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”).
CB: Nicolas N'Koulou, 23 -- Olympique de Marseille (France):
Fabricio Coloccini will turn 32 next month, and always seems in flux with regard to staying in England or going home to Argentina. As such, Mgr. Alan Pardew should be on the lookout for a replacement. Along with Coloccini, Mark Williamson's 30 and Steven Taylor has trouble staying fit for prolonged periods -- all of which problems as the Toon fight for European football next year. The Geordies need dependable reinforcements at every position -- centre-back being the most pertinent in this window.
The Newcastle United scouting division is renowned for scouring (and in many cases raiding) the country of France for talent -- it has landed them quality players before, and shouldn't stop going into a new year. L’ OM centre-back Nicolas N'Koulou seems a sensible replacement for the Newcastle manager; he possesses Premier League quality, and the whole "him-playing-in-France" thing's the cherry-on-top.
With the Cameron-international bound to make an impression at the World Cup next year, managers worldwide should be looking to steal the defender now before his price escalates rapidly. Ligue 1 is well known as a stash-house for budding African talent, and N'Koulou making a move to the Premier League makes progressive sense. A two-time entry in Ligue 1's Team of the Year (2012 & 2013), N'Koulou's presence in the English Top Flight would be a welcome sight. If the Magpies are willing to pay slightly over market value, they will have a strong back-line with N'Koulou and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa as their principles for the next half-decade. Plus, if any team is apt at ushering Francophone talent into the Barclay's Premier League, it's Newcastle United surly.
(*Current Market Value: +£11.5 million)
CAM: Maximilian Arnold, 19 -- VfL Wolfsburg (Germany):
Actual news has stated Yohan Cabaye is no longer a target for Arsenal -- which makes sense if you think about it. Before the season started who expected Aaron Ramsey to be other-worldly, or Mesut Özil to leave Spain for £42 million? Not many. Arsène Wenger needs help in other areas of the pitch, so why break the budget on a position you're set at?
Even still, French side Paris Saint-German are said to be in the market for a central attacking midfielder, with Yohan Cabaye as the backup plan to Chelsea's Juan Mata. You'd think, even with him being on the outside of José Mourinho's staring XI, Juan Mata is untouchable (or at the very least ridiculously expensive), so Newcastle are likely going to be tempted into relinquishing their rights to the French midfielder; and if we know anything, Newcastle United have a hard time saying: "no" to millions of pounds. No to mention, the player could be tempted with the promise of Champions League football -- a wish-list item for all world-class players.
In the event Cabaye is sold, Newcastle should be in the market for a midfielder; and Wolfsburg's Maximilian Arnold may be the best, affordable replacement to that aim. With the skill of a quintessential number ten -- pace, great vision and an eye for goal, the young German-international looks to be a rising-star. Alan Pardew would do well to claim the young talent before the usual Deutschen clutches of Bayern and/or Dortmund grab hold.
(*Current Market Value: ++£2.6 million)
GK: Andrea Consigli, 26 -- Atalanta BC (Italy):
First, he conceded a goal to Stoke City keeper Asmir Begovic; then he gifted Arsenal center-forward Olivier Giroud the most ridiculous goal of the campaign; you add those errors with: "he's nearly 34 years-old," and it seems the career of Southampton goalkeeper Artur Bourc has run-out of steam. It's a shame really, as Southampton look to have the makings of a quality squad for the next decade -- Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and former record-signing from Celtic by way of Kenya, Victor Wanyama, being the main stars of the show.
[Aside: My father, whose from neighboring Uganda, told me the word: "nyama" translates to: "meat;" and: "wanyama" could possibly be understood as "beast." No clue what Victor means though -- nevertheless.]
Saints Mgr. Mauricio Pochettino needs help at the back. The struggling Bourc is injured and should be back by February, all that remains are the aging bones of Kelvin Davies -- the quest for European football could well be dented and beyond repair by Valentines. Early in the transfer window a net-minder should be purchased, and Atalanta's Andrea Consigili owns the kind of goal-keeping prowess which makes him an ideal candidate. The Hampshire club was top four in terms of defense during the first two months of the season, but their form has waned as of late; in no small part to the form of their last line of protection.
That being stated -- it is harsh and frankly illogical to place all the blame in the hands of the goalkeeper(s); credit must be given to opponents, and some blame allocated to defenders and the manager.
Meanwhile in Italy, Consigili has been the victim of a financially strained club going against the likes of Milan, Inter, Roma and Juventus for nearly a decade. The back four in front of him have never been overtly spectacular, keeping that in mind his goal-keeping record is quite impressive. If he had an attacking, possession-oriented club in front of him (i.e. Southampton) it stands to reason his record and form would do nothing but improve. Whether or not the life-long Atalanta man would enjoy a move to the South coast -- only he knows. Possibly the temptation of a more lucrative contract could sway him, for he'd surly be the first choice keeper at St. Mary's over the likes of Bourc and Davis.
(*Current Market Value: +£6.2 million)
CB: Antonio Rüdiger, 20 -- VfB Stuttgart (Germany):
Holding on to young talent is going to be difficult for Mauricio Pochettino and Southampton come the summer and beyond. Rodriguez, Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne and Luke Shaw are all young English targets for the more finically capable in England -- it's a job of its own keeping up with rumours surrounding the Saints. Though known as a club who develops young talent and sells them on (e.g. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale), if Southampton wish to stay relevant, and not go the way of rivals Portsmouth, the acquisition and retention of budding stars is going to be paramount.
German U21 starter Antonio Rüdiger has the potential to be an additional bit of treasure in the Southampton trove. He's a pacey central-defender who can play left-back, right-back or in the pivot respectively. Coming from Borussia Dortmund's youth system, Rüdiger's on-ball-skills are decent, but working with Southampton staff and coaches could be what is needed to take his game to the next level. When the likes of Boateng, Hummels, Westermann and Mertesacker move on in upcoming years, if Rüdiger hopes to follow their lead, a move to England could be the difference.
At his current estimation, Southampton would be absolutely stealing. Business acumen and young talent are what the Saints are known for -- no point in stopping now.
(*Current Market Value: +£4 million)
*MVs estimated by Transfermarkt