World Football

10 Top Bundesliga Players Who Premier League Clubs Should Target This Summer

Clark WhitneyFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2014

10 Top Bundesliga Players Who Premier League Clubs Should Target This Summer

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    The end of the 2013-14 Premier League season is nigh, and with it, the summer transfer window approaches. The current campaign has seen sleeping giants awaken and others fall. One commonality that all Premier League sides have is that they are almost sure to invest in transfers this summer.

    There are few bargains to be had in the transfer market, but the Bundesliga offers quality products at relatively reasonable prices. Although many of Germany's top players are secure in their contracts, there are some who either have limited time remaining on their contracts or whose roles are threatened as the new season approaches.

    To have a look at 10 of the best Bundesliga players who could potentially be convinced to move to the Premier League, click "Begin Slideshow."

Hakan Calhanoglu

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    Perhaps the only good thing about Hamburg's season is the development of Hakan Calhanoglu. HSV are three games away from potentially being relegated, the German-born Turkey international being perhaps their only hope of avoiding the drop.

    An attacking midfielder with an exceptional eye for goal, Calhanoglu has scored 10 goals for HSV this season: A very respectable tally considering he only turned 20 in February. It took some time for him to adapt to the jump from 3. Liga side Karlsruhe to Bundesliga football, but half of his goals have come in the last nine games. That includes a free-kick against Dortmund that was scored from just inside the halfway line.

    Whether or not Hamburg survive in their fight against relegation, Calhanoglu has a very good chance of playing first-division football next season. Despite his contract running until 2018, if HSV lose their first-division status, they almost surely will be forced to sell the player in order to make up for revenue lost from playing outside the top flight.

Josip Drmic

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    Half of Europe and most of the Bundesliga is keen to sign Josip Drmic this summer, if widespread reports in German and foreign media are to be believed. The Switzerland international has thrived in his first season at Nurnberg, even if Der Club could well be relegated next month.

    Whether used on the right wing, the left wing or in the center of attack, Drmic has scored consistently this season. He is a complete package of finishing, with the ability to head the ball and score with either foot. He can play anywhere in attack and has the confidence on the ball and patient instincts he needs to pick and choose when and where to run and shoot.

    Still 21 years old and having yet to play with elite teammates, there is plenty of room for Drmic to develop. The team that wins the sweepstakes for Nurnberg's gem will be much, much better for it.

Roberto Firmino

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    Along with Drmic, Roberto Firmino is perhaps the greatest revelation of the 2013-14 Bundesliga season. The attacker's talent was well known when he left the Brazilian second division for Hoffenheim as a youth, but only this season has he been able to take the step from talent to star of the league.

    In terms of the sum of goals and assists, only Marco Reus (15 goals and 12 assists) exceeds Firmino's tally (14 goals and 12 assists) in the Bundesliga this season. The 22-year-old is equal parts playmaker and scorer, an all-round attacker who can pass, dribble and finish. And as a result, he is a highly coveted player.

    Firmino recently extended his contract at Hoffenheim until 2017, but should a club be willing to make a sizable offer, he could be sold.

Toni Kroos

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Toni Kroos' quality has long been well known. Seven years ago, the midfielder was named best player at the Under-17 World Cup. Two weeks later, he made his professional debut for Bayern Munich as a substitute and assisted two goals in just 18 minutes.

    Kroos' development since then has had its bumps, but at 24 he is now coming into his own as a world-class player. Be it by shooting or passing over long or short distances, crossing or taking free-kicks, his ability to strike the ball with either foot is rivaled by few and may be superlative among today's world footballers.

    Apart from his kicking ability, Kroos' attributes are rather ordinary. He's not noticeably fast or agile and lacks the strength to play as a pure holding midfielder. He offers no aerial presence and rarely makes runs into the box. But he is so incredibly skilled with the ball at his feet that any limitations seem hardly relevant. He's lethal when shooting from the edge of the penalty box and rarely misplaces a pass.

    That is why Manchester United are reportedly prepared to offer Kroos £260,000 per week to play at United next season, according to a report by Jamie Jackson in the Guardian. He has a contract that will expire in 2015, and despite agent Volker Struth telling Bild (h/t BBC)  there is "no need" for interested parties to submit a bid, United and other clubs would be wise to at least try to rope in Kroos, who could be a superstar of world football for the next decade.

Mario Mandzukic

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Like Kroos, Mario Mandzukic is a player Bayern will be very reluctant to sell; certainly after all the Croatia international's heroics this season and last. Yet, the Bavarians are playing a very dangerous game with Mandzukic, having committed Robert Lewandowski to their ranks as of July 1.

    A tremendous athlete who has revolutionized the striker position, interpreting it as one of equal parts attacking and defending, Mandzukic is every Premier League manager's dream. And he's having the best season of his career thus far, at least in terms of goals scored.

