25 Big Names in Soccer: Who Will Be on the Move in January
It may be less than a week since the last transfer window closed, but already, forward-thinking (and slightly masochistic) fans are getting ready for the next deadline day in January 2012. From under-21 wünderkinds to fading veterans looking to get in some more first-team play before retirement to megastars looking for some new digs, some big moves will be made in January, and here are some of the players who will most likely be making them.
Gary Cahill (Bolton Wanderers)
Linked to: Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, a pick-up round of five-a-side in Clapham Junction last Thursday.
It seems everyone and their mother wants a piece of Gary Cahill. The 25-year-old Bolton Wanderers defender has had a stellar start to the season with a 25-yard goal during Bolton's first match against Queens Park Rangers, and another one over last weekend for England against Bulgaria. The fact that he's a defender who can score goals, is proving himself on the international circuit (Cahill wants Champions League play and Champions League-level teams want him) and is capable of amassing great admiration from fans makes Cahill one of the most desired January targets in the Premiership right now.
Arsene Wenger has been after Cahill since the last January transfer window, proposing a £15 million bid for the England international, and clubs are probably willing to shell out even more now for him. (Bolton reportedly wanted £17 million for Cahill during the August transfer window.) Expect Owen Coyle to put up a fight for his headlining defender, especially after he lambasted the proposed August bids from the bigger clubs for Cahill as 'derisory.'
Luka Modrić (Tottenham Hotspur)
Linked to: Chelsea, Manchester United
Although Daniel Levy was quick to reject some astronomical bids for one of the Spurs' most valuable players, it's clear that Luka Modrić wants to leave White Hart Lane and two of England's biggest clubs will likely prepare massive campaigns to bring the 25-year-old midfielder to their side. Levy has already turned down an late bid from Chelsea for £40 million, but given Modrić's desire to stay in London, and Chelsea being in the process of overhauling their midfield and bringing on Juan Mata and Raul Meireles, Roman Abramovich and company will be persistent in luring Modrić over.
Manchester United could join Chelsea in their quest to get the Croatian international in January as they search for an experienced, creative midfielder who could replace the recently retired Paul Scholes. United will likely sign someone younger or give Tom Cleverley more time to develop in Scholes' stead, but Modrić could bring experience and complement the squad's many young players.
Linked to: Barcelona, Anzhi Makhachkala, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City
He's got a stunning scoring record of 42 goals in 60 apperances for Santos, double digit caps for the national team as an under 20, mad samba skills and a bright future to boot. His power, pace and presence on the pitch make 19-year-old Brazilian forward Neymar the hottest player out of Brazil since Kaká, with comparisons to the likes of Pelé and Ronaldinho already being made. And with the young forward looking like he will make a move in 2012, despite his Santos contract being in effect until 2014 unless a buyout agreement is reached, clubs all over Europe are already waiting sign the Brazilian phenomenon.
Even though a January bid for Neymar will mean paying the £40 million buyout clause, several clubs have already stepped up and shown they're willing to fight for him. As Juventus seem like a less likely option and Anzhi Makhachkala's bid looking like it will go the way of Kerimov's move for Nemanja Vidic, Neymar will almost certainly choose England or Spain, with Barcelona and Real Madrid looking like the front runners in this battle. Neymar's Brazil teammate David Luiz has been trying to convince the young star to sign with Chelsea and rumors of the forward already signing a deal with Barcelona to join in 2013 spread rapidly, but were later denied by Santos and Neymar's family.
Eden Hazard (Lille)
Linked to: Liverpool, Arsenal
The 20-year-old Belgian playmaker, who was instrumental in bringing Lille their first Ligue 1 title in more than 50 years, has been praised for his remarkable speed and technical ability. His work ethic, finesse and collected demeanor on the pitch have drawn comparisons to the greats, including Lionel Messi.
Liverpool, who are likely to make signing a winger a priority in January, are hoping that their loan of Joe Cole to Lille will open the door for negotiations for the club to sign Hazard, who may be worth more than his £20 million market value by then. But with Hazard wanting to stay in the Champions League and Arsenal looking for a young, dynamic midfielder to join new signings Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun, the Gunners will be pulling out the stops to bring Hazard to the Emirates, with a £28 million deal reportedly in the works.
