20 Bold Predictions for the 2014 Summer Transfer Window
Love them or hate them, it's hard not to get excited about transfer rumours. Your club's had a bad season, you're being linked with a host of big names, so why not believe that all the best players will flock your way this summer?
In reality, a huge proportion of speculation turns out to be just that: Conjecture, gossip and a fair bit of guesswork—helped along, in some cases, by a little bit of agent and club brinkmanship.
Over the following 20 slides we look ahead to the summer transfer window and attempt to pinpoint some of the moves that might be happening ahead of the 2014/15 campaign.
Arranged in an order from 20—1 that befits how "bold" we feel these predictions are.
Remember, this is a speculative slideshow. Read on for more!
20. Balanta: The New Name That Everyone Wants
A few months ago, it looked like Eder Balanta might be on his way to join Barcelona—the Camp Nou side were heavily linked with the young Colombian, as seen on Skysports.com.
However, seven weeks and one transfer ban later, it doesn't look like Barca will be doing much business at all in the coming window.
But Balanta promises to be on the move.
The 21-year-old is currently playing for River Plate and he won his first call-up for Colombia in 2013, making his debut for the side against Tunisia on March 5.
As Juan Arango wrote in The Telegraph, "Balanta may be unknown in Colombia, but right now he is one of the hottest names coming out of South American football - not bad for a kid who emigrated to make his dream of becoming a professional footballer come true."
The centre-back's name will feature regularly in the rumour mill this summer and he could just be the one that everyone wants.
19. Angel Correa to Manchester City
If Manchester City are looking for a new forward to add to their already polished and gleaming arsenal this summer, they may wish they could find a player who could combine the talents of both former striker Carlos Tevez and current frontman Sergio Aguero.
Lucky for them, one such player is said to exist in teenager Angel Correa.
The Sky Sports Scout describes the 19-year-old thus:
Correa has a similar stature to that of Aguero, standing at 5ft 8in, but powerful and lightning off the mark. Aguero is much more of a striker than Correa, who will drop into the hole at most opportunities before trying to launch attacks - indeed you would argue he is more in the mould of a Diego Maradona or Carlos Tevez type player in terms of style.
Elsewhere in this slideshow we predict that Aguero will be on his way out of the Etihad this summer. Perhaps Manuel Pellegrini will replace him with Correa, who plays for San Lorenzo—a team Pellegrini once managed.
18. Keylor Navas: In-Demand
Costa Rican international Keylor Navas is one of the most in-form goalkeepers in Europe at the moment.
This summer, expect there to be a multi-club tussle to sign the 27-year-old, who has played 66 times for Levante.
As reported by the Mirror's Alan Nixon in February, Navas is being scouted by both Everton and Liverpool ahead of a summer move.
Elsewhere, talkSPORT have claimed that AC Milan are also interested in signing Navas as a replacement for Christian Abbiati.
17. Luciano Vietto to Europe
Twenty-year-old Argentine Luciano Vietto is yet another promising talent who is being compared to Sergio Aguero.
According to Charles Perrin in the Express, Liverpool want to sign the young striker, as do Real Madrid and "a couple of unnamed German teams."
"We know that many top clubs are following Vietto," agent Jorge Cysterpiller said in the Express. "I think he could move at the end of the European season."
Currently playing for Racing Club de Avellaneda, he began his professional senior career under current Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone.
Perhaps a move to the Vicente Calderon will beckon.
16. Nani to Serie A
Nani. Remember him?
The Portuguese international has featured in just 12 games (in all competitions) for Manchester United this season. Hamstring injuries and a fall down the pecking order have seen Nani become a forgotten figure at Old Trafford.
The 27-year-old's contract does not run out until 2018 but this summer, he will be off. It looks like he will be following in the footsteps of former teammate Anderson and heading to Serie A.
Nani's Italian agent Andrea Pastorello recently told Violanews.com (h/t Skysports.com), "Nani is a very important player and at this time the only thing I can say is that he is likely to leave Manchester."
The winger has clocked up over 200 appearances since signing for United in 2007.
15. Kevin Strootman Will Join Manchester United
Manchester United currently find themselves wanting in many departments. At the top of the list, however, is a) a new manager and b) a decent signing in central midfield.
