The top clubs are already picking some of the best players in Europe as they look to strengthen ahead of the 2022/23 football season.
The groundwork for discussions starts with agents during the season. Then the clubs swoop in as soon as the transfer market is open.
We have already seen blockbuster transfers such as Erling Braut Haaland and Julian Alvarez to Manchester City, Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona, Gabriel Jesus and Fabio Vieira to Arsenal, etc.
Despite those deals, many quality players are looking for/need a change this summer and could still be on the move. We examine seven of the best transfer targets in the European market.
1. Pau Torres (25, Villarreal, Central Defender)
The Spanish international has been on the radar of some of the top European clubs for a while now, and it is surprising that he has not moved on from Villareal.
Pau Torres is a great reader of the game and an excellent player in the build-up phase. His gorgeous passes with his left foot are cultured and help start attacks for Unai Emery’s side.
Over the last two seasons, he became more imposing aerially. He won 60% of his aerial duels last season in La Liga and 62% the season before. A vast improvement from his 44% in the 19/20 campaign.
There are some question marks over his physicality, but Torres’s reading of the game will serve him well. He could be a target for Juventus to replace Giorgio Chiellini or Matthijs De Ligt this summer.
He was linked with Manchester United some months ago, but they have signed Lisandro Martinez instead. Paris Saint-Germain could also use his talents with Chelsea in discussions with the Parisian club for Presnel Kimpembe. He has a €50 million release clause but could leave Villarreal for a lower fee.
2. Sasa Kalajdzic (25, Stuttgart, Striker)
The Austrian giant in Stuttgart has been a revelation for the club despite injuries blighting his time in Germany. He scored 16 goals during the 2020/21 Bundesliga campaign to help his side finish comfortably mid-table.
They struggled this season in his absence due to a long-term injury, but he was still vital as they survived relegation. That superb header against Bayern Munich in May 2022 comes to mind. Kalajdzic has formed a deadly partnership with left-back Borna Sosa, who can locate his partner anywhere on the pitch.
Kalajdzic’s injury record will bother any top club looking to secure his services, but his ability as a target man will also be invaluable. Bayern Munich looked at the Austrian international when searching for a Lewandowski replacement, and he popped into Chelsea’s radar with Romelu Lukaku leaving.
Stuttgart will ask for around €30 million for Kalajdzic, and a top European club looking for a goalscorer/focal point in attack should move for him.
3. Edson Alvarez (24, Ajax, Defensive Midfielder)
Following their memorable 18/19 UEFA Champions League run, Ajax were picked apart by European clubs. Cult hero Lasse Schöne left, and the Amsterdam club reinforced with Mexican defensive midfielder Edson Alvarez.
He didn’t have a great first season as he struggled to come to terms with Erik Ten Hag’s style and rotation. The Dutch boss used him as a make-shift right-back and central defender. In the 2021/22 season, he came into his own as the lynchpin in Ajax’s midfield.
Alvarez is adept at breaking up attacks and relegates the job of starting attacks to his more capable teammates. His simplicity makes people underrate what he does, but it is a vital job.
He is not the most progressive player, but he stops the opposition attackers from progressing. The Mexican international protects his backline well with his physical play and minimum fuss.
Cultured, traditional defensive midfielders of high quality are at a premium these days. Edson Alvarez will be one of the best transfer targets for many clubs that need a midfield destroyer this summer.
Chelsea, Man United and PSG could all use a player of his talents in their central midfield ahead of the new campaign.
4. David Raum (24, TSG Hoffenheim, Left-back)
Any team looking to insert some creativity into their side from left-back must be looking at Hoffenheim’s David Raum. The German international is a phenomenal crosser of the ball. He is a willing outlet down the left channel that causes problems for the opposition.
Raum created 83 chances in the Bundesliga last season. Only Filip Kostic and Thomas Muller created more. He scored three goals and created 19 (!) big chances for his side. Only Thomas Muller (22) created more in the German top-flight. He is not the most capable defensively and can get caught out, but he is dependable in his defensive duties.
