January is approaching rapidly, which means the transfer rumors are really starting to pile up. With all the speculation about top-flight attackers (Eden Hazard), centre-backs (Gary Cahill) and strikers (um...Carlos Tévez), we haven't talked quite enough about sought-after goalkeepers.
Here are 14 goalkeepers who may be on the move in January or at the end of the season, and the clubs rumored to be interested in them. As always, if there's anywhere in particular you'd like to see these masters in the net end up, have at it in the comments section.
The Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper will be leaving White Hart Lane in January after sliding down the pecking order, now in the third-choice keeper spot behind an on-form Brad Friedel and Carlo Cudicini. The lack of time on the pitch has reportedly led to a falling out between Gomes and manager Harry Redknapp, most notably manifesting in a row in the first week of the season when Spurs faced Manchester United.
Gomes says he thinks he will return to his native Brazil on loan before returning to his former club, PSV Eindhoven. Among Spurs' targets for a replacement for Gomes is former Liverpool custodian Nikolay Mihaylov, who impressed in the Champions League last year for Eredivisie side FC Twente.
The Polish international remains the second-choice keeper at Arsenal behind his compatriot Wojciech Szczesny, but as Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup qualifiers loom ever closer, Fabianski is rumored to be looking for a loan move to gain more first-team play and increase his chances of getting first-team play for his country. According to a report from SportsMole, Fabianski, who has appeared on the pitch twice this season for the Gunners, spoke to Arsene Wenger about his future at the club.
Fabianski says he plans to focus on breaking into the Gunners' first team for now, though:
If there is an opportunity, I want to play as well as I can and help the team. We will see what happens. At the moment, I focus on Arsenal. There is still time until January, almost two months. We will see what happens.
I am going to keep fighting for the place. Wojciech is doing well, but I have to fight, work hard and see what happens.
Arsenal will likely be looking for keepers as Fabianski, Vito Mannone and Manuel Almunia prepare to leave the club, all most likely on loan spells. A recently-emerging potential candidate, according to the Daily Mail, is £6 million-rated Sevilla keeper Javi Varas.
One of three backup Arsenal keepers reportedly looking for January loan moves, veteran Manuel Almunia has been shuffled down the lineup behind Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski and, while he was on loan at West Ham, Vito Mannone, who took the third-place spot. Almunia, 34, has an impressive track record at the Emirates, with more than 50 career clean sheets for the club.
But he has yet to appear on the pitch for Arsenal this year, instead spending a month on emergency loan at West Ham United in place of the injured Robert Green, during which he kept two clean sheets over the course of four appearances.
Doncaster Rovers were reportedly interested in bringing on Almunia on loan, but with the veteran's price tag, they were unable to work with the financial constraints.
England fans may still be reeling from Greeny's gaffe (which some have even called an "own goal" for England) during the 2010 World Cup, but Green may be looking for an opportunity to redeem himself with first-division, first-team play ahead of the Euro 2012 competition.
Joe Hart may be the first-choice England keeper right now, and he's certainly impressed in the position, but Green may still be looking for a move that will secure his spot on the squad. Injury troubles have kept him on the sidelines for England and for his regular club, West Ham, but once he's fit, he could be looking at a return to the Premiership. He was linked to bids from West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United over the summer, and although nothing ever materialized, hey, you never know.
The Slovenian international, who gave an impressive performance in last week's friendly against the United States, has emerged as one of Europe's most exciting keepers to watch. Handanovic is under contract at Serie A side Udinese until 2016, but according to ESPN, the likes of Arsenal (who may be losing a few keepers on loan in January) and AC Milan have expressed interest in bringing him away from Udine.
And at 27 and looking to start making some serious career moves, Handanovic says he could be swayed. As he told the Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy:
I'm happy at Udine, but of course, at my age, I am thinking about a big club...I like to take steps forward in my career and if I move on to a different team then it will be to improve myself. If that is not really an option then I will stay at Udinese.
Former Manchester United keeper Ben Foster left Old Trafford for Birmingham City and a desire for first-team play. Now at West Bromwich Albion as a result of a loan swap for Boaz Myhill, Foster has served the Baggies well enough that they might want to keep him around just a little bit longer.
According to WBA's sporting and technical director Dan Ashworth, the club will seek to make Foster's move permanent should Birmingham City remain in the Championship, to the tune of a £4 million fee.
As Ashworth told Sky Sports:
When we did the deal in the summer we said it wouldn't be considered if they got promoted or we got relegated, so if we're in the same division next season then that will be the case.
If we're not, we would need, and will take, a goalkeeper. Ben has come in and done really well and we would have to consider.
Kirkland has been described as a keeper with "an unbreakable spirit and an all-too-breakable body," and that description may be accurate, especially as Kirkland is on the sidelines with a back injury. The skilled but unlucky keeper has lost his place in the pecking order due to injury troubles and the arrival of Ali Al-Habsi to Wigan, creating the impetus for him to leave the club.