Kevin Strootman has been on United's radar for some time. Before putting pen to paper with Roma last July, the Netherlands international was rumoured to be a target for the Old Trafford side, as reported by James Dickenson in the Express.
The same links reappeared again over the winter, despite the 24-year-old's apparent contentment at the Stadio Olimpico, as seen on Skysports.com.
And now, folks? We're linking him with Manchester United again.
Why? Because Louis van Gaal, one of Strootman's biggest fans, could be taking over from the recently sacked David Moyes as United manager.
This month, Van Gaal told Soccernews.nl (h/t FourFourTwo) that Strootman is "irreplaceable" in the Netherlands squad and one look at United's midfield makes us think that Van Gaal would like Strootman at his disposal there, too (IF he becomes manager).
Currently injured, Strootman is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on a torn anterior cruciate ligament. When he's back, will it be in Serie A or the Premier League?
14. Axel Witsel: Premier League-Bound
It's going to take a big chunk of cash to make Zenit St. Petersburg part ways with Axel Witsel, but we predict that he'll be landing in the Premier League this summer.
The 25-year-old has been in Russia since September 2012, after spending 14 months with Benfica—his departure leaving the Portuguese club €40 million richer.
Witsel has clocked up 70 appearances for Zenit in central midfield and is a mainstay in Marc Wilmots' Belgium side.
The former Standard Liege man's combative style could see him playing a part for a number of clubs across Europe—in the Premier League, the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal would do well to sign him.
According to Liam Prenderville in the Mirror, Witsel spoke in November 2013 about his desire to play in the Premier League.
13. Victor Valdes to Liverpool
Victor Valdes' illustrious career in a Barcelona shirt is over.
After over a decade at Camp Nou, the goalkeeper announced his decision to leave the club at the end of the season, back in May 2013.
His final campaign was cut short last month when he suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage, which has ruled him out for the rest of the season and the 2014 World Cup, as seen on BBC Sport.
Regardless, Valdes will still get a move this summer and we predict he will land at Anfield, to take part in Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool revolution.
The Reds signed Simon Mignolet from Sunderland during last summer's transfer period but, for the European football that awaits Rodgers' team next term, they may well opt to bring in the experience of Valdes.
In February, Charles Perrin claimed that Liverpool were "leading the chase" for Valdes' signature in the Express.
12. Lucas Digne: Au Revoir PSG
Lucas Digne signed for Paris Saint-Germain last summer on the back of a season that took in 33 Ligue 1 games for Lille, not to mention a raft of appearances in cup competition and the Champions League.
This term, with only 12 league and two Champions League games to his name, the highly-rated left-back has seen his career stutter. He might be off in the summer, in search of a guaranteed starting berth at another team.
If only there were a number of clubs looking for a top-quality player in his position...
Perhaps Digne made a hasty decision in joining for PSG, maybe they've given him assurances about his future, but the U-20 World Cup winner with France deserves to be playing every week.
We predict he will bid au revoir to the Parc des Princes this summer.
11. Luke Shaw: Going Nowhere
Luke Shaw is currently being linked to every club in world football.*
As reported by Jamie Jackson in The Guardian, the Southampton left-back is being pursued by Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
It's quite a list for the 18-year-old, who has just two full seasons of senior football under his belt in the Premier League.
However, we predict that all of the above clubs are going to be left empty-handed when Shaw stays at St Mary's for one further season.
As Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino said last week, any decision rests with the club. He was quoted in The Guardian, as saying:
At the end of the day Luke Shaw is a player that belongs to Southampton, and it will be the club that makes the decision as to what happens with his future. Of course there will be interest for him, but right now he's a player at Southampton and it looks as though it will continue that way.
There are a lot of players who are under interest, but they are all very happy at the football club, and most of them are under long-term contracts. They understand the situation of what it means to be a professional player in the Premier League. There's nothing really we have to speak about on that front. If there is any decision to be made, it is for the owners, not for me.
*At least, that's how it seems.
10. Alvaro Morata to Arsenal
Last summer, Arsenal tried and failed to sign a Real Madrid striker in the form of Gonzalo Higuain, who ended up choosing Napoli over North London.
This time, they are going to get their man—Alvaro Morata.
