With the January window only months away from opening, speculation is rife with regards to the transfer of some of the hottest players on the market, and where their final destination might take them.
As we head toward the second half of the season, Europe’s top clubs are in position to pounce on the best players that money can buy to help bolster their teams in view of what lies ahead between January and May—injuries, European qualifications and domestic honours.
By the time the January window shuts on Feb. 6, we’ll know whether those reports were factual or just idle tittle-tattle.
Here’s a look at some of the hottest players on the market doing the rounds in footballs rumour mill.
The Daily Mail has reported that German International and No. 1. FC Köln forward Lukas Podolski has garnered the interest of Spurs in regards to a possible replacement for Emmanuel Adebayor, who was on year’s loan from Manchester City.
Initially, the club were interested in keeping Adebayor on a permanent basis but were put off due to the £17 million fee wanted by City as well as Adebayor’s £140,000-a-week salary demands.
Atlético Madrid defender Diego Godin has recently shown an interest in joining the Blues outfit.
Chelsea and Andre Villas-Boas haven’t reciprocated the gesture just yet, but with the team recently recording three losses out of four due to defensive frailties at the back, they might be left with little option but to make a bid for the 25-year-old centre-back.
Godin’s contract, which runs until 2015, might cause a hiccup, but his asking price of around £20 million won’t be a problem for the Blues.
The latest news is that they’re willing to make a bid but won’t pay silly money for his services—at present, Spurs have slapped a £50 million tag on him.
Be that as it may, the Welsh international has said his main aim is to contribute to the team's push for a UEFA Champion’s league spot in the 2012-13 season. He also stated that he’d like to see out his contract, which expires in 2015.
If a team like Barca comes calling, they normally leave with their man—whether that is the case with Bale we’ll just have to wait and see.
Spurs and Arsenal have both shown an interest in the Ajax captain of late, but it seems the latter have decided not to pursue Jan Vertonghen and might look elsewhere.
That leaves the door open for Spurs, who are vying for a spot in the UEFA Champion’s League next season.
Vertonghen’s preferred position is at centre-back, but he’s also adept at playing on the left flank or in a defensive midfield capacity.
His inclusion in the north London team would help shore up their defense as well as aid their cause on the domestic front.
A trio of London clubs—Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs—are on the hunt for the services of the highly rated Slovenian midfielder Josip Iliĉić, who plies his trade with Italian Serie A outfit Palermo.
The most likely candidates for the 23-year-old's signature are the latter two.
Iliĉić’s price tag of £25 million has scared off Arsenal, as they and Arsène Wenger refuse to pay over odds money for players.
Be that as it may, the Blues and Spurs might have to shell out more than the stated sum if the club's president Maurizio Zamparini has his way.
Álvaro Pereira, who can play in defense or midfield, has long been a target of the Stamford Bridge outfit.
Andre Villas-Boas, the Chelsea boss, sees the 25-year-old Uruguayan as a substitute to Ashley Cole having since sold Yuri Zhirkov to Russian club FC Anzhi Makhachkala.
Their initial bid of £15 million in August failed to come to fruition, and any other bid would have to be well in excess of the latter sum, as Pereira has now extended his contract with the Portuguese club Porto until 2016.
According to the Daily Mail, the latest news surrounding German Mario Gotze is that Arsenal are ready to make a swoop for the 19-year-old mercurial midfielder.
Gotze, who plays for German club Borussia Dortmund, is rated at £30 million.
He has the speed, the technical ability and the creativity to be one of Europe’s finest.
If Arsenal do acquire the services of Gotze for the amount stated, then in several years time they might deem it money well spent.
The Galáctico hitman, who has found the net 11 times for Los Blancos this season, has been continuously linked to Chelsea, and rumour has it that they’re planning to make a bid come January.
If the rumours are true, then he’d be the ideal replacement for Didier Drogba, who turns 34 in March of 2012.
Whether he leaves the Bernabéu or not is dependent on Real’s acquisition of Belgium midfielder Eden Hazard.
Nonetheless, Gonzalo Higuaín’s price tag is in the region of £40 million, a sum the Blues can afford—whether they cough up the amount is anyone’s guess.
Eden Hazard has made it clear that the Bernabéu will be the next phase in his young career.
However, that has not deterred Europe’s crème de la crème from trying their best to lure the 20-year-old into their lair.
At present, the Lille midfielder has the likes of AC Milan, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Paris St. Germain hovering around like vultures ready to strike.
Nevertheless, recent reports have also suggested that the £35 million rated Belgian midfielder has been scouted by English Premier League clubs Arsenal and Tottenham, and it looks like both teams will be fighting a losing battle for his signature, but they can try.
Whatever the case may be, Hazard would be a great asset for any European side, let alone the Gunners or Spurs—his trickery and flair on the ball has been compared to that of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Add to that his versatility and cool composure on the field of play, and you have a star in the making.
Neymar, who was most recently linked to both Barca and the Galácticos, is apparently staying put at Brazilian outfit Santos until the end of the 2014 World Cup.
According to Santos president Luis Alvaro Oliveira Ribeiro, the 19-year-old forward has signed an extension to his existing contract that will put him on par (monetary wise) with some of Europe’s elite.
That may be the case now, but don’t be surprised if the talented Neymar becomes a resident of the Bernabéu in several months' time.