Roman Pavlyuchenko (Tottenham Hotspur)
Linked to: Sunderland
Now that Emmanuel Adebayor has joined Spurs on a one year loan, the veteran striker, concerned that he will be slowly shuffled down the first team ladder, may be on the lookout for a club where he can get more time on the pitch.
One interested team in the 29-year-old Russian international, who scored the goal which kept Spurs in the top five last season and clinched their spot in European play, is Sunderland manager Steve Bruce. With the Black Cats' offense still needing a lot of experience, bringing in a veteran with a solid record like Pavlyuchenko could give the team a boost, allowing the rookies more time to develop and creating a stronger side.
Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan)
Linked to: Manchester United, Manchester City
It is the transfer saga that keeps coming back for more. After a long and drawn out debate with Manchester United management involving some seriously insane amounts of money, the 27-year-old Dutch international opted to stay at Inter Milan, compelled in part by fellow headliner Samuel Eto'o's move to Anzhi. His stay at San Siro seemed like a done deal after deadline day, but speculations for a January move to United are already starting.
Manchester City pondered a Tevez-Sneijder swap deal with Inter prior to the acquisition of Samir Nasri, but if Sneijder makes a move at all in January, it will be to United. Sneijder wants to play in England and was a lot closer to making the move to Old Trafford in August than expected. But if Sir Alex Ferguson makes any big signings in January for his ideal Scholes replacement, he may be more inclined now to choose someone younger for the midfield, e.g. Christian Eriksen.
Liam Ridgewell (Birmingham City)
Linked to: Newcastle United, Swansea City, Queens Park Rangers, Celtic, West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City
Despite Birmingham City's recent troubles, veteran centre back Liam Ridgewell is still one of UK football's most sought after defenders and was a leader in their victory over Arsenal to win the Football League Cup and get into Europe. A goal-scoring defender and a consistent force, Ridgewell is a hot commodity for the experience he will bring to any side's defense.
A number of clubs began making moves for Ridgewell out during the summer, including QPR, a reported loan request rejection from Swansea and a last-minute bid from Newcastle on deadline day. But after the departures of Scott Dann and Cameron Jerome on deadline day, the Blues were less inclined to meet their offers.
Salomon Kalou (Chelsea)
Linked to: Tottenham Hotspur
Salomon Kalou was one of the Chelsea stars rumored to be departing during the August transfer window along with fellow veterans Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka and Alex. Kalou, a relatively consistent performer for Chelsea since 2006 who served on two League championship squads with the club, has been struggling to find field time in favor of Fernando Torres, who joined the Blues last January.
Potentially driving Kalou further down the striker pecking order are new Chelsea signing Romelu Lukaku and Gael Kakuta, who the Blues will bring in on loan from Bolton as a backup for Kalou and fellow Ivorian national Didier Drogba when they leave to participate in the African Cup of Nations this winter.
Back in August, Kalou was rumored to be a part of Harry Redknapp's request from Chelsea in exchange for their big transfer target, Luka Modrić. With Tottenham needing a veteran striker to replace Peter Crouch in the starting lineup and Kalou seeking first-team play, it may be an exchange that will resurface in January.
Chris Samba (Blackburn Rovers)
Linked to: Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur
The Blackburn Rovers captain kept his side out of relegation and helped bring along Birmingham City's Scott Dann to Ewood Park. But the Rovers' towering centre back has been looking at top tier sides, and with Tottenham and Arsenal both expressing interest in bringing him on in August, further moves could be made to woo him away from Blackburn.
But with Per Mertesacker, another centre back with experience and a strong presence joining the Gunners after deadline day and Younès Kaboul offering versatility and some signs of promise, among them his goal against a powerful Manchester City force in Week 3's matchup, neither team may need to scope out a new CB, ruling out a January signing of Samba.
Yann M'vila (Rennes)
Linked to: Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Real Madrid
The Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year nominee has some big Premiership clubs knocking on his door after his strength and assertiveness on the pitch helped drive Rennes up the Ligue 1 tables.
