World football is truly a fascinating business model in that there is no real offseason for the most followed sport on the planet. While the National Football League has attempted to replicate this practice by earning headlines every month of the year, the truth of the matter is that NFL fans and even team beat reporters are able to take significant time off in between seasons. That is not the case for those who follow competitions such as the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga, as clubs who are in those leagues are busy 12 months out of the year.
A big reason for this activity is the summer transfer window, what is one of the most talked about times on the soccer calendar. It is during the summer months when the biggest and most noteworthy player transfers of every year go down. Clubs that qualify for competitions such as the Champions League are able to splash large amounts of cash to lure big-name players away from their current teams, while other sides that were not as successful during the prior European season may be forced to sell away star talents in order to financially keep up or because of the demands of the athletes involved.
Some of the true giants in all of world football are being linked with moves that could see them selling off and acquiring talent during the upcoming summer transfer windows. That could include a side that goes on to win the Champions League competition later on this month, and it may also involve the man who broke the bank upon becoming the most expensive transfer in the history of the sport back in September 2013. It is amazing how much things can change in one year, as that man who was once beloved by his new side's fan base could now be on the outs for several reasons.
20 Didier Drogba to Major League Soccer
It is not a summer if the Chelsea legend is not somehow linked with a move to Major League Soccer, and it could be now-or-never for this rumor in 2015. Drogba, who turned 37 years old earlier this year, is in the twilight of his career, but he remains a beloved figure among fans who root on the Blues. There is a substantial Chelsea fan base throughout the United States, and Drogba signing for either the New York Red Bulls or New York City Football Club makes all kinds of sense for either club assuming that the striker would still be able to go for longer than half of a season.
19 Memphis Depay to Liverpool
Memphis Depay has long been rumored to be on his way to the Premier League, and the 21-year old will be sought after by several English clubs this summer. Liverpool head man Brendan Rodgers is looking to rebuild his squad via multiple moves during the upcoming transfer window, and it is believed that Depay is one of the players on his list. The 21-year old who serves as a winger for PSV and for the Holland Men's National Team could link up with Liverpool or Manchester United, and it has been widely reported that Liverpool are leading the race for Depay's signature.
18 Juan Mata to Juventus
Manchester United finishing in the top-four in the early days of the Louis van Gaal era is acceptable, but he will be tasked with doing better beginning next season. That will involve an overhaul of the club's current squad, and Van Gaal will not be given a blank check in order to achieve his goals during the summer. Jose Mourinho has looked like a genius for dealing Juan Mata to Manchester United when he did despite the fact that Mata has performed admirably for United during the first half of 2015. Juventus could come calling for the midfielder this summer, and Van Gaal could be convinced to sell.
17 Romelu Lukaku to Atletico Madrid
Whether or not this will even be possible will be determined at some point down the road. Atletico Madrid are but one of several La Liga sides that could be banned from completing business as usual in the summer of 2015, meaning that Romelu Lukaku would have to look otherwise if he were looking to depart Everton. The 21-year-old is only beginning what could be a special career on the club and international levels, and it is easy to understand why life in Spain over continuing to feature for Everton would be appealing for a player of Lukaku's age and for one with his talents.
16 Florian Thauvin to Tottenham
Tottenham Hotspur have gotten far more wrong than right over the past couple of summer transfer windows. The so-called “Magnificent Seven” brought in to replace wantaway Gareth Bale have mostly been flops outside of the sensational Christian Eriksen. Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela could be given away by Spurs in either July or August. Florian Thauvin, who features for Olympique de Marseille, has been compared to Franck Ribery by some in world football, and he may be the next “star or bust” signing for a Spurs side that desperately needs to hit on a big-time signing.
15 Christian Benteke to Liverpool
The famous saying teaches us that fire exists wherever one sees smoke, and the smoke that is represented in Christian Benteke making the switch from Aston Villa to Liverpool continues to swirl about. Current Villa boss Tim Sherwood is reportedly attempting to do whatever he can to keep Benteke with the club for at least one more campaign, but Liverpool could come in strong as manager Brendan Rodgers attempts to keep himself off of the hot seat. Benteke could fetch up to a £30m fee were he to be swayed to leave, a sum of cash that Villa may be forced to accept.
14 Iker Casillas to Arsenal
Logic suggests that the Gunners will play it safe and instead go after a goalkeeper such as Petr Cech. Why not try to hit a home run and at least make a bid for Iker Casillas? Where Casillas ends up, if he actually does make a move this coming summer, could depend on that statuses of David de Gea, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and others. Arsenal will be headed back to the Champions League for the 2015-16 competition, and the club can once again splash a reasonable amount of cash. This rumor could heat up in July if Real Madrid end up getting De Gea early into the summer months.
13 Branislav Ivanovic to Bayern Munich
The supposed legitimacy of rumors linking the Chelsea defender with Bayern Munich seemingly change on a weekly basis. Branislav Ivanovic is regarded as a versatile player on the back line who can feature at multiple positions, and logic suggests that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho would be keen on keeping Ivanovic for at least one more season. Bayern Munich can essentially offer an easier regular season schedule, a guaranteed league title and a spot into at least the final eight of the Champions League. The possibility exists that Ivanovic could be convinced that he has done all that he can as a Chelsea player.
12 Edinson Cavani to Juventus
It is believed that there are several clubs chasing after the signature of the Uruguayan striker, and it has been heavily rumored for months that Edinson Cavani is ready to make a move from Paris Saint-Germain. Manchester United could be in for Cavani, but the Premier League outfit may not be able to sway him from joining the giants and kings of Serie A. Premier League champions Chelsea could also put in a bid for Cavani, which would all but eliminate United having a real chance to sign him this time around.
