Silly season is upon us and with Euro 2012 in the offing the summer transfer merry-go-round could be in full swing very soon. MM takes a look at the players that could be catching the eye of Messrs Mancini and Ferguson.
Green Light (get the chequebook out)
Edinson Cavani – Napoli (£30m-£35m)
The giant Uruguayan is a natural goal-scorer and has proved too hot to handle for many of his opponents in Serie A and the Champions League this season – City themselves were on the wrong end of a brace at Stadio San Paolo in November. He would provide an excellent foil for Sergio Aguero and would seem to be a more prolific option than Edin Dzeko.
Javi Martinez – Athletic Bilbao (£20m-£25m)
The young Spaniard has showcased his terrific ability in Bilbao’s excellent Europa League run this season. His two-footed distribution skills would be a great addition to City’s midfield but his unique ability to play equally as well at centre-half could see him slot in alongside captain Vincent Kompany at the heart of City’s defence.
Ezequiel Lavezzi – Napoli (£25m-£30m)
A tricky winger and constant threat, Cavani’s fellow Napoli teammate would provide the width that City lacked last season. With Adam Johnson likely to move on to pastures new in the off-season, Lavezzi could be the man Mancini looks towards to provide much-needed left-sided balance.
Eden Hazard – Lille (£30m-£35m)
The young Belgian is possibly the hottest property on the market this summer with a host of Europe’s biggest clubs vying for his signature. He is equally talented on his either side but is most likely to play in the classical number 10 role in United’s system. His clever playmaking ability could make him the man to take up Paul Scholes’ mantle as United’s chief string-puller.
Shinji Kagawa – Borussia Dortmund (£10m-£15m)
The rumours suggesting United’s interest in Kagawa is merely for commercial value in the Far East are wide of the mark. The Dortmund youngster is another in the number 10 mould and would help a United midfield which lacked ideas at times last season. I’m sure Wayne Rooney et al would welcome the added ammunition he would bring next season.
Leighton Baines –Everton (£10m-£15m)
Patrice Evra is still one of the Premier League’s best and most consistent left backs but he cannot last forever and a reliable replacement will need to be found soon. The Everton fullback has been a regular in the England squad over recent years and his tireless work-rate and pinpoint crossing ability would add a new dimension to both attack and defence.
Amber Light (possibly if the price is right)
Radamel Falcao – Atletico Madrid (£30m-£35m)
The explosive Colombian seems ideally suited to the rough and tumble of the Premier League. He almost single-handedly took his Atletico side to Europa League success this season and a potential strike partnership with Aguero would strike fear into even the strongest of Premier League defences. The only stumbling block could be Madrid’s willingness to sell having only signed him from FC Porto last summer.
Hulk – FC Porto (£30m-£35m)
A very similar striker to Falcao – a broad-shouldered powerhouse who provides a danger anywhere in and around the penalty box - a perennial feature in the gossip columns of the tabloids he could find himself wearing the royal blue of Chelsea come September rather than the sky blue of City.
Thiago Silva – AC Milan (£20m-£25m)
The towering Brazilian would be an excellent partner for Kompany. Good in the air and with the ball at his feet the Milan man would help add depth at the back where Kolo Toure and Stefan Savic are the only real alternatives to the Kompany-Lescott partnership. Milan may be reluctant to sell which could see his price climb – not usually a problem for Sheikh Mansour and Co though.
Robert Lewandowski – Borussia Dortmund (15m-£20m)
The 30-goal Dortmund poacher would add the proven goal-scorer that United are crying out for. Too much reliance has already been put on Rooney’s broad shoulders and with Dimitar Berbatov’s impending exit this summer he will need assistance next season. Sir Alex watched the Pole grab a hat-trick in the German Cup final last weekend and could make a move to secure him soon.
Iker Muniain – Athletic Bilbao (£15m-£20m)
The diminutive winger was a star in Bilbao’s run to the final of the Europa League and has been linked with a move away from the Basque region for much of the season. Lightning fast and with a flair for goals the Spaniard would provide strong competition to current wingers Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Nani.
Kyle Walker – Tottenham Hotspur (£10m-£15m)
Tottenham’s failure to make into the Champions League for next season will begin the rumour mill churning on just how many of their stars will make a move away from White Hart Lane in search of success. Young England right back Walker could well be one with United perhaps looking for a viable alternative to the error-prone Rafael. A dynamic attacking threat, he would provide good balance across from Patrice Evra.
Red Light (don’t put any money on it)
Gareth Bale – Tottenham Hotspur (£35m-£40m)
Spurs may have to fend off suitors for their prized assets and none come more cherished than their Welsh wizard. Widely acknowledged as one of the best left-sided players in the game Bale, could look to move on in order to ply his trade in Europe’s premier European competition. A fee of upwards of £35m would be needed to force the North Londoner’s hand but Bale himself may prefer a switch to Spanish giants Barcelona or Real Madrid.
Luka Modric – Tottenham Hotspur (£30m-£35m)
The Croatian is the heartbeat of the Spurs midfield but may be another to get itchy feet with the prospect of no Champions League football next season. Heavily linked with Chelsea last summer he would be sure to attract attention from across Europe if he was made available but Harry Redknapp will do all he can to keep his midfield talisman.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – AC Milan (£30m-£35m)
A real love-him or hate-him figure, the moody Swede is a rich man’s Andy Carroll. Brilliant on his day Zlatan has won pretty much all that can be won in the domestic game but has the unhappy knack of going missing when it really matters. A luxury player of the highest order could Mancini really make him fit into a dressing room already containing the likes of Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli?
Fernando Llorente – Athletic Bilbao (£20m-£25m)
The Bilbao talisman was central in the Basque side’s famous two-legged victory over the Reds in this season’s Europa League. A classic number 9 in stature he seems a perfect fit for the English game and would be a great partner up alongside Rooney. The only obstacle could be that if he were to come available several of his likely suitors would be able to pay significantly more for his services than the Reds can – chiefly their noisy neighbours.
Bastian Schweinsteiger – Bayern Munich (£30m-£35m)
The best box-to-box midfielder in the world game, Bayern’s main man would be perfect in the engine room of United’s flaky midfield. An excellent distributor and a tireless worker he be an excellent partner for the ageing Scholes or the improving Tom Cleverley. Alas for United fans it seems very unlikely that the German will swap his boyhood club for the Old Trafford outfit – it is notoriously difficult to prize Germans away from the Bavarian giants.
Carlos Tevez – Manchester City (£20m-£25m)
A proven Premier League goal-getter with experience at Old Trafford - could happen…
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