World Football

Ranking the 20 Most Desirable Summer Transfer Targets

Laura GreeneFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2014

Ranking the 20 Most Desirable Summer Transfer Targets

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    The summer transfer window will close on August 31. Between now and then, be prepared for a slew of speculation and gossip about who's going where for the 2014/15 season.

    But who are the players every club wants? There are a lot of attractive propositions out there—be they extremely talented and experienced, up-and-coming youngsters, available on the cheap or a blend of all three.

    Over the following slides, we look at 20 of the most coveted targets for the summer window and explain what makes them so desirable. 

    To be considered for inclusion, all players must have been linked with a move to another club. This is not an exhaustive list, and there are many names that could have been included, so feel free to add your own suggestions below.

    Read on for more!

20. Wilfried Bony

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    Making the transition from the Eredivisie to the Premier League does not always go according to plan—strikers who are prolific in the Dutch league often find English defences somewhat harder to break down.

    This has not been the case for Wilfried Bony.

    The former Vitesse Arnhem striker made the switch to Swansea City last summer for a club record of £12 million. He's bagged 25 goals (in all competitions) for the Swans this season—an excellent return, no matter what division you're in.

    The Welsh club will have to brace themselves for offers for the 25-year-old Ivory Coast international if reports are anything to go by. Bony is apparently being watched by Borussia Dortmund, Monaco and "Premier League clubs," as reported by Phil Cadden in the Mirror.

    In the Daily Star (h/t Skysports.com), Bony's agent insists that the player is settled at the Liberty Stadium, but Swansea may find a large bid just too good to turn down.   

19. Bacary Sagna

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    By June 30, his contract will be up and Bacary Sagna will be available for free. He may be 31, but good, seasoned defenders are not easy to come by, especially for a bank balance-friendly sum of £0.

    As reported by John Cross in the Mirror, there have already been rumblings of interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City—both of whom would be eager to take on a player with no transfer fee, in light of recent emerging news regarding UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations, per BBC Sport.

    Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger appears keen to keep Sagna at the Emirates, as reported by Massimo Marioni in Metrobut the France international is likely to be wanted by a host of clubs this summer.

18. Marcos Rojo

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    Marcos Rojo could provide the solution to a large number of clubs' defensive frailties when the transfer window opens.

    The 24-year-old Argentinian is already being linked with a move to Liverpool, as reported by Metro (h/t A Bola). In the Mirror, Liam Prenderville claims that Arsenal also want to sign the former Spartak Moscow and Estudiantes player. 

    Capped 20 times by Argentina, over the last two Primeira Liga campaigns the 24-year-old has clocked up 60 appearances for Sporting Lisbon. A central defender with his club side, Rojo is a left-back for his country.

    He'll be one to watch at the World Cup this summer, where his versatility in defence, tough tackling and ability to weigh in with the odd goal could prove key for Alejandro Sabella's side. 

     

17. Javier Hernandez

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    It would not come as much of a surprise to see Javier Hernandez depart Old Trafford this summer. Of course, this depends on Manchester United's new manager, his vision for the future and which players he ultimately wants to buy and sell.

    Hernandez, or "Chicharito," would be desirable to many a club. The 25-year-old is a proven goalscorer when given regular playing time.

    Last season, he put away 18 goals (in all competitions) for United over the course of 36 games. This term, his tally has been somewhat lower, with nine goals coming in 34 matches—although his time on the pitch has been markedly lower, too, per Transfermarkt

    He has a great attitude and has plenty of domestic, European and international experience. With a market value said to be €16 million, he's a relatively cheap option as a striker.

    It's a widely held belief that the Mexico international could do a good job for a number of other teams, and he has been most recently linked with Aston Villa, as reported by Dave Armitage in the Daily Star, while Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan and Tottenham are also credited with interest. 

16. Adrien Rabiot

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    Paris Saint-Germain youngster Adrien Rabiot appears to have turned down a new contract at the Parc des Princes for the 2014/15 season, which will make a lot of clubs sit up and take notice.

    Rabiot has played 23 times in Ligue 1 this term, he's won back-to-back league titles with the French side and this season's Coupe de la Ligue. The France Under 21 international is only 19.

    He's got a bright future ahead of him, but—and this may be what's throwing a spanner into the works of contract negotiations—he also has Yohan Cabaye, Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verratti ahead of him in the PSG pecking order.

    According to L'Equipe (h/t Metro's Jamie Sanderson), Laurent Blanc is not willing to negotiate on demands that Rabiot's weekly salary should be upped from approximately £5,000 to £60,000, which has apparently caught the eye of Chelsea.

