Six Transfers To Keep An Eye On

Sami Khedira from Real Madrid to Juventus FC on a free transfer

Khedira’s five-year long saga in the white shirt is finally over. However, let’s not forget that eleven months ago, it seemed that his fate in Madrid has not been sealed yet. Back then, Germany’s head coach Joachim Löw demonstrated how to effectively utilize the midfielders’ qualities. Against Brazil in Belo Horizonte, he deployed Sami in a role that normally belongs to the attacking midfielder. Just like Marouane Fellaini for Manchester United, the Turkish-German international relentlessly harassed the opposition’s defensive midfielders, causing them to make mistakes and open multiple goalscoring opportunities for the German side – until 7-1 happened. Khedira scored a goal and absolutely bossed that game, making himself a serious contender for Real Madrid’s starting eleven – and his smooth, national-team partnership with Toni Kroos begged to be repeated on a club level.

Carlo Ancelotti had other ideas. The squad rotation system didn’t matter, Luka Modrić long absence didn’t matter, even the lesser La Liga opponents Khedira could’ve easily taken on, didn’t matter – the lad has been effectively frozen out at Santiago Bernabeu. It went so far that when Real needed a proper defensive midfielder prior to their key games in Champions League, it was Sergio Ramos, who’s been adapted to that role. Khedira had enough – and, the same time, Juventus had a plan of providing themselves a healthy replacement for either Arturo Vidal or Paul Pogba. So, in short, this transfer means that one of these two Zebrette starlets is going to leave Turin this summer. Judging from the top qualities Khedira displayed as the advanced midfielder – he is probably best suited to replace the Chilean, who’s reportedly chased by… Real Madrid.

 

James Milner from Manchester City to Liverpool FC on a free transfer

We’ve seen that deal lurking around the corner ever since the sheiks took over at Etihad. Five years ago, Manchester City needed a hard-working, solid player like James Milner – but they only needed him temporarily; they only needed him as long as the team’s lineup wasn’t completely stacked with bigger and more reputable players. Now that the Englishman is 29 and the club a wealth of options in midfield, Milner has been simply pushed out. Of course it didn’t look that way – The Citizens offered their man a new contract that’s been rejected – but the truth is, with Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne on the radar, City never cared enough to keep Milner at club at all cost. And, truth to be told, he probably didn’t care to stay either. Underrated, frequently benched and faced with the constant prospect of being replaced – he has finally called it a day.

In Liverpool, he will be facing an entirely different challenge. First of all, he’ll be seen as a successor to the legendary captain Steven Gerrard, who’s now off to Los Angeles Galaxy. If Milner wants to be remembered as more than just a decent EPL footballer, he has to simply perform on Stevie’s level. Second of all, The Reds continue their long, rough process of transformation initiated last year. Mignolet, Can, Henderson, Moreno, Coutinho – those are the player that can be confident about their position in the team, but everyone else’s future is more or less in doubt. As Sterling demands a move and Reds keep angling for the services of Mateo Kovačić (Inter), Carlos Tevez (Juventus) and Denis Cheryshev (Villarreal), it’s clear that it will be another transitional season for LFC. Milner, already through such phase in MC, should be a good patch to cover the team’s unavoidable shortcomings during this time.

 

Paulo Dybala from US Palermo to Juventus FC £23.5m

Last Serie A campaign was all about the Argentinians. Gonzalo Higuaín’s misses deprived Napoli from the Europa League final; Carlos Tevez’s goals carried Juventus through the knockout stages of the Champions League. Despite Inter’s poor season, Mauro Icardi’s goalscoring bonanza in the final league game allowed him to win a joint top goalscorer title alongside Luca Toni. Franco Vázquez has become an assist king in Palermo – and the man he’s been most frequently providing service to – Paulo Dybala – scored 13 goals, earning himself a transfer to Juventus. But it’s not just the goal tally that convinced Juve’s Sports Director Giuseppe Marotta. Apart from finishing skills, Dybala does possess excellent pace and great dribbling skills that should still be improving next season, as the lad is only 21-years old. He might as well be new Sergio Agüero in making!

In Turin, player nicknamed “The Kid From The Guesthouse” by Argentinian press (he used to live in Instituto’s office building while playing for that team) will meet the whole new weight of expectations. The future of Carlos Tevez remains in doubt due to his homesickness and if this experienced forward leaves Italy, it will be Dybala who’s going to replace him as Juve’s main strike force. In such case, the ex-Palermo striker shall be expected to reach at least 20 league goals next season and challenge for Serie A’s Golden Boot award. Is the youngster consistent enough to reach it? Because this year, he’d go from a streak to streak, impressing everyone between November and January but also being relatively lackluster during all other months. Fortunately for Juve, if everything else fails, they can always utilize their new man as a number 10 trequartista – after all, his assist tally has been impressive this season.

