In the most open Premier League campaign in recent times, the league has yet again proven why it’s regarded as one of the most exciting leagues in the world. Surprise packages in the form of Norwich, Newcastle and Swansea have defied ‘certainties’ of the league. Due to the marvelous feats of these teams, there is bound to be a lot of interest in their eminent players when the transfer window re-opens this August.
In this speculative article, I have outlined ten players who have impressed this year and to whom they would be suited if they made the step up to a bigger Premier League side. It is hard to not consider Newcastle a top team at the moment given their current form, but their players make the list due to the financial spending power of other teams in the league (including American-backed under-performers Liverpool).
Here is the top 10 Premier League targets
1. Cheick Tioté (Newcastle United)
Reminiscent of a raw Michael Essien, Tioté has a wealth of ability on the ball, as well as a great deal of close control that has seen him become the driving force of a Newcastle midfield unit that has propelled the club into contention for UEFA Champions League qualification. Due to his strength, imposing figure and vigour going forward, Tioté has garnered comparisons with Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira. Coupling power and composure, Tioté would undoubtedly add a depth to the midfield’s of any of the top clubs. Despite signing a 6-year deal in February 2011, Newcastle has a fight on their hands if they are to keep their midfield powerhouse at the club with Chelsea looking to Tioté as a long-term replacement for their aging midfielders.
Ideal Suitors: Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United.
2. Papiss Demba Cissé (Newcastle United)
Signed in the January 2012 transfer window, Papiss Cissé is another prime example of Alan Pardew’s attacking unit at Newcastle. Signing for a fee believed to be around the £10 million region, Cissé has already paid back a large portion of his transfer fee having notched up a phenomenal 10 goals in his first 9 appearances for Newcastle. Whether or not Cissé can maintain this run of form is yet to be seen, though his overall team performances and a phenomenal goal against Swansea City prove Cissé definitely has a great degree of talent. A prolific goalscorer by trade, Cissé would bolster any of the top teams’ front-lines. Due to his likeness to Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, Cissé is a perfect foil for Robin Van Persie and would add a different option to Arsenal’s attack. Cissé would also do a fantastic job for Manchester United, who are in desperate need of a goal-scoring striker to partner Wayne Rooney up front after a downturn in form by Javier Hernandez and uninspiring performances by Danny Welbeck.
Ideal Suitors: Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United.
3. Demba Ba (Newcastle United)
It would be easy to fill the list with Newcastle players given their outstanding campaign this year, but Demba Ba is the final Newcastle player to make the list. Despite the performances of Cabaye, Coloccini and Ben Arfa, Ba makes the list due to his efforts in front of goal and his consistent form throughout the season. Netting 16 goals in 29 appearances for Newcastle this season, Demba Ba has proved his doubters wrong and due to the inclusion of a buy-out clause in his contract (suggested to be around the £8 million fee), top teams in the league have been alerted to his availability. Ba would provide any of the top times with good cover at a bargain price. With uncertainty over the futures of Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba at Chelsea, and Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe at Tottenham Hotspur, Ba could provide a great first-team option at either club.
Ideal Suitors: Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur.
4. James McClean (Sunderland)
Flourishing under the tutelage of Martin O’Neill, Sunderland left winger James McClean has made a storming impact on the FA Premier League scoring 4 goals and assisting 5 times from the left-hand side. McClean was frozen out under Steve Bruce subsequent to his summer 2011 arrival at Sunderland, but was identified as a key feature of the squad by new manager O’Neill after seeing him perform in the reserves. McClean has repaid O’Neill’s faith with a series of striking performances, culminating in a fantastic performance at home against Queens Park Rangers that saw McClean play a part in every goal, scoring one himself. It is clear that McClean has excellent technique when it comes to striking a football and a powerful attacking drive that is sure to interest top teams. Due to Liverpool’s weakness on the wings, McClean would supply with a technique missing from the wide-men (excluding Craig Bellamy) at the moment and given recent rumours that Dirk Kuyt will depart Anfield in the summer, McClean would prove a proficient replacement. Unfortunately, McClean would command a high fee given his recent contract extension to 2015.
Ideal Suitors: Liverpool.
5. Victor Moses (Wigan Athletic)
Despite his small stature, Victor Moses is a powerhouse down the flank for Wigan Athletic, filling the hole left by Charles N’Zogbia after his transfer to Aston Villa. The only downside with Victor Moses is his profligacy in front of goal, evinced by his shot completion rate; scoring only 4 goals from 73 shots. It is this wastefulness that is shared by fellow Wigan players which has resulted in the club becoming embroiled in a relegation battle that could have been avoided. Previous interest in Moses is evidenced by Moses’ apparent shun of overtures from the big clubs, including Manchester United and Liverpool, before his transfer to Wigan from Crystal Palace. Should Wigan get relegated, Moses would be a better option for the bigger clubs than the equally impressive Nathan Dyer of Swansea City due to his greater top-flight experience and availability at a cut down price.
