The Europa League final may not have produced any goals, but there were plenty of quality performances from those in Benfica and Sevilla shirts. Many of the players on show have been linked with moves to bigger clubs around Europe, and some of those stars made those moves all the more likely with impressive displays in Turin.
While Sevilla celebrate their triumph and Benfica mourn their loss, there will be vultures circling to coax their best players away this summer. Below are five men who may not perform for either Europa League finalist after the end of this season.
The tricky 26-year-old could not break through the Sevilla defence on Wednesday night, but he produced an impressive all-action display nevertheless. He is known for his creativity but was seen putting in crucial tackles in midfield throughout the night.
The Argentinian has been linked with a number of big clubs for some years now, and this summer could be when he finally makes that jump. According to Paul Brown of the Daily Star, both Manchester City and Liverpool are interested in bringing him to the Premier League.
He is thought to be valued at around £30 million, which will put off some potential suitors. But if City are indeed interested, then the price tag is not usually an issue.
The Sevilla captain was the classiest player on the pitch at Juventus Stadium. He showed a fine first touch and vision, which was quite rare in the red-hot atmosphere of the final. He certainly played the pass of the night when he set Carlos Bacca through on goal with a raking volley, although the Colombian could not finish it off.
Despite seemingly having been around a long time, Rakitic is just 26-years-old. Youth is still on his side, but he clearly has leadership skills and a wealth of experience with 60 caps for Croatia to his name.
The Croat has been linked with Real Madrid and has suggested he would be keen on the move. He told Kicker, h/t Matt Law for SportsMole.co.uk:
Real Madrid? We should wait for this Europa League final, also for the World Cup final, then we'll see.
This year we have taken a great step forward, but it's the great goal for every player to play in the Champions League.
Whether it is Real or elsewhere, expect to see Rakitic getting his wish and playing in the Champions League next season.
The Argentina international was rock solid at the back yet again for Benfica, and if he had his shooting boots on, he could have won it for his side on a couple of occasions.
Garay has had a big move in the past, when he joined Real Madrid in 2008, but his stay in the Spanish capital was not a successful one. That will not stop European giants coming circling again though.
When asked about his future earlier in the year, the 27-year-old gave a typically coy answer, per a Bola, h/t Sky Sports. He said, "I don't know, we'll see, my wife and I are very happy here.”
Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain are thought to be interested in his services, per Dan Coombs for HITC Sport. If one of those sides were to come calling, he would almost certainly leave the Portuguese champions.
Bizarrely, the Cameroon international is on loan from a Championship club in QPR. A return to Harry Redknapp’s side looks unlikely, even if they return to the Premier League via the play-offs.
It was his header in the last minute of the semi-final second leg that secured Sevilla’s place in the final. Then he crashed home the second penalty in the shootout on Wednesday night to the delight of the Andalusians again.
He is a big, dominant force in the middle of midfield, and he is an attractive prospect for teams in the Premier League. Liverpool and Everton are said to be interested in the 27-year-old and M’Bia appears to be keen on those moves as well, per Estadio Deportivo, h/t Matt Law of SportsMole.com:
Playing in the Champions League, that's my goal.
Liverpool? For me, it is a pride. Liverpool are a great team that will play the Champions League. Everton is also a great team, but I cannot say what will happen in the future.
It looks as though the imposing Cameroonian could bolster a Merseyside midfield in the near future.
A relative unknown on this list, but the 21-year-old goalkeeper certainly made a name for himself in the final as he kept Sevilla out on numerous occasions. He could not stop any of the penalties, but few keepers in the world could have given their quality.
Goalkeepers of his age are rarely seen at the highest level of European competition, which makes him prized property. If he can continue to perform regularly for Benfica, then he may well choose to stay where he is, but there will certainly be some of the biggest clubs on the continent eyeing him up after Wednesday night.
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