    The possibility of being a second-choice striker in a system that may not even call for one natural center forward could unsettle Mandzukic, who despite not yet publicly expressing intent to leave Munich nonetheless could potentially be convinced that his future lies elsewhere.

    Should a top club make Mandzukic an offer of high enough salary and give a promise that he would be undisputed first-choice in attack, it could signal the beginning of the end of his Bayern career. But with his current contract not set to expire until 2016, Bayern have a strong position in any negotiations over his potential sale.

Marco Reus

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    Frank Augstein

    Entering the final weeks of the 2013-14 club football season, Marco Reus is in the form of his life. The 24-year-old has scored and assisted 22 goals apiece in all competitions for club and country, including nine goals and five assists in his last nine matches since returning from a muscular injury.

    Reus nearly single-handedly took down Real Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals and put Bayern Munich to the sword just over a week ago. And much to the terror of opposing defenders, his transition from a wide position to one more central has seen him make a leap beyond the world-class level.

    With superb pace and acceleration, immaculate dribbling ability, keen playmaking instincts, a striker's finish with both feet and the ability to score from well outside the penalty box, Reus is a complete package whose breadth of abilities make him unpredictable for defenders. At this moment, he may be the most dangerous attacking player at the World Cup.

    Like Kroos, Reus has a contract with favorable terms for the player. His contract expires in 2017, but according to a report in Bild (h/t Goal.com) published days after he confirmed his move to Dortmund, he has a buyout clause of €35 million that takes effect in 2015.

    BVB will be loath to part with their superstar attacker this summer, but if player and club are offered enough money, anything is possible.

    It's worth a try, at least.

Ricardo Rodriguez

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    Daniel Kopatsch/Getty Images

    Ricardo Rodriguez has taken a big step in his career this season, making good on the potential he once showed as a Zurich player. Transfermarkt estimates his current worth at €20 million, double his appraised value last June.

    Since joining Wolfsburg, Rodriguez has matured physically and now has the body to defend against elite wingers. He's an attack-minded full-back, though—he's netted twice from set pieces this season and assisted seven more goals in the Bundesliga.

    Wolfsburg are in need of a striker ahead of next season and may need to sell Rodriguez in order to finance their purchase. If he is put on the market, he could be a wise signing for one of England's powers like Chelsea or Manchester United, especially with Ashley Cole and Patrice Evra well into their 30s.

Rafael van der Vaart

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    Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images

    As he appraoches his final years as a professional footballer, Rafael van der Vaart is currently headed toward an unceremonious end to his career. A former Real Madrid man, the 31-year-old has had a decent but non-heroic season at Hamburg as they have spiraled toward relegation.

    Van der Vaart is not as young as he once was and will come perhaps as "damaged" goods, but he has not yet reached his natural athletic decline, and his class has been shown again and again in previous years. He's not a signing for a top Premier League side, but a team that could use a touch of quality and which would be willing to pay his wages would be ideal

    The Dutchman's contract expires in 2015, so he should be available especially if HSV are relegated and therefore especially desperate for cash.

     

Granit Xhaka

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    Two seasons into his career at Monchengladbach, Granit Xhaka still has not yet imposed himself as a full-time starter. Once praised to the heavens by Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, the 21-year-old has enormous talent but clearly is not fitting into Lucien Favre's plans at Gladbach.

    Xhaka is a combative holding midfielder, strong and powerful but with great ability to distribute the ball from deep areas. He is in many ways comparable to a young Bastian Schweinsteiger. But as of yet he still needs to work on the mental side of his game. Xhaka's discipline record is downright awful, and he has not mastered the tactical aspects of playing in defensive midfield.

    If he can find a coach who is patient and able to bring the best out of him, Xhaka can be a star. Signing him would be somewhat risky for any Premier League club, but the potential gains are enormous. Still just 21, he has plenty of room for development.

Kevin Volland

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    Martin Meissner

    There has been a dearth of striking options in Germany's youth national teams in recent years, but Kevin Volland is one of the few to emerge as a professional with real star potential. The 21-year-old played on the wing for most of this season, but in recent weeks has been used exclusively in a central role, where he was trained in his youth.

    Volland has recorded a respectable 10 goals and nine assists in 30 Bundesliga matches

    In terms of attributes, Volland certainly has what it takes to be a star attacker. He's a great finisher with both feet, has the ability to dribble and play with the ball well outside the box and has an explosive turn of pace. Although not on the level of Luis Suarez (at least yet), Volland's skill set is somewhat reminiscent of the Liverpool striker.

    In January, Bild reported that Volland has a €15 million exit clause. Considering the market for Premier League talents, he could come as quite a bargain.

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