Blackpool's Charlie Adam will be a wanted man this summer.
It’s that time of year again. Manchester United’s 19th Premier League title is a certainty, the Champions League places have been settled, and most of the mid-table are safe and sound. The last two weeks of action will settle matters of Europa League qualification and relegation, but most clubs are already looking to next season and the summer transfer window
January’s manic spending makes predicting how English clubs will spend their money during the coming window very difficult. Premier League squads are rife with holes and problem positions, but Fernando Torres’ failures following his £50 million Chelsea switch may breed a reluctance to spend.
But can the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham really risk falling even further behind their competitors by not opening their chequebooks this summer?
Regardless of spending levels, at least a handful of personnel changes can be expected at every Premier League club. Standout performers will be cherry-picked from relegation-battlers and expensive flops will be sent packing as teams strengthen for 2011-12. Players will leave for better opportunities and bigger contracts, and no squad will be quite the same by the time September comes around.
Discounting confirmed retirements and expiring loan deals, here are 20 players who look likely to leave their current club before the window slams shut.
Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri, Bakary Sagna, Andriy Arshavin, Manuel Almunia. The list of names linked with moves away from Arsenal this summer is lengthy, but none are as significant as Cesc Fabregas.
Arguably the Gunners’ most talented player, Fabregas was strongly linked with a move to Barcelona last year despite his insisted commitment to Arsenal. Fabregas is Arsenal’s captain and a truly world-class player on his day but a sixth consecutive season without a trophy may be the last nail in the coffin for the Spaniard’s Arsenal career.
There’s not a club in the world that wouldn’t want Fabregas on their books. Injury has robbed him of his best form this season, but he remains a playmaker of immense ability who, at 24, still has his best years ahead of him.
Given Fabregas’ increasing frustrations with Arsenal’s recent failings, don’t be surprised to see him turning out for Barcelona or Inter Milan next season.
Eyebrows were raised when Aston Villa paid £9.75 million for Young’s services back in 2007, but the former Watford forward has developed into one of England’s most sought-after forwards. More effective as a winger than a second striker, Young has nonetheless managed to notch nine goals in each of his last four seasons at Villa Park to compliment the 50-plus assists he has provided since signing.
Villa will be reluctant to let their star player leave, but they may not have much choice in the matter. Young has already attracted interest from the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool, and his burgeoning England career will only make him more attractive to potential suitors.
Young will command a sizeable transfer fee, but that will be scant consolation to a team who could lose their most potent attacker.
Strongly linked with a move to Newcastle United in January, Larsson has refused to sign a new contract with the Blues and looks certain to leave Birmingham for free this summer. Larsson is a valued contributor to the Birmingham cause and popular amongst the fans, but his ambitions are clear, and it may take an OTT wage increase to keep in at St. Andrews.
Short on pace but technically excellent, Larsson’s deadball expertise and passing ability will make him an attractive proposition for any Premier League side outside of the top six. Unlikely to ever develop into a top class player, Larsson would still be a useful addition to most Premier League squads.
Samba may have signed a new deal with Blackburn earlier this year but don’t rule out a summer switch for the Congolese defender. New contracts mean very little in modern football and the uncertainty surrounding Blackburn owners, Venky’s, may make Samba—a decent, honest professional—engineer a move away from Ewood Park.
A dominating centre-back renowned for his determination and outstanding physical attributes, Samba is tailor made for the Premier League and could slot into any backline in the country. He’s been linked with moves to bigger clubs in the past (Arsenal were reportedly after him in January), and a big money switch may tempt him this summer.
Ian Holloway’s Blackpool have impressed with their slick, possession-based football this season, but they face a fight on their hands if they want to retain Adam. The talented Scot has caught the eye with a series of dazzling displays for the Tangerines this season and his form has already attracted interest from the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham.
It seems more a case of “when” and not “if” Adam will leave Blackpool. He’s a fantastic passer blessed with great technique and vision, but doubts still linger over his work-rate, and his defensive attributes are non-existent. This matters little for Blackpool as Keith Southern and David Vaughan ably cover his offensive forays, but it may cause him problems as he moves further up the table.
Still, Adam is one of the most gifted playmakers in the league, and there will be no shortage of clubs interested in signing him this summer. Does he have what it takes to make it at a bigger club? We’ll almost certainly find out next season.
Former Aston Villa defender Cahill has the potential to be a regular fixture in the England national side for years to come. As tough in the tackle as he is comfortable with the ball at his feet, many see Cahill as a natural successor to Rio Ferdinand.
Once touted as a potential replacement for Fabio Cannavaro at Juventus, Cahill’s displays have not gone unnoticed. He is often mentioned as the man Arsenal may look to as the man to end their defensive woes. His superior defensive technique means he’d fit in well at the Emirates, and he may be the man Arsene Wenger turns to his summer.
