Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs transfer target Klaas-Jan Huntelaar closed the door on a move to the Premier League this week as he put pen to paper and signed a contract extension with German club Schalke.
The Dutch striker professed, “I've always felt at home at Schalke,” and it seems he is set to stay at the Bundesliga giants for the remainder of his career – now 29 years of age, he’ll be 32 upon its expiry in 2015.
He had reportedly been courted by the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur who all aim to bolster their attacking options in January but now, with Huntelaar out of the frame, who could they turn to?
First up and probably sitting by the phone ringing his hands together in anticipation is Fernando Llorente who, unlike his Dutch counterpart has stated his intention to refuse a contract extension with his club Athletic Bilbao in the hope of making a big move abroad.
At 27 he’s a more suitable long-term target and he’ll likely come in just under £10 million, which is an absolute bargain for a Spanish international striker who is capable of netting the best part of 30 goals per season.
Another want-away Spaniard and international colleague of Llorente’s is Barcelona’s David Villa – the topscoring Spain forward has fallen down the pecking order at the Nou Camp, following a long spell on the sidelines through injury. Upon his return, he found the team hadn’t missed him much and, what’s more, they were now used to playing without a recognized no9.
To top it all off he took a real ear-bashing from Lionel Messi and is understood to be looking for a way out – whether than be a loan move or a permanent one remains to be seen but he cure surely be lured by the prospect of regular first team football at a top European club.
Meanwhile, back in England Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew has his work cut out for him if he intends to keep his Senegalese goal-machine Demba Ba. The player reportedly has a £7.5 million buyout clause built in to his contract and, at 27, could be tempted by a run out in continental competitions.
I would be very surprised to see him still wearing black and white stripes in February and I would be very surprised if he wasn’t playing for one of Arsenal, Liverpool, or Spurs.
Next up, somewhat of an outsider is reportedly a top target for the Gunners but Adrian Lopez might find he has a number of options laid out on the table in front of him. The 24-year-old Spaniard currently applies his trade at Athletico Madrid but possesses great technical ability, creativity and intelligence.
His versatility is also an asset – he can play anywhere in the attack and now that he’s done the rounds for few years in La Liga I wouldn’t be surprised to see him tempted by a potential change in scenery. He would likely cost less than £10 million and whoever grabs him will be buying the best years of his career.
Finally, I going for a player that I don’t believe anyone will actually buy – why, I have no idea – he’s the brother of Ajax maestro Siem de Jong but, more than that, he’s a 30 goals a season centre-forward.
Exceptionally technically gifted much like his brother and with an excellent finish to boot, Luuk de Jong could very well be the next Robin van Persie. However, I feel that hinges upon his development at the highest level, which is currently what he is doing at Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga.
I don’t imagine he’ll be bought any time soon but if they’ve got their scouts I the right place Arsenal, Liverpool, and Spurs could snap up one of the best prospects in European football for around £15 million.
image: © tpower1978