Tastiest 12 in the Euro shop window
There are all manner of transfer targets up for grabs at the Euros. But, as Glenn Moore explains, managers must beware – tournament darlings are often flops for their new clubs. Andrei Arshavin, anyone?
The shop window opens on Friday, in Warsaw, and while managers always say "never buy a player based on tournament performance", many of them do. While Marco Reus and Marko Marin have settled their futures – the Germans signing for Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea respectively – plenty of players have left their options open. Managers should beware, however. The aforementioned maxim is often accurate, as a trio of Russian-buying London clubs found after the last European Championship.
Guus Hiddink's free-flowing team were the darlings of Euro 2008 and, subsequently, Andrei Arshavin, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Yuri Zhirkov found their way to Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea respectively for a cumulative £40m. Arshavin had a purple patch, and Pavlyuchenko scored some key goals, but none of them was a success and all ended last season back in Russia. Arguably, the best deal struck that summer was Tottenham's purchase of Luka Modric. But that had been completed before the tournament.
1 Rasmus Elm, AZ Alkmaar & Sweden
Long-throw expert, free-kick specialist, six-foot tall; it would be a surprise if Tony Pulis is not keeping an eye on this Dutch-based midfielder. Plenty of clubs are interested in the 24-year-old who is more than just a set-play exponent – he can play a pass and operate in wide areas. Liverpool were heavily linked with an £8m bid before Kenny Dalglish was fired and Fulham, for whom Elm's brother David played briefly, are also keeping tabs.
2 Olivier Giroud, Montpellier & France
His 25 goals helped Montpellier to secure their unexpected Ligue 1 title last season but few expect him to hang around for their Champions League debut. At 25, the tall striker is the right age to move on, with Paris St-Germain, Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Liverpool watching him.
3 Andriy Yarmolenko, Dynamo Kiev & Ukraine
Russian-born, but he moved to Ukraine as a three-year-old. Spotted by Dynamo 10 years later but failed to settle in Kiev the first time, returning home. At 16 he was persuaded to have a second attempt in the big city and this time he flourished. Left-sided he started at full-back, moved into midfield then advanced to the left wing before moving to a more central role. He scored 17 times last season on the left side of an attacking trio behind a lone striker. Rated at £10m and watched by Liverpool, Arsenal, Napoli, Rubin Kazan and others.
4 Fernando Llorente, Athletic Bilbao & Spain
Having shone in, and patently enjoyed, the Basque club's Europa League campaign – who could forget the stunning volleyed goal against Manchester United? – the 27-year-old may not be prepared to settle for just playing domestic games this coming season. The £35m buyout clause looks prohibitive, but these things can be negotiated. He is excellent in the air and a good line-leader.
The big beasts
5 Robin van Persie, Arsenal & Netherlands
Sorry, Arsenal fans, but having failed to persuade their captain to sign a new contract, Arsenal are vulnerable to losing him. True, Van Persie is tied to the Emirates for another year, but so was Samir Nasri when the board overruled Arsène Wenger last summer to bank Manchester City's cash. Van Persie is probably waiting to see whom Arsenal sign before committing himself, but he may also be waiting to see which clubs want him. City do, obviously, but a fine European Championship, on top of his 37-goal English season, could flush out Barcelona or Real Madrid. At 28 (29 in August) the Dutchman knows his next contract is his last big one and he needs to get it right.
6 Fernando Torres, Chelsea & Spain
Another 28-year-old who is at the crossroads of his career. The £50m flop (how else can a striker who cost that money, but neither starts his club's biggest match, nor takes part in the shoot-out, be described?) may have received promises as to his future position in Chelsea's attack, but with Marko Marin signed, Eden Hazard signing, and probably Hulk to follow, there can be no guarantees. With David Villa injured this summer, it offers Torres the chance to remind the world that he can score goals. If he takes it, clubs such as Paris St-Germain and Malaga have the funds and desire to make what would still be a marquee signing.
7 Sami Khedira, Real Madrid & Germany
The German midfielder has had two seasons in Madrid but remains second fiddle to Xabi Alonso and failed to start 25 of Real's 58 matches last season. Young (25) and experienced, he would interest most of the Premier League's leading teams. Khedira is a dynamic midfielder capable of playing deep or pushing on – he is just the player Manchester United are missing.
8 Luka Modric, Tottenham & Croatia
Modric stayed at White Hart Lane last season despite agitating for a move to Chelsea but Tottenham Hotspur's absence from the Champions League is sure to test his loyalty again. Manchester United and Paris St-Germain have been tracking the 26-year-old midfielder who has already said that he will make a decision at the end of the European Championship.
Ready to step up
9 Rafal Wolski, Legia Warsaw & Poland
Borussia Dortmund lead the clubs chasing this 19-year-old with two years left on his contract. There is also plenty of interest from Italy in a player who has been compared to Dortmund's precocious playmaker Mario Gotze, but will be much cheaper. Skilful right-sided maker and taker of goals.
10 Jores Okore, Nordsjaelland & Denmark
This teenaged central defender, capped within months of his professional debut, could be given a thorough examination in a tough group. Born in Ivory Coast, he moved to Denmark aged three and last season helped the unfashionable FC Nordsjaelland to their first title. Contracted to 2016 but Newcastle, Liverpool, Spurs and both Manchester clubs are among those likely to test Nordsjaelland's resolve.
11 Nelson Oliveira, Benfica & Portugal
Portugal has been fertile hunting ground for English clubs and this 20-year-old striker is on everyone's radar. Chelsea even tried to lure him from Sporting Braga at 15, but he went to the capital. Quick, happy to mix it physically and a good finisher, he could well prosper in the Premier League.
12 Kevin Strootman, PSV Eindhoven & Netherlands
A central midfielder who is pushing for a place in Bert van Marwijk's starting XI at the expense of Manchester City's enforcer Nigel de Jong. Strootman is a more expansive player than De Jong with the ability to see and play a pass. The 22-year-old arrived in Eindhoven via Sparta Rotterdam and Utrecht but could soon be moving on, with Manchester United and both Milan clubs leading the pursuit.
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