His age, nationality and recent international caps mean Cahill will not come cheap, but he is an outstanding defender who will only grow stronger under the tutelage of a veteran manager like Wenger or Sir Alex Ferguson. Cahill’s transfer fee will be high, but his services will no doubt be worth it.
Sturridge’s form at Bolton has caught everyone by surprise. Always seen as a promising youngster, he could never quite make the breakthrough at Manchester City or Chelsea, Sturridge has been a revelation since joining Wanderers on loan. With seven goals in 10 games he’s hit the ground running and put himself in the summer shopping window.
Fernando Torres’ failure to find his best form at Chelsea may make the Stamford Bridge side keen to keep hold of Sturridge, but they are unlikely to reject a sizeable bid for the young Englishman. Sturridge signing for Bolton on a permanent deal is the most likely scenario, provided Wanderers are willing to part with the reported £12 million it’d take to secure his services.
Liverpool will be looking to sign a quality left back this summer, and Baines could be the man they turn to. The former Wigan man has been linked with a switch to the red side of Liverpool a lot recently, and it’s easy to see why. Liverpool have long-standing problems at LB and have never truly replaced John Arne Riise.
As adept attacking as he is defending, Baines is the perfect acquisition for Liverpool. As an Englishman, he’ll help fill their home-grown player quota, and he’ll provide the Liverpool defence with some much-needed quality.
David Moyes and Everton will fight tooth and nail to keep hold of one of their key players, but the lure of playing for Kenny Dalglish’s revitalised side may prove too much for Baines to resist.
Australian goalkeeper Schwarzer almost left Fulham last summer only for his proposed Arsenal move to collapse at the 11th hour. The emergence of Wojciech Szczesny at the Emirates makes a second Arsenal approach for Schwarzer less likely, but the availability of an experienced, quality goalkeeper is always going to stir interest.
Schwarzer has been a model of consistency for Fulham, but he’s 38 now and nearing the end of his career. Time is quickly running out for Schwarzer to play for one of Europe’s big clubs. The opportunity may have passed him by last summer, but perhaps a certain “Sir” may look to Schwarzer as a stopgap solution following Edwin van der Sar’s retirement.
Former Standard Liege hitman Jovanovic has barely had a look-in since signing for Liverpool last year. Two goals in 18 appearances is a meagre return for the Serbian striker who looks certain to join the likes of Andriy Voronin and Sean Dundee in the long list of foreign forwards who’ve failed to make the grade at Anfield.
Always a terror in the Belgian league, Jovanovic has found the transition to English football difficult and has rarely played well. He’s no spring chicken at 30 and will surely look to move on this summer for the sake of his career.
Jovanovic’s pace makes him a decent option from the Liverpool bench, but given how he’s performed when called upon, it’s doubtful that Liverpool fans will be sad to see him go.
Once one of the Premier League’s most highly regarded shot-stoppers, Given has become lost in the shuffle at Manchester City. The Irishman has been restricted to just a solitary League Cup appearance this season thanks to the emergence of Joe Hart. His Eastlands career is effectively over, and he’s almost certain to leave the club he joined in 2009 this summer.
Having joined City with the aim of challenging for honours, things haven’t quite worked out for Given. At 35, he’s unlikely to ever usurp Joe Hart as City’s No. 1 keeper, and his skills are only going to diminish further as a bench-warmer.
A player of his talent deserves to end his career with at least one major honour to his name. Unfortunately for him, it seems that opportunity has evaded him.
Owen has been a spent force for the best part of a decade. A series of devastating long-term injuries have robbed him of the pace and cutting edge that made him such a clinical striker. He’s popped up with a few important goals during his Old Trafford spell, but Owen, in truth, hasn’t been the same since he left Real Madrid.
Recruited once a pay-as-you-play deal following Newcastle’s 2009 relegation, Owen has provided a useful option for Sir Alex Ferguson on a number of occasions, but it’s unlikely that the Scot will renew Owen’s deal this summer. With Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov all in good form and Danny Wellbeck to return from Sunderland this summer, there is simply no reason for Ferguson to keep the former Liverpool man around.
Where does Owen head from here? It’s unlikely that any side with European ambitions would take a chance on a man with his injury record. Perhaps those January links to Derby County aren’t so speculative after all.
One of the downsides of newly promoted sides defying expectations in the Premier League is the increased interest their star performers will be subject to. Jose Enrique, like Charlie Adam, has attracted interest from the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool lately, and there’s little to suggest that he’ll still be a Newcastle player next season.
It’s no surprise that he’s attracted this interest. Having endured a difficult first season in English football, Enrique has developed into one of the Premier League’s finest attacking fullbacks. Strong, quick and more likely to play his way out of trouble than hoof the ball upfield, Enrique would make an excellent acquisition for any club in need of a left back this summer.
An improved contract could yet see him stay at St. James’ Park, but why would Enrique stay in the mid-table if the chance to play in the Champions League presents itself?
