With the January window looming, it’s time to look at which players around the world should be on Premier League manager’s shopping lists (keep in mind the aim to be, shall we say, “realistic.”).
ST: Robert Lewandowski, 25 – Borussia Dortmund (Germany):
Linked with the Polish goal-compiler for the better part of a year, José Mourinho might just be ready to pull the trigger. If for any reason maybe just to keep him from the other world-class clubs vying for his services? The misfiring strikers from Stamford Bridge have been well documented. With Samuel Eto’o’s contract ending this summer, and the smoke surrounding the relationship between Mourinho and loanee Romelu Lukaku, Lewandowski would be the perfect fit in Stamford Bridge -- a technically-gifted complete forward who works well with midfielders – a trait one needs at a club boasting the likes of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard.
(Current Market Value: +£33 million)
CB: Eliaquim Mangala, 22 – FC Porto (Portugal):
In the current system José Mourinho’s implementing, the would-be centre-back Branislav Ivanović plays right-back -- leaving only John Terry, Gary Cahill and David Luiz as central defending options. With Chelsea looking to play in the UEFA Champions League, FA Cup and the Premier League, another mainstay in central defense might be just what the doctor ordered. Cahill and Luiz are what we might call: “injury-prone,” and John Terry isn’t the spring chicken he used to be. The young Frenchman seems to have all the qualities Mourinho looks for in his centre-halves – physical, strong, comfortable on the ball, safety first mentality, and the FC Porto connection won’t hurt surely.
(Current Market Value: +£17 million)
W/RM: Callum McManaman, 22 -- Wigan Athletic (England):
Known pretty much the world over as a bad tackler, Wigan's Callum McManaman has the quality to play in a "lesser" Premier League side. While his horror tackle on Newcastle defender Massadio Haïdara in March was absolutely despicable, you can't judge a man's quality on one moment of madness (see Roy Keane, Eric Cantona, etc. -- not to put this young man in their class, but just illustrating a point). Cardiff City are hanging just above the relegation zone, and need a change of pace on their right wing -- McManaman seems to have the perfect price and skill-set to bolster gaffer Malkey Mackay's attacking depth. Are Wigan willing to sell him is the key question? For the right amount you'd think they would be.
(Current Market Value: +£2.6 million)
W/CM: Simon Davies, 34 -- Free Agent (N/A)
Now, I know what you're thinking: "Daniel, Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan said he won't be giving Mackay any money this window, so how can they get McManaman!" The premise is based on the assumption the owner has a change of heart, but either way -- no worries. It just so happens an older, albeit more risky signing can be made; and all that would be paid are weekly wages. Simon Davies has had a tempestuous career. Labeled, if memory serves, "The Welsh David Beckham" in years past -- his career has been riddled with setbacks and injuries. Even still, he's amassed over 400 English league appearances, just over 300 of which coming in the Premier League. For a side desperate to stay in the Top Flight, a native son who has the experience to negotiate the BPL, not to mention one who can still find a pass, could be the way to fill holes in a swiss-cheese-like roster... all without spending too much of Mr. Tan's fortune.
(Current Market Value: £25-40K p/wk) [QED]
*MV’s estimated by Transfermarkt