World Transfer Rumours: Top 10 American Players Linked to EPL Move

Andrew MurrayContributor IIIJune 7, 2011

World Transfer Rumours: Top 10 American Players Linked to EPL Move

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    Sacha Kljestan has been a stand-out performer for Anderlecht this season.
    Sacha Kljestan has been a stand-out performer for Anderlecht this season.Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    American footballers have a fine tradition of performing well in the English Premier League. From Brian McBride to Landon Donovan, the list of Americans who've made a successful transition from MLS to EPL is long and only likely to grow as the USA establishes itself as a footballing force.

    With the MLS season hitting its stride and the English transfer window opening, a host of names will be making their way to the EPL and there'll be more than a few Americans on English shopping lists this summer. 

    Not every American to play in the Premier League has been a success, but for every Joe-Max Moore or Eddie Johnson there's been three or four Brad Friedels and Clint Dempseys. A few flops aside, American players seem to find the transition to English football is smooth and straightforward. 

    Will any of Friedel and Dempsey's countrymen join them in the EPL this summer? Here are 10 American players who could make the jump.

10. Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew)

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    COLUMBUS, OH - MAY 28:  Eddie Gaven #12 of the Columbus Crew controls the ball against Chivas USA on May 28, 2011 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Still only 24, Eddie Gaven already has more than 200 professional league appearances under his belt. He has excelled as Columbus Crew's chief playmaker, acting as the side's primary link between midfield and attack since his 2006 arrival.

    A full USA international but not yet a first-choice pick, it may take a starring role at a bigger club for Gaven to cement his spot in the American XI, and where else for him to ply his trade than in the EPL? 

    Already linked with a few mid-table English sides, Gaven will surely be tempted if an English bid comes his way. Lingering in mid-table Eastern Conference mediocrity, the Crew aren't likely to mount a title challenge anytime soon. He's a talented player capable of playing at a higher level, and may see the success of fellow countryman Clint Dempsey playing a similar role at Fulham as encouragement.

    Whether or not a bid will be lodged for Gaven remains to be seen, but plenty of clubs could benefit from his services.

9. Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht)

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    CARSON, CA - MAY 08:  Sacha Kljestan #16 of Chivas USA during the second half of the MLS soccer match against Houston Dynamo on May 8, 2010 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Former Chivas USA man Kljestan has been a key member of Anderlecht's squad. Not always a guaranteed starter, the talented midfielder has nonetheless been a vital role player. His 25 league appearances have garnered two goals.

    The 25-year-old's energy in the middle of the park helped Anderlecht to the Belgian league title this season, and his performances have no doubt attracted the attentions of British scouts. 

    Kljestan only signed for Anderlecht last summer but he's been continually linked with top European sides since 2009. Always one of the MLS's top performers, Kljestan has taken his talents to Belgium and performed admirably. Anderlecht have a young, talented squad filled with plenty of potential; they, like Standard Liege, have benefited immensely from a sudden boom in young Belgian talent.

    Perhaps Kljestan will choose to stick around to see his team reach its potential, or maybe the allure of playing at a higher level will prove too much for the Californian.

8. Michael Bradley (Borussia Monchengladbach)

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MARCH 26:  Michael Bradley #4 of the United States plays during the first half of a friendly match with Argentina at New Meadowlands Stadium on March 26, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    Bradley didn't make much of an impact during a five-month loan spell at Aston Villa last season. Restricted to just one start thanks to injury and Nigel Reo-Coker's Indian summer, the USA international found himself stuck on the sidelines for much of his time at Villa Park, and his track record suggests he's worth a second chance.

    His future won't be decided until Villa name Gerard Houllier's full-time replacement, but Villa may yet take up their option of signing the midfielder following Reo-Coker's exit. 

    A tough, all-action midfielder, Bradley is one of America's most talented players and is still only 23. His best years are ahead of him, but he's already notched over 175 careers appearances in America, the Netherlands, Germany and England.

    A surprisingly potent goal threat, a competent tackler and a slick passer, Bradley is a very well-rounded player who lacks Reo-Coker's grit but boasts a range of attributes the former West Ham man can only dream of.

