Top Ten alternative transfers
With the summer window starting to get interesting, Nick Miller wonders about some clubs' transfer targets, & suggests some alternatives for them. Have your say on Nick's picks by filling in the feedback form below...
By Nick Miller
Last Updated: 12/07/13 2:08pm
Chelsea - Target: Edinson Cavani. Alternative: Roberto Soldado
With Chelsea a little more parsimonious these days, it's no wonder that they appear to have been nudged out of the running for Cavani, with Aurelio De Laurentiis rather refreshingly refusing to budge from his squillion Euro valuation. Of course, Chelsea may also have been swayed by the numbers, as laid out here, which suggest that while Cavani is of course a quite brilliant player, he might not provide the returns that £56million demands. Rather more efficient is Soldado, who bagged 24 times last term for a Valencia side that we shall kindly describe as 'not vintage', and seemed to 'come of age'. With Robert Lewandowski apparently intent on sitting tight until next summer, Soldado could be the next best option.
West Brom - Target: Salomon Kalou. Alternative: Matej Vydra
While, after the signing of Nicolas Anelka Steve Clarke's commitment to reuniting the fringes of Chelsea's Champions League winning side are admirable (Jose Bosingwa should wait by his phone, presumably), talk of a move for Kalou doesn't quite fit with the West Brom side of last season. Kalou is one of those strange players who doesn't seem to have many outstanding attributes of his own, but somehow manages to end up with a fair few goals to his name. His wages wouldn't come cheap, and what would a man of his decoration feel he has to prove at West Brom? Vydra, while not a like-for-like alternative (he isn't quite as happy out wide as Kalou) is younger, quicker and more dynamic. At present Udinese don't seem terribly keen to sell, with talk of another loan their preferred option, but that could suit a side on West Brom's budget. Either way, it would appear to be a more prudent option than giving Kalou £60,000-a-week.
Newcastle - Target: Wilfried Bony. Alternative: Darren Bent
With Bony having joined Swansea, and Newcastle having already understandably lost out to Dortmund for Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, it seems they need a striker. And a striker comfortable with playing as a lone forward. And a striker who won't cost much by way of transfer fee. And a striker who Joe Kinnear might have heard of. So Darren Bent would appear to be the obvious choice, with word that Aston Villa are hawking him around for £5million. Bent's wages might be an issue, but if he plays hardball with Newcastle - comfortably the biggest team he could hope to join this summer - then he'd be a complete moron. He doesn't exactly fit with Newcastle's policy of buy young/French/cheap and sell high, but they should recognise a bargain when they see it.
Norwich - Target: Gary Hooper. Alternative: John Guidetti
That the SPL is not exactly on a par with the Premier League is not a particularly revolutionary statement. Of course, that doesn't seem to stop some English sides looking north when they need a new forward, perhaps the most illogical of steps given the strength (or otherwise) of Scottish defences. There was talk in January that Hooper would cost anything up to £8million, which is frankly insane. Guidetti would be a more interesting choice, not least because he would be a slightly more logical replacement for the Wigan-bound Grant Holt (in that he's tall and physical). He's also young, a hell of a long way down the Manchester City pecking order and thus potentially inexpensive, although his signing may be a gamble because of the virus that ruled him out of last season. Still, there is arguably more potential in the Swede than the Englishman.
Manchester City - Target: Pepe. Alternative: Toby Alderweireld
The link between Manchester City and Pepe is an odd one, for no other reason than City already have a very good first-choice central-defensive pairing and the Portuguese defender is a bit of loose cannon with a habit of bad-mouthing his manager if he isn't in the team. An expensive loose cannon with a habit of bad-mouthing his manager if he isn't in the team, to boot. A 30-year-old expensive loose cannon with a habit of bad-mouthing his manager if he isn't in the team, to further boot. They do of course need another defender, with Kolo Toure's departure and their apparent willingness to sell Joleon Lescott, so Alderweireld would seem to be a more logical alternative. He's 24, so is young but not so young that you'd be frightened of pairing him with Matija Nastasic, available for a reasonably cheap price because he only has a year left on his contract and plays with Vincent Kompany for Belgium. Simple. Easy this scouting lark.
