This May, Manchester City were crowned Premier League Champions and Arsenal ended their trophy drought by lifting the FA Cup. These events signify the end of the season in England’s top-flight football league. The end of one season, however, opens the door for a new one. No, not the upcoming 2014/15 season, nor the World Cup. While we all look forward to both with much excitement, the new period in question is often referred to as the ‘silly season’ – the period from May to September when transfer rumors fly about and fans wait with eager anticipation (or dread).
Just this week, the EPL silly-season got a real boost when Yaya Toure, Manchester City’s powerful midfielder, reportedly became upset after the team failed to celebrate his birthday. A Youtube clip of the team trip to Dubai shows Toure getting a birthday cake on the plane, but the Ivorian looks unimpressed as he kept his headphones on and continued to look down at his laptop. Have no fear, we are sure that the $420,000-per-week wage Toure makes will help get him through this difficult time. Nonetheless, the event has spawned a series of articles, reports and rumors that the big midfielder may not be wearing sky-blue come the start of next season.
Of course, transfer rumors have a variety of origins. Players, their agents, their family and friends, or just bored journalists can all be the source of transfer speculation which ranges from the absolutely absurd to the downright intriguing. Players have their reasons for wanting to move to a new club as well. More money, a chance for more silverware, a change of pace, a training ground bust-up or perhaps ties with an old coach or teammate can all influence a player’s decision to move, whether real or rumored. In any event, being a fan during the transfer window is a lot like being a kid in a candy store – Only, you have no money and someone else is picking and buying the goods. Sometimes you get that jumbo chocolate bar and other times you may end up with some penny-candy.
The following lists 20 players currently linked with the Premier League, whether inbound or departing. Currently, there are many more names being thrown around the tabloids, internet forums and sports shows. These 20 are some of the biggest and most notable of all the players rumored to be on the move this summer. Remember, these are all just rumors, so take most of them with a grain of salt – unless, of course, they involve your team!
20. Bacary Sagna
Described as one of the best right-backs in the world, Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna developed his reputation with the North London side since 2007. With his contract running out this summer, the French defender has been strongly linked with current champions Manchester City. Supposedly a sure thing, the deal between Sagna and City has not been agreed yet, although the defender says his future will be resolved before the World Cup begins in June.
19. Julian Draxler
Often touted as a ‘wonder-kid’ or the ‘next big thing,’ Schalke 04’s attacking midfielder was central to transfer rumors during the January transfer window. Draxler’s agent has insisted that his client is happy where he is and not looking to move. Despite this, a host of Premier League teams (and European clubs) are reportedly looking to sign the German midfielder. Arsenal have been consistently linked with Draxler, but other clubs reportedly interested include Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Inter and AC Milan.
18. Edin Dzeko
Both the player and team have rejected any speculation that Edin Dzeko could be leaving the Etihad Stadium this summer. This hasn’t stopped the rumors linking City’s Bosnian striker with the likes of Valencia and Inter Milan. Dzeko has scored some important goals for the EPL champions during his time at the club. He appears happy, even with the increased competition from the club’s other high-priced stars. Despite this, limited playing time and reports of admiration and interest from abroad have provided the fuel to give this rumor legs.
17. Karim Benzema
This rumor, if it works out, could be central to a significant part of the EPL summer transfer window. Similar to the transfer of Gonzalo Higuain last summer, if Real Madrid let Benzema leave it could start a chain reaction of moves (some of which are included on this list) throughout Europe as the Champions League winners search for a replacement. The 26 year old French striker is linked with Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Inter Milan.
16. Sergio Aguero
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero is the first big name rumored to be tied to any Benzema transfer. Of course, Madrid are known for making a massive marquee signing at the start of every year as a statement of intent. Aguero has been mentioned as a possible target. Madrid have the reputation, money and Champions League pedigree to catch Aguero’s eye. Will that be enough to pry the main striker away from the EPL Champions? If there is any shred of truth in this rumor, history says yes.
15. Luis Suarez
A big part of last summer’s transfer speculation, Liverpool held out against a $67 million (plus one pound) offer from Arsenal to hold onto their Uruguayan superstar. It turned out to be a wise move. Unfortunately for Liverpool, Suarez’ stellar year has only attracted more attention. A consistent flow of rumors has Real Madrid preparing a massive bid in the region of $100 million in an effort to get Suarez to the Bernabeu. Like the Aguero rumor, you just feel that if Madrid go through with this, Liverpool will be hard pressed to maintain a hold on their star striker.
14. Ezequiel Lavezzi
French club PSG convincingly won the French League this year. So naturally, a number of their players are linked with transfers to other clubs. Supposedly, Argentinian striker Lavezzi is looking for more of a challenge and sees that being provided by the EPL. A rumored target of Manchester City two years ago and Tottenham Hotspur last season, this season the striker has reportedly caught the eye of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.
