We’ve looked at Serie A’s hot commodities and stopped by Germany before heading to see what’s up in France. We also let you know which of last summer’s Premier League transfers were actually a success (and which weren’t).
The Premier League season is effectively over. The teams at the top are preparing for life in the Champions League, the teams at the bottom are preparing for life in the Championship, and the teams in the middle are preparing for life on the beach during the summer. All that’s left to enjoy is the approaching three to four months of incessant and frenzied transfer speculation.
It’s well known that clubs in the Premier League have more money than God, so as always, there will be significant numbers of over-priced incomings into England’s top flight. Even God himself has to balance the checkbook, though, so some stars will be on the move as well. Some abroad to chase dreams or bigger wages, and some just to bigger clubs than their current one, for the same reasons. There will be the usual assortment of over-valued “proven” Premier League talent moving around the smaller and medium-sized clubs for offensive sums of money, but no one really cares how many millions of dollars Hull City offers Sunderland for Connor Wickham or whatever. Here are some of the big names that will fill countless transfer gossip column inches this summer.
Nationality: Côte d’Ivoire
Best position: Central Midfield
Teams in pursuit: Internazionale (Italy)
Likely cost: $30 million
“Actual value:” $30 million
The recently crowned Washed-Up Charlatan of the Year looks set to part ways with Manchester City this summer. Easily the most dominant midfielder in England over the last half decade, Touré has been rampaging through teams at will since moving forward from the defensive midfield role he previously occupied at Barcelona. In addition to his power and skill, he also has a sense for the big occasion, and is a proven leader. Or at least he used to be all those things. Lately, he has been looking more and more like a shadow of his former self.
City is in need of a rebuild this summer, and shifting Touré’s significant wages, even for a relatively modest transfer fee, will free up some much needed funds. Despite his pedigree, for a player who will turn 32 before the start of next season, Touré represents something of a risky investment. Naturally, the only prestigious club that appears to be interested is the official retirement home for washed-up former Premier League stars: Internazionale. That said, with a fresh challenge, and a league where the pace of play is less chaotic, we may see the old Yaya make a comeback.
Best position: Striker
Teams in pursuit: Valencia (Spain), Liverpool (England), Juventus (Italy)
Likely cost: $9 million (loan fee)
“Actual value:” $15 million
Although not technically owned by a Premier League club, as Falcao is on loan to Manchester United from Monaco, the forward will almost definitely be in search of a new club this summer. Loved by the fans (it helps that he has a great song), and by most accounts happy in Manchester, the Colombian has sadly seemed a shell of himself since moving to Old Trafford. After two or three years of being the most feared striker in Europe, El Tigre looks like a player whose body has betrayed him and whose confidence is shot.
There have been whispers of interest from a number of clubs if United decides not to make his move permanent, but in truth many of these rumors may be more fanciful than realistic. Falcao is on enormous wages, and based on this season, he is barely worth a fraction of the reported $73 million fee that Monaco pre-agreed with United last year. Unless Monaco is willing to take a tremendous loss, and the player is willing to take a significant pay cut, another loan move – and a last chance to prove himself – is the most likely outcome.
Best position (Alternate positions): Defensive Midfield (Central Midfield)
Teams in pursuit: Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea (England)
Likely cost: $50 million
“Actual value:” $43 million
After seeing all his best teammates shipped out for hefty fees last summer, Schneiderlin was left somewhat bemused when Southampton refused to let him move on as well. But after a brief strop, he buckled down and went about the business of being the best defensive midfielder in the league this side of Nemanja Matić. An accomplished passer with a physical presence that complements a fantastic sense of anticipation, Schneiderlin would make an ideal addition to practically all of the teams that will finish above his this season.
Given that Southampton surprised critics of its “sell everything that’s not bolted down” policy to actually improve this year, there is no hint that the same approach won’t be taken this summer. Schneiderlin is likely to be sold to the highest bidder, and he will no doubt have his pick of England’s elite. Spurs and Arsenal were the two most interested parties last year, and with both clubs needing upgrades in defensive midfield, the North London rivals may well find themselves in a bidding war for Schneiderlin’s services in the coming months.
Best position (Alternate positions): Attacking Midfield (Right Wing, Striker, Wing Back)
Teams in pursuit: Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United (England), Real Madrid (Spain), Bayern Munich (Germany)
Likely cost: $46 million
“Actual value:” $43 million
Raheem “The Dream” Sterling (not his real nickname) is currently one of Liverpool’s two best players. He is technically gifted, elusive with the ball, lightning quick, and his passing and goalscoring abilities are on upward trends. He’s only 20, and he’s English, which means the only reason that any likely transfer fee would be even close to his “actual value” is because of the relatively short time left on his contract.
Although Liverpool have offered him a reported $154,000/week to renew his contract, he is so far refusing to play ball. Sterling says that he wants to win trophies, and he’s probably right to assess his options in the summer. The reported interest from Munich and Madrid are most likely agent-fueled coke dreams, and United may have just thrown its hat into the ring just to troll Liverpool, but Arsenal’s interest may be for real. The most likely destination for England’s next great hope however, is surely Manchester City. City needs an injection of pace, youth, and domestic talent, and Sterling fills all those quotas.
David de Gea
Best position: Goalkeeper
Teams in pursuit: Real Madrid (Spain)
Likely cost: $30 million
“Actual value:” $60 million
This is the big one. David de Gea is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League, and without question among the best in the world. He’s only 24, and will likely be Spain’s number one for at least the next decade. The fact that he only has a year left on his current contract will affect any transfer fee this summer, but his “actual value” would surely be a world record for his position.
Manchester United made a terrible error in letting his contract run down, and although the Old Trafford suits have offered him an obscene amount of money to stay, the leverage lies with the player. Despite being a former Atlético Madrid hero, it seems that Big Dave has had his head turned by interest from the European champions. That he will replace Iker Casillas seems inevitable, because there has almost never been a case of Real Madrid not getting what it wants. The only question will be whether United can manage to hang on to him for another year. If it does, look for another de Gea appearance in this same feature next summer.