    Elsewhere, Inside Futbol have reported on reports originating with Tutto Mercato that claim Rabiot's principal adviser, Veronique Rabiot—who also happens to be his mother—has hinted towards a move to Juventus.

    Young, talented, seemingly available on the cheap, we foresee Rabiot being a top target this summer. 

15. Sami Khedira

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Real Madrid midfielder and Germany international Sami Khedira could be on the move this summer.

    As reports in Metro indicate, the 27-year-old would command a £37 million transfer fee, if Carlo Ancelotti decides he is surplus to requirements at the Bernabeu.  

    Back in the Real Madrid squad after rupturing his cruciate ligaments back in November, Khedira has also been including in Joachim Loew's provisional squad for the approaching World Cup.

    An excellent holding midfielder with a wide range of passing, Khedira forged an excellent partnership with Xabi Alonso in the heart of the Madrid midfield. With injury, his place in Ancelotti's side has been taken by Luka Modric, which has raised questions about Khedira's future.

    He has been linked with Chelsea, which is only natural considering he was a regular under Jose Mourinho when the Portuguese was at the helm of los Blancos.

    In the Daily Star, Jamie Anderson claims that he could be on his way to Stamford Bridge. But perhaps rumours that linked Khedira to both Manchester United and Arsenal last December will rear their head again, as reported by Steve Stammers in the Mirror. 

14. Dani Alves

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    Two Champions League and four La Liga titles sit among a wealth of honours that Dani Alves has won with Barcelona, not to mention further silverware earned at club level with Sevilla and on international duty with Brazil.

    He may be 31 and a section of Barca supporters might tell you that his star is on the wane; however, Alves still represents a very attractive proposition in the summer's transfer window.

    From Barcelona's perspective, it could be a good time to sell. Alves is about to enter the final 12 months of his contract at Camp Nou, Martin Montoya is snapping at his heels, and he has a market value which has diminished from €36 million to €18 million over the last two years.

    For a buying club the positives are thus: a highly experienced player who still has a couple of seasons left playing at the highest level. He might have lost some of his explosive pace over the last three or four years, but Alves still offers a great deal in attack as well as defence.

    He's a truly world-class player who might be made available this summer. 

    Linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City on Skysports.com, Alves told Spanish radio station RAC1 (h/t Insidespanishfootball.com) this week:

    It takes a lot to get to Barcelona and whoever it hurts saying this, I'm still a part of the history of this club. We need energy, that’s what motivates me, even though I'm happy here and always have been. I've always been that way.”

    I really believe in energy. I live for this energy and if negative energy begins to show, then things don’t flow. If that energy doesn't change, I'm sure I'll go, because I'll be tired of it. For me to stay this summer, there has to be a change of energy.

13. Adam Lallana

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    Adam Lallana's impressive performances for Southampton this season have seen the 25-year-old score nine goals in the Premier League, win his first senior England cap and be named in the PFA Team of the Year.

    The praise has been heavy and rightfully so. However, an outstanding campaign is a double-edged sword for the Saints who—while delighted to have Lallana on board—will have to brace themselves for a raft of offers designed on prising the winger away from St. Mary's.

    What makes Lallana such an attractive buy? Apart from his versatility in midfield, excellent technique, great vision and almost-impeccable passing, the Southampton man tracks back, weighs in with defensive contributions and never stops.

    The icing on the cake? Lallana is English and the importance of this cannot be underestimated, as the Premier League's top clubs seek to comply with UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules, which require "at least eight players in a European squad to have been trained domestically for three years between the ages of 15 and 21," per Owen Gibson in the Guardian

    As reported by Liam Prenderville in the Mirror, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool are all interested in signing the England international this summer. 

12. Jackson Martinez

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    Paulo Duarte/Associated Press

    In the event that you run into anyone who would like to contest the idea of Jackson Martinez as a desirable summer transfer target, direct them towards the 28 goals he has scored for FC Porto (in all competitions) this season.

    Need more? How about the 31 goals that the Colombian striker put away last term—his first in a European league, after making a July 2012 switch from Chiapas to the Estadio do Dragao.

    Martinez is 27, he scores goals for fun, and he looks destined for a summer move, despite a buyout clause said to be set at £34 million, per Nick Lustig in the Daily Star.  

    If the Quibdo-born player enjoys a good 2014 World Cup in Group C (where he will meet Greece, the Ivory Coast and Japan) and beyond, expect him to become an even hotter target.

11. Mario Balotelli

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    There's no denying the fact that Mario Balotelli is an extremely gifted footballer. Full of self-confidence, Balotelli's raw, natural ability is there for all to see. But so often, tales of the Italian international's temperament detract from his skill as a player.