Ideal Suitors: Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur.
6. Anthony Pilkington (Norwich City)
Signed by Paul Lambert in the summer 2011 transfer window for £2 million (£3 million with add-ons), Anthony Pilkington has been nothing short of a revelation since moving to Norwich netting 8 times for the Canaries this season. Pilkington’s record is only hindered by his assist record, having only once aided a fellow player, though he has created frequent chances from the wing this season. With Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson’s disappointing debut seasons at Liverpool, Kenny Dalglish must be lamenting what he could have had for a fraction of Downing/Henderson’s hefty £40 million combined transfer fee. Pilkington’s ability out wide would provide another option and strength in depth to Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur’s wings.
Ideal Suitors: Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur.
7. Grant Hanley (Blackburn Rovers)
The young Scottish centre-back has impressed following a string of excellent performances in what has been his break-out season at Ewood Park. Filling the gap left by Phil Jones following his transfer to Manchester United, Hanley has aided the Blackburn backline in their campaign against relegation with a string of fantastic defensive efforts, as well as scoring a goal to boost. It is understood that Hanley recently turn the eye of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson during Blackburn’s performance against the Champions. Now, whispers on the terrace suggest that Hanley could be in line to join former teammate Jones at United in the summer. Arsenal’s defence has been scrutinized for its frailty and as more and more reports suggest Wenger is prepared to spend in the transfer window, Hanley appears to fit the bill perfectly.
Ideal Suitors: Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur.
8. Michel Vorm (Swansea City)
The only goalkeeper to make the list is Swansea City’s Dutch stopper Michel Vorm. Vorm has kept 12 clean sheets this season and produced a number of exceptional saves, which has seen the Liberty Stadium become a fortress for Swansea, who have only lost 4 times at home this season; a remarkable record for a newly promoted team shared with Norwich City. Notably, Vorm has caught 62% of all shots he has saved this season. Short of a blunder caused by miscommunication at the Emirates Stadium, Vorm has surely had an almost perfect season that has seen him gain praise from fans and pundits alike. With uncertainty as to how long Brad Friedel can continue to perform at the highest level of English football, Michel Vorm would provide Spurs with an adequate replacement should the club decide to offload the American goalkeeper in the summer.
Ideal Suitors: Tottenham Hotspur.
9. Clint Dempsey (Fulham)
The USA international and last year’s Fulham Player of the Year has yet again amazed for The Cottagers. In his most prolific season in English football to date, the ever-present Dempsey has netted 16 times and becoming the first American to score a hat-trick in the FA Premier League. His relentless performances and goalscoring prowess have led to Fulham manager Martin Jol publicly begging his tireless midfielder to stay, with Dempsey understood to be mulling over a 3-year contract extension. Dempsey is thought to want UEFA Champions League football as he comes into the prime of his career and having been frequently linked with Arsenal, the North-London team could provide the perfect outlet for Dempsey to showcase his skill.
Ideal Suitors: Arsenal.
10. Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea City – On loan from Hoffenheim)
Another player to have made an instant impact on the Premier League since his loan to Swansea City in the January transfer window, Gylfi Sigurdsson just makes the list. Earmarked as the next Frank Lampard, Sigurdsson has added an astonishing drive to Swansea’s central midfield, scoring 6 goals in 13 games for the South Wales club, as well as aiding the team’s output with 3 assists. Due to his attacking momentum, Sigurdsson could be seen as an ideal replacement for the older elements of Chelsea’s midfield or a provider of the creative spark that has been lacking in Manchester United’s midfield for years. Sigurdsson appears to have the killer instinct going forward that Henderson and Adam have failed to deliver at Liverpool. Alternatively, Sigurdsson could be a cost-effective alternative to Clint Dempsey should Arsenal miss out on the signature of the American.
Ideal Suitors: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United.
Ten honorable mentions:
- Andreas Weimann (Aston Villa)
- Marouane Fellaini (Everton)
- Magaye Gueye (Everton)
- Kerim Frei (Fulham)
- Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle United)
- Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle United)
- Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United)
- Sebastien Larsson (Sunderland)
- Scott Sinclair (Swansea City)
- Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion).
What are your thoughts? Could a player from your club make this list? Should lower-placing teams hold the bigger teams to ransom in the summer transfer window?