M'Vila's powerful presence could be a shot in the arm to Arsenal's defensive play and his forward thinking coupled with creative midfielders like Jack Wilshere and promising young players like Aaron Ramsey, could make the midfield a force to be reckoned with. Liverpool fans would like to see the previous Kenny Dalglish target at the Kop potentially as a possible complement to Lucas Leiva or Charlie Adam.
Rennes is unlikely to let their star go for under £30 million, but with Arsene Wenger already attempting a late-in-the-game £25 million bid for M'Vila in August, it's looking as though someone will rise to the club's demands.
Dimitar Berbatov (Manchester United)
Linked to: Paris Saint-Germain, Anzhi Makhachkala
The striker is still one of United's great goal scoring assets. He scored five goals against Blackburn and had three hat tricks in a single season. However with Rooney playing well, Danny Welbeck coming on strong and Javier Hernández still in the mix, Berbatov can't seem to get into the first team at Old Trafford. Frustrated with the lack of playing time, the Bulgarian international may be seeking somwhere he can get more opportunities as a starter come January.
Paris Saint-Germain and Anzhi both expressed interest in August but were rebuffed by United, and Berbatov's contract will be re-negotiated this month, which will be the determining factor as to whether he stays or goes. If Sir Alex wants Berbatov to stay a Red Devil, he'll have to give him some playing time before January.
Marek Hamšík (Napoli)
Linked to: Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Arsenal
Marek Hamšík says he won't leave Napoli in January for any of the clubs that are interested in him, but a lot of this is probably variant on Napoli's performance in Europe. The 24-year-old playmaker and rising star initially expressed leaving the Azzurri for a chance to play more in the Champions League, a notion expected to change now that the Italian side is there. But with a taxing group stage ahead of them—Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Villarreal—Hamšík could still make the move to a bigger club depending on how the next couple of months go. Of course, Napoli may not let him go either, especially if they want to stay in European competition.
Hamšík's creativity and quick rise to become a playmaker could make him an ideal replacement for Cesc Fabregas at Arsenal, the newest club to be linked to the Slovakian international. Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea have expressed interest and fans of AC Milan, a club Hamšík once cited as his ideal destination, would love the upstart to join.
Adam Johnson (Manchester City)
Linked to: Liverpool, Arsenal, Everton
Like Berbatov, Johnson is a great player but can't get any playing time among giants. With the likes of Yaya Touré and David Silva dominating in the midfield and newcomer Samir Nasri off to a hot start, Adam Johnson may be getting a hefty salary to wait his turn at City, but his talent would be best served at a side who needs an agile, adept winger.
Everton, Liverpool and Arsenal were among the clubs that made strides for Johnson in August, but Roberto Mancini and co. insisted the England international was not for sale. Expect Arsenal, Liverpool and others to try again in January though—Johnson would be an asset to Liverpool's right-side game and could complement Arsenal's solid centre-playing midfielders like Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere well. Johnson would probably have to take a pay cut if he goes, well, anywhere that isn't City, but he could make a huge impact on the pitch.
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
Linked to: Stoke City, Fulham, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool
The 18-year-old Crystal Palace striker, named the club's Young Player of the Year at the end of last season, has become a valuable presence for the Championship side, particularly in his speed and vision, which have led to some great assists and raised the eyebrows of a few Premiership clubs, with Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United considering bids for the young phenom late last season.
Stoke City put in a £2 million bid for the young striker in August but were rejected by Crystal Palace, and more clubs may compete with them for Zaha's affection come January. Although Stoke acquired two other strikers on deadline day—Peter Crouch and Cameron Jerome—making the reach for a third less likely, Zaha will still be a hot target for first-division clubs.
Kevin De Bruyne (Racing Genk)
Linked to: Chelsea
The 20-year-old winger started earning buzz after he helped bring Racing Genk a Belgian Pro League title and a spot in this year's Champions League competition. Chelsea offered £6 million for the rising star in August but was rejected, although talks over bringing him to Stamford Bridge are set to reopen in about two weeks.
It's clear that de Bruyne is eager to make the move to West London, especially after Chelsea signed his Belgian national teammate, 18-year-old striker Romelu Lukaku. One possibility is that de Bruyne signs with Chelsea but remains at Genk on loan for the rest of the 2011-2012 season before joining the Bridge full-time the following season.
