EPL Rankings: Top 6 Non-Champions League Players Who Could Make a Big Move
Summer is back and while the rumour mills crank up into overdrive, plenty of top-end teams are looking to strengthen their own positions—and weaken those of potential rivals—by snapping up the best players from in the Premiership currently playing outside of the Champions League sides.
Plenty of those players have already been on the move—Jordan Henderson has moved from Sunderland to Liverpool, while Manchester United have brought in Ashley Young and Phil Jones from Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers, respectively.
Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal are all heavily linked, as well as the previously mentioned North-West duo, with constant moves for some of the league's brightest talents—and the big transfer fees are only payable by a select few at the top of the table.
Here are the top six players not currently at Champions League teams who could be set for a step up in their careers this summer.
6. Luka Modric, Tottenham Hotspur
Well, the headline photo rather gives Tottenham's talented Croatian away so we might as well start here.
Luka Modric has been chased by both Chelsea and Manchester City this summer, and rightly so. The midfield magician was in spellbinding form at times last season and has been a revelation in Spurs' play since he joined from Dinamo Zagreb in 2008.
In his three seasons in English football he has played over 100 times for Tottenham and though his goal-scoring ratio is rather poor for such a charismatic attacker—he has just 12 goals to date—his link-up play, creativity and movement off the ball is what marks him out as such a magnificent performer.
Chelsea reportedly had an initial bid of around £22 million rejected last week—don't expect that to be the end of the bidding for Luka Modric.
5. Matthew Etherington, Stoke City
The FA Cup runner-up Matthew Etherington might be a surprise name on the list, but he has been a consistent performer for a number of seasons now and is a constant supplier of chances from the left wing of Stoke City.
Etherington netted five goals and nabbed seven assists in the Premier League last season and is reported to be Aston Villa's number one target to replace Ashley Young.
Formerly a fans' favourite at Tottenham before he later won similar accolades when he switched to Stoke, Etherington is a constant thorn in right-sided defenders' sides and could be a top acquisition at a decent price this summer for the right club.
4. Stewart Downing, Aston Villa
Another reason why Matthew Etherington might be on his way to Aston Villa, Stewart Downing is a similarly effective left sided player who has interested both Liverpool and Tottenham this summer.
Downing created seven and scored seven in 2010-11 and featured in every Premier League match of the campaign. He has long been praised for his excellent delivery and consistent performances but this season managed to add goals to his repertoire in a relatively-struggling Aston Villa side.
Figures have been bandied about of between £12 and 20 million for the left midfielder and it seems almost certain that he will be on his way out of Villa Park this summer.
3. Phil Jagielka, Everton
One of the country's most reliable and consistent defenders, it's just a shame he plays in that particular Blue.
After signing for Everton from Sheffield United in 2007 he has made almost 150 appearances and has now earned the attention of the likes of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Jagielka has been capped eight times by England and is rated at between £8 and 12 million. Jagielka has played 12 times in European competition for the Toffees but as they embark on a third consecutive campaign without continental football, perhaps Jagielka will consider it high time he made a step up in his club career.
2. Charles N'Zogbia, Wigan Athletic
Liverpool, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Newcastle United have all been monitoring the progress of Wigan Athletic wide man Charles N'Zogbia and despite being a key reason that the Latics avoided relegation on the last day of the season he could be sold this summer for a fee of around £12 million.
Capable of playing all the way across the attacking midfield line, N'Zogbia has flourished since he originally departed the Toon Army for the blue and white of Wigan Athletic. In the two and half seasons he has spent at the DW Stadium he has scored 15 league goals in 83 games, but nine of those goals came last season as his effectiveness in front of goal improved drastically.
Had Wigan been relegated he would have surely been a dead cert to find a new club and his price may have been reduced, but N'Zogbia could be on his way to a bigger club regardless.
1. Raul Meireles, Liverpool
Liverpool's Portuguese midfielder Raul Meireles won the PFA Fans' Player of the Year award for 2010-11 in his debut season at Anfield, but despite his relative success he could be set for a quick exit from Merseyside amid rumours that both Italian giants Inter Milan and Juventus want to sign him.
Speculation is rife that Meireles signed for the Reds last summer on a lower-paid deal on the agreement that he would be offered an improved deal this summerhowever the player and club have so far made no announcement that a new deal has been agreed on and the Italians look set to pounce.
Meireles suffered early on in the season as former boss Roy Hodgson struggled to find a place for him in the side and the team was not playing particularly well, but under Kenny Dalglish he looked revitalised and scored several important goals including goals against Chelsea and Everton.
Centre midfielder Meireles scored five and got five assists for Liverpool in the Premier League last season. He had a reported bid from Juventus turned down which involved the Reds taking Felipe Melo in exchange, but it is thought that around £14 million would be enough to prise him from Merseyside.