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 Posted by Kevin Palmer
Jul 16, 2014

Transfer Talk: Europe's elite

Real Madrid midfielder Angel di Maria has been linked recently with moves to both Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain. ESPN FC's Janusz Michallik assesses the possible scenarios for the Argentine.

As soon as the final ball was kicked in a thrilling World Cup finals, the countdown to the domestic season in Europe got underway in earnest -- with the transfer scramble set to be more heated than ever after the events of Brazil.

Signing a World Cup star is likely to be on the primary objectives of many of the clubs who will be vying for the top honours in club football next season, with the price tags dangled around the neck of some of the summer's standouts elevated by their success with their national teams.

That is good news for clubs looking to cash in on star assets at a moment when they are at their most valuable, while agents and players must also be rubbing their hands together with glee at the prospect of securing lucrative transfers.

The rumours are flying like never before and it seems inevitable that the money exchanging hands this summer is likely to be more inflated than ever before.

ARSENAL
Status:
The FA Cup winners are looking to build on their decent end to last season.
Confirmed signings: Alexis Sanchez (35 million pounds from Barcelona).

What they need: Sanchez's arrival from Barcelona should solve some of the attacking problems Arsenal suffered as their title challenge faltered at the back end of last season and yet it still feels as if coach Arsene Wenger needs an additional forward option.

Wenger insists that French striker Olivier Giroud still has a big role to play in his plans and he has to decide whether Joel Campbell did enough in the World Cup with Costa Rica to justify a position as Arsenal's backup forward.

Who they should get: France striker Karim Benzema is often mentioned as a target for Wenger and Arsenal, and signing a goal scorer of that calibre would be welcomed by Gunners fans who fear Wenger may resist the temptation to spend big yet again this summer.

France and QPR forward Loic Remy is eager to join Arsenal, according to ESPN sources, but the rumoured moves for AC Milan and Italy striker Mario Balotelli have been dampened by Wenger. French full-back Mathieu Debuchy will arrive from Newcastle to replace the departed Bacary Sagna.

Alexis Sanchez's arrival at the Emirates should solidify Arsene Wenger's attacking options.

LIVERPOOL
Status:
Returning to the Champions League and replacing striker Luis Suarez.
Confirmed signings: Rickie Lambert (4 million pounds from Southampton), Emre Can (9.75 million pounds from Bayer Leverkusen), Adam Lallana (25 million pounds from Southampton), Lazar Markovic (20 million pounds from Benfica).

What they need: Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers will have been relieved to confirm the departure of Luis Suarez early in this transfer window, as an elongated delay in the deal could have derailed the Reds' plans for their return to the Champions League.

Replacing Suarez will be no easy task and it is unlikely to be achieved with a solitary signing, but Liverpool need to prove they can attract A-list stars after missing out on a deal for Alexis Sanchez, who chose to join Arsenal ahead of a move to Merseyside.

Who they should get: Bayern Munich's Swiss maestro Xherdan Shaqiri is a possible option for Rodgers, yet it is in the heart of the defence that Liverpool were exposed last season and Rodgers needs to solve that problem.

Southampton's Croatian defender Dejan Lovren is a confirmed target, but his club seems reluctant to allow him to leave. Meanwhile, Belgium and Lille striker Divock Origi is being heavily linked with a move to Anfield, as well as his international colleague Romelu Lukaku, who faces an uncertain future at Chelsea.

CHELSEA
Status:
Boss Jose Mourinho won nothing in his first season back at Chelsea and he will want to put that right.
Confirmed signings: Cesc Fabregas (27 million pounds from Barcelona), Diego Costa (32 million pounds from Atletico Madrid).

What they need: Costa has been signed to provide the striking potency Chelsea lacked last season, and there is every chance that he may not be the final striker arriving at the club this summer following the departure of Samuel Eto'o.