M'Baye Niang (Caen)
Linked to: Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Real Madrid
The versatile Caen striker already has the big English clubs salivating and he's not even old enough to buy a post-match pint in the UK. He's scored three goals already for the Ligue 1 club in seven appearances and has been making his way up the ranks of France's international squad. Arsenal and Tottenham began chasing him in August and he's been speculated as a target for Liverpool and Real Madrid.
Tottenham may need a striker, especially if dos Santos and Pavlyuchenko leave in January, while Arsene Wenger's past luck signing French internationals could spell good omens for the Gunners in their quest for Niang, although Real Madrid has been using their director of football, French great Zinedine Zidane, to lure his countryman to join the Merengues. But with Niang rumored to be valued at €11 million and likely more come January if he keeps his performances up, the chase will be an expensive one.
Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal)
Linked to: Napoli, Juventus, Barcelona, AC Milan
A number of clubs were seeking out the 24-year-old striker, but as he decided to stay in the yellow kit, interest waned. Napoli remains the frontrunner for the Italy international, who, after a slow start at El Madrigal, found his stride last season and racked up 32 goals for Villarreal, 18 of which were in league play, indicating his prowess in non-league and European competition as well.
A move to an on-fire Napoli could be a great career move for Rossi, especially if Napoli loses its fighting force on offense, attacking midfielder Marek Hamšík, in January. The two clubs will face each other in the group stages of this year's Champions League competition, and that head-to-head matchup may end up playing a part in Rossi's decision.
Mario Goetze (Borussia Dortmund)
Linked to: Manchester United, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, Arsenal
Borussia Dortmund's 19-year-old playmaker has been called a 'magician' by the German press and praised wildly for his skill and creativity on the pitch. Goetze's match-winning goal for Germany against Brazil contributed to the already-growing wide international interest in him, leading BVB boss Hanz-Joachim Watzke to step up measures to fight off bidders.
Sir Alex Ferguson has been eyeing Goetze for a while as a potential replacement for Paul Scholes—the German wünderkind even surpassed Wesley Sneijder as United's most-wanted August signing as the transfer window closed. Inter Milan and Bayern Munich will likely join United in seeking out the rising German star come January and Arsenal, who put in a stunning £35 million last-minute bid for Goetze, may try again to acquire the midfielder.
Giovani Dos Santos (Tottenham Hotspur)
Linked to: Sevilla, Wigan Athletic, Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş
Istanbul's three major clubs have just joined the race for the Spurs attacker, who was expected to depart White Hart Lane on deadline day and make a move for Sevilla. The 22-year-old Mexico international has already spent time with one of the Turkish clubs, Galatasaray, on a loan spell, where he didn't see much playing time or score for the club. Wigan Athletic, in search of a winger to bolster their offense, also expressed interest in Dos Santos.
Dos Santos, who has spent three of his seasons with Spurs on loan spells at Ipswich Town, Galatasaray and Racing Santander, expressed his frustration when Harry Redknapp blocked his departure from the club at the last minute. With the departure of Wilson Palacios on deadline day, perhaps Redknapp plans to move Dos Santos up the pecking order and give him a larger role. But Sevilla will likely attempt to seal the deal for Dos Santos again in January and give him the field time he wants.
Ibrahim Afellay (Barcelona)
Linked to: Sevilla, Liverpool, Juventus
The 25-year-old Dutch international and frequent Barcelona benchwarmer would fare well at even a slightly smaller club where he can get more time on the pitch. Afellay, a winger who joined the Camp Nou crew in January after a successful run at PSV Eindhoven, made a few successful plays but ultimately got lost in the club's headliners and fellow newcomers like Alexis Sánchez, and his chance to shine may be with signings at Sevilla, who were rumored to put out a loan request in August.
Afellay, a talented midfielder who has yet to show his potential with the Blaugrana, would be an ideal fit at Liverpool, who need an experienced winger, particularly one with international experience as they try to get back into Europe next season. Juventus put in an €8 million transfer bid for Afellay in August, but as the Bianconeri signed on his Netherlands teammate and fellow winger Elijero Elia, Antonio Conte may no longer need to bring on another addition to the midfield.
