With the summer now well and truly underway and the small matter of a World Cup now being taken care of in Brazil, managers and agents everywhere will have their eyes on the Latin American nation looking to capture the best talent for their respective clubs.
As is always the case, prolific goal scorers will always face the most scrutiny, and with top English clubs like Arsenal and Chelsea in the market for able frontmen, we can expect to see a more than a few big money signings by the end of transfer deadline day. Here we take a look at some of the attacking talent available and the best Premier League destinations for each of them.
Bayern Munich forward Mandzukic was a revelation in the 2012/13 season under Jupp Heynckes, but has revealed he will be leaving the former European Champions this summer because he cannot adapt to Pep Guardiola’s playing style. In addition, with Robert Lewandowski on his way to the capital this summer, Mandzukic will be in search of new pastures to ply his trade in, with the Premier League being the preferred destination.
He had an excellent season at Bayern this year, scoring 18 league goals (second only to Lewandowski with 20), and he also has 6 assists to his name over the course of the year in all competitions. He is excellent at link-up play, holding up the ball to allow attacking midfielders to overlap (as evidenced by his high pass accuracy of 73%) and is a constant aerial threat (7 of his goals have come from headers), all this combined with his excellent defensive work rate (he wins 68% of his defensive take-ons) make him one the best strikers available on the market.
Likely Destination: Arsenal. It is unlikely that he would want to play second fiddle to Diego Costa at Chelsea, and his style of play and attacking instinct is something that Arsenal are in desperate need of.
Chelsea striker Lukaku enjoyed a stellar season with Everton, scoring 15 goals in a highly productive campaign with the Toffees. He will be looking to lead Belgium deep into the World Cup in the absence of Christian Benteke, and a strong showing would help his case during the subsequent transfer window.
His creativity and link up with Mirallas and Barkley at Everton is highlighted by his 6 assists in the league and the 32 chances created from open play. His game is usually a perfect balance of running on the shoulders of the last defender and dropping back to collect the ball. He is, however, weaker when it comes to tracking back and not as defensively solid as Mourinho usually wants his players to be, which might mean a move away from Stamford bridge this summer for the Belgian youngster.
Likely Destination: Chelsea/Everton. An ideal Chelsea forward three would be Costa, Lukaku and on-loan striker Patrick Bamford, who enjoyed a good season at Derby and who is someone willing to be third-choice behind two more established striking options. However, with Lukaku craving more playing time, it is unlikely he will be willing to play second fiddle to Costa, and a return to Goodison looks on the cards with Ba taking up the remaining striker spot.
At 21, Morata is one of the most promising young strikers in Europe, and having failed to get a decent look-in at the Bernabeu, it looks like he will be on his way out this summer, as confirmed by Ancelotti himself. It remains to be seen if his move would be a permanent one or just a loan signing, but whoever decides to pick him up will be getting a potential star at a very early age, a deal that doesn’t come along too often.
Even though he’s played only 582 minutes this campaign (the next lowest is Torres with 1579), Morata has shown us glimpses of the supreme talent he can be when given the chance. He has the Minutes/Goal ratio at more than a goal per game (1.24 every 90 minutes) and is also a highly creative forward; he averages about 2.16 chances created per 90 minutes (the closest is Torres with 1.65). At only 21, he can be one of the best forwards around if given time as he has demonstrated, so any move for him might look like a bargain a few years down the road.
Likely Destination: Everton/Tottenham. Both teams will be looking to bolster their attacking options and depending on how other transfers go about, Morata could be plying his trade in the Europa League next season. If he is to be loaned, Carlo Ancelotti will take into account the great job Roberto Martinez did with Barcelona’s Gerard Delofeu when making a decision.
Although not one of the first names to come up when speaking about top strikers, Remy had a superb season at Newcastle on loan from QPR, and with Harry Redknapp confirming that the Frenchman will be leaving Loftus Road this summer, Remy represents a bargain buy at a supposed £8m to anyone willing to stump up the cash.
He’s been in prolific form with a Newcastle side that was abysmal in the second half of the season with 14 goals, and he’s also managed to work on aspects of his game like passing (27 Key Passes with 81% accuracy), aerial play (3 headed goals) and defensive work-rate. His campaign with the French national side this summer will go a long way in deciding where he’ll be playing next year.
Likely Destination: Arsenal/Tottenham. Remy himself has indicated that he would rather play for Arsenal than their North London rivals, but if Wenger is successful in his pursuit of Mario Mandzukic, an offer from Tottenham or even abroad may be hard to turn down.
For all the jokes to be made about Mourinho’s “bus parking” and defensive tactics (and there’s a lot of them), the only certainty is that Torres never hit the heights he reached at Atletico Madrid and Liverpool in a Chelsea shirt. After another abysmal season at Stamford Bridge, it is highly unlikely he will stay in the Premier League, let alone Chelsea; he desperately needs a move away to rebuild some confidence and rhythm. At 30, there’s almost no chance of him getting back to his pre-Chelsea form, but with Chelsea willing to cut their losses on him he would represent a decent buy for anyone interested.
Likely Destination: Inter Milan/Atletico Madrid. Inter seem the likely destination as they are on the search for a striker and any move for first choice target Dzeko will be immediately shot down by Manchester City. However, a return to the Vicente Calderon could also be on the cards if Mourinho decided to use him as a makeweight in Chelsea’s alleged triple raid on Madrid for Tiago, Filipe Luis and Costa.