Players we'd love to see in England
If Premier League clubs have any sense, they will try and get much of their transfer business sorted before the World Cup begins on 14 June. That means we could be in store for a busy few weeks in the lead-up to Russia, with the following 10 players likely to attract interest from English outfits…
Andrea Belotti (Torino)
Belotti was linked with both Chelsea and Manchester United in summer 2017, but a move away from Torino never materialised. This has been a slightly tougher campaign for the striker, whose Serie A goal tally is down from 26 to 10 after an injury-hit season.
The man who has been likened to Christian Vieiri will still attract suitors, though, with Milan likely to renew their interest. The fact the 24-year-old still has his peak years ahead of him would no doubt appeal to Premier League clubs too.
Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)
De Ligt has supposedly been identified as Tottenham’s favoured replacement for Toby Alderweireld, who has been heavily linked with Manchester United. Racking up over 60 games for Ajax would be impressive for any 18-year-old, but the level of De Ligt’s involvement is even more remarkable considering his position.
The centre-back’s composure and maturity bely his tender years, and the teenager has seemingly been unfazed by the challenges he’s faced so far in his career.
Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig)
RB Leipzig’s failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League looks set to lead to a summer of upheaval, with manager Ralph Hasenhuttl having stepped down and midfield dynamo Naby Keita on his way to Liverpool.
Forsberg endured a frustrating 2017-18 as injuries limited him to just 15 starts in the Bundesliga, but a return of 19 assists the previous season mean he will also attract plenty of interest from elsewhere. Comfortable on either wing or through the middle, Forsberg finds space intelligently and presses proficiently.
Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Manchester United and Manchester City have both been linked with Fred, who will probably call time on his Shakhtar career this summer. The Brazilian has been with the Ukrainian club for five years, but 2017-18 was the season in which he established himself as a top-class operator as Paulo Fonseca’s side reached the knockout phase of the Champions League.
A deep-lying midfielder who contributes to both his team’s attack and defence, the 25-year-old is a fine passer who is also adept at carrying the ball upfield.
Napoli’s midfield metronome is one of the players who will probably wave goodbye to the Stadio San Paolo before the start of 2018-19. Jorginho is the man who makes the Partenopei tick, collecting the ball from the centre-halves and setting his side on the attack.
A pass completion rate of 89.4% in 2017-18 shows how much care he takes in possession, but the Brazil-born Italy international isn’t afraid to take risks with the ball at his feet either. Liverpool have been sniffing around, but Jorginho would improve any squad in the English top tier.
Jean Seri (Nice)
Seri saw his dream move fall apart last summer, when Barcelona pulled out of a deal to sign the midfielder after his French employers raised the price at the last minute.
Seri refused to play in the Eaglets’ subsequent Ligue 1 clash with Amiens but bounced back to make over 40 appearances in 2017-18. A terrific passer of the ball who can play behind the striker or in a box-to-box role, the 26-year-old will surely be on the move in the coming months.
Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen)
The breakout star of the Bundesliga campaign, Bailey is an exciting winger who could be prised away from Bayer Leverkusen after their failure to qualify for the Champions League.
Nine goals and six assists in 2017-18 was a fine return for a player who only moved to Germany last summer, but equally impressive was his ability to breeze past opponents in one-on-one situations. Bailey doesn’t rely solely on raw speed, however – his trickery and footwork are both excellent.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio)
Reports suggest Manchester United were tracking Milinkovic-Savic throughout 2017-18, when the Serbia international established himself as one of Serie A’s best midfielders. At 6ft 3in the Lazio man is the same height as Marouane Fellaini, but he’s more similar in style to Paul Pogba (an inch shorter) than the Belgian.
The 23-year-old has scored 12 times and provided three assists in Serie A this term, helping his club to the brink of Champions League qualification. Milinkovic-Savic is technically gifted with an eye for goal, and his imposing frame would no doubt aid his adaptation to English football.
Kieran Tierney (Celtic)
It's typical of the football gods' wicked sense of humour that Scotland now arguably have two Champions League-class players... and they're both left-backs. While ex-Queen’s Park and Dundee United man Andrew Robertson has become a key part of Liverpool’s starting XI, Tierney could follow in his compatriot’s footsteps next term: a host of English clubs are thought to be keeping a close eye on the Celtic prodigy.
Bold with and without the ball, the 20-year-old routinely bombs forward down the flank to link up with his team’s attackers in the final third.
Hirving Lozano (PSV)
The Mexican winger doesn’t appear to be in any rush to leave PSV after just a single season, but the impact he made in the Eredivisie in 2017-18 means suitors are inevitable.
The 22-year-old was a constant threat to opposition full-backs, as 17 goals and eight assists suggest. Lozano has played – and shone – on the right flank at times, but he does his best work when cutting infield onto his stronger foot from the left wing. Impressive showings for his country in Russia could earn him a big-money move to a European heavyweight.
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