As the January transfer window looms ever-closer, players whose current contracts expire at the end of the season will carry a giant ‘for sale’ sign around their necks in the New Year.
The first and most well documented case of ‘contract renewal-itis’ is Arsenal’s Theo Walcott.
He’s reported unhappy with the £75,000 a week the Gunners are prepared to offer him and, since publicly stating his desire to play as a striker, he’s likely to be the first one out the exit door of the Emirates. His destination is unknown at present, but likely buyers included Liverpool, and Chelsea with his valuation sitting somewhere in the region of £10million.
Next up, is Chelsea Daniel Sturridge, who has been a player on the periphery of the European champions since his arrival. With his path having initially been blocked by Didier Drogba, he now finds himself in the shadow of Fernando Torres and is mostly utilized as a substitute for the Blues.
Much like Walcott, the 23-year-old is holding off from contract failing contract talks at Stamford Bridge, fuelling speculation that he’ll be leaving before the end of his current deal.
Chelsea are now looking to fund their acquisition of Falcao and Sturridge may be the just the ticket.
Potential suitors could be Arsenal – in fact I wouldn’t put a ‘swapsies’ deal out of the question – both him and Walcott are valued at much the same price.
Elsewhere on the continent, Athletic Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente has been linked with all and sundry – again because he’s out of contract this summer and the club will not want to lose him on a Bosman free.
His valuation of £26million means a number of clubs will be priced-out of the race for his signature.
Both Arsenal and Liverpool are in desperate need of a striker. Arsenal will likely have the edge on the Reds due their financial security since selling Robin van Persie and Alex Song last summer, and they can offer the Spaniard Champion’s League football.
Synonymously, Schalke’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is in a strong position to bag a move to the Premier League – I’d expect to see him and Llorente playing in red next year with one or the other going to Arsenal or Liverpool.
The 29-year-old Dutchman presents a more affordable option – valued somewhere around £17million due to his advancing years.
His teammate Lewis Holtby is also edging closer to a move away from Schalke. However, some reports suggest he may remain in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich keen on securing the services of the German starlet.
Both Arsenal and Everton have had their scouts sniffing around the 22-year-old but I’d expect to see him remain at Schalke – despite his reluctance to sign a new deal, I would imagine that’s under his agent’s advice that he could force higher wages out of the club.
At £7million though, I’m sure there’ll be a few Premier League clubs ready to take a punt on the young man.
Which deal is most likely to happen and would you most like to see go through?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald