The English Premier League constantly attracts some of the best talent in the world. Teams with deep pockets will splash the cash in the hopes of making that one big name signing that will push them to the top of the table.
Flair, pace, creativity, vision, aggression, those are some of the many traits it takes to be a successful midfielder in the worlds most physical league. In recent weeks the key focus for teams in England has seemed to be on adding midfield depth, talent, class, and skill to their rosters as they prepare for the long grinding campaign that is the 38 game schedule of the EPL.
Several of the worlds most highly rated players have been mentioned with top clubs in England, and here is a run down of the top 12 midfield talents that are rumored to possibly end up plying their trade in the Barclay's Premier League by the end of the transfer window in August.
Jose Mourinho informed Argentine midfielder Fernando Gago early this summer that he was not in the future plans for Real Madrid. Since then he has been rumored to be headed to Liverpool. However, the signing of Charlie Adam makes that even more unlikely now than before
Another rumor has him not heading to England at all as he is set to possibly be part of a player plus cash deal for Inter Milan's Maicon.
Gago has made 121 appearances for Los Blancos during his five year career in Madrid scoring one goal and providing 16 assists.
It could be a good time for the midfielder to make a change, but I don't see the Premier League in the cards for him this summer despite his early ties to England.
Possibly one of the most overrated and overpriced players to be linked with a move to the EPL is Palermo's Javier Pastore. The highly talented young Argentine looks to have loads of skill and potential for the future, but he is not worth 50 million Euros as is being demanded by his club.
He has been linked with both EPL sides in the last day or so, and he is expected to make a move in the next 10 days according to the Daily Mirror.
Chelsea could chase the player as an alternative to target Luka Modric whom looks like he may not be able to be pryed away from Tottenham.
Caughtoffside.com initially broke that Lyon's Michel Bastos was to be the subject of a Liverpool bid in the range of £12 million if their prusuit of Stewart Downing fell through. Despite a much protracted transfer saga Liverpool got the man.
Bastos has scored 50 goals in his five years at Lyon, and also in under the watchful eye of Chelsea according to the Daily Mirror. It also appears that the 27-year-old Brazilian has been linked with fellow London club Tottenham, but Spurs have done little to anything this window and I don't see them making a move for the player.
The midfielder has also seen interest from Italian club Juventus, and a 15 million Euro move to Turin seems the most likely to happen for the player this summer.
The end of June saw a flurry of interest head the direction of VfL Wolfsburg midfielder Diego. Two years ago he was considered possibly in the top five midfielders of the world when at Werder Bremen. However, a one year term in Italy at Juventus with bad form saw him return to Germany from whence he came.
Aston Villa also are rumored to be in for the player and this could be a much more likely move as the Villains are low on play-makers after the loss of Ashley Young to Manchester United and Stewart Downing to Liverpool.
Stephen Ireland will return to the club from Newcastle, but a creative presence like Diego in their midfield is one thing they most desperately could use behind Darren Bent and the rest of the front line.
AS Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi has been a hot transfer topic the last few weeks. The bad news of Chelsea's Michael Essien being injured and unavailable for at least the next six months has prompted the Blues interest in the tough midfielder.
Manchester United has also been linked to an £18 million bid for the player as a possible replacement for the role that was once filled by the now departed Owen Hargreaves. However, Manchester City seem to have thrown a monkey in United's wrench as they have reportedly dropped a whopping £35 million offer down for the player.
New Roma owner, Thomas DiBenedetto, has insisted that the player will remain at Roma, and his manager Luis Enrique knows that De Rossi is a key component to future success at the club, and he will be keen to try and keep the player whose contract ends after the up coming season.
FC Bayern Munich attacking wide midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has been a possible Manchester United target for some time, and has also been tracked by Manchester City, Real Madrid and AC Milan.
Sir Alex Ferguson has seen the German International as a possible replacement for the now retired Paul Scholes. However, the wily Scot has not been able to lure him to England, with his most likely destination possible Real Madrid of AC Milan.
Milan have stepped up their pursuit recently and look to be the front runners for his signature if he will leave Bavaria, but that remains to be seen.