Resolving the future of Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois and his striking compatriot Romelu Lukaku is another pressing issue for Mourinho and it may be that the first of the duo stays in place amid rumours that the experienced Petr Cech may be moved on this summer.

Who they should get: Fabregas and Costa add a thrilling injection of quality to an already-potent Chelsea squad, and now Mourinho may look to add one more stellar name before the end of August.

Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani continues to be linked with a move to Chelsea, while Mourinho's lavish praise of French midfielder Paul Pogba following his World Cup exploits has fuelled suspicions that a bid may be lodged for the Juventus midfielder. Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid full-back Filipe Luis is tipped to be a replacement for the departed Ashley Cole.

MANCHESTER CITY
Status:
English Premier League champions looking to make more of an impact in Europe.
Confirmed signings: Bacary Sagna (free from Arsenal), Fernando (12 million pounds from Porto), Willy Caballero (4.4 million pounds from Malaga).

What they need: If City keep all their best players fit next season, they should already have enough strength in depth to challenge for all four of the competitions they will compete in, yet this wealthy club never settle for what they have in a transfer window.

Resolving the future of midfield talisman Yaya Toure is the obvious issue that needs to be resolved in the next month, with the Ivory Coast player's agent persistently suggesting his client's future at the club is far from certain.

Who should they get: Eliaquim Mangala is being tipped to join from Porto for a fee in excess of 30 million pounds, as City boss Manuel Pellegrini tries to find a stable central defensive partner for his captain Vincent Kompany.

If Toure finds a route out of City, then a move for Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal would seem to be a good fit for Pellegrini, yet the capture of Fernando from Porto means they are hardly short of numbers in the midfield whatever happens with their troublesome talisman Toure.

Porto's French centre-back Eliaquim Mangala is close to joining Manchester City.

MANCHESTER UNITED
Status: Squad in need of a reboot after United's worst season in two decades.
Confirmed signings: Ander Herrera (28.85 million pounds from Athletic Bilbao), Luke Shaw (27 million pounds from Southampton).

What they need: Reinforcements in almost every position. Incoming Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is undertaking a vast rebuilding plan, with the arrivals of Herrera and Shaw just the start of what is needed.

Central defenders are a must following the departures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, yet replacing that experienced and highly successful duo will be no easy task.

Who they should get: The list of names that has been linked with a move to United must be more extensive than any other in European football, so uncovering the fact from the fiction is a little tricky.

Chile's Arturo Vidal is the midfield enforcer many United fans would like to see arriving at Old Trafford, but he is an expensive option who will have clubs offering Champions League football to pick from.

Rumours that Van Gaal will target Dutch players are inevitable, with Feyenoord's Stefan de Vrij mentioned as a possible central defensive option, while Colombia winger Juan Cuadrado and Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong are also reported targets.

REST OF EUROPE:

BARCELONA
Status:
New boss Luis Enrique looking to rebuild the Catalan giants and get them back to winning ways.
Confirmed signings: Ivan Rakitic (18 million pounds from Sevilla), Claudio Bravo (12 million pounds from Real Sociedad), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (9.7 million pounds from Borussia Monchengladbach), Luis Suarez (75 million pounds from Liverpool).

What they need: Barcelona clearly don't need any more firepower in an attacking line that appears to be the most potent in European football. The combination of Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi is frightening and thrilling in equal measure, so long as the latter two are fully fit, yet Barcelona still need to strengthen their defensive line after they looked weak in that area last season.

Who they should get: Germany defender Mats Hummels and Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal would be ideal additions to a Barcelona squad that appears to be set up with the purpose of attacking at all costs.

That plan may be a wonderful fantasy, yet reality is that Barca's weakness defending set pieces, their tendency to get hit on the break and a lack of ball-winners in the middle of midfield are all areas coach Enrique needs to address. Unless he does that, they are likely to come up short against the best in Europe once more.

Luis Suarez can't be officially presented as a Barcelona player because of his current ban, but his shirt is already for sale in the club shop.

