levante GK, Age: 27
Levante goalkeeper Keylor Navas is not just a highlight reel shot-stopper, but he is a difference-maker.
Without his saves, Levante would be in the relegation zone.
He has been so dominant in goals that he is "becoming the darling of all the European big guns," per Tomas Guasch at Marca.
16. Serge Aurier, Toulouse RWB/CB, Age: 21
Toulouse manager Alain Casanova must see something in Serge Aurier's defensive game to play him at centre-back, despite him scoring six times and creating six goals in Ligue 1.
Subjectively speaking, Aurier is one of the most effective players going forward in a wing-back role.
If anything, he could easily be a wide attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 or a wide forward in a 4-3-3 if he moves to the Premier League.
His ability to play as a wing-back and centre-back stands him in good stead for any Serie A team that play with three at the back.
15. Roberto Firmino, Hoffenheim CAM, Age: 22
Hoffenheim central attacking midfielder Roberto Firmino is a splendid player.
He has scored more goals this season in the Bundesliga (14) than his last two seasons combined (12).
Meanwhile, he has registered 10 assists this season, seven more than his total output in his last three campaigns at Hoffenheim (three).
Significant improvement is what you want to see from an emerging prospect.
What makes Firmino unique is he can tackle and play a variety of positions, so you are talking about a complete footballer.
14. Loic Remy, Queens Park Rangers CF, Age: 27
Queens Park Rangers centre-forward Loic Remy has increased his transfer stock on loan at Newcastle United by scoring 13 goals in the Premier League this season.
But he wants to move on to bigger and better things.
"I would like to join a big European club," Remy said, per Miles Starforth at the Shields Gazette. "As for my future, everything is possible, even back in France."
Newcastle could offer him an inflated salary, but he has had injury and form issues in the past.
During the 2011-12 season, he scored 12 times for Marseille.
The next season, he was on the fringes of the squad, which led to a transfer to QPR.
13. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Borussia Monchengladbach GK, Age: 21
Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen's proposed move to Barcelona will collapse if the Catalan club's transfer ban is not lifted, according to his agent Gerd vom Bruch.
"Now it seems Ter Stegen's signing for Barca isn't on the cards," Vom Bruch said, per Bild (h/t Sergi Font at Marca). "If I have understood FIFA's statement correctly, at this time it is impossible for him to join Barcelona in the summer."
Ter Stegen is a world-class keeper at 21 years of age, so you presume he will develop into one of the most dominant shot-stoppers in the next few years.
12. Julian Draxler, Schalke LAM/CAM, Age: 20
Julian Draxler has endured a tough start to 2014 for Schalke.
In his last 12 combined Bundesliga/UEFA Champions League games for Schalke, he has not scored and only registered two assists.
Draxler had disappointing performances in a Schalke's 6-1 defeat to Real Madrid and a 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich.
11. Ivan Rakitic, Sevilla CAM/CM, Age: 26
Sevilla central attacking midfielder Ivan Rakitic, who can also start as a central midfielder in a 4-4-2, has been one of the best players in La Liga.
Rakitic has scored 12 times and created 10 goals in league play this season.
Until Sevilla extend Rakitic's contract, he will continue to be linked with a summer transfer move away.
10. Shinji Kagawa, Manchester United CAM/LAM, Age: 25
Shinji Kagawa is one of the most technically gifted players at Manchester United.
Yet, United manager David Moyes refuses to incorporate Kagawa into a system that will enable him to reproduce his Borussia Dortmund performances.
Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp valued Kagawa, who is seen as a burden to Moyes.
That is the context behind Kagawa not scoring a goal in 14 Premier League games this season.
9. Micah Richards, Manchester City RB/CB, Age: 25
Manchester City right-back Micah Richards has had another injury-affected campaign.
Last season, he played seven Premier League games. This season, he has appeared in two league games.
Richards' inability to stay on the field has enabled Pablo Zabaleta to establish himself as one of the best right-backs in Europe.
Richards is set for a summer transfer move away from City, per Sky Sports.
8. Mario Mandzukic, Bayern Munich CF, Age: 27
Even with 17 goals in the Bundesliga, Mario Mandzukic's playing time at Bayern Munich will diminish next season.
Robert Lewandowski, who has scored 17 league goals for Borussia Dortmund, will wear a Bayern shirt next season.
7. Patrice Evra, Manchester United LB, Age: 32
With Manchester United set for a summer clear-out, left-back Patrice Evra could follow Nemanja Vidic's lead in calling time on his United career.
The problem with Evra leaving United is who will replace him?
Backup left-back Alexander Buttner needs to improve exponentially if he is tapped to be Evra's successor.
If Evra does leave, United will likely target a big-name left-back, rather than taking a punt on Buttner, whose form for United in spurts has been disappointing.
6. Bacary Sagna, Arsenal RB, Age: 31
Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna has still not extended his contract, having been offered a three-year deal last month, per David Hytner at The Guardian.
Perhaps Sagna wants to finish the current season and then make a decision with a clear mind.
Either that, or Sagna is running down his contract so he can exercise his Bosman right to a free transfer away from Arsenal in the summer window.
5. Ashley Cole, Chelsea LB, Age: 33
It must be a massive dent to the ego of Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole that he lost his starting position to Cesar Azpilicueta, who was signed as a right-back.
Azpilicueta, referred by Chelsea fans as "Dave" as his surname is a tongue twister, could end up influencing Cole's decision to leave the Blues.
Money is not a problem for Cole. It's the sporadic playing time.
4. Victor Valdes, Barcelona GK, Age: 32
Victor Valdes, who was having a good season for Barcelona, will be out for around seven months to recover from knee surgery, per BBC Sport.
If Barcelona are successful in temporarily lifting their transfer ban, per Barca's official website, a club could sign an injured Valdes if he is insistent on leaving Barca.
A Valdes-less Barca have looked shaky with Jose Pinto in goal.
He was the worst player on the field in Barca's Copa del Rey loss to Real Madrid.
3. Edinson Cavani, Paris Saint-Germain RF, Age: 27
Paris Saint-Germain can avoid an ensuing soap opera by initiating frank discussions with Edinson Cavani, who does not want to play out wide, per L'Equipe (h/t ESPN).
It seems to be a mental thing because if you check Cavani's average positioning, it's central.
Does he spend stretches of the game out wide? Yes, but the majority of the time he operates centrally.
The underlying problem to Cavani could be PSG's attack going through Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
When Cavani had the chance to play the "Zlatan" role against Chelsea, he went missing. Then against Lyon he did not score.
So Cavani is not helping his case in having a more expansive role.
2. Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid CF, Age: 25
Diego Costa has been Atletico Madrid's most valuable player.
He has scored 26 times in 31 La Liga games and seven in six UEFA Champions League games.
Only a few seasons ago, he was scoring goals alongside Michu on loan at Rayo Vallecano, so Costa has come a long way.
Atleti manager Diego Simeone will have no problems if Costa decides to leave in the summer transfer window, per AS (h/t The Guardian).
1. Samuel Eto'o, Chelsea CF, Age: 33
Samuel Eto'o has done remarkably well even though he is not an undisputed starter at Chelsea.
He has scored eight times in the Premier League and three times in the UEFA Champions League.
It is hard to imagine Chelsea's season without his handy contributions.
However, he is just a short-term option and will move to a Major League Soccer franchise once his contract ends, per Dominic Fifield at The Guardian.
Statistics via WhoScored.com