11 Robin van Persie to Juventus
The front man who plays for the Netherlands during international duties got his wish in the summer of 2012 when he made the move from Arsenal to Manchester United. The first year of that portion of his career went about as well as expected when United won the Premier League during the final season in the legendary career of Alex Ferguson. Van Persie's run at the club has been on a downward spiral since the spring of 2013, and there are signs that the 31-year-old is being betrayed by his body. A switch to Juventus could provide one last spark to his European career.
10 Danny Rose to Manchester City
Yes, that is the same Danny Rose of Tottenham Hotspur who struck that wonder goal versus Arsenal years ago only to then become a forgotten man behind several others at the left back position. Rose has become a revelation under current Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, and Manchester City have the need at the position to be in for Rose. One can imagine that the man who played the hero role for Spurs against the Gunners thanks to that memorable strike would be keen on joining a side that is capable of contending for the Premier League title every season, something that nobody can say about Tottenham at the moment.
9 Paul Pogba to Real Madrid
Are Real Madrid actually on the verge of facing a serious transfer ban? Would an appeal allow Real to conduct business as usual this summer? Does anybody actually believe that the punishment would be anything serious? These questions do not have any real answers as of the posting of this piece, and thus we get rumors such as Paul Pogba possibly making the move from Juventus to the Spanish giants. Pogba, who has been dealing with a hamstring problem throughout the spring, could be swayed to join Real depending on his salary demands and on if Real repeat as Champions League winners.
8 Karim Benzema to Manchester City
While he is widely regarded as one of the most-talented strikers in all of world football, Karim Benzema cannot go a single summer without being linked with a move from Real Madrid these days. That will again be the case in 2015, as Real are apparently just fine with allowing Benzema to depart the club if the right offer were to come along. Beware of any such transfer rumors involving Manchester City and Real that involve the word “raid.” Neither of these big-money clubs is raiding the other, as a fair price for both will instead be negotiated before a deal is made.
7 Mario Balotelli to Sampdoria
Who out there could have possibly imagined that the Mario Balotelli move to Liverpool would have gone so poorly for player and for club? Oh. Right. Just about everybody. The Balotelli run at Liverpool has been about disastrous as it could have been for all involved, so much so that there were rumors that manager Brendan Rodgers was contemplating ending the relationship last January. Those who follow the North American top-flight can hold out hope that Balotelli could be swayed to join Major League Soccer, but it makes more sense that he would try to revive his career with Sampdoria.
6 Radamel Falcao to Liverpool
You may have forgotten for the obvious reasons during this current season, but Radamel Falcao is supposedly one of the best strikers in the world. His loan spell at Manchester United from Monaco has largely been forgettable, and Falcao has been so disappointing that manager Louis van Gaal dropped the front man to u-21 duty. Why Van Gaal or anybody else at the club would want to re-live this experiment once more is anybody's guess, but Falcao not returning to United could lead to Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool swooping in to keep the Monaco star in the Premier League.
5 David de Gea to Real Madrid
The tradition that is Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea being linked with moves to Champions League clubs is set to continue up through at least the summer months. Real Madrid could be next up to take a stab at acquiring De Gea, and it may not be as unrealistic as some United fans who want the club to keep the 'keeper want the rumor to be. Could world football be on the verge of a historic swap that could see Gareth Bale playing for the red Manchester side and De Gea making the move to the Spanish giants? See if you can make it so in FIFA 15.
4 Hugo Lloris to Paris Saint-Germain
The Tottenham Hotspur No. 1 may very well be the best goalkeeper in all of the Premier League. He put pen to paper on a five-year extension with the club last summer, but the reality of the situation is that Hugo Lloris deserves to play in the Champions League. Tottenham are once again unable to provide that to Lloris, who is being linked with several top clubs in early May. Manchester United are reportedly looking at acquiring Lloris, but Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is rarely keen on letting a star remain in the Premier League. Thus, PSG could be Lloris' next home.
3 Zlatan Ibrahimovic to AC Milan
One thing that we have learned over the years is that there is not a club that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would not like for the right price. Juventus. Inter. Barcelona. AC Milan. Paris Saint-Germain. The entertaining striker who is at the beginning of the end of a storied career could be swayed to join just about any team if the offer meets his demands. There continue to be rumors that Major League Soccer could come calling for Ibra as early as this coming summer. He still has the goods to feature in Europe and get paid to do so, and thus Ibrahimovic linking up with MLS in 2015 seems unlikely.
2 Fabio Coentrao to Chelsea
It perhaps a little more time than some originally believed, but “The Special One” Jose Mourinho has The Blues back atop the Premier League world even before the end of the current season. Mourinho knows that there is no rest for the weary, and thus it is believed that he is already looking to bolster his squad to defend his latest title and also compete in the Champions League. Mourinho, likely on the verge of receiving a contract extension from Chelsea, will receive all of the backing that he needs during the transfer window, and Fabio Coentrao could be the first name on his wish list.
1 Gareth Bale to Manchester United
The story was not supposed to go this way following the Welsh wonder making an anticipated switch from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid. Less than a year after Gareth Bale played the hero role for Real on multiple occasions, he has been on the receiving end of catcalls and jeers from home crowds during matches. Bale has reportedly been eying a return to the Premier League during the current campaign, and Manchester United could come calling as the club that serves as the lifeboat for the former Tottenham star. This would prove to be just the latest heartbreak for Spurs supporters.