Senegalese anchorman Diao actually left Stoke last summer only to re-join the club a few months later. A one-year extension was agreed between Stoke and Diao, but that contract is set to expire with no signs pointing towards renewal.
Stoke players will be sad to see Diao, a popular squad member, leave, but he has little to offer at 34 and has never looked truly comfortable in the Premier League.
Where does Diao go from here? Retirement, most likely. The former Liverpool man turned down the chance to become Stoke’s official club ambassador last year, but joining the Potters’ backroom staff this year is probably his most feasible option.
Former Leeds United defender Kilgallon has barely featured since signing for Sunderland last January. He’s only notched-up seven league appearances in this time and has spent most of this season on-loan at Championship sides Middlesbrough and Doncaster Rovers.
Nedum Onouha and John Mensah might earn permanent deals this summer, but Kilgallon will need to look elsewhere for first-team football with Titus Bramble and Michael Turner ahead of him in the Wearside pecking order.
A move back to the Championship would suit Kilgallon best. Used sparingly in the Premiership at Sunderland and Sheffield United, Kilgallon has always looked more at home in England’s second tier. His experience at that level would make him a valued asset to any promotion-chasing side, but there’s little to suggest he’s cut out for the top tier.
Roman Pavlyuchenko is not a bad player by any stretch of the imagination. A strong target man with good hold-up abilities, the Russian possesses a set of well-defined attributes, and his form has improved greatly after a difficult first season in England. He’s actually been one of Spurs’ most consistent forwards this season (with 12 goals in 39 appearances), but since arriving at White Hart Lane, he’s hardly justified the £14 million they paid for him.
Pavlyuchenko’s transfer away from Tottenham is speculated every time the transfer window opens, but a move has yet to materialise. Harry Redknapp has stated that he won’t let the Russian leave for a penny less than Spurs paid for him, but who’d be willing to risk splurging such a huge sum on a player whose Tottenham performances can best be described as solid but unspectacular?
Perhaps the Russian will be content to spend another year as a Spurs squad player. There are certainly worse places for a footballer to ply his trade, but he’s unlikely to establish himself as Tottenham’s first-choice any time in the near future.
The tough-tackling Mulumbu has come on leaps and bounds since joining West Brom in 2009. As comfortable with the ball at his feet as he is dispossessing opponents, Mulumbu’s performances improve with every game, and a series of all-action displays this season will no doubt have alerted the attentions of Europe’s elite.
A switch to a Champions League side may be above him at the moment, but Mulumbu is definitely capable of playing at a higher level. The Baggies will be reluctant to let him leave and potential suitors will have to pay a premium for his services, and rightly so. Mulumbu provides the midfield steel that gives Albion’s more attack-minded players the freedom to express themselves. He is a vital part of their system and would not be easily replaced.
Scott Parker is in the form of his life. A series of gutsy, all-action displays for West Ham have seen him scoop this season’s Football Writers’ Player of the Year award and regain his place in the England squad. The industrious schemer enjoys hero status among the West Ham faithful, but there will be no shortage of bids for Parker this summer, regardless of whether West Ham are relegated or not.
The Hammers’ financial woes are well-documented, and the new contract Parker signed in September 2010 made him the highest-paid player in the club’s history. Parker almost joined Spurs last summer, and if West Ham are relegated, they will be in no position to decline any offer to take his wages off their hands.
West Ham gave Parker the opportunity to rebuild his career after disappointing spells at Chelsea and Newcastle. It will be a wrench for them if they have to sell him, but they won’t have much choice in the matter.
Frenchman N’Zogbia has been revelation since joining Wigan in 2009. After years of misuse and mistreatment at Newcastle, the talented winger has progressed rapidly at the DW Stadium and was even the subject of an £11 million bid from his former club in January.
While a return to Newcastle seems unlikely, it looks almost certain that N’Zogbia will leave this summer. Several top-eight clubs are though to be interested in the Frenchman, and while his temperament remains suspect, it’s difficult to imagine him not making a mark wherever he goes.
One thing’s for sure though: N’Zogbia certainly won’t be happy if he has to play Championship football next season.
Jarvis has been terrifying Premier League defences all season, and his performances were rightly rewarded with his first international cap against Ghana in March. A regular in the Wolves XI since signing from Gillingham in 2007, Jarvis has had little trouble moving up the football league pyramid and has now established himself as one of the most sought-after English talents in the country.
A jet-heeled winger with great anticipation and the athleticism to leave fullbacks in his dust, it’s easy to see why Jarvis is so highly regarded. He’s been Wolves’ standout performer for the past two seasons, and the Black Country side will struggle to fend-off interest in him this year.
Jarvis is a player who’s worked his way from League Two all the way to the Premier League. Whether or not he has the ability to make it with a top-six side remains to be seen, but the least he deserves is the opportunity.