The young centre-forward has spent large parts of this season on the Bernabeu bench, yet he has still managed to rack up 28 appearances (in all competitions) for Los Blancos.
The Spain Under-21 international has been linked with Arsenal already, with talks rumoured to be in progress between the two clubs, according to John Cross in the Mirror.
9. Super Mario: Back in the Premier League
Mario Balotelli left the Premier League in January 2013, when he swapped Manchester for Milan.
This summer, we think he's coming back.
The striker, whose middle name could easily be controversy (it's actually Barwuah, but we're sticking to our guns) once said that he could never play for another club in England, after spending two and-a-half seasons with Manchester City.
But, that was then and this is now. As seen in Soccer Italia (h/t ESPN.co.uk), Balotelli recently said, "The Manchester City fans were fantastic with me and when I left, I said that I'd never be able to see myself in England with another shirt than City's. But in football, nothing's impossible."
Arsenal are the club that has been most recently linked with the 23-year-old's name, as reported by Ben Jefferson in the Express.
Arsenal's qualification for the Champions League would have a bearing on whether this deal would come off, as would question marks that are currently hovering over Arsene Wenger's future as manager at the Emirates.
One thing's for sure, the Premier League would welcome Mario back in a heartbeat, be it at Arsenal or any other club.
8. Ivan Rakitic to Liverpool
With 12 goals and 12 assists so far in La Liga this season, it's no wonder that a number of clubs are monitoring Ivan Rakitic.
According to talkSPORT, the Croatian is being closely watched by Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool.
With just 14 months left on his contract at Sevilla, it's not hard to imagine that Unai Emery's team will do their best to keep hold of the 26-year-old in the coming months. But a big-money offer could prove too much to resist and we think Liverpool will win the race for Rakitic's signature.
Sevilla have had to part ways with big-name players in recent years, due to financial difficulties, as detailed in Jack De Menezes' report about last summer's sale of Alvaro Negredo in The Independent.
Rakitic will be next.
7. Mario Mandzukic in Bayern Exit
Despite his 25 goals (in all competitions) for Bayern Munich this season, it's likely that Mario Mandzukic will be bidding farewell to Pep Guardiola's team in the summer.
The reason? It begins with Robert and ends with Lewandowski.
Mandzukic has played 90 minutes in the Bundesliga on just 12 occasions so far this term and the arrival of Lewandowski is likely to decrease his time on the pitch.
There are a string of clubs across Europe who would fall over themselves to sign the Croatian striker and guarantee him a starting berth week-in, week-out, and we think he will agitate for a move this summer.
According to Tom Collomosse and James Olley in The Independent, Arsenal have made the 27-year-old their top target. Manchester United and Chelsea have also been linked with the striker, per Michael Wade in the Daily Mail.
6. Eden Hazard to PSG
Chelsea fans will be hoping that this particular rumour goes away. As quickly as it can.
However, we think that Eden Hazard will be leaving Stamford Bridge this summer.
Talking to Canal+ (h/t Graeme Yorke in the Daily Mail) earlier this month, Hazard said, "If my wife was to say: 'Honey, I'd like you to go to PSG', I would have to take it into account."
Metro claim that both Real Madrid and PSG are interested in securing his services.
It would be a shock move for Hazard, whose performances for Chelsea have seen him on the shortlist for the 2013/14 PFA Player of the Year, as reported by Jack De Menezes in The Independent.
5. Xherdan Shaqiri: Goodbye Bayern Munich
Xherdan Shaqiri is just too good to be on the bench.
It might be the Bayern Munich bench and he may have an array of silverware to show for his time at the Allianz Arena but, for one of the best young wingers around, he deserves to be a regular starter for a top club.
The Switzerland international moved to Bayern in 2012, from FC Basel. In March, the player's brother claimed that Shaqiri wanted to move away from the Bundesliga club. Erdin Shaqiri told Swiss newspaper Blick (h/t Liam Prenderville in the Mirror):
Xherdan is 22. At this age, he needs to be playing regularly, which is not currently the case.
We are waiting now until summer. Then, when clubs make approaches such as Liverpool, Manchester United, Inter Milan and other top clubs, we can listen to their offers.
That said, Bayern still remains our first point of contact before we talk to other clubs.