With Raphael Guerreiro struggling with injuries and failing to reach his previous high standards, Borussia Dortmund have made Raum a target for their left-back position. Hoffenheim are holding out for €40m, which might be difficult for BVB considering their already significant outlay this summer.
Bayern have been mentioned in a deal tying USA’s Chris Richards – a player Hoffenheim are interested in. A transfer for Raum to Die Rekordmeister could be tough with Alphonso Davies a nailed-on starter. He will not want to waste time on the bench.
One thing is for sure, whoever gets the Greuther Furth graduate will have a gem on their hands. He is one of the best transfer targets available for a move this summer.
5. Jules Kounde (23, Sevilla, Central Defender)
Around this time last year, Chelsea were linked to Jules Kounde. Fabrizio Romano broke the news that the French international was of serious interest to the London club. Twelve months later, he is still just a person of interest to the Blues. The clubs are struggling to agree on a fee.
Kounde is one of the most interesting young defenders in Europe, and with Cesar Azpilicueta on his way to Barcelona, Chelsea are sniffing around him again.
Stylistically, he is one of the best transfer targets to replace the outgoing captain. Thomas Tuchel’s side needs defensive reinforcement after losing Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.
Kounde is a great player at progressing play. He is in the 84th percentile in his position for progressive passes and the 90th percentile for carries. Kounde is in the 98th percentile for dribbles completed.
Despite his 5ft 11ins frame, the Bordeaux academy graduate records a 61% aerial duel success rate in La Liga. He recorded over 70% in the Champions League. His reading of the game is excellent, but his ability to start attacks with his passing, carrying, and dribbling stands out.
It is no surprise that Les Bleus coach Didier Deschamps has played him at right-back to mixed results. Something Julen Lopetegui has also tried. The defender’s €80m release clause gives Sevilla a negotiating advantage, but Chelsea are currently haggling for less.
He was on the radar of Real Madrid and Barcelona not long ago. Kounde will soon get his move, according to rumours out of Spain.
6. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (27, Lazio, Central Midfielder)
The Sergeant is a physically-imposing figure in the Biancocelesti midfield. He can pass, shoot, hold up & link-up play, attack the opposition goal, and defend.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is a well-rounded player who is somewhat underrated. Despite initial issues with Maurizio Sarri, the Serbian midfielder won the club’s player of the year award for the 2021/22 campaign.
Milinkovic-Savic is an able passer and carrier of the ball. He excels at long and short passes and balances them with supreme physical ability. His 6ft 4ins frame makes him indomitable aerially and on the ground. He also has the end-product to go with all his intangibles as a player. Milinkovic-Savic scored 11 goals and 11 assists for the Rome-based club last season.
With Paul Pogba leaving Man United, Milinkovic-Savic is a worthwhile replacement for the World Cup-winning midfielder. Frenkie De Jong wants to stay at Barcelona, so Erik Ten Hag’s side might have to look elsewhere for their midfield lynchpin.
Lazio president Claudio Lotito has been hawking the player around Europe to get a bid going, but apart from some links to Arsenal, no club looks set to bite.
He is one of the best box-to-box midfielders around, and any club looking to fill that gap with a quality player should be looking his way. He is one of the best transfer targets for any club that wants to strengthen its midfield.
7. Borna Sosa (24, Stuttgart, Left-back)
Borna Sosa is another exciting Bundesliga left-back/left-wing-back that could be primed for a move this summer. After an incredible 2020/21 season where he contributed nine assists, he struggled (just as Stuttgart) in the 2021/22 season but still managed eight assists.
Sosa is in the 95th percentile for progressive passes and 94th percentile for carries. His deadly crosses, usually attacked by Kalajdzic, are a potent threat for Pellegrino Matarazzo’s side. Sosa is one of the best transfer targets available for the left-back position and could cost between €20-30m.
He is a full Croatian international, and his assist sent his nation to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Like his teammate, his injury issues are a cause for concern. He struggled to get going when he first arrived from Dinamo Zagreb, and the niggly problems rear their head every once in a while.
However, he will be an excellent addition to any team looking for a left-wing-back right now. West Ham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Barcelona, Man City, Bayern and Chelsea have all been linked with the player.
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