    Perhaps he just hasn't found the right club yet.

    The 23-year-old's return to AC Milan, after two and-a-half seasons at Manchester City, has not gone quite to plan. The Rossoneri replaced manager Massimiliano Allegri with Clarence Seedorf this season and have struggled to compete in Serie A, where (at the time of writing) they sit in eighth place with two games to go.

    There's talk that Balotelli might be sold this summer, as reported by Ben Jefferson in the Express, who says that AC Milan "have given up" on the Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur target.

    His goals (he's scored 30 since returning to the San Siro) make him a wildly exciting prospect for lots of clubs. His track record of misdemeanors and outbursts, the most recent of which occurred in a post-game row with Sky Italia pundits, as seen on BBC Sport, is what sets him in the bottom half of this ranking. 

10. Luke Shaw

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    If you've checked out the back pages of any newspaper over the last few months, you'll be aware of the number of clubs that are clamouring for Luke Shaw's signature.

    As reported by Joe Bernstein and Sami Mokbel in the Daily Mail, the left-back is wanted by a host of clubs including Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and Real Madrid.

    What makes him such an attractive prospect for these clubs? As one for the future, the fact that Shaw is still a month short of his 19th birthday is a key factor, as is the fact that he is English—which is important to interested Premier League clubs who must fill their homegrown quotas over the coming years.

    Also the Southampton player is very highly-rated—and with very good reason. Nominated as part of the PFA Team of the Year, Shaw has already played 66 games for the Saints' senior team.

    At 6'1" and with a stocky frame, Shaw is very strong and a natural defender. He's already a great tackler, holds the ball up well and has an incredible turn of pace.

    His left foot is not bad either.

9. Iker Casillas

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    There's a chance that Iker Casillas may end the season as a Champions League-winning goalkeeper. The Spaniard has featured in every one of Real Madrid's European games en route to the final, which is to be played in Lisbon on May 24.

    Winning La Decima is not bad for a season's work; however, the fact remains that the goalkeeper—who has been at the Bernabeu for his entire career—has played just one La Liga game all term.

    The 32-year-old is a World Cup and two-time European Championship-winner with Spain, not to mention a haul of silverware that he has won with Madrid. He needs to be playing more.

    A player of his calibre who is not a No. 1 pick for his team? Yes, you can guarantee that there will be plenty of clubs eager to sign him up this summer. 

    As reported in the Independent by Simon Rice, Arsenal are one such club interested in securing Casillas' services.

8. Karim Benzema

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    This season Karim Benzema has notched 24 (in all competitions) for Real Madrid; last term he put away 21 and the season before he scored 32—not bad for a player whose work rate has been questioned in the past (seen here on ESPNFC.com).

    In fact, the last time the Real Madrid forward scored fewer than 10 goals, you have to go back as far as the 2009/10 season—his first with Los Blancos. 

    The 26-year-old won multiple Ligue 1 titles with his former club Lyon before moving to the Bernabeu five years ago. In the meantime, he has added a La Liga title, two Copa del Reys and a Spanish Supercup to his haul of silverware. 

    Strong, powerful and vastly experienced strikers such as Benzema are not freely available on the market, and should Madrid give any indication that he can be bought this summer, there would be a number of clubs who would jump at the chance to sign him.

    Currently being linked with Arsenal, Benzema was strongly linked with Juventus in the past, as reported by Ben Jefferson in the Express.  

7. Javi Martinez

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    Bayern Munich's Javi Martinez will be certain to draw a sizable crowd of suitors when the transfer window opens in June.

    The 25-year-old is said to be "unsettled at Munich and is among players considering his future under Pep Guardiola," as reported by Simon Jones in the Daily Mail

    Martinez—a World Cup and European Championship-winner with Spain—can play as a defensive midfielder or as a central defender, a versatility that has apparently piqued Arsenal's interest, as reported by Jeremy Wilson in the Telegraph, who also names Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City as potential destinations.

    Elsewhere, in the Daily Mail, John Edwards reported that Barcelona are "ready to blow Arsenal out of the water in the battle to sign Martinez."

    Under former Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes, Martinez won last season's treble—playing 43 games for the club across the course of the season. He's experienced, he can play in the biggest games, he's young and incredibly versatile.

    It's likely that Bayern will not want to suffer a loss on the €40 million that they paid to Athletic Bilbao in 2012, but a large transfer fee is not likely to deter the Spaniard's admirers.  

6. Edinson Cavani

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    Last summer, Edinson Cavani was a desirable signing. This summer it will be no different. Whether he's actually available though, that's the question.

