This summer’s soccer transfer window should be eventful. Two major moves have already gone down, with Bayern Munich buying Mario Gotze and Barcelona bringing Neymar across the pond. All four EPL clubs in the Champions League will be looking to spend this summer. So will Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Juventus and a couple French clubs with huge pockets. Here are ten transfer sagas that could hog the headlines this summer. Most of them are strikers because, yeah, there’s nothing sexy about signing a right back.
Robert Lewandowski [Borussia Dortmund] Lewandowski had the world’s attention before he scored four times against Real Madrid. The 24-year-old is the prototypical, versatile modern forward. He can finish. He can press. He can link up play. He can drop deep into midfield and he can play on the wings. Dortmund don’t want to sell him. No one would. But he has one year left on a $1.5m per year contract when another club would pay him $8m to $10m per year easily. Dortmund prefer to get something for him. The club will hope another option emerges besides rival Bayern Munich.
Wayne Rooney [Manchester United] The England star had an off year. He was out of shape. He fell out with Sir Alex Ferguson. Robin Van Persie insured he was not missed. Moving from Man United may be best for all involved. It’s not clear that can happen. United want a fat transfer fee. Rooney will want to maintain if not improve on his $16m per year salary. The one club that could do both, PSG, has not yet expressed overt interest in him. Rooney is one year off being one of the world’s best. He could, at 27, get back there next year. If neither side is willing to budge, though, he could remain mired in awkwardness at Old Trafford.
Falcao [Atletico Madrid] Falcao has scored 142 times in 167 appearances since arriving in Europe in 2009. Most notably, he scored 30 goals winning consecutive Europa Leagues with Porto and Atletico Madrid in 2010. The Colombian has been rumored to be a target for all the usual suspects – Real Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea – but his shady third-party owners will only lift his skirt for the highest bidder. That team may be Russian billionaire-backed AS Monaco, reportedly willing to pay $75 million for him. Even that move could be a one-year rental, to avoid an uncomfortable move directly from Atletico to Real Madrid. [UPDATE: Falcao to Monaco is official.]
Gareth Bale [Tottenham] Bale thrived under new manager Andre Villas-Boas. He scored 21 goals in 33 EPL appearances and, virtually by himself, kept Spurs in the Champions League race. The Welshman reportedly signed a contract worth around $12m per year to stay at Spurs. That has not stopped his agent, though, from courting interest from Real Madrid. That transfer seems inevitable. The question is when. At first, it looked like Real was expressing tentative interest before a 2014 swoop. But needing an immediate retort to Barcelona’s Neymar signing may rush their timetable.
Edinson Cavani [Napoli] The Uruguayan international moved to Napoli for $21m in 2010. Three 30-goal seasons later, the 26-year-old is worth $90 million, or at least Napoli think he should be. Real Madrid, Manchester City, PSG and Chelsea are all thought to be interested. It’s also possible new manager Rafa Benitez may try to keep him for at least one more season. Securing Champions League soccer with a second-place finish may increase that prospect.
Luis Suarez [Liverpool] The Uruguayan was arguably the EPL’s best player in 2012-13, amassing 30 goals and 11 assists in all competitions. He’s also the league’s biggest heel, after lengthy suspensions for racism and for biting. He wants to leave Liverpool, reportedly for Real Madrid. Liverpool say they don’t want to sell him. Suarez can be a PR nightmare. But he could also be the reason Liverpool returns to the Champions League next season. If the club has not yet soured him, the price to pry him this summer will be steep.
Gonzalo Higuain [Real Madrid] The 25-year-old Franco-Argentine is being run out of Real Madrid, for the crime of only producing 110 goals and 39 assists in 208 appearances over the past five years. With Real initiating the departure, he will be available at a discount. Expect Arsenal to be rumored to sign Higuain and Juventus to seal the deal. Real Madrid have not won the Champions League in ages. But two players they offloaded cheaply, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder have done so in the last four years.
Marouane Fellaini [Everton] Fellaini wanted to leave Everton last summer. This year, with David Moyes off to Manchester United, he’s almost certainly gone. The 25-year-old Belgian’s buyout clause is said to be around $36 million. The sensible destination is to join his former manager at United. Though, there are rumors Jose Mourinho might want to hijack those discussions to bring him to Chelsea.
Isco [Malaga] Struggling to pay salaries, Malaga need cash. Isco, with his $45m buyout clause, should be among the first names out the door. The 21-year-old Spaniard had an awesome season, just his second playing top-level soccer full time. He was the major reason the club weathered the loss of Santi Cazorla en route to the Champions League quarterfinals. Isco could be following his manager Manuel Pelligrini to Manchester City. Real Madrid could be another option.
David Villa [Barcelona] Though talented enough to make it work, at times, Villa has never fit into the Barcelona squad. He’s 31. He has missed significant portions of two seasons. Neymar plays his exact position. It is time to move on. There are no real options for Villa in Spain. He’s not quite flashy enough for the top spending EPL clubs. Arsenal, Tottenham or Liverpool seem like the best bets.
Stevan Jovetic [Fiorentina] The 23-year-old is coming off back to back strong seasons in Serie A, after missing all of 2010-11 with a knee injury. He will be looking to move on after Fiorentina missed the Champions League by two points. Arsenal have been said to have strong interest in Montenegro international. Though Chelsea also have interest and, unlike Arsenal, will be willing to pay Fiorentina’s $37 million price. Shades of Hazard, Mata and every elite prospect Arsenal has monitored since 2004.
Mario Gomez [Bayern Munich] Gomez lost his starting place in 2012-13 to Mario Mandzukic. Signing Gotze and, perhaps, Lewandowski could freeze him out of the team entirely. The German’s game is one dimensional (even if his coif defies dimensions). But that dimension, scoring 80 goals his last two seasons starting full-time, will surely interest someone.
[Photo via Getty]