Christian Eriksen (Ajax)
Linked to: AC Milan, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona, Real Madrid
With an Eredivisie title, a Danish 'Talent of the Year' award and a 'Dutch Football Talent of the Year Award,' fans like Rio Ferdinand and legend Johan Cruyff and 15 international caps to his name all before he turned 20. This 19-year-old Ajax attacker Christian Eriksen has some of Europe's biggest clubs very, very interested.
Eriksen, who was linked to AC Milan and Chelsea early in the transfer season and recently turned down a bid from Manchester City, has expressed a desire to play in Spain, potentially giving the two La Liga giants after him an upper hand come January. Manchester United will also likely ramp up efforts to bring on Eriksen as another young potential heir apparent to Paul Scholes.
Sebastien Bassong (Tottenham Hotspur)
Linked to: Bolton Wanderers, QPR, Wolverhampton Wanderers
With the Cameroonian defender getting mixed reviews and falling out of favor at White Hart Lane, he may be moving on to a smaller Premiership club where he can get more first-team time and be a more solid contributor to the defense. During the transfer window, Queens Park Rangers and Wolverhampton Wanderers both expressed interest in bringing on Bassong to add experience to their defense, but when Wolves were able to acquire Roger Johnson from Birmingham City, the Bassong deal fizzled. But bringing on a defender who has spent a lot of time in the Premiership could be advantageous for the recently-promoted QPR.
Tottenham reportedly planned to use Bassong as part of a player plus cash deal to acquire Gary Cahill from Bolton, although the Wanderers wanted cash.
Paulo Henrique Ganso (Santos)
Linked to: AC Milan, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Anzhi Makhachkala
Like his Santos teammate Neymar, 21-year-old attacking midfielder Ganso has already drawn comparisons to other Brazilian greats, most notably Kaká, whose position and playing style he has taken on well. Europe's biggest names will be fighting for him, among them AC Milan, still looking for a big signing after little buzz in August on the likes of Lassana Diarra, Balotelli and a Kaká return (they did get Nocerino and Aquliani on loan though, who will serve the club well). But a Ganso signing could be just what Milan needs to make their offense—already formidable with Zlatan Ibrahimović and Robinho—purely unstoppable.
Joining them in their quest for Ganso will be Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United still on the hunt for their Paul Scholes heir-apparent and—you guessed it—Anzhi Makhachkala, who are reportedly willing to make a €40 million offer for the Santos star. Regardless of the outcome, expect a whole lot of competition for the young attacker come January.
Papiss Demba Cissé (SC Freiburg)
Linked to: Newcastle, Sunderland, Fulham
Several English clubs went after the Freiburg striker in August, with Newcastle's £10.6 million deadline day bid getting rejected. The Bundesliga side will take great measures to hold on to their ace goalscorer, who scored 22 goals in 32 appearances last season and already has four goals under his belt for Freiburg this season. After a career mostly under the radar, the 26-year-old Senegalese international's profile is rising, and if statistics hold, he may still have his best seasons ahead of him.
Newcastle still need a striker to replace Andy Carroll, and with rumors of Asamoah Gyan's departure buzzing after he was approached by Tottenham, Marseille and Galatasaray during the transfer window, Sunderland may be in need of one, too. Cissé would bring either club the experience and accuracy they need, but only if Freiburg is willing to let him go.
Carlos Tévez (Manchester City)
Previously linked to: Corinthians
The Manchester City striker will stay at Etihad until the winter transfer window and seems to have a more positive outlook on his stay now that his family have moved to the U.K. from Argentina. After disputes with management a summer move to his former club Corinthians failed to materialize, Tévez went through a depression and struggled with overeating.
Although his family's presence in Manchester will likely improve his outlook, Tévez has only made one off-the-bench appearance for City so far this year, and with Edin Džeko and Sergio Agüero showing especially strong starts to the season, it appears as though the 27-year-old may be moved lower down the pecking order, unless Adam Johnson moves to Arsenal or Liverpool. If it is first-team play that Tévez wants, moving may be his best option.