    Reports in recent weeks have linked the striker to Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, according to Martin Lipton in the Mirror

    These rumours stem from the fact that the Uruguayan international has been forced to play out wide, rather than as the focal point of PSG's attack this season. The reason for this can be attributed to a certain Mr Ibrahimovic.

    Despite the position, Cavani has still managed to put away 16 goals in 30 Ligue 1 games and has won Le Championnat with Laurent Blanc's side within his first 12 months at the club. 

    He's a proven goalscorer, as he's shown with Napoli, PSG and Uruguay, he's just 27 and—even with a price tag in excess of £50 million—will be a coveted name this summer. 

5. Paul Pogba

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    Previously of Manchester United, Paul Pogba moved to Juventus in summer 2012 on a free transfer, having started a grand total of zero Premier League games at Old Trafford.

    Since his move to the Old Lady, Pogba has established himself as one of the best up-and-coming central midfielders in Europe, with United fans left to wonder just what might have been. 

    One of the very best free transfers across Europe in recent years, there are a host of big-name sides salivating over the idea that the 21-year-old might be tempted to leave Juve. 

    As seen in La Stampa (h/t Skysports.com), Pogba has been linked with Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain, Monaco and his former club Manchester United, despite the player insisting his future is in Turin.

    This season the strong, fast and assured midfielder has put away nine goals for Juve, with a further 15 assists. He's been called the heir to Patrick Vieira's place in the France midfield (as seen in FourFourTwo), and as he develops and matures, he looks like a genuine contender to become one of the best players in the world.

     

4. Eden Hazard

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    PFA Young Player of the Year, Ligue 1 Player of the Year in 2010/11 and 11/12, Eden Hazard obviously has his admirers.

    And what's not to like? The Belgian is one of the most skillful creative midfielders plying their trade on the European scene. He's quick, an excellent dribbler and has superb vision. This term he is Chelsea's top scorer with 16 goals (in all competitions), plus nine assists in the Premier League.

    Like others in this slideshow, Hazard still has years ahead of him in the game at just 23 years old.

    In the Express, Charles Perrin thinks that the Blues midfielder may be on the move this summer, with Paris Saint-Germain said to be interested. Perrin also claims that Barcelona would like to sign Hazard, based on an article that originally appeared in Mundo Deportivo

    There are a number of clubs that would give anything to have a playmaker of Hazard's calibre in their ranks. If (and it's a big if) Chelsea do consider letting him go, expect a fierce bidding war to commence.

3. Sergio Aguero

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    Let's face it, who wouldn't want to sign Sergio Aguero this summer?

    Despite his season being hampered by injury, the Argentina international has still managed to net 28 goals (in all competitions) for Manchester City during the 2013/14 campaign.

    He's immensely likable, hugely talented and is reportedly being targeted by both Real Madrid (per John Cross in the Mirror) and Barcelona (per Rik Sharma in the Daily Mail), as the transfer window approaches. 

    The 25-year-old would be pushing for No. 1 on this list, were it not for the injuries he has suffered this season. 

2. Diego Costa

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    So, Mr Mourinho, what exactly is it that makes Diego Costa such a lip-smackingly attractive signing for Chelsea this summer?

    Is it his sensational scoring statistics, his age, the fact that Atletico are not averse to selling star players or could it be all three?

    The Atletico Madrid striker is the kind of player that most clubs would give their right arm for—at 25, with 27 La Liga goals, eight in eight in the Champions League and a further goal in the Copa del Rey—Costa is one of the most in-form strikers in world football at the moment.

    He's reportedly a target for Chelsea, as reported by John Cross in the Mirror. As per Cross' article, it appears that Atletico Madrid are desperate for the Brazil-born Spaniard to stay at the Vicente Calderon for one more season and who can blame them?

    He is one of the most coveted strikers around, but it seems that if anyone but Atletico is to get Costa, it will be Jose Mourinho's Blues.

1. Luis Suarez

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    Following the season he has just had, explaining why Luis Suarez is a desirable summer target is like describing why people might like beer or bacon or…sunny weather.

    It's fairly obvious.

    However, let's take a closer look. Suarez would top the wish lists of most clubs in the world right now. After missing the first five games of the Premier League season through suspension, the Uruguayan has managed to net 31 goals in 32 top-flight games, adding a further 21 assists.

    The PFA Footballer of the Year is 27, he's hungry for success, and he's playing like a man possessed. Liverpool will have to endure rumours linking Suarez with a move away from Anfield for quite some time, no matter how likely an exit actually is.

    According to the Sun (h/t Chris Richards in the Mirror), Real Madrid are preparing a £70 million summer bid for the striker. As Richards writes: "The La Liga giants reportedly believe the offer will activate a get-out clause in the Uruguayan's new Anfield contract."

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