Juan Mata has been on the want list for multiple premier league teams this summer, but most notably those of Liverpool and Arsenal. Mata appeared to be a primary Reds target when they were struggling to find the right offer to secure Stewart Downing from Aston Villa. However, since the completion of the England Internationals move, Mata has been more heavily linked to Arsenal, and also Tottenham.
The Real Madrid Academy graduate scored 10 goals in 39 appearances for Real Madrid B in his one full season from 2006-07 before moving to Valencia. Since moving to the Mestalla he has made 172 appearances and scored 46 goals while playing mainly as a left sided winger.
It is still possible that he makes a move to England as both Liverpool or Arsenal are still searching for new wide players, but he could also be hijacked by several other potential suitors as the two sides of Manchester, United and City, have now joined in the pursuit of the young Spaniard.
Napoli star Marek Hamšík opened up a possible move to Manchester United late last year. However, after the Naples club secured Champions League football this coming season, they are keen to hold onto on of there multiple prize possessions.
Along with being a possible United target, mainly due to the break down in talks over the transfer of Inter Milan star Wesley Sneijder, the Slovakian national is being courted by Manchester City, Arsenal, and AC Milan.
The player has insisted that he is happy at Napoli with four and a half years still remaining on his contract, but if the right offer comes, then it could be hard to refuse. However, I figure he will still be in Italian light blue come the start of the Serie A season.
Manchester City have emerged as the most persistent club in the hunt for Arsenal's want away French midfielder Samir Nasri. City's Roberto Mancini has been verbally attacked by Arsenal's Arsene Wenger, but that does not seem to have phased him in any way.
The Citizens have been believed to be offering a salary of around £160,000-a-week should he make the move north, while Arsenal could attempt to persuade the player to stay by raising his current wage of £70,000-a-week to £115,000-a-week.
Another high profile midfielder that Manchester City have been linked with is Real Madrid's Kaka once again. Before the Brazilian moved to the Bernabeu he was the subject of an outlandish City bid, be he chose Madrid over the newly rich English side.
The play maker was also linked with Chelsea late last year heading into the January transfer window, but nothing came of the rumor.
Now, once again City are chasing the player after he has had some recent injury trouble while in the Spanish capital. Two days ago caughtoffside,com broke the story that the Citizens could offer a straight trade with Carlos Tevez heading to Madrid and Kaka making the move to City.
It is hard to know what Jose Mourinho would do if this is truly an official offer. The Special One loaned in Emmanuel Adebayor from City last season when he seemed desperate to increase his attacking capabilities, and Tevez was a successful teammate of Crisitiano Ronalodo when they were both at Manchester United.
The Luka Modric saga has played on and on this summer, and it is still not any more clear what will become of Tottenham's want-away Croatian midfield maestro. Chelsea have been pursuing the player adamantly since the early weeks of June, and have appeared to make some progress.
In the beginning stages Modric was quoted as refusing to submit a transfer request to Daniel Levy and the Tottenham board, but as the Blues continued their pursuit it seems that his change of heart has since seen him do just the opposite.
Andre Villas-Boas could use a creative midfielder of the Croatians caliber, and the Blues could also do with a youthful injection as they continue to age. Michael Essien's injury in preseason has also opened a faster route to first team action at Stamford Bridge, and could be another bargaining ship to get their man.
Manchester United appeared to have wrapped up their Dutch target Wesley Sneijder at several different times, but so far it has appeared not to be. He has become one of the most dominant midfield forces since his move to Italy from Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho.
The departure of his manager after leading him and his team to a mountain of success in 2009-10 did not phase the abilities of the player as he continued to impress again this past season. Since the retirement of Paul Scholes Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United has been seeking the long term replacement for his now departed veteran, and Sneijder was believed to be that man.
Even though Ferguson has attempted to distance himself and the Red Devils from the possible transfer, I believe that has only been a tactic to try and avoid more speculation.
However, their £35 million move seems to have fallen on deaf ears as the Dutchman looks set to remain in the Italian fashion capital for at least another season. Sneijder had been tipped as the player to help lift United past Barcelona in Europe, but this does not look to be the year for that.