The World Cup will take center stage this summer, but it should not be forgotten that the transfer window will remain open before, during and after the tournament.
Will clubs look to sign players early, in the fear that prices will be driven up as the result of good performances in South Africa? Or will they bide their time, in the hope that a few hidden gems will emerge from the tournament? I look at five players who seem destined to leave their clubs this summer.
1. Sergio Aguero. In a December Atletico Madrid's majority shareholder, Miguel Angel Gil told a press conference that they had turned down a bid for the Argentinean, thought to be from Chelsea last summer. The player himself has committed himself to the cause until the end of the season, but just as Fernando Torres outgrew Atletico, the signs are that Aguero will be leaving this summer for one of the world's superpowers. Aguero seems happy to move on and Chelsea remain favorites to sign him.
2. Joe Cole. This has been Cole's worst season at Chelsea, with a lack of form since returning from injury undermining his chances of a regular start. Coach Carlo Ancelotti does not appear to rate Cole as highly as his predecessors, and talks over a new contract have broken down. He is free to move for nothing in the summer, and although his agent David Giesse has denied reports of an approach from Serie A, a move away looks more likely than not. Manchester City can afford his wages, while Tottenham may have a say too.
3. Edin Dzeko. AC Milan were keen to sign the Wolfsburg striker last summer but the German club were determined to hold on to him. He has supported the rossoneri since he was a boy, but it remains to be seen whether they would be able to afford the US$59million that would trigger his release clause. He has not been as prolific this season as he was in the 2008-09 campaign, but expect him to move on nonetheless.
4. Franck Ribery. The Frenchman said a few days ago that if he leaves Bayern Munich, it will be for a Spanish club, not Chelsea. The former Marseille star has not appeared overly committed to Bayern in the last 12 months, and was the subject of strong interest from Real Madrid last summer. Bayern's asking price appeared to rule out any move, but with the player out of contract in 2011, they will either want him to sign a new deal or cash in. The latter looks more likely, and La Liga is a probable next stop.
5. Luis Suarez. The Ajax striker has been prolific all season and is the top scorer with 29 goals. That is 10 more than his nearest challenger Bryan Ruiz. Clubs from England have a habit of signing prolific scorers from the Netherlands, albeit with mixed results. The likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Dirk Kuyt, Afonso Alves and Mateja Ke˛man all arrived in the Premier League having scored a hatful in the Eridivisie. Manchester United and Chelsea have both been linked with Suarez who will feature alongside Diego Forlan for Uruguay at the World Cup.
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