The armchair guide to the transfer season: One 2 Watch

by Justin Cormick

Andre Schurrle GermanyThe Armchair Guide has returned for another week to focus on the young-imports into the top four leagues in Europe. Which talented players will be crucial for their new clubs campaign this season? Read on to find out.

Manchester United

David Moyes must be confident that the side he inherited from Sir Alex is capable of winning back-to-back Premier League titles. The only transfer the Scott has made, to date, is 20 year-old Guillermo Varela. And recent reports claim the Uruguayan will spend the 2013-14 season out on loan.

But Varela remains one to watch, and United fans will undoubtedly keep an eye on the defender wherever he spends his loan spell. With a solid back four, Varela will have to wait for retirement or injuries before he can make a place for himself within the Red Devils defence.

Manchester City

Unlike their Manchester neighbours, the Citizens are not satisfied with their 2012-13 squad and new manager Pellegrini is building a team to win the Premier League. In comes Brazilian Fernandinho from Shakhtar Donetsk, a player that all Champions League fans will be familiar with.

Jesus Navas, who has featured for the Spanish national team, and Alvaro Negredo both signed with City from Sevilla. Pellegrini’s intentions are made clear with the signings of Negredo and Navas, both footballers are 27 years-old. Unlike Moyes who’s signing of Varela has clearly been made for the future, the addition of the two Spaniards for Pellegrini has been made for the new season. Both players will probably only last a few seasons at the Etihad before they are replaced.

Bayern Munich

The big transfer new from Germany was Mario Goetze switching from Bourssia Dortmund to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich. The deal was announced only days before the Bavarians defeated Dortmund in the Champions League final.

There is debate as to how Goetze will fit in under Pep Guardiola at Munich. The 21 year-old will have to compete with Schweinsteiger, Kroos and Martinez in midfield, and Mandzukic, Muller, Robben and Ribery in attack.

Although to his credit, Goetze may perhaps fit into Guardiola’s football style better than the likes of Schweinsteiger, Mandzukic and Robben. These players were the stars for Bayern under Jupp Heynckes but maybe Goetze will be a star for Guardiola’s future team.

One 2 Watch – Thiago

22 | Midfield | Bayern Munich | Spanish

Thiago made his first appearnces as a professional footballer for Barcelona B at the age of 17. At 18 he made the move to the Barcelona first team. In four seasons at Barcelona, Thiago only made 68 appearances for the first team. His transfer to Munich is not likely to improve his chances of first team football, but at 22 years-old Thiago is probably in a similar boat to Goetze, and will play an important part in Pep’s plans for the future of Munich.

Many clubs know the ability that Thiago possess. Manchester United attempted to sign him from Barcelona before Pep swooped in from Bayern. Just recently at the under-21 World Championships Thiago was announced ‘best-player’.

With the likes of Xavi and Iniesta in the midfield at Barcelona, maybe the move to Munich was the right choice for Thiago, where the manager knows him.

Barcelona

Meanwhile, Guardiola’s former team Barcelona made one of the most anticipated signings of recent years: the transfer of Neymar from Santos, Brazil. The 21 year-old is set to play alongside Messi and against Cristiano Ronaldo in la Liga, debatably the three best footballers in the world at the moment.

Neymar will be expected to appear on the wing for Barcelona, challenging Pedro and Alex Sanchez for this position. While the departure of David Villa for Atletico Madrid has opened the squad up for more appearances for the three attacking men.

Liverpool

Brendan Roger’s plan for Liverpool has been made clear in recent seasons. And the singing of Luis Alberto is clearly in line with this philosophy.

One 2 Watch – Luis Alberto

20 | Forward | Liverpool FC | Spanish

Luis Alberto began his professional footballing career at Sevilla B at the age of 17, before being promoted to the Sevilla first-team at 19. Alberto spent his last season on a year-long loan to Barcelona B in the Segunda Division. In 38 league matches for Barcelona B, Alberto managed a decent 11 goals and an even more impressive 18 assists.

Arriving from Barca B means that Luis Alberto understands tactics that Rogers himself likes to employ at Liverpool. Both teams use a similar formation and play good possession-based attacking football with fluid ball movement.

During his time in the Segunda Division, Alberto has shown himself as a versatile player, capable of excelling in multiple positions, and possessing a very good understanding of the game. And Rogers’ vision for Liverpool needs players like Alberto who can read the game well. With Rogers favouring youth in his Liverpool squad, Alberto is bound to experience amble first team football during his first season at Anfield.

Chelsea

Meanwhile, at Stamford Bridge, returning manager Jose Mourinho is building a team for the future with some promising youngsters from Europe:

One 2 Watch – Andre Schurrle

22 | Forward | Chelsea FC | German

Andre Schurrle has the potential to be a match winner for Mourinho at Stamford Bridge. And Mourinho knows this because the German was his first transfer since returning to the club this season. In two seasons for Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga Schurrle has scored an impressive 23 goals.

With his time at Leverkusen and in the German national team, 24 appearances since 2010, Schurrle has shown himself to be a very capable attacking footballer. At club level Schurrle is often deployed as a winger, but is also able to play behind the number-nine in an attacking position. The German has excellent fitness and regularly featured for Leverkusen on the counter, hitting his opponents hard and fast.

With Oscar, Hazard and Mata already staring for Chelsea in attacking midfield positions, it may be difficult for Schurrle to break into the first team, as we saw with Marko Marin. But any injuries or poor-performances from the three attacking-midfielders and Schurrle will be ready to jump onto the pitch and star for the Blues.

One 2 Watch – Marco van Ginkel

20 | Midfield | Chelsea FC | Dutch

The 2012-13 Dutch Football Talent of the Year was described by former manager Peter Bosz as the next Frank Lampard. Lamps became the go-to-man for manager Jose Mourinho at his first spell in Stamford Bridge. The flamboyant manager allegedly confronted Lampard in the showers to express his football-love for the midfielder.

Whether or not this is what van Ginkel wants from Mourinho, there is no doubt he is an exceptional footballer. With his time in the Dutch Eredivisie van Ginkel has shown himself as a highly capable box-to-box midfielder. In 41 appearances last season the 20 year-old scored 12 goals.

At such a young age the Dutchman may not be expected to receive a lot of first team football at Chelsea. But he is a highly versatile player and has the ability to appear in a wide variety of positions. At Vitesse he was deployed in an attacking-midfield role, while for the Jong-Oranje at the Under-21 Championships van Ginkel appeared as a holding midfielder. This versatility provides Mourinho with ample opportunity to start van Ginkel in the Chelsea squad. And the sooner he does the better for the young Dutchman.

Napoli

Chelsea’s former manager Rafael Benitez is looking to add some new talent to Napoli’s ranks after losing Edinson Cavani to PSG. If Rafa is not careful Napoli could find their 2nd place finish last season slipping to AC Milan. But if he makes some good pre-season decisions Napoli may be able to challenge Juventus for the Serie A title.

Rafa has added Belgium forward Dries Mertens (26) from PSV Eindhoven, winger Jose Callejon (26) from Real Madrid and striker Gonzalo Higuain (25) from Madrid as well.

Tottenham

