Kaka - potential for the EPL?
Good afternoon all.
Today, I bring to you 15 of the world's best players I'd love to see playing in the Premier League.
This isn't me merely looking at the best players in the world and selecting the first ones that don't already play, I've also taken into consideration likely destinations, what they would offer the League and/or team in question and cost. I've tried to somewhat objective, but I ain't promising nothing.
So without further ado....
Though I could probably just make this list out of Barcelona players, in the interest of this actually being an entertaining read, there's only one more after Andrés here. No prizes for guessing who...
The reason Iniesta gets the nod ahead of his teammate and midfield counterpart Xavi, are down to his age (26 as opposed to Xavi's 31) and his ability to play either as a central/attacking midfield or out on the flanks, adding versatility to his already impressive résumé.
He would be an ideal fit into Arsenal's system, but they already have themselves Fabregas. Therefore I'd pick Manchester United as his most likely destination, a team that is yearning for a creative midfielder to replace the creaking Paul Scholes.
Likely cost: £35 million. At least.
Likely to happen?: At current, not really. Depends on if Guardiola goes and who replaces him.
Now into his 10th season for Roma and having seemingly been around for ages, it make come as a surprise to some that Mr. De Rossi is a mere 27 years old.
A typical Italian defensive midfielder, De Rossi would undoubtedly place in the top three in the world at that position, his tackling and ability to marshal the midfield are particularly impressive.
His all-around talents as a midfielder are shown when he plays for the Italian national side where plays further forward than he does at club level giving him an opportunity to demonstrate his terrific passing skills, as well as an attacking mindset that sees him on the score sheet more often than at Roma.
As for which team in the EPL, it's an easy one: Liverpool. Having suffered the loss of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano in consecutive seasons and the midfield obviously struggling as a result, De Rossi would come and be able to do both their jobs—the passing and vision of the former and the tackling and defensive work of the later. Certainly more so than either Alberto Aquilano or Christian Poulsen anyway...
Likely cost: £25 million
Likely to happen?: De Rossi's name is ever present on the rumour mill. Probably around six out of 10.
You see what I've done here?
With the Championship shaping up the way it is, it seems certain we'll see the young Moroccan even if he's not sold, as QPR have got promotion pretty much nailed down.
For those of you not in the know, Taarabt is an attacking midfielder whose French roots have led to him being touted as the next Zinedine Zidane.
He started his career at Tottenham, where he spent most of his time as a bench-warmer, before moving on loan, then permanently to QPR. His form, has since, steadily improved to the point where he is now club captain at the tender age of 21, and with 15 each of goals and assists in the Championship so far, his future is sure to be the subject of speculation come summertime.
He would be a welcome addition to any Premier League squad below the top 5, so choosing his likely destination is tricky. In the end I've gone for Everton, as they desperately need someone who can provide that bit of spark in the middle. Not to mention, the goals and ability to set up goals will be welcomed into a team that struggles with the fitness of key attacking talent.
Likely cost: £10 million. Maybe less.
Likely to happen?: To Everton? Couldn't say. But barring a big contract offer from QPR, I'd say it's extremely likely he'll be plying his trade elsewhere next season.
At just 20 years old, de Gea is an exceptional talent. Already the first choice goalkeeper for Atletico Madrid, the young man helped them to the Europa League trophy last season, as well as the UEFA Super Cup against Inter Milan, where he kept a clean sheet after saving a last-minute penalty.
His future is the subject of constant speculation, especially where Manchester United are concerned, and that's a transfer I'd like to see. With Edwin van der Sar retiring at the end of the season and with Sir Alex seemingly having little faith in current reserve keeper Tomasz Kuszczak, the young Spaniard would be perfect fit and would provide stability to the position for the next 15-20 years.
Likely cost: £18 million
Likely to happen?: It's no secret SAF needs a new goalie. It's strongly rumoured he'll be throwing the money around in the summer. Why not? One man could get in the way though.....
Two goalkeepers on this list? Daring, to say the least.
Neuer has achieved a lot to say he's a goalkeeping spring chicken at 25. He's Schalke 04 captain and first choice keeper for the German national side. Indeed, it was his form at the World Cup that caught many people's attention, where he kept four clean sheets and even set up Miroslav Klose's goal in the quarterfinals.
But I'm not bitter.
Some may question the decision to have two keepers in the list, but in my opinion, there is a dearth of quality goalies in the League right now.
With van der Sar retiring, Petr Cech no longer the player he once was, Shay Given criminally underused at Man City, it leaves Pepe Reina and Joe Hart as two keepers of true quality and given the halcyon days of Bruce Grobbelaar, David Seaman, Peter Schmeichel, Nigel Martyn et al. I feel the League is deserving of some better shot stoppers.