BAYERN MUNICH
Status:
Trying to reclaim their status as Europe's top side, while building on their domestic dominance.
Confirmed signings: Robert Lewandowski (free from Borussia Dortmund), Sebastian Rode (free from Eintracht Frankfurt), Juan Bernat (free from Valencia).

What they need: Bayern lacked some of the magic they exuded in their treble-winning season of two years ago during Pep Guardiola's first season in charge. Rediscovering that X factor is his target for next season.

Who they should get: Lewandowski's arrival gives Bayern a proven scorer in both the Bundesliga and Champions League, while Chile and Juventus midfield powerhouse Arturo Vidal has been linked with a move to Bavaria, with Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri possibly going in the other direction.

The departure of Toni Kroos to Real Madrid would free up space on the wage bill and in midfield, yet Guardiola and Bayern will only splash the cash if they believe they are signing a player better than they already have on their books. Finding those men is no easy task.

REAL MADRID
Status:
European champions and eager to hold on to their crown.
Confirmed signings: None.

What they need: Players who can take Real Madrid to the next level following their Champions League triumph last May, and those players already appear to have been identified by Bernabeu chiefs. Keepers Iker Casillas and Diego Lopez are viewed as weak links by some observers, with Costa Rica keeper Keylor Navas a reported target for Real Madrid.

Who they should get: Real Madrid President Florentino Perez likes to sign at least one marquee player each summer, and after his successful pursuit of Gareth Bale a year ago proved to be successful, Colombian World Cup star James Rodriguez appears to be their chief target this time around.

Colombia and Monaco forward Radamel Falcao is reportedly eager to join Real Madrid, and the same goes for German World Cup winner Toni Kroos, who is tipped to arrive from Bayern Munich.

If Real Madrid add the dynamic trio of Rodriguez, Falcao and Kroos to their already successful squad, they will take a huge stride forward from the team that secured them the elusive La Decima, their 10th European title, in such thrilling fashion.

James Rodriguez has said he would sign for Real Madrid with his eyes closed if given the chance.

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
Status:
French champions eager to make Champions League breakthrough.
Confirmed signings: David Luiz (40 million pounds from Chelsea).

What they need: It could be argued that PSG now need to activate a 30-day money back guarantee on David Luiz after his disastrous performances in the final week of the World Cup finals contributed to the stunning demise of Brazil's challenge for glory on home soil.

Rebuilding Luiz's confidence may be one of the first tasks for PSG coach Laurent Blanc, who is reported to be in the market for a couple of marquee signings in a wide position and possibly up front, if Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani leaves this summer.

Who they should get: Argentina and Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria is reported to be high on their wanted list and he is being tipped to secure what would be a highly lucrative move to the French capital.

Toulouse and Ivory Coast right-back Serge Aurier is said to be on PSG's radar, as is Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, who is viewed as a possible replacement for the unsettled Cavani.

JUVENTUS
Status: Italian champions looking to make a bigger impact in the Champions League.
Confirmed signings: Stefano Sturaro (4.38 million pounds from Genoa), Kingsley Coman (free from Paris Saint-Germain).

What they need: To begin with, someone to replace coach Antonio Conte, who quit the club on Tuesday. Juve's frailties were exposed in the Champions League last season, meaning their hopes of progressing to the latter stages look forlorn without some signings. However, it remains to be seen whether the Italians have the financial muscle to hold on to their stars, never mind sign new heroes.

Who they should get: The possible sale of Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal would generate a healthy windfall of cash, with Manchester United and Bayern Munich both being heavily linked with a performer who shined at this summer's World Cup finals.

Belgium and Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku has said he is "flattered to be linked with Juventus," while Real Madrid backup forward Alvaro Morata is also reported to be a target for the Turin club. Experienced French full-back Patrice Evra is expected to arrive from Manchester United, while reports in England suggest the Turin club have identified Tottenham's Brazilian midfielder Paulinho as a possible replacement for Vidal if he makes his exit.