English Premier League: Picking a Potential Summer Transfer Signings XI
The silly season has begun as every Premiership club attempts to strengthen ahead of the 2013-14 campaign. Between now and the last day of August, dozens of deals will go down as all 20 clubs conduct their summer business.
Which signings will have the most impact? Only time will give the definitive answer, of course, but today, we're projecting a Premiership best XI summer signings for the upcoming season.
To qualify, players at least must be linked with a transfer to a Premier League club if they haven't already signed for one.
Goalkeeer: Simon Mignolet
Belgium international goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, 25, played every minute of every match this past season for Sunderland.
The defense conceded 54 goals in a campaign that saw Martin O'Neill sacked and the Black Cats finish just above the relegation zone. But Mignolet kept 11 clean sheets—tied for fifth-best in the Premiership—while facing the second-most shots of any keeper in the top flight, per TheScore.com.
Mignolet's performances have sparked interest from Premier League rivals, according to the gossip columns. The Guardian's Andy Hunter reported over the weekend that Liverpool are interested in Mignolet as a replacement for Pepe Reina, and in April, the Independent's Martin Hardy linked Arsenal with a £10 million move.
If he does move, Mignolet should continue to show the form that has made him a rising star in the Premier League.
Full-Back: Leighton Baines
As FourFourTwo.com wrote in naming Everton's Leighton Baines its Premier League full-back of the 2012-13 season, Baines "puts the mod into modern full-back play" with his varied and impressive skill set.
Baines, a 28-year-old England international, has built his reputation on superior set-piece deliveries, as well as chance-creation, speed, stamina and match-reading.
His importance to Everton this past season shouldn't be understated. He was the only outfield player in the Premier League to play every minute of every match. But with manager David Moyes heading to Manchester United, it's possible Baines could follow.
That's exactly what the Daily Mirror reported last month, linking Baines with a £15 million move from Everton to Manchester United.
Center-Back: Eliaquim Mangala
With Jose Mourinho's return to Chelsea now official, the Blues can get to the business of spending that rumored £100 million summer budget. A significant chunk of that money could go toward signing £30 million-rated Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala, according to the Sun.
That's a lot of money, even for Chelsea, but according to the Sun's report, Chelsea will try to talk down the price.
Meanwhile, the Daily Star is linking Chelsea defender David Luiz with a £30 million move to Barcelona. In that case, the money might not be an issue.
Mangala, 22, is a France Under-21 international with 23 caps. A versatile defender, he can play in the middle or at left-back. In a scouting analysis on Mangala, Chelsea blog We Ain't Got No History praised him for his combination of size, speed, agility, positioning and aerial prowess but raised concerns over consistency and the "occasional David Luiz-like foray" too far into the attack.
If the price is right, Mangala could be a shrewd investment as Mourinho builds his defense at Chelsea.
Center-Back: Joleon Lescott
Veteran center-backs moving from Manchester City to another Premiership club could become something of a fad this summer. Already, Kolo Toure has sealed a transfer from City to Liverpool, and Joleon Lescott could follow him out the door.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, former Everton midfielder Graham Stuart said signing Lescott could be a bargain for the Toffees this summer. “I think he’s got plenty to offer," said Stuart. "He’s probably going to carry on playing for England and there’s no doubt he’s one of the top six centre backs in the country. His only problem will be not playing regularly at City."
Aston Villa are also interested in Lescott, who could cost as little as £4 million, according to the Daily Mail. Lescott, 30, managed 26 league appearances this past season for City, suggesting that he does in fact have something left in the tank. With the World Cup coming next summer, Lescott will be desperate for first-team football as he vies for a spot on Roy Hodgson's squad.
That should be ample motivation. And that price tag could make him a desirable target.
Full-Back: Jonathan Parr
Jonathan Parr is a 24-year-old Norwegian international full-back who plays on the same side of the field (left) as Leighton Baines. All the same, we'll shoehorn him into our squad.
Parr is entering the final year of his contract with Crystal Palace and has been drawing interest from "several" Premier League clubs, according to Sky Sports. With Crystal Palace winning promotion to the Premier League, Parr is set for a debut in England's top flight regardless, but clubs looking for a transfer bargain could find one in the Norwegian.
Central Midfield: Kevin Strootman
Kevin Strootman, a 23-year-old Dutch midfielder, has won many admirers in recent seasons for his all-around strong performances for PSV Eindhoven. Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham are interested, according to Sky Sports, and PSV manager Dick Advocaat says Strootman should leave Holland to further his career.
"Strootman is as good as Gareth Barry," said Advocaat, who has won domestic titles in Holland, Scotland and Russia. "He's a very useful player for every team. Especially when he's surrounded by better players."
According to B/R's Sam Tighe, Strootman would be an excellent tactical fit at United. Judging from Strootman's performances at PSV, it's hard to argue with that.
Central Midfield: Daniele De Rossi
Veteran Italian midfielder Daniele De Rossi has been linked with Manchester City for what feels like a decade. More recently, though, Goal.com has reported that incoming Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has made De Rossi a top summer target.
De Rossi, 29, was a member of Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning squad, as well as the 2010 edition. He is a versatile and experienced midfielder who can move forward dangerously but also play in defense. No doubt he would be a valuable addition to any squad.
The real question, though, is whether he would leave Roma, his only professional club. If he does, it will be a lucky team that signs him.
Attacking Midfield: Younes Belhanda
Montpellier's surprising run to the 2011-12 Ligue 1 title coincided with manager Rene Girard's decision to move Younes Belhanda into the central playmaking role. Belhanda recorded 12 goals and four assists that season and followed that with 10 goals and five assists in 2012-13.
Belhanda, a 23-year-old Moroccan international, is under contract with Montpellier until 2015, but he told L'Equipe (via Sky Sports) recently that he is interested in a move to either England or Germany.
"My wish is to play in the Champions League next season, but I could sign for a club with big history," Belhanda was quoted as saying. "I will not learn anything else in France. I know how we play here. I need a new mentality, new excitement."
Arsenal and Tottenham are interested, according to Sky Sports.
Attacking Midfield: Wilfried Zaha
In January, Manchester United signed Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha for £15 million, per the Daily Mail. It turned out to be Sir Alex Ferguson's final signing before retirement, and the 20-year-old winger has the potential to make it one of his best.
Zaha is set to join United this summer, and if his performances with Crystal Palace this past season were any indication, he will be a star.
"We are signing a player of potential," Ferguson said at the time of the signing. "We always feel we develop players well. We have proved that many times. We hope the boy enjoys coming here, when he comes in the summer."
Zaha combines overwhelming physical attributes with speed and ball skills, all of which could make him a natural fit for United in the wide areas.
Attacking Midfield: Alejandro Pozuelo
Manchester City are making headlines for their reported £25 million interest in Sevilla's Jesus Navas. Over in Wales, meanwhile, Swansea City are tracking Real Betis' 21-year-old attacking midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo, according to the South Wales Evening Post.
Pozuelo made 11 senior appearances for Betis this past season and is seen as a future star, according to the report. According to WhoScored?, he can play in the middle or on the right of the attacking midfield.
The name is unfamiliar to Premier League fans now, but how many Englishmen knew about Michu a year ago? It's a long shot, yes, but Pozuelo could be Michael Laudrup's next transfer coup.
Striker: Burak Yilmaz
This is where the prognostication becomes trickiest. Strikers are notoriously streaky, and predicting success for any striker in a new team and a new country is difficult.
What's more, several Premier League teams are being linked with big names. The biggest might be Edinson Cavani. Manchester City and Chelsea are reportedly interested in Napoli's Uruguayan sensation, but Cavani could be holding out for Barcelona or Real Madrid, according to the Express.
Stevan Jovetic, meanwhile, is being linked with Arsenal and Chelsea. Jovetic could sign for either, and he could be a solid Premier League player, but another intriguing possibility is the potential arrival of Burak Yilmaz.
Yilmaz, 27, joined Galatasaray last summer from Trabzonspor for €5 million, per the Daily Mail, and scored 24 goals in 30 matches for the Turkish champions. He added eight more goals in nine Champions League appearances.
Chelsea are interested, according to the Guardian, and Galatasaray reportedly want more than £20 million. That would represent a significant investment, but Chelsea can clearly afford it.
Besides, the transfer would probably be worth the money. Yilmaz's size, strength and finishing could make him a success in England.