Khamis, 18 Ogos 2011

Five top targets as the window starts to close

Xherdan Shaqiri (FC Basel)
Age: 19
Position: Midfield
Nation: Switzerland (11 caps, 1 goal)
Ideal for: Liverpool, Arsenal, Man Utd
Cost: £8m
Shaqiri has recently been labelled "the future of Swiss football", and it's easy to see why.

England fans may remember the 19-year-old from the Euro 2012 qualifier in Basel last September. With his side 2-0 down and en route to a 3-1 defeat, Kosovo-born Shaqiri provided an excellent cameo, unleashing a thunderous left-footed strike from 30 yards that left Joe Hart shell-shocked.

Since then, Shaqiri has gone from strength to strength at club level, bagging 10 goals in 65 appearances for Basel. After helping them clinch their 14th title last season, he is seen as one of their most influential players.
Shaqriri is a player who is impossible to pin down; he moves laterally looking for possession, can go both inside and outside the full-back and, much like former Manchester City star Georgi Kinkladze, operates in tiny pockets of space in the central area and destroys teams with his movement and ball control.

Liverpool looked likely to move for the talented playmaker, but now it seems that, with the departures of Fabregas and Nasri, it is a two-horse race between Arsenal and Italian outfit Roma for the signature of Shaqiri, who would cost around £8million.


Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund)
Age: 19
Position: Attacking Midfield
Nation: Germany (7 caps, 1 goal)
Ideal for: Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd
Cost: £10m
Many German football experts criticised Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp's decision to replace injured playmaker Shinji Kagawa with rookie Gotze last season, but Klopp will look back on it as one of his greatest tactical gambles as a manager.

From a youth academy which has also produced the likes of Nuri Sahin, Gotze made his debut in November 2009 in the 0-0 draw against Mainz after some eye-catching performances for Germany's U17 side, bagging five goals in 13 appearances.

And the midfield starlet has gone from strength to strength in the attacking midfielder role for Dortmund, where he assisted on 15 goals and scored six of his own; a remarkable return for a 19-year-old in the challenging Bundesliga.

Gotze is the kind of football any defender would be terrified of facing. With agile movement and a superb eye for a pass, he tends to dance around the defenders at will.

He did his reputation no harm by putting in a tremendous display for Germany against Brazil earlier this month, scoring the second goal of the game in the 3-2 win, which earned him sparkling reviews from captain Philip Lahm and Germany boss Joachim Low.

Consequently, it seems Dortmund could face a fight to keep their exciting prospect.

Sir Alex Ferguson is rumoured to be watching Gotze after being priced out of a move for Dutch ace Wesley Sneijder. And with Cesc Fabregas moving to Barcelona, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger sees Gotze as a possible replacement, while Chelsea's Andre Villas-Boas has confirmed he is in the market for a creative midfielder.


Alvaro Vazquez (Espanyol)
Age: 20
Position: Striker
Nation: Spain (7 caps, 5 goals at U20 level), Catalonia (1 cap)
Ideal for: Arsenal, Liverpool, Newcastle, Wigan
Cost: £3-5m
The previously little-known Vazquez has announced himself during the current U20 World Cup, leading the scoring charts with five goals before his missed penalty helped send Spain home after a quarter-final shoot-out with Brazil.

The form of Pablo Osvaldo and Jose Callejon last season restricted the striker to a bit-part role for hometown club Espanyol last season, yet he has still notched an impressive eight goals in 18 appearances since making his debut in 2009.

It's his fox-in-the-box style that makes Vazquez a danger to play against.

With an enviable combination of raw pace and excellent vision, Vazquez seemingly has an ability to predict where the ball is going to end up, allowing the youngster to poach on crosses either at the front or back post.
One striking characteristic he possesses is confidence.

He prefers to run at players, like the Fernando Torres of old, and certainly doesn't lack composure when it comes to finishing - he loves to lob goalkeepers.

With Callejon joining Real Madrid, Vazquez could well get a regular place in the Espanyol first team. But the Catalan club may face a fight to hold onto their starlet, with Valencia, Malaga, Wigan and Newcastle rumoured to be keeping tabs on the youngster, who would cost a bargain £5million.


Ahmed Musa (VVV Venlo)
Age: 18
Position: Winger/Forward
Nation: Nigeria (1 cap)
Ideal for: Tottenham, Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, Man City
Cost: £3m
Despite being just 18, Musa was at the centre of a tug-of-war between VVV Venlo and the Nigerian Football Federation last month over his involvement in the U20 World Cup.

The versatile forward was eventually allowed to travel to Colombia and certainly took his chance, notching three goals before Nigeria went out at the quarter-final stage.

A player in the mould of Obafemi Martins, Musa has impressed hugely during his time at the Dutch club, with an impressive return of seven goals in 23 appearances after moving from the famed Aminichi Academy.
He was noticed by Dutch scouts while on loan at Nigerian outfit Kano Pillars, where he scored a division-record 18 goals in the 2009-10 season.

A player who loves to entertain the fans, Musa always wants the ball, and will cover every blade of glass to get it.

He possesses immense pace and a terrific engine, allowing him to take advantage of opponents' fatigue. And, like Neymar, he has an inventory full of tricks as well as a low centre of gravity, enabling him to constantly weave past defenders.

Many clubs scour the market to find a versatile player, and Musa is effective as a winger but as shown with his brace in VVV's 3-2 victory over Feyenoord last season, he operates just as well as a central striker.
Musa seems like a steal at just £3million, but may have work permit problems.

That means Chelsea and Arsenal could buy him, loan him out for a season and then make a claim of exceptional talent to win a permit, as the Gunners recently did with Ryo Miyaichi.


Juan Mata (Valencia)
Age: 23
Position: Attacking Midfield/Forward
Nation: Spain (11 caps, 4 goals)
Ideal for: Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham
Cost: £15m-£20m
The 23-year-old Mata, who collected winners' medals with Spain at last year's World Cup and at the U21 European Championship in June, may seem to be one of the more obvious choices to join the Premier League this summer, but as of yet no club have considered a deal viable for the talented playmaker.

Mata has electric pace, incredible ball control and a superb left foot, making him almost impossible to tackle without committing a foul.

When he doesn't have the ball, he drops into spaces to receive it; an attribute seen in many great players, such as Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

It's incredible to think that a player of Mata's quality was released by Real Madrid, only to be was signed on a free transfer by former manager Quique Sanchez Flores.

Despite continuous speculation, Mata is a model professional and refuses to talk about a move away, but current Valencia boss Unai Emery has admitted they may need to sell their star player to balance the books.
If Mata left, it could only be described as a monumental loss for Valencia.

He filled the void left by David Silva last season and his influence cannot be denied, with the winger scoring eight goals and setting up 12 for his team-mates last season, helping them to third place in La Liga.
Unfortunately for Valencia, it seems that the lure of receiving around £20million for Mata may be too good to refuse.

And after Fabregas left for Barcelona, Arsenal have money to spend and a deal could very well be on the cards. But with Chelsea's bid for Luka Modric still up in the air, and Spurs' lack of quality recruits so far this summer, expect them to be right up there with the Gunners if Mata becomes available.

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