12 bold predictions for 2017: Simeone leaves Atletico, Poch to Barcelona

Mauricio Pochettino

Kiyan Sobhani turns Mystic Meg to speculate about what might happen in the world of football next year

1. Atletico fail to qualify for Champions League, Simeone joins Inter

Simeone's time in the Spanish capital looks to be coming to an end

This is the unfathomable prediction that might somehow come to pass. Atletico Madrid bounced back emphatically from their poor start to the season (which saw Antoine Griezmann suggest that the Colchoneros could end up "fighting relegation") but Diego Simeone's men subsequently dipped again and now find themselves nine points adrift of top spot.

Villarreal and Sevilla have joined the top-four conversation, meanwhile, and Real Sociedad have been in rampant form. All three of those teams are currently ahead of sixth-placed Atleti, and Simeone's time in the Spanish capital looks to be coming to an end – not least after his contract was cut short by two years in September.

Diego Simeone

Simeone spent two years at Inter as a player

2. Liverpool sign Sergio Rico

Sevilla will always, to a certain extent, be a selling club, with young talent developed, polished and let go for a profit. Sergio Rico has impressed this season and Liverpool need an upgrade between the sticks, so keep an eye on this potential transfer as the year progresses.

3. Man United qualify for Champions League

United's current momentum arguably making them favourites in the race for fourth spot

Arsenal have been stuttering in recent weeks, while Jose Mourinho's side have belatedly hit their stride. The two sides look to be moving in different directions at present, and United's current momentum arguably makes them favourites in the race for fourth. 

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is providing some much-needed creativity and dynamism, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is scoring goals, Paul Pogba has found his feet and the likes of Ander Herrera, Phil Jones and Michael Carrick are also impressing. The Champions League awaits.

Jose Mourinho

Mourinho's United have finally begun to click in the last few weeks

4. James moves to Old Trafford

James Rodriguez doesn't seem to have a future at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Zinedine Zidane preferring other options. If United do qualify for Europe's premier club competition, the Colombian playmaker could be the perfect No.10 in Mourinho's favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.