Back on to Manuel, at current his likely destination is also Manchester United, but Arsenal should really be thinking about a keeper as well and they have the ace up their sleeve that is Jens Lehman, Neuer's childhood hero.
Likely cost: £20 million
Likely to happen?: Unless Bayern Munich get there first, he'll be in the Premier League at some stage. Guaranteed.
The one with the hair.
The only player on the list not based in Europe, Neymar has come to attention lately after playing in the Brazilian national side and scoring twice in the recent 2-0 win over Scotland.
Some of you, though, may of heard of him last summer as Chelsea were rumoured to be sniffing around the 19-year-old starlet after a 2010 season for Brazilian club Santos which saw him score 42 in 60 appearances.
Chelsea already have a potent strike force on paper, but Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka aren't get any younger, whilst Fernando Torres has so far shown nothing to suggest he was worth the significant outlay in January. Therefore, it makes to sign Neymar as he has shown he has the potential to be a huge star and here's hoping it happens in the Premier League.
Likely cost: £20 million
Likely to happen?: Santos will cash in soon. Chelsea have as good a chance as any of his signature..
Maybe I'm just being greedy as the EPL already has two of the best three left backs in the world, but hey, that's what these lists are for...
Coentrão, like Manuel Neuer earlier in the list, was one of the breakout stars of the 2010 World Cup, and by far and away Portugal's best player, being noted in particular for running up down the flank constantly, without losing pace, until the final whistle.
If you haven't seen him, his pace and ability to dribble are similar to that of Tottenham's Gareth Bale, though the 23-year-old Portuguese is markedly better in the tackle.
As for destination, Arsenal seems to be a good fit. Gael Clichy is a bit watery for my liking and seems to be stalling over a new contract. Coentrão should adapt well to Arsenal's style of "total football" and will help shore up a porous defence.
Likely cost: £22 million
Likely to happen?: A player of his quality is unlikely to stay in the Portuguese leagues for much longer. A move is on the cards, here's hoping England is the destination.
England fans are bound to remember the name. In February of this year, a then 18-year-old Eriksen, won universal praise for his performance for Denmark in the 2-1 friendly loss to the Three Lions.
In the match, he gave the impression of being everywhere on the pitch at the same time, had the English defence retreating in fear with the ball at his feet and the confidence to shoot from anywhere on the field were all factors in his man of the match performance that night.
One performance a good player does not make, however, but his form with Ajax has been good, and I urge everyone to look up Youtube for the goal he scored against Willem II earlier in the month: it had the Dutch press cooing over "the mew Messi...."
I think this is the sort of player that Harry Redknapp at Tottenham Hotspur would be all over. Yes, he has about 807 talented midfielders already in the squad. It won't stop him though. And nor do I want it to. Eriksen has shown the promise to be a world star, and he should do it in the Premier League.
Likely cost: £16 million
Likely to happen?: Eriksen has gone on record at wanting to see out his contract at Ajax (it runs until 2015), though the Dutch side may have other ideas if the right offer comes in.
He can also defy gravity...
Remember at the beginning when I said this wasn't a wishlist and I was going to be objective? I lied. This is pure romance.
When I was 10 years old, I was forced into watching a lot of Serie A football by my farther, and by that time Il Pinturicchio was an established player for my favourite Italian team, Juventus.
I remember him being the energy of a team that (at various times) contained greats such as Zidane, Gianluca Vialli, Pavel Nedvěd and David Trezeguet, amongst others.
I remember my excitement when Sir Alex Ferguson was singing his praises and the talk of him joining up with him at Manchester United was deafening, though nothing came of it.
His career will no doubt be tarnished by the match fixing allegations that saw Juventus stripped of Serie A titles and relegated to Serie B, but when others fled the club for better football, Del Piero remained loyal and helped the club to win promotion.
At 36 years old, he is still going for Juventus and remains a key player and fan favourite.
Likely cost: Er....
Likely to happen?: No. Not ever.
Now, how many of you thought it was going to be Messi as my second Barcelona player?
Earlier in the slideshow, I noted how the Premier League was spoilt for left backs. Switch to the other flank and things aren't so rosy. Micah Richards and Glen Johnson have both shown promise, but don't come close to the Maicons or Dani Alves' of the world.
Alves is your stereotypical Brazilian right back, in the mould of the legendary Cafu. Strong in both attack and defence, he can at times seem lost in a squad that has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to attack, but anyone who follows La Liga will know he is always zipping up down his flank providing width and is frequently seen to be making runs into the opposition's area.
He gets the nod ahead of fellow Brazilian Maicon, as I think he's a better defender.
Manchester City are the only Premier League club that I can envisage Alves being a part of. Purely because of money. And lots of it.
