The summer sizzlers in the transfer market
The Premier League looks certain to welcome a host of fresh faces next season with names unfamiliar to many emerging as top targets for the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.
So many rumours filter through the football grapevine at this time of the year and as we have seen in the Raheem Sterling contract battle with Liverpool, some of those tales are placed by agents keen to generate interest in their clients.
BrazilIan attacking star Roberto Firmino is one of the new stars of the Premier League after his £29m arrival at Liverpool and yet the jury will be out on Anfield’s new great hope until we get to see him in action in the famous red shirt.
There will also be doubts over Memphis Depay’s ability to convert his sparkling form in Holland to and English stage, while Spurs have also made a key defensive signing in Austrian Kevin Wimmer. Will he be up to the job in the Premier League?
With so few world class performers in the modern game and even fewer still available to purchase, expensive mistakes are certain to be made in the transfer market this summer and yet clubs flushed with cash have to roll the dice as they chase the game’s biggest prizes.
Here is your Sunday World guide to the names and faces that could become very familiar in the second half of 2015.
Alex Lacazette - Lyon
Linked with: Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United
The striker who scored 24 goals in 27 French league matches last season is at the top of many a wanted list for Premier League clubs, but Liverpool look set to miss out on a star who has insisted he will only leave Lyon for a club playing Champions League football.
At 5’9”, Alexandre Lacazette is a forward who relies on his pace and intelligent runs to get himself into goal scoring positions. Something of a late bloomer as he scored just nine goals in his first 60 league games for Lyon.
Verdict: There is always a danger that players who shine in the relatively weak French league may not make their mark in England. That said, Lacazette looks to have the raw materials to make an impact in the Premier League.
P. E. Aubameyang - Borussia Dortmund
Linked with: Arsenal, Liverpool
French-born Gabon international Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been compared by some to Chelsea star Eden Hazard and at 26, the time is rightfor a big money move.
Liverpool are moving quickly in the transfer market this summer and they have been linked with Aubameyang, while Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is believed to be an admirer of the forward who scored 16 Bundesliga goals in a struggling side last season.
Verdict: He will not come cheap, but this guy has star quality.
Julian Draxler - Schalke
Linked with: Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal
After a couple of years of transfer hype, it looks likely that Germany international Draxler will finally make a move this summer and the Premier League seems to be a probable destination.
Despite being just 21, Draxler has plenty of experience under his belt and while Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is a stated admirer of the dynamic attacking star, it does not seem as if there is space for more midfield arrivals in the crowded Gunners squad. Draxler be an interesting option for Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.
Verdict: This young man has far too much talent to fail on the next step of his career and he would be a good buy for any team.
Mateo Kovacic – Inter Milan
Linked with: Liverpool, Southampton
Life after Steven Gerrard will begin in earnest for Liverpool in August and in Croatian international Kovacic, manager Brendan Rodgers may have identified a possible replacement.
At only 21, Kovacic has been a regular and one of the few stars in a struggling Inter Milan side over the last two seasons and he offers a goal threat from central midfield and boasts huge energy. He lacks a little experience, but this is the kind of signing Liverpool have been specializing in over the last couple of years.
Verdict: Young, talented and available at a decent price. This is exactly the type of signing Brendan Rodgers cannot resist, generally to his detriment, but he is unlikely to be the game changer Liverpool fans are demanding.
Nicolas Otamendi - Valencia
Linked with: Manchester United, Real Madrid
Valencia are in a strong position as they look to maximize the price from any sale of centre back Nicolas Otamendi they bought from Porto last year, with some of the world’s biggest clubs expressing an interest in securing his signature.
United have been heavily linked with the man currently helping Argentina to the semi-finals of the Copa America, with the presence of his team-mates Marcos Rojo and Angel di Maria at Old Trafford certain to help him settle if he moves to Manchester.
Verdict: With United’s chase for Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels apparently going cold (although that deal may well be revived), Otamendi is a top central defensive target but is not worth the £40m price tag Valencia are demanding.
Felipe Anderson - Lazio
Linked with: Manchester United
This 22-year-old playmakewr impressed with a glut of goals for Lazio last season and that has sparked inevitable transfer gossip.
You might think that United would be extremely wary of signing a Brazilian called Anderson after their less than memorable experience with a player boasting the same name not so long ago before shipping the World Cup winner soon after, but boss Louis van Gaal is keen to find more goals from his central players and this rising star could fit the bill.
Verdict: Something of an unproven talent at the top of the game, his capture would represent a huge gamble for United.
Arda Turan - Atletico Madrid
Linked with: Manchester United
Arda Turan, captain of the Turkish national team, has hinted that he wants to move to England and with two years left to run on his Atletico contract, he could be primed for a move to the Premier League this summer.
An attacking midfielder, he is hardly a player who operates in an area that United really need to prioritise this summer, but he is a class act and would add to any team he joins.
Verdict: With so many talented midfielders on their books, do United need another in the same bracket or will their attentions focus elsewhere?