It wasn't long before the winger came out and backtracked on his brother's claims, telling the SID news agency (h/t ESPN.co.uk):
I never said I want to leave. I'm very happy in Munich and I'm not thinking about leaving. My brother's opinion was written a bit differently to what he actually said. But, of course, if a top club comes in, then you've got to consider it - but every player is like that.
We think he will be gone this summer.
4. Manchester United to Sell Marouane Fellaini and Wayne Rooney
If Old Trafford is still considered the Theatre of Dreams after this disappointing season, then Marouane Fellaini needs to exit stage right.
In Wayne Rooney's case, United's incoming new manager may not be willing to bend over backwards to accommodate Rooney's demands in quite the same way as David Moyes.
The pair have a lot in common with Moyes, who was sacked by Manchester United this week (per Manutd.com). All formerly of Everton, having lackluster seasons and costing their club what is arguably a lot more money than they are worth.
Fellaini did miss out on a number of games with a wrist injury this term and he may yet impress at this summer's World Cup. However, it doesn't take a big stretch of the imagination to believe that United will want to part ways with the 26-year-old in the next transfer window.
Rooney's departure could pave the way for a raft of new signings at Old Trafford. The 28-year-old's contract will not run out until 2019 but, on £300,000-a-week, perhaps United's new manager will decide a sale is worth it.
3. Sergio Aguero to Real Madrid
Beset by injury, Sergio Aguero has still had a very good 2013/14 campaign. The Argentine striker has put away 16 goals in 20 Premier League games, six in six Champions League ties and a further five across five games in the League and FA Cup.
It comes as no surprise that Real Madrid want to sign the 25-year-old and we think that, this summer, he is going to go.
According to John Cross in the Mirror, Madrid are willing to sell Karim Benzema to Paris Saint-Germain, in order to fund the purchase of Aguero.
City, with their eye on making purchases of their own during the offseason, might just let their striker go.
2. Radamel Falcao: From Monaco to Manchester
Radamel Falcao, he of last summer's €60 million transfer from Atletico Madrid to Monaco will be on the move again this summer—to Manchester City.
But we predict that City will emerge victorious. As mentioned elsewhere in this slideshow, we think that Manuel Pellegrini's side may lose Sergio Aguero to Real Madrid this summer and Falcao would make an excellent replacement.
Prior to suffering a cruciate ligament injury in January, Falcao had hit nine goals in 17 Ligue 1 matches this term.
According to Spanish television station Cuatro (h/t Ben Jefferson in the Express), the Colombian international has already been in talks with the Manchester club. Also present, it seems, was Madrid president Florentino Perez.
Aguero to Madrid and Falcao to City, who will Monaco get in return?
1. Paul Pogba to Paris Saint-Germain
There is no doubting the talent of 21-year-old Paul Pogba. A genuine icon of the future with years ahead of him, Manchester United fans will always wonder "what if...?" when they see the midfielder play.
Pogba, famously, was once at Old Trafford. He joined United's youth setup in 2009, came through the ranks and went on to make a grand total of three appearances—equalling 71 minutes in the Premier League.
Quite possibly one of the best free transfers in recent memory, Pogba joined Juventus in August 2012. He's won two Italian Super Cups, one Serie A title (with another one on the horizon, it seems) and looks every inch the star player.
The French international has just about two years remaining on his current contract. But, as reports suggest, Pogba has not held contract talks with Juve amid interest from other clubs.
Pogba told beIN Sports (h/t John Drayton in the Daily Mail) this week:
So far I have not spoken to anyone about the contract renewal with the club nor the future on the market. I am focused on the field, I am thinking only about this season and winning a Scudetto which for the club would be historic.
And then there is also the Europa League. If we achieve the double then it would be something exceptional. I just think about making history this season. I just have to repeat myself. Of course I am happy that many big clubs are interested, but the mind is focused on my present work, and that's it. It is Juve today.
The fans’ chants asking me to stay? They encourage me to do my best, they are beautiful.
Paris Saint-Germain? They are a great club.
And, according to Goal.com, PSG have been in talks with Juve about signing Pogba this summer:
The former Manchester United man could be offered wages of up to nearly €9m-a-season with the Paris giants and Pogba could be tempted to push for a transfer if PSG step up their interest come the end of the current season.
We wouldn't bet against it.