    Look for Villa to sign Bradley on a permanent deal if the price is right.

7. Alejandro Bedoya (Orebro)

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    CARSON, CA - JANUARY 23:  Alejandro Bedoya #20 of USA controls the ball near midfield during their international friendly match against USA on January 23, 2010 in Carson, California. Honduras defeated USA 3-1.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    Very much one for the future, 24-year-old Alejandro Bedoya has only just established himself in Sweden's Orebro's XI in recent years. He joined the Allsvenskan side in 2009 after a successful college career and has gone on to make 58 appearances for the side, scoring eight goals in the process.

    With eight international caps under his belt already, it's clear that Bob Bradley sees Bedoya as a long-term fixture in the USA squad, but he may need to move to a bigger club with better facilities to reach his full potential. 

    Having already had a trial with Birmingham City earlier this year, Bedoya is likely to be on the radar for a number of English sides. Scottish champions Rangers have been linked with a move for Bedoya, but the Premier League remains a more viable alternative for the Orebro man after fellow Americans Maurice Edu and DaMarcus Beasley failed to make an impact at Ibrox.

    It's highly unlikely that Bedoya will remain in Sweden beyond the coming summer.

6. Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan)

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    PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 08:  Oguchi Onyewu of USa national football team speaks during news conference at Irene Farm on June 8, 2010 in Irene near Pretoria, South Africa.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Onyewu is no stranger to English football. He made 11 league appearances for Newcastle during a loan spell in the 2006-07 season, and was linked with a permanent transfer to Steve Coppell's Reading the season after.

    Having spent most of this year on loan at Dutch side Twente, Onyweu is back at the Giuseppe Meazza but is likely to find first-team opportunities thin on the ground given the signing of Philippe Mexes and the good form of Thiago Silva and Alessandro Nesta. 

    Look for a handful of English clubs to be linked with Onyewu this summer following Twente's decision not to sign him permanently. As powerful in the air as he is in the tackle and with pace to burn, Onyewu is a physical beast with a long throw to rival Rory Delap's. His technical deficiencies are obvious and he's prone to the odd mistake or two, but the big centre back possesses enough blood and thunder to be a Premier League success.

5. Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

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    SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05:  Lee Cattermole of Sunderland competes for the ball with Jonathan Spector of West Ham United during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and West Ham United at the Stadium of Light on December 5, 2010 in
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Jonathan Spector is unique on this list as he's currently plying his trade in England and was a Premier League player up until last season.

    Spector has made almost 150 career appearances after coming through the ranks at Manchester United, and was an important member of the West Ham United squad up until their recent relegation. Always a useful squad member, his qualities are well known in England and it would be a huge surprise if he didn't end up on the books at a club like West Brom or Fulham next season. 

    A true jack of all trades, Spector's versatility is his biggest asset. Able to play at right back, centre back or as a holding midfielder, Spector will be an attractive proposition to clubs with Financial Fair Play looming. His wage demands aren't likely to be excessive and his ability to occupy a number of different roles means he's the perfect candidate to fill a hole in most EPL squads.

    With his West Ham contract talks stalling, look for Spector to move back to the Premier League sooner rather than later.

4. Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca)

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    PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 24:  Jose Torres of USA controls the ball during training session on June 24, 2010 in Pretoria, South Africa. United States will play their second round World Cup match against Ghana on Saturday, June 26, 2010, at Royal Bafok
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    One of the great hopes of American football, pint-sized midfielder Jose Francisco Torres has a bright, bright future ahead of him. The Mexican-born playmaker appeared at the 2010 World Cup and will be a big part of Bob Bradley's long-term plans if he builds on his impressive form for Pachuca and reaches his full potential. 

    Having openly discussed his willingness to move to a bigger league, Torres has already been earmarked as a potential successor to Clint Dempsey if the Fulham forward elects to move this summer. Torres' role is far more withdrawn than Dempsey's and he lacks the Fulham man's versatility but he has plenty of promise and a long, successful career lies ahead of him.