His contract with the club expires over the summer, and Kirkland will reportedly seek employment elsewhere. His most recent injury woes cut short a loan spell at Doncaster Rovers. A move to the Championship or League One once he is fully fit could see a return for Kirkland to first-team play.
As Wigan manager Roberto Martinez explained: "I can't wait to see Chris playing and enjoying his football but at the moment the competition here is very strong. We need to assess the situation."
Most of the rumors involving American soccer recently seem to focus on American internationals and MLS players moving to Europe as opposed to the other way around. But the Seattle Sounders may be interested in Austria international Michael Gspurning, as one of their key offseason priorities will be finding a keeper to replace the now-retired Kasey Keller.
Gspurning, now at Greek Super League club Skoda Xanthi, is reportedly negotiating with the MLS side, and he recently made a trip to America to check out the club.
The 18-year-old Birmingham City keeper has been touted as one to watch, having netted five clean sheets while on loan at Cheltenham Town and impressing for the England U21s, generating rumors about a £1 milllion transfer fee for the keeper, who is under contract at St. Andrew's until 2015.
A number of clubs have been reportedly knocking in an effort to court Butland, with Arsenal scout Steve Rowley and keeper coach Gerry Peyton watching him play for the U21s, according to a report from the Birmingham Mail. Sunderland's Steve Bruce has reportedly considered bringing him in to replace injured keepers Craig Gordon and Simon Mignolet.
Birmingham City manager Chris Hughton has said the rumors of a million-pound fee are incorrect and told the press the starlet isn't going anywhere, at least not permanently:
But he is also a lad who very much showed his intentions some weeks ago by signing a long-term contract here.
We are delighted to have him, we're delighted to keep working on his development and all that Jack has on his mind is one day representing his club between the sticks and we very much look forward to that.
Australian international Adam Federici, who currently makes his trade at Championship side Reading, was previously a target of Liverpool and Fulham, and now it looks as though the Cottagers may be trying again to bring the Soccerroo over at the end of the season.
As Federici's compatriot Mark Schwarzer inches closer to 40 and potential retirement, Martin Jol will be looking for someone to replace him in goal. Federici, who had a brief appearance at Wolverhampton Wanderers before his arrival at Reading, would likely be competing for first-team play with David Stockdale.
Yet another backup Arsenal keeper looking to make an exit, Arsene Wenger has cleared Mannone for a January loan spell along with Manuel Almunia. The 23-year-old spent part of last season at Hull City on loan, earning back-to-back clean sheets in his first two appearances for the club, but injuries kept him from seeing first-team action back at the Emirates.
Now the third choice behind Fabianski and Wojciech Szczesny, Mannone may be looking to try his luck with a second loan. He's impressed in some reserves performances, but deals with Championship sides Leeds United and Ipswich Town have fallen through, and with the loan deadline approaching fast, Mannone and Arsenal will have to make moves soon.
The young Bolton Wanderers keeper signed a two-year contract with Owen Coyle's side back in March, but in order for him to develop, it looks as though the club has made Lainton available for a loan spell beginning in January.
The Trotters have been struggling this season, and as Lainton is third choice behind Adam Bogdan and Jussi Jaaskelainen, the opportunity for him to gain more first-team experience on loan may be a win-win situation for him and for a club needing to shore up its defense.
As Lainton's agent, Peter Morrison, told Sky Sports: "Bolton think an awful lot of Rob, and Owen feels he should be getting more experience."
Tomasz Kuszczak came under fire earlier this month over comments in which he referred to himself as a "slave to Manchester." The 29-year-old Polish international is currently Manchester United's fourth-choice keeper behind David de Gea, Anders Lindegaard and Ben Amos, and as such, is frustrated and looking for an exit.
Back at the end of October, Sunderland were considering bringing Kuszczak up to Wearside on an emergency loan deal as first- and second-choice keepers Simon Mignolet and Craig Gordon struggled with injuries. Sir Alex Ferguson reportedly blocked a loan move that would send Kuszczak to rivals Leeds United, but Doncaster Rovers and Sheffield United may provide the keeper with more first-team play if those moves go through.
Despite being signed with Reading, 21-year-old keeper Alex McCarthy has spent much of his career so far on loan spells throughout the Championship and League One to develop and raise his profile. He made his England U21 debut last March, earning a clean sheet in the 4-0 win over Denmark.
Leeds United have McCarthy on a month-long emergency loan following the injury of first-team keeper Andy Lonergan and the poor form of backup Paul Rachubka. McCarthy earned a clean sheet on his debut for Leeds in a win over Leicester City, and if things keep going well, more clubs may be after the Championship up-and-coming keeper.