 

Aleix Vidal from Sevilla FC to FC Barcelona £13m

For the last few weeks, Barcelona were delivering only good news to their fans. La Liga win, Copa del Rey win, fifth Champions League title and eventually, Aleix Vidal’s transfer combined with an unlikely, yet sealed three-years long contract extension for Dani Alves. This means than Blaugrana are not only the first club in Europe to complete their second treble in 21st Century – they also have three good right-backs in their team now. This, in turn, means that at least two of them shall become quite expensive bench-warmers next season. Though for many months it seemed that Martin Montoya could depart for Liverpool, Blaugrana’s homegrown lad is likely to stay. This might turn out as a genuine case of having one good player too many – and that player who’ll turn out to get no playtime at all might start to spread gloom all across the dressing room.

That being said, versatile Vidal could at least aspire to play in Messi’s or even Neymar’s slot if either of those superstars get injured. Flair or creativity aren’t his best traits, but he excels in a supporting role and has an important habit of playing well in big games: hence why his form has been overall peaking by the end of 2014-15 season. It’s an understandable choice from Barcelona to hire him: they needed an attacking right-back by at the same time, they weren’t sure whether Alves will stay or leave, so it was best to pick a player who might be useful in other positions too in case if the older ex-Sevillista decided to remain at Camp Nou. Aleix, who’s already enjoyed a spell in Blaugrana as a youth recruit fourteen years ago, has now one last thing to do: it’s proving that he can perform better than Alves. It will be a mountain to climb, though – Dani has just been included in La Liga’s Team of the Season.

 

Danilo from FC Porto to Real Madrid £31,5m

Real Madrid’s issues with right-backs continue. Ten years ago, they broke the bank to sign Sergio Ramos only to turn him into one of the best centre-backs of his generation. Six years ago, it was Alvaro Arbeloa who’s been picked as Real’s long-term solution for this position – and he turned out not to be a player of the standard Los Blancos needed. Finally, two years ago, they paid £4.6m as a buy-back price to bring Daniel Carvajal from Leverkusen and the odyssey seemed over. For about six months, the lad has been an asset for the royal team; at the same time, the results confirmed that he might’ve been the best man for the job. Yet, when it came to the decisive games in La Liga and Champions League, Carvajal failed quite heavily. He’s been pretty much mauled by Siqueira and Griezmann in Real’s shocking 0-4 loss to Atletico Madrid and he had fairly poor two games against Juventus later on.

And so, Florentino Pérez started looking for his dream player again. At this point, Danilo looked like the most reasonable choice. This 23-years old Brazilian has been hands down the best right-back of the entire Champions League this season and was already rumoured to be observed by Barcelona. Still, as we know, whenever FC Porto sell their leading stars, it always earns them huge amounts of money. £31,5m price tag has made Danilo the fifth most expensive defender in football’s history. Funnily enough, despite massive fee involved, the transfer has been confirmed before Rafa Benitez replaced Carlo Ancelotti as Real Madrid’s boss. Despite that, I’m fairly sure that Fat Spanish Waiter will be very pleased with this surprise gift from his chairman – last season, his new right-back scored 7 goals and 2 assists for FC Porto in all competitions. Can Carvajal somehow step up to this challenge?

 

Memphis Depay from PSV Eindhoven to Manchester United for £31m

He’s 21, he’s fast, he’s imaginative and his free-kick taking ability is probably second-to-none in Europe right now. Capable of playing both as a winger and a striker, Memphis Depay went on to score 25 goals and add 5 assists in his 36 appearances for PSV this season. This impressive record brings back happy memories of Ruud van Nistelrooy and his five-year spell at Old Trafford, during which he banged 95 goals after joining from the Philips club in 2001. Alas, Depay is different. Shorter, less muscular, blisteringly fast and agile, he has virtually no qualities of a pure poacher van Nistelrooy used to be. He’s a proper winger – a winger that should contest Ashley Young’s position in the team and allow Ángel Di María to be utilized in a more central role. Or, perhaps, he might join Wayne Rooney in a brand new two-man partnership of Red Devils’ forwards?

Another young starlet has reached his promised land in Manchester. This all would’ve been much harder if not for one important fact from the past: the fact that PSV’s boss Phillip Cocu and MU’s boss Louis van Gaal used to worked together sixteen years ago in Barcelona. Cocu, responsible for one of the most dominant Eredivisie wins in many years, has been strongly recommending this move to Depay and even compared him to Arjen Robben, who’s been the previous super-winger PSV produced in the 21st century. In Robben’s case, it took many years and three big transfers before he finally fulfilled his potential in Bayern. Two-footed, intelligent off the ball and versatile, Memphis looks forward to adapt a lot quicker and shine for much longer than his famous contemporary. There are only two conditions: lack of injuries and a safe, well-earned place in MU’s starting eleven…

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