There are a number of clubs that have money burning a hole in their pockets but the top names – in other words strikers – are few and far between. The names that roll off the tongue are Falcao, Lewandowski and Cavani, but one of that trio has already been tied down – Falcao to Monaco, and the word is that Dortmund’s Polish goal machine is not going anywhere for the time being. Cavani has seemingly spurned his early suitor, Chelsea, claiming he wants to move to Real Madrid. That’s if they want him, of course.
Who else then, for the clubs with money to burn and anxious to bring in a marque signing to satisfy the masses? Lionel Messi is a fixed asset at present at Barca but Ronaldo is making noises that he wants to leave Real, but he has been advised to stay another 18 months. If Monaco come knocking and table £85m, it will be hard for Real President Perez to resist.
Cavani’s club, Napoli, are asking in excess of £54m (a buyout clause) for the Uruguayan and they probably need it so that Rafa Benitez can prepare for a Champions League campaign. Both Chelsea and Manchester City have baulked at the fee, but if Real get a Oligarch’s ransom from Moncao, they can afford Cavani and more. After Falcao, Cavani is arguably the best in Europe, his right foot is lethal and he is awkward to handle.
After this trio, players like the Bayern Munich pair Mario Gomez and the hard-working Mario Mandzukic are being mentioned as potential targets. Both players are decent, but they are second-tier compared to Falcao and co., even if they will do a good job for any of the top clubs.
Likewise the Real Madrid pair, Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema belong to the next group of targets. Arsenal are about to bid £ 30m for Higuain and they could well be acquiring a player that will transform their under-achieving squad. Fast and furious, the Argentine will become centre stage and emerge from the shadow of players like Ronaldo. It could be an inspired signing.
If Zlatan Ibrahimovic was younger than 31, there would be no shortage of clubs willing to bid huge sums to secure his services. Ibrahimovic is richly-talented and an exciting player to watch – like Falcao, he needs a bigger stage than France, but Paris St.Germain should be able to elevate themselves in Europe.
What all this means is that clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City may have to take a punt on a rising talent. When Didier Drogba was signed in 2004, he was not one of the best in Europe, but he was one of the most coveted. Perhaps it is time for clubs to make a speculative investment in an emerging striker – perhaps someone like Stefan Jovetic of Fiorentina, Porto’s Colombian Jackson Martinez or Milan’s Stephan Shaarawy (only 20, so the dodgy hairstyle is excusable).
Of course, there’s always that well known carnivore from Montevideo, Luis Suarez, who may be trying to go into exile. And I haven’t mentioned Robin van Persie or Wayne Rooney.
It’s all too easy to sign a cheque and lure in someone who makes a living from trying to get the next golden handshake. It’s a small, exclusive club of players that keep this absurd mini-industry active. The real skill is in unearthing a talent that can give a club the element of surprise and perhaps a signing that’s just a little bit more cost effective….