Likely cost: £40 million.
Likely to happen?: If you believe the red tops, City are seriously looking at it. It'd be a good move for us neutrals for sure.
Perhaps one of the more obvious choices on the list, but still a player worth looking at.
Ribéry has been linked to the Premier League for a long time, with Chelsea and Man Utd. touted as possible courters. This move has never materialised, and I feel it's most likely down to the French winger's penchant for picking up an injury that is the reason behind this.
So why is he on the list? Well, I see Ribéry joining the EPL in four or five seasons with a mid-table club such as a Sunderland or Aston Villa (who already have someone similar in Robert Pires) after Munich have decided his best years are behind him. He would offer a team of that stature invaluable insight and experience from his time at the top and may still be able to provide the odd flash of brilliance.
More importantly, he'll provide genuine star power to a lesser team, opening doors for them. And give us fans something to look forward to.
Likely cost: £5 million
Likely to happen?: Ageing stars have a habit of searching for one last hurrah on these shores. And if Big Sam is about, the chances increase 10-fold, Ivan Campo, anyone?
We move into the top three with an easy one.
Sneijder is pure class—probably the best passer of a football outside of Barcelona. His signing was one of the biggest catalysts for Inter's Champions League triumph last season, having gone largely unused by Real Madrid.
Once again, I'm going with Manchester United the most likely destination for the Dutchman (four players now, I know...) using a similar argument as I did for Iniesta: they need a creative midfielder badly. Sneijder will also provide a consistent presence over set pieces, something Man Utd. haven't had since Cristiano Ronaldo left.
Likely cost: £25 million
Likely to happen?: I'm 90 percent sure this will happen over the summer.
I'm sure this has surprised one or two of you...
Douglas is part of a strong Brazilian contingent of Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk, who recently demolished Roma home and away in the Champions League, and will face up to Barcelona next week.
A winger with speed to burn, his dribbling ability is what tortured Roma for long periods, as Shakhtar proved decisively dangerous on the counter-attack. At 20 years old, he is still very much a diamond in the rough, but has the potential to be a quality player.
His most likely destination in England, would be Newcastle United, I feel. Having Douglas on one flank and Jonas Gutiérrez on the other will provide them with a formidable midfield with Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan occupying the centre.
So why do I want him in the Premier League? I think, given the right management, he'll blossom into one of the best wingers in the world. Watching him play, I am reminded of Ronaldo when he first went to Old Trafford, and he turned out okay....
Likely cost: £12 million
Likely to happen?: It's certainly possible. It'll need to happen soon though—I can't see his potential being realised playing in the Ukrainian leagues. Sorry.
Like all good legendary Italians, defies gravity.
Yup, Pirlo. At No. 1. Deal.
Another Italian legend of the last decade, I think this player was born to play in the Premier League.
A cultured defensive midfielder, he goes about his business in an incredibly efficient manner and his long passing is a particular delight. He's also one of the best players to have over a set piece in the world, and has been for a while.
Whilst he's no spring chicken at 31, he is looked after by the world famous AC Milan medical staff, so he no doubt has six or seven seasons still left in him.
Destination wise, I'm really not sure. It's hard to see him moving down to a smaller club, so I'll plump for Arsenal. They haven't had a decent holding player since Vieira left, and what they have now is frankly awful. Pirlo would compliment Cesc Fabregas perfectly, and allow some of the pressure to be taken off the Arsenal captain.
Likely cost: £15 million
Likely to happen?: Depends on whether he'll leave Milan or not. I certainly hope so...
Nothing personal Leo, I just think you're better at Barca...
Now, I'll quickly run through some of the more obvious choices and explain they didn't make my list:
Lionel Messi isn't here because he's too good at Barcelona. Can any other club in the world play to that style, so well? No. I don't want to rob the world of Messi playing at his best.
Kaká is absent as I simply don't believe he has it anymore. He's spent a lot of time injured at Real Madrid, and what I have seen before and after hasn't convinced me. Fooled you with the lead image though, eh?
Mesut Özil, Thomas Müller and Bastian Schweinsteiger missed out because I'm not bitter. Even though it should of been 2-2 at half time. I'm not bitter. Honest.
Sergio Agüero is still the same player he was four years ago. At 22, there's still time for him to fulfil his potential, but until then, I'm not convinced.
Romelu Lukaku was dropped due to me putting Del Piero. Attempts to get permission to make it 16 instead of 15 failed due to me wanting to keep it at a round number. He's exciting though, and I hope someone can bring him over.
Alexis Sánchez because Douglas made it in. Though he would be a solid signing for most Premier League teams.
So that's that from me. Please feel free to discuss the glaring errors and ridiculous exclusions I made below.