13. Raphael Varane
Having just won the Champions League, Raphael Varane’s name has appeared more in rumors. The French defender is linked with Chelsea. Providing further drive to this story is the fact that Chelsea are in the market for another defender and Jose Mourinho has worked with Varane before. The London club just sold David Luiz to PSG and club captain John Terry isn’t getting any younger.
12. Paul Pogba
Currently playing for Juventus, Paul Pogba has impressed during his time in Serie A. The French midfielder’s name was thrown around in the media during the January window and this trend looks set to continue into the summer. At one time a Manchester United player, the French midfielder is now linked with the likes of PSG and Real Madrid. In the EPL, Manchester City and Chelsea are both rumored to be in the hunt.
11. Angel Di Maria
A one-time target of Juventus, Real Madrid midfielder Angel Di Maria is rumored to be on the move. The 26 year old midfielder has played at the Bernabeu for the past four seasons. Reports say Di Maria is about to extend his contract with the Europe champions. Despite this, rumors have Monaco, both Manchester clubs and Arsenal keeping tabs on the Champions League final’s ‘Player of the Game.’
10. Cesc Fabregas
Fabregas moved from Arsenal to Barcelona in 2011. Since then, the Spanish midfielder’s career has reportedly not been as smooth as he would like. Booed by his own fans, substituted early and, reportedly, not first choice of the manager, the 27 year old is one player often rumored for a transfer. With a new manager at Barcelona, the whole situation could change. Until things are clarified, Fabregas remains a rumored $58 million target of Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal.
9. Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole’s time is reportedly up at Stamford Bridge. The long time Chelsea servant found himself dropped in favor of César Azpilicueta and then, at the end of the season, on a list of players released by the club. At 33, the former England defender may still have some left in the tank. Teams have taken notice and Cole is now rumored to be heading to Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City or Manchester United for around $16 million.
8. Sami Khedira
Sami Khedira is yet another Real Madrid player who finds himself rumored to be leaving. The versatile German international midfielder has played for Madrid for the past four seasons. With just one year left on his contract, the 27 year-old is rumored to be available for as little as $25 million. Chelsea, Arsenal, Roma and Fiorentina have all been linked with Khedira over the past two months.
7. Mats Hummels
Borussia Dortmund have attracted a great deal of attention in terms of transfer speculation over the past few seasons. The latest rumors have defender Mats Hummels leaving the club this summer. The 25 year old German national team player says he is happy in Dortmund but we all know that a player saying they are happy means nothing in the world of rumors. Hummels has been linked with Juventus as well as Manchester United.
6. Mario Balotelli
I am not sure that anyone will be overly excited to see this player linked with their club. That’s not to say Mario Balotelli is a bad player – he can be elite when he wants to be. It’s just that he is very hot and cold and comes with a lot of baggage – some of it carrying fireworks. Jokes aside, the 23 year old Italian striker is rumored to be leaving AC Milan for Liverpool, Tottenham or Arsenal. Companies in the home-insurance business are no doubt keeping tabs on this one (ok…jokes aside for real this time).
5. Loic Remy
After spending a year on loan at Newcastle United from QPR, French striker Loic Remy has attracted some attention. The 27 year old has reportedly been told he can leave QPR this summer. With 14 goals last season, Remy was initially linked with Newcastle (on a permanent deal) but more recently has been rumored to be going to one of Liverpool, Arsenal or Real Madrid.
4. Juan Mata
Having just broken the bank to sign Juan Mata in January, Manchester United are apparently ready to offload the Spanish midfielder this summer. Mata, apparently, does not fit into the plans of new manager Louis van Gaal. Barcelona are rumored to be interested in the 26 year old and prepared to offer a sum in the region of $67 million to secure his services.
3. Mario Mandzukic
Perhaps we all knew this rumor was coming the moment Robert Lewandowski agreed to a deal with Bayern Munich in January. Rumors about the Croatian striker’s departure only gained ground when he was dropped from Bayern’s roster on more than one occasion. A reported bust-up with coach Pep Guardiola has supposedly ensured the 28 year old is on his way out of Munich. Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal are all rumored to be circling.
2. Eden Hazard
A bit of a strange one here. Since April, rumors have been popping up that Chelsea’s star midfielder, Eden Hazard, is a target of PSG and Real Madrid. Given that PSG have just spent around $84 million on Chelsea’s David Luiz, it seems highly unlikely they will return for another player. That said, the French side went and spent that money after being fined for breaking UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules. This rumor is on life-support but still alive because PSG not only spit in the face of UEFA’s rules but apparently spend money like one of those reality show housewives.
1. Diego Costa
Instrumental in Atletico Madrid’s rise in La Liga this season, Diego Costa naturally has attracted the attention of other clubs. The Brazilian striker is currently injured but that shouldn’t put off clubs offering in the range of $50 million for his services. In the EPL, the 25 year old Costa has been primarily linked with Chelsea. As Chelsea have recently come into $84 million, thanks to the sale of defender David Luiz, if this rumor has any truth in it Blues’ fans can expect to see a new Brazilian striker at Stamford Bridge next season.