Top 10 Premier League Transfer Targets Outside EPL: Neymar, Hazard, Gago, Lukaku
As the Premier League season draws to a close and clubs up and down the country assess their performance, eyes inevitably turn towards the summer transfer window and a chance to strengthen before another marathon campaign.
While money remains tight for many top-flight clubs, the league’s big-boys are expected to spend heavily when the window reopens. Whether their target is a top four finish, the Premier League trophy or Champions League glory, the recruitment of new talent will be key to the hopes of the country’s biggest sides next season.
With English stars often costing a premium in today’s inflated market don’t be surprised if Sir Alex Ferguson and his fellow bosses look abroad to rejuvenate their squads before the August 31st deadline.
But which exotically named foreigners will be plying their trade on English shores come the start of next season? Here’s a run-down of the Premier League’s top 10 transfer targets outside of England’s top division.
10. Blaise Matuidi, St Etienne
Not dissimilar in playing style to fellow Frenchman Claude Makelele, Matuidi is a commanding defensive midfielder who loves nothing better than breaking up attacking moves.
The St Etienne man is still only 23-years-old and recently gained his first senior cap for France, helping to fuel rumours of a big-money move away from his home country.
Arsenal, Everton and Newcastle United have all been credited with an interest in him, while Liverpool's Director of Football, Damien Comolli, reportedly scouted him recently.
9. Fernando Gago, Real Madrid
After establishing himself as a first-team regular during the 2007-08 La Liga season, Gago has now fallen out of favour at Real Madrid making just one appearance under Jose Mourinho.
The Argentine midfielder is keen on securing a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu this summer with no fewer than three English clubs chasing his signature – Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton.
Mourinho is hopeful of receiving at least £8 million for Gago to reinvest in a new striker but could be forced into allowing him to leave on loan should the Premier League trio be unwilling to match the asking price.
8. Javier Pastore, Palermo
Heavily linked with a moves to Manchester United and Chelsea before signing for Italian club Palermo in 2008, Pastore is once again attracting attention.
The diminutive attacking midfielder has been in superb form over the last 12 months, excelling in his favoured role between two strikers and even appearing in last summer’s World Cup for Argentina.
Local rivals Manchester United and Manchester City are both keen on bringing him to the north-west, with City rumoured to have placed a £30m bid just last week.
7. Kevin Gameiro, Lorient
With a record of almost one goal every two games Gameiro looks increasingly unlikely to remain at French side Lorient for much longer.
His scoring exploits earned him a first senior call-up to Laurent Blanc’s France squad last summer and his form has continued into this season, the striker having scored 15 goals in just 22 appearances.
A move to Spanish side Valencia fell through in January of this year but Gameiro looks certain to move on when the transfer window opens. West Ham and Arsenal are both possible destinations.
6. Neven Subotic, Borussia Dortmund
A regular starter for Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund, Subotic is widely regarded as one of the finest defensive prospects in world football.
At 6ft 4in the 22-year-old is an imposing central defender who has already represented his country on more than 20 occasions, including the 2010 World Cup.
Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City are all said to be interested in him, with Carlo Ancelotti supposedly having a £17.5m bid turned down in January.
5. Emilio Izaguirre, Celtic
Signed from Honduran league side Motagua for a fee believed to be around £1m, Izaguirre has arguably turned out to be the biggest bargain of last summer’s transfer dealings.
The Honduran international has been in superb form for Celtic this season, starting most games and providing a number of assists as the Glasgow club aim to regain the Scottish Premier League title.
Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Spanish giants Barcelona are all said to be monitoring his progress, with a move to Anfield looking most likely after Paul Konchesky fell out of favour with Reds manager Kenny Dalglish.
4. Romelu Lukaku, Anderlecht
Regarded by many as a star of the future, Anderlecht striker Lukaku is on the shopping lists of some of Europe’s biggest clubs this summer.
Lukaku is already a senior Belgium international despite being just 17 and is a regular starter for his club. His size and physical strength often sees him compared with Chelsea forward Didier Drogba and it’s therefore unsurprising that the Blues have been strongly linked with a move for him given Drogba’s success at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester City are also interested in his signature but face competition from big-spending Real Madrid.
3. Neymar, Santos
Despite signing a new long-term contract with Santos shortly after a summer of interest from other clubs, don’t be surprised if Neymar is once again the subject of bids this summer.
Both Chelsea and West Ham made ambitious but unsuccessful efforts to sign the Brazilian starlet last year, while Real Madrid and Inter Milan were also keen on luring him to Europe.
You can now add Manchester City to that list, with Roberto Mancini hopeful that City’s seemingly bottomless pockets will be enough to bring him to Eastlands.
2. Eden Hazard, Lille
It’s very rare that managers reveal their transfer targets, let alone someone as experienced as Arsene Wenger but that’s exactly what the Frenchman did when questioned earlier this year.
Wenger admitted his interest in Lille winger Hazard, who has been lighting up Ligue 1 with his eye-catching skills and rapid turn of pace.
The Arsenal boss will face stiff competition from top clubs in England, Italy and Spain to sign arguably the most exciting player in French football.
1. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Southampton
Surprisingly our number one Premier League transfer target outside of the top-flight doesn’t come from Spain, Italy or even Brazil, but the south coast of England.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has been winning admirers up and down the country since bursting into League One Southampton’s first team earlier this season. With speed to rival any opponent and an eye for goal, Alex already looks like an England international in the making.
Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool are all keeping tabs on the flying winger with some sources suggesting that he fancies a move to the Emirates this summer.