Spurs - Target: David Villa. Alternative: Pablo Osvaldo
The reasons against paying an awful lot of money for Villa are presented in detail by Daniel Storey here, so I won't repeat any of that, and indeed that decision has been taken out of Tottenham's hands by Atletico Madrid. I'd suggest an alternative to Villa in the shape of Alexis Sanchez, but that doesn't take into account that Emmanuel Adebayor looks to be on his way out, so Spurs may need a replacement centre-forward. Osvaldo could well be that man - a big and powerful striker capable of the spectacular, and his price may be attractive as well. Roma are thought to be actively shopping the big man around after a falling out with their coaching staff, and although Manchester City might be keen as well, a price of around £12million looks like a bargain.
Arsenal - Target: Gareth Barry. Alternative: Luis Gustavo
While a cheap move for Gareth Barry actually wouldn't be the most ludicrous idea in the world (as long as he's a signing rather than the signing), there are better options out there. The likes of Marouane Fellaini, Ilkay Gundogan and Lars Bender have been mentioned, but the name Luis Gustavo is one that hasn't been mentioned much. With those Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger chaps ahead of him at Bayern, he's hardly likely to get much first-team football under Pep Guardiola, and at 25 his patience might start wearing thin. He also offers some versatility, as he's able to play in defence, so thus could provide Arsene Wenger with the value for money he so often craves.
Hull City - Target: Charlie Austin. Alternative: Carlos Bacca
Austin's failed medical may represent a dodged bullet for Hull, not least because it was a move that showed such a real lack of imagination. A more creative solution would be to look elsewhere, a little further afield perhaps. Club Brugge's top-scorer last season Bacca is just an example of the sort of player they could recruit, but Hull could do a lot worse - the Colombian forward scored 24 times in 34 league games (an impressive 32% of his side's total tally, incidentally), is 26 and would probably be cheaper than Austin. A work permit might be an issue (he only has three caps in three years) but football clubs are usually pretty clever when it comes to getting around stuff like that. Steve Bruce would probably say that signing a Colombian from Belgium is a gamble, but is it seriously more of a gamble than Austin?
Liverpool - Target: Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Alternative: Christian Eriksen
By the time you read this, Mkhitarayan will probably already be a Borussia Dortmund player. It's interesting that Liverpool seem to be chasing an attacking midfielder so enthusiastically, rather than a striker, which suggests either Brendan Rodgers is pretty confident of keeping Luis Suarez, or he wants to alter the way Liverpool play so they aren't as reliant on an individual such as Suarez.
With that in mind, the obvious alternative to Mkhitaryan is a man who it seemed would be out of their reach because, vaguely ironically, of Dortmund. Christian Eriksen was thought to be a target for Liverpool before Mkhitaryan's name was even mentioned, but the lure of Dortmund looked too much - now with the German side's attacking midfielder needs satisfied (indeed they have confirmed that their significant business for the summer is done), Eriksen would appear to be fair game again. And with a lack of big competitor, Liverpool wouldn't find themselves in a bidding war. All they have to do now is persuade one of Europe's brightest young talents to head over...
Manchester United - Target: Leighton Baines. Alternative: Fabio Coentrao
Patrice Evra was 32 in May. Leighton Baines is 28, 29 in December. Should United sign Baines, one assumes it would be to replace Evra in the long term, but spending somewhere around Everton's £20million asking price on a replacement who is actually only two-and-a-half years younger seems rather illogical. It would be slightly more understandable if Baines was so obviously superior now to Evra, but the Frenchman's 2012/13 was his best season in some time, and while Baines offers more attacking threat, the difference is not that great. Certainly not £20million-worth.
If United wanted to be more forward-thinking then a move for Swansea's highly-promising Ben Davies might be more advisable, although the lag between Evra's eventual retirement and Davies's coming of age may be too long. A balance between the two could be Coentrao, who at 25 is ready to go straight into the United team, but his adaptability means he could be given a few games elsewhere while Evra continues. He wants to leave Real Madrid too, if former teammate Ricardo Carvalho is to be believed, and to top it all he'd probably be cheaper than Baines. All in all, a more solid investment.