    Having made over 100 appearances for Pachuca, it'd be a huge surprise if Torres was still in Mexico by September.

3. Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04)

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    BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02:  Jermaine Jones of Blackburn Rovers in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers and Tottenham Hotspur at Ewood Park on February 2, 2011 in Blackburn, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Jones, like Michael Bradley, spent the second half of last season on loan in the Premier League, but Jones' time in England proved to be far more productive than Bradley's.

    Jones quickly broke into the Blackburn Rovers first-team after signing from Schalke and displayed a hard-hitting style of midfield play that's tailor-made for the EPL and Blackburn's direct tactics. He's not a flashy player, but he does the dirty jobs well and became a key player for Rovers towards the end of the campaign. 

    Steve Kean has already made his intentions of signing Jones on a permanent deal clear, but it all hinges on Blackburn owners Venky's giving him the necessary funds. Jones is unwanted at Schalke and unlikely to command a huge transfer fee, but Blackburn's hesitancy could see another Premier League club snatch Jones from under their noses. Who couldn't do with a solid holding midfielder, after all?

2. Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal CF)

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    MODENA, ITALY - JUNE 03:  Giuseppe Rossi of Italy lines up for a team photo before  during the UEFA EURO 2012 Group C qualifying match between Italy and Estonia on June 3, 2011 in Modena, Italy.  (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)
    Dino Panato/Getty Images

    Is it cheating to include Giuseppe Rossi on a list of American players? Maybe, maybe not.

    A full Italian international he may be, but Rossi spent most of his childhood growing up in New Jersey. He holds dual Italian/American citizenship, speaks with an American accent and lived in the USA until he'd secured a footballing scholarship with Parma at the age of 12.

    Yeah, he's eligible. 

    Rossi's talents have been famous for a long time, but 2010-11 was the season when he finally blossomed into a truly world-class forward. Hitting an impressive 32 goals for Villarreal last term, Rossi has come a long way since his Manchester United days. He was an instant hit when he signed for the Yellow Submarine four years ago and was always known for his pace and link-up play, but now he's become the complete forward. 

    If Rossi is to move anywhere this summer then it's probably going to be to Barcelona. The Catalan giants have been linked with a bid for months, and it seems only a matter of time before Pep Guardiola puts Barca's feelers out.

    Barca aren't the only club to be linked with Rossi though: Harry Redknapp's Tottenham Hotspur have been touted with a move for the frontman. Spurs would be an unlikely move for Rossi and probably a step backwards, but the link along with Rossi's immense talent warrants his place on this list.

1. Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)

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    CARSON, CA - MAY 14:  Landon Donovan #10 of the Los Angeles Galaxy attacks with the ball against Sporting Kansas City at The Home Depot Center on May 14, 2011 in Carson, California.  The Galaxy won 4-1.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Every football fan knows Landon Donovan's name.

    The USA's talisman and most-talented player, a strong argument can be put forward for Donovan being the greatest American footballer of all time. As comfortable out wide as he is up front or playing behind a striker, Donovan is a skilled attacker whose athleticism makes him a terrifying opponent.

    He cuts inside, he links attack and midfield, he assists, he scores—the only thing Landon Donovan doesn't do is defend. 

    Still only 29, Donovan has 130 international appearances to his name and could very well usurp Cobi Jones as the USA's most-capped player by the time he retires. Two brief spells in the Bundesliga aside, Donovan has played most of his football in the MLS but he did spend a few months on loan at Everton in the 2009-10 season. His performances during this time impressed David Moyes so much that he launched a bid to sign the forward on a permanent basis that summer but the Galaxy weren't willing to part company with their talisman. 

    It seems that Donovan's name is linked with an English switch every time a transfer window opens, and it won't be long before he's taking up British column inches again. Donovan's loyalty to the Galaxy is admirable and he's conducted himself like a true professional whenever his name's been in the rumour mill, but he's also made no secret of his desire to return to the Premier League before he retires.

    As he approaches his 30s, Donovan's time to make a name for himself in England is coming to an end. If he's ever going to end up in England again then it'll probably happen this summer.