EPL Transfers: The Top Transfer Targets of the Top 6 Premier League Clubs
While the big guns of the Barclays Premier League are plotting and scheming over their potential transfer targets, the gossip-mongers are going bonkers speculating about the goings-on.
The activity that has perspired a month into the transfer window can be best defined as erratic. Cash pinatas such as Manchester City and Chelsea are yet to open their account whereas the usually restrained ones such as Manchester United have gone berserk.
With over two months to go before deadline day, one can only imagine the ruckus that we're set to brace ourselves to.
But each team has a top transfer target—the Big Cheese—for whom the top guns of the league would do anything in their power to acquire. Oil wells could be hawked, hair-dryers could implode...hell, the Russian Mafia could be involved—all for that one player.
So here's a look at that one player for the top six teams of the Premier League.
6. Liverpool: Stewart Downing
After being knocked off their perch by Manchester United, Liverpool face an uphill task on their quest to restore parity with their bitter rivals.
The Reds finished outside the top four for the second consecutive year and need a major rebuilding of their squad if they want to even stand a chance of challenging for the title.
One of the prime areas of concern for Kenny Dalglish is the left flank which is somewhat of a void currently.
The departure of John Arne Riise three summers ago resulted in a lot of make-shift left backs showing up for the Reds—the most recent being Glen Johnson who, last season, traded flanks to play on the left.
Liverpool seem to have found an answer in Gael Clichy and have made a swoop for the Arsenal full back.
However, the Reds desperately need a good left winger to carry the attack forward. Their search has led them to Aston Villa's Stewart Downing.
Downing is a natural winger with a lot of pace and a brilliant left foot. He was one of the chief campaigners for Aston Villa last season and scored eight goals in 44 appearances for the Villans, including seven assists.
Downing has gone ahead to openly state that he would like to play for the Reds next season.
The 26-year-old Englishman would gel into the Liverpool midfield, which has already been bolstered by the acquisition of Jordan Henderson from Sunderland.
However, Liverpool will brace themselves for a tug of war with Aston Villa for Downing what with the Villans already losing their right winger, Ashley Young, to Manchester United recently.
To make things worse, new boss Alex McLeish—who recently made the crosstown switch from Birmingham—is already facing a lot of flak on his arrival at Villa Park.
McLeish will know better than to increase the hostility thrown his way by submitting to an offer from Liverpool for Downing.
However, if Downing wants to leave, there's not much McLeish or Aston Villa can do about it.
5. Tottenham Hotspur: Leandro Damiao
Aside from the arduous task of keeping his best players (read Luka Modric and Gareth Bale) at White Hart Lane next season, gaffer Harry Redknapp has the added burden of reinforcing his squad in order to have another dash at Champions League football.
The Spurs have entered the transfer window looking to strengthen their attack which, last season, was feeble to say the least.
Tottenham's strikers scored a grand 17 goals last season. Much of the goal-scoring was done by their defenders and midfielders.
The Spurs are in dire need of a quality, reliable striker(s). Jermain Defoe, hampered by injury, was not even a shadow of form two seasons ago. Roman Pavlyuchenko is rather erratic, Peter Crouch cannot carry the entire attack by himself despite his 6'7" frame and the lesser said about Robbie Keane, the better!
Tottenham were strongly linked to Radamel Falcao since the start of the transfer window. However, recent events concur that the Colombian is most likely to sign for London neighbors Chelsea.
Diego Forlan's name has also recently crept up after Atletico Madrid finally decided to lay off the World Cup star. However, with no disrespect to the Uruguayan, Forlan is 32. Harry Redknapp will be wise to look for a younger option with an eye on the future.
Step up to the porch, Leandro Damiao!
This kid is the next big thing coming out of the land of joga bonito. Playing for Internacional, he scored 22 goals in 24 appearances last season for the Brazilian giants.
Damiao is an incredibly gifted young striker. Measuring 6'2", he is skilled in the air and is equally good on his feet.
The 21-year-old would do well under the guidance of someone of Harry Redknapp's experiece, with Tottenham being the obvious benefactors.
4. Arsenal: Christopher Samba
Arsenal scored the second-highest number of goals among the top four in the Premier League last season. But they also conceded the highest number of goals in that bracket.
Arsenal's defense just does not intimidate, regardless of the credentials of the opponent. This is one area where teams such as Manchester United and Chelsea have been scoring bonus points over the Gunners.
The procurement of Sebastien Squillaci and Laurent Koscielny last summer did manage to pull wool over the fans' eyes temporarily, but it was all out in the open once the season kicked in. A team that concedes a four-goal lead in 22 minutes just cannot be expected to challenge for titles.
Arsenal need someone of the stature of a Nemanja Vidic—someone who can provide the element of brute force in the back four, someone who can innocuously get away with fouls in the 18-yard box due to his presence, someone who can rally the forces from behind.
Arsenal's search this time around has led them to Blackburn's Christopher Samba.
The 6'4", towering and beefy center back has very good aerial ability and physical presence. He would bring in to the Arsenal defense something similar to what Sol Campbell did back in the hay days.
