It’s been slightly over a month since the winter transfer window closed, which means only one thing: it’s time to look at the summer transfer window.
As crazy as the transfer market is, it gets people interested. With many teams futures wrapped up by now, many fans have nothing better to do than look forward and see who their team could possibly purchase in the summer. By now, many players are also frustrated by the playing time (or lack thereof) that they have received at their clubs. Some players weren’t able to get the winter transfers they want, fueling speculation as transfer talks continue to drag on.
Here are some of those players: seven players who have fallen out of favor and need a change of scenery, as well as where the ideal new location would be.
(Note: this list excludes players whose contracts are expiring in the summer and players out on loan. Furthermore, to qualify as out-of-favor, in this scenario the player must have started in fewer than 25% of league matches).
Kepa, AC Milan
Kepa is widely considered one of the worst signings in history, and rightfully so. The Chelsea goalkeeper was signed from Bilbao in 2018 for $88 million, a record for a goalkeeper. He started off on the wrong foot, arguing with manager Maurizio Sarri in the Carabao Cup and has gone on to play just 103 games for Chelsea, being dropped at times for Willy Caballero. Eventually new Chelsea manager Frank Lampard decided he had had enough and bought Edouard Mendy, who has been a sizable improvement.
Kepa has played just four games this season and continues to play poorly. He still has talent, but it is clear that he needs to leave Chelsea. Why not head to AC Milan, a historic Italian team returning to the Champions League? AC Milan currently have a very talented goalkeeper in Gianluigi Donnarumma, but Donnarumma’s contract is expiring and he is expected to leave. Kepa could replace him, and Chelsea would be able to let him leave for cheap. This would allow AC Milan to use the rest of their money improve the squad as they return to the Champions League.
Xherdan Shaqiri, Besiktas
Shaqiri has played several matches for Liverpool recently, but make no mistake: he’s still an outsider at Liverpool. Injuries to other attackers like Diogo Jota have forced Shaqiri back into Liverpool’s squad. He hasn’t impressed, with just one assist since returning to Liverpool’s starting squad as poor form has seen the Reds fall out of the Premier League’s top four. Often considered the weak link at Liverpool, he needs to be sold as the Reds need new reinforcements.
Xherdan Shaqiri has been linked to Turkish club Galatasaray countless times over the years, but why not go to their rivals, Besiktas? Besiktas are currently pushing for the Super Lig title and they, too, can return to the Champions League. Furthermore, Shaqiri has been told by former Swiss coach Arno Rossini that he is “not a champion” and that he didn’t leave an impression on the teams that he won titles with (Basel, Bayern, and Liverpool). Besiktas would be a team that Shaqiri could certainly help win.
Emerson Palmieri, Napoli
Another Chelsea player out of favor, Emerson has featured in just two matches this Premier League season and has fallen out of favor since Ben Chilwell signed for the Blues. The former Roma wingback hasn’t quite worked out in London, partially due to injuries and competition from previously-mentioned Chilwell, and Marcos Alonso.
Emerson has been constantly linked with a return to Italy, with Napoli among those teams rumored to be interested. Napoli are having an off season by their standards and are going through a rough phase in the club’s history. Emerson is a good, versatile option who could get the fans of Napoli excited about their club again.
Alvaro Odriozola, Fulham
This is an odd one: after all, Odriozola is at Real Madrid. Real Madrid rarely sell players to clubs in the Premier League battling relegation, and Fulham could be in the Championship next season. Still, England is a very desirable location, especially for Spanish players who know that they won’t make it with Spain’s elite: after spells in Barcelona and Villarreal, Xavi Quintilla joined Norwich City, and Pipa left Espanyol for Huddersfield.
Odriozola would be a good transfer, regardless of whether Fulham go down or survive. Fulham are in need of a right back, with Kenny Tete on loan from Lyon, and Denis Odoi growing old. Odriozola is 25 and has experience in La Liga and the Bundesliga, but has fallen out of favor under Zinedine Zidane. His market value has fallen $22 million in three years to just $11 million and would be fairly cheap for the Cottagers. Odriozola would probably take the offer, too: Fulham are a wealthy club known to spend big and could afford to pay Odriozola, who would get playing time in Fulham.
Samuel Umtiti, Lyon
This one is a transfer that makes quite a bit of sense for both parties.
For many, Umtiti represents the worst of Barcelona’s transfer policies. They spent over $27 million for the French defender from Lyon five seasons ago, and in 2018 it looked like the transfer payed off. Umtiti’s market value was almost $80 million and he had just played almost every La Liga match that season. He was also chosen for the World Cup, where France won. However, things have quickly gone wrong for Umtiti, as his market value has gone down drastically due to multiple knee, muscle and foot issues. He’s started to make many important mistakes and, even without injury, has played few matches this season. He has received much criticism and has only gotten worse since declining a move to Liverpool in winter.
Samuel Umtiti was once a stalemate in France’s defense, but that has changed as he has not been called up since 2019. Returning to the club that gave him his start would put Umtiti back in the international picture. Lyon are a Champions League team who are challenging in France but need a good center back and Umtiti could be their guy.
Javier Pastore, Watford
Watford are currently in position to return to the Premier League after a season away from England’s top flight, and Javier Pastore would be a good cheap option. A versatile player, Pastore has experience in the top flights of Italy and France and the Argentine would be a great player to mentor some of Watford’s many Spanish-speaking players like Maurizio Pochettino and Williams Velasquez, among others.
Pastore has played zero games this season for Watford and is linked with a move to Qatar or the MLS, but he still has a lot to give in Europe. Pastore is only 31 but has played over 400 matches and contributed to 159 goals. This would help Watford if they make it to the Premier League, considering that Watford are only the seventh-highest scorers in the Championship despite sitting in second.
Jean-Kevin Augustin, Schalke
How did things go so wrong for Jean-Kevin Augustin?
The French youth international was viewed as a top prospect with PSG and it seemed like Leipzig had gotten a steal when they snagged Timo Werner’s future replacement for slightly over $17 million in 2017. He was the 2016 UEFA U19 Euro top scorer as France won the tournament, and won several trophies with PSG.
Things have since gone south for Augustin, as he was involved in a lawsuit between Leeds United and RB Leipzig, and then forced to leave Leipzig on a free transfer. Things started to look better for Augustin as he returned to France with Nantes with the hope of returning to his previous form, and played three of Nantes’ first few matches. He hasn’t played since November or even been selected to the squad, and was recently demoted to Nantes B, located in the fourth tier of France, despite the fact that Nantes are battling relegation. After just a season, a transfer is necessary.
I’ve already reviewed what Schalke need to do to avoid relegation, but things aren’t looking good for Schalke after drawing with next-to-last placed Mainz. Schalke are experiencing financial disaster, and will probably experience a player exodus in the summer. If they aren’t careful, they can slide down the divisions of Germany, so they need to look at smart transfers. Despite his struggles, Augustin is a talented player who would be dirt cheap and could help a team like Schalke or a Bundesliga 2 team until he regains his confidence and can play in one of Europe’s top tiers again.
These are just a few of the players who could be dominating headlines for the next few months. Isco, Gareth Bale, Luka Jovic, Harry Winks, and others are players who are reportedly dissatisfied with the amount of playing time they receive and could leave. Of course, there are a few months for this to change, and a few months for transfer sagas to drag on.
Let me know if you would like to see more articles like this in the future!
Image Courtesy of Вячеслав Евдокимов, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons.
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