World Football: 20 Midfielders on the Market
Spring is in the air..and with that comes the roar of a rumor mill in full, churning swing. With just weeks until the end of the season (and the start of the transfer market) speculation as to who will end up where has bucked into overdrive. Here's a list of the top 20 midfielders likely to switch kits over the summer months.
A contentious, flighty winger with great positioning and playing sense, Ashley Young has impressed at both the domestic and international levels this year for Aston Villa and England, respectively, so much so that clubs Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United are to duke it out over his services. Young's transfer card will cost a cool 25 million pounds, with a bidding war likely to escalate.
The Croatian playmaker has pulled the stings at White Hart Lane all season and deserves fair credit in Hotspur's historic run at the Champions League. Should Tottenham fail to qualify for the CL again-and with the weekend's unfortunate result making it a steep climb- several key players are likely to be picked off. Given Modric's exceptional command of the midfield, Man Utd, Inter and Juventus have all expressed interest in Croatia's number 10. Spurs have set a pharaonic price tag of 50 million pounds to head off interest, but that may just be an inflationary ruse..
Following a less than spectacular season at the Kop, Aquilani has finally gotten back to the form that made him an idol of the Roma fanbase. However, it is unclear whether Juventus will be willing to drop the 15 million euro price fixed over the summer. Should the deal fall through, Kenny Dalglish will be all too happy to keep the Roman for himself, though AC Milan have also expressed an interest in Aquilani as a replacement for the departing Andrea Pirlo.
Marko Marin has erased any lingering regrets over the sale of Mesut Oezil to Real Madrid over the summer- a left-footed winger with a good touch and read of the game has been dubbed the 'German Messi'. While a little of an overstatement, there is no denying Marin's talents- just ask any Sampdoria fan. Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United have all been linked, with a fee hovering between 15 to 20 million pounds.
Malouda has played well as always for the Blues, delivering crosses and incisive passes galore. Chelsea will spend the summer rejuvenating an aging line-up, and the Frenchman's 30 years of age effectively cuts him out from future plans. Tottenham, active in transfer speculation, are said to be interested (as a replacement for a Gareth Bale? One wonders..) as is Liverpool.
A gritty, tough tackling bulldog in the middle of the park, Mascherano has had trouble adapting to Barcelona's velvety play, giving rise to speculation that he may be on his way out. Chelsea, Manchester United and Juventus are all interested.
A player of undisputed class, Pirlo has yet to sign a new contract at AC Milan, and it doesn't look like he'll change his mind. The free acquisition of a champion like Pirlo has gotten a handful of the bigger clubs interested- Roma, Juventus, Manchester City, Barcelona and Napoli have all been linked with the Italian.
Alexis Sanchez has set the Serie A alight this season in Udinese's black and white, providing goals, assists and thrills aplenty. A Who's Who list of clubs will have to compete for the Chilean's signature, valued at 25-30 million pounds. To name a few, Inter, Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea, Barcelona, Arsenal, Liverpool.
Robben has had a year of seconds- 2nd at the World Cup, second best against Inter in the CL final of last season... Now the Flying Dutchman has dithered, wavered, and vacilitated over his future, saying at first that he'd leave the Bayern should they fail to play Champions next season, only to affirm a life-long commitment to the Bavarians a few days later. Needless to say, Robben's floundering (and impressive talents) means Chelsea Inter and AC Milan are keeping tabs on the tonsured winger.
Kakà has yet to leave an impression on La Liga. The 100 million dollar man may be on the way out of the Bernabeu, with a clamorous return to AC Milan a possibility. A swap with Roma for Daniele De Rossi has also been bruited about. Ancelotti is also rumored to be interested in reuniting with his former pupil at Stamford Bridge. Kakà will not be a cheap sell however, and it will take real power of will and wallet to attract the Brazilian.
"El Flaco" is the latest prodigy hailing out of Argentina and with the requisite flair befitting the continent, Pastore has been delighting Palermo fans over the past two seasons with his trickery and easy on the eye technique. The goals don't hurt either. Pastore's highlight reel has Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Man City, Man Utd, Roma and Juventus all been linked with the Argentine, but Maurizio Zamparini has slapped a 60 million euro price tag to ward off anything but the most seriously moneyed of clubs.
Borussia Dortmund mathematically won the Bundesliga this weekend with time to spare, but the pieces of their successful campaign have already been picked apart by the rumor mill. The neo-champions celebrated by signing İlkay Gündoğan, which many see as the preemptive replacement for Nuri Sahin. Sahin, 22, connects the dots in the regista position with eight assists and six goals notched this season. Arsenal want the Turk to take over Fabregas' soon to be vacant place, while Liverpool, Inter, Real Madrid and Chelsea are also knocking on the door. The fee circles at the basement-bargain price of 10 million pounds, a pittance compared to the others on this list.
Nani leads the Premier League in assists (and dives) but the theatric winger may not be a Red Devil come September, for reasons unclear. Real Madrid, Inter and AC Milan have all sounded out the possibility of signing the 24 year old. The cost will be elevated, but a like-for-like swap is also a possibility.
Daniele De Rossi
The American takeover of Roma implies a clearing-sale to make room for the Roma of the future, and DiBenedetto may want to cash in on the giallorossi's most prized asset. While the World Cup and much of this season has seen an under-par De Rossi, he remains a player of quality, capable of moving anywhere on the pitch. The De Rossi-Kaka switch has made the most noise, but the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea have also pinged. It should take around 25 million euro to prise the Roman from his club of birth.
Samir Nasri has yet to sign his Arsenal contract as he hopes to earn the tidy sum of 100k pounds a week, a number which likely left Arsene Wenger paroxysmal with rage. Nasri, who was just nominated for PFA Player of the Year for his contribution to the North London club, has attracted the interest of the usual suspects-Real Madrid, Internazionale, Barcelona. Besides an abnormally large pay-roll, Nasri will cost upwards of 30 million pounds, so only a few clubs will be able to afford him.
Just because he's not famous, doesn't mean he's cheap. M'Vila has been laying down bone breaking law at Rennes this season, and his holding chops have garnered the attentions of Arsenal, LIverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United. At 20, he has time to develop into "the new Viera", as he has been named. M'Vila costs in the area of 20 million pounds.
AC MIlan or Inter. The derby extends beyond the scudetto this summer as the cross-town rivals butt heads over the second jewel of Santos. Milan seem to be a step ahead, and it's rumored a deal will be announced at the end of this week as to Ganso's future. Regardless, 30 million pounds looks to be the starting price.
Ten guesses what this involved. Will this be the sumer that the Fabregas saga. Finally. Ends. Seriously. Will he go to Barcelona for around 40 million, or will Inter stomp on the party just to boost the price? Who knows, and at this point, who cares. Just for the love of pete, enough.
Wesley Sneijder has been the orchestrator of Inter's CL win and the Netherland's World Cup run- now the diminuitive Dutchman is considered one of the best in the world in his role. Cue the transfer queue. 35 Million pounds and up will be the cost, as much of Inter's transfer rumors are based around the fee they'll get for selling the dutchman. Right now Manchester United is in front, but they will need to splash serious payola to get him.
Surprise.. The PFA's Player of Year has had a season to redefine "breakout", scoring some memorably goals, including a hat-trick against Inter Milan that sealed his status as the "it" player of the year. Bale's performances and youth has enticed dozens of clubs (and fantasy football players) to get in line for the Welshman. A rule of thumb- if you've heard of the team, it's likely they've "bid" for Bale. Literally. Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter, Manchester United, Liverpool, Inter, AC MIlan, Juventus- the list goes on. Far and away the most expensive, should he be sold, Bale will cost around 45-50 million pounds.