Arsenal, however, face a fight with Blackburn for Samba. The Riversiders have already lost one of their center backs—Phil Jones—to Manchester United this transfer window. They wouldn't want to lose another one.
However, Samba has Champions League ambitions and this could make things a little easier to draw the 27-year-old away from Ewood Park.
Samba could turn out to be the perfect fit in the massive jigsaw that Arsene Wenger has on his hands right now on his quest to land the elusive silverware.
3. Manchester City: Hulk
After securing Champions League football next term, Manchester City are in the market to add depth to their attacking options.
The need to get a top attacking player will get even more intensified following the inevitable exits of Emmanuel Adebayor and Craig Bellamy, along with the possible sale of want-away captain Carlos Tevez.
City were, until recently, targeting Udinese's prized winger Alexis Sanchez who is considered "the next Cristiano Ronaldo." They were joined by neighbors Manchester United and Catalan giants Barcelona on his pursuit.
However, Sanchez, liked a spoiled child, hasn't figured out what he wants. But recent media reports suggest that the 22-year-old is more keen on joining European champions Barcelona.
City have grown increasingly frustrated with the irresoluteness of the situation and have decided to try their hand elsewhere.
The names of Argentine phenomenon Javier Pastore, Spanish U-21 ace Juan Mata and Brazilian striker Hulk have come to the fore.
Out of the three, Hulk is the one that closely resembles Sanchez in style. The Porto ace is a beefy, imposing striker who can also play on both wings. He scored 31 goals in 42 games for the Europa League champions last season.
Hulk is quick on his feet and very skillful. He would link up well with the City wingers and would thrive on those whipped in balls.
However, the attainment of Hulk's signature has one major concern attached to it—a massive release clause in his current contract which values him at close to £90 million.
The amount is mere pocket change to the Sky Blues owner Sheikh Mansour, but could obviously prove as a hindrance considering that the other two players mentioned above come cheaper and are equally good.
Nonetheless, expect City to try and negotiate the price with the Portuguese champions and come out with an apposite deal.
2. Chelsea: Radamel Falcao
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich wants to inject youth into the side after his aging squad conceded their title to Manchester United last season.
The Russian tycoon's quest for the fountain of youth has already begun, with the announcement of 33-year-old Andre Villas-Boas as the new boss at Stamford Bridge.
Villas-Boas, who has already worked at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, is expected to bring in a string of Portuguese talent with him into the Premier League.
One of the premier names on that list is the 25-year-old Radamel Falcao, who played under Villas-Boas at Porto.
Falcao was the chief architect of Porto's quadruple success last season and was the top scorer in the Europa League with 17 goals—a competition record. Falcao has scored 73 goals in 85 appearances for Porto since his arrival from River Plate in 2009.
The Colombian hitman is a natural goal scorer known for his pace and fantastic finishing.
Falcao would do well in a Chelsea attack that already boasts of world-class players such as Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres and Nicolas Anelka. He is expected to reignite this attack that has failed to fire since last October.
Falcao would be the first addition to the squad in this new era for Chelsea FC which is based on youth and probably is Abramovich's last throw at the dice.
1. Mancester United: Wesley Sneijder
The Manchester United-Wesley Sneijder saga is one that just never seems to end. My apologies for persisting with it!
United's interest in the Inter Milan playmaker dates back to last summer when Sir Alex Ferguson had a £35 million bid rejected by the Nerazzurri. Sneijder then went on to pledge his future with the quintuple winners by signing a five-year contract.
However, Inter's relatively poor showing last season—which saw them win the solitary Coppa Italia—has cast doubts over Sneijder's commitment to the Italian giants. The sacking of two managers in a gap of 12 months hasn't helped the cause.
Manchester United have been closely monitoring the situation as they desperately need to add some creativity down the center of their midfield.
The retirement of Paul Scholes has aggravated the cause and Sir Alex sees Sneijder as the ideal replacement for the Ginger genius.
Sneijder is known for his pin-point, Scholes-esque crosses and displays impeccable placement ability. The Dutchman is ambidextrous and is also a superb dead-ball specialist—an area United have struggled in following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo.
United are sorted out on the winger front with the recent acquisition of Ashley Young. The only piece missing from their midfield puzzle that would elevate it to a world-class level is someone of Sneijder's expertise and experience.
It is a known fact that Sir Alex's focal desire right now is getting one over Spanish and European champions Barcelona.
Ferguson has been handed a £80 million transfer kitty this summer to fulfill his desire and has promptly acted by securing the services of Phil Jones and Ashley Young, for a combined price of around £36 million.
United are also on the lookout for a keeper to replace Edwin van der Sar. £18 million-rated David De Gea is on top of the priority list and it will be interesting to see how Sir Alex shuffles around the funds available to him to acquire his remaining targets.
One thing is for sure—United certainly need to make one more quality addition to their midfield if they are to stand any chance against teams like Barcelona. Sir Alex knows that only too well.
So expect the wily Scotsman to do anything within his grasp to procure that man as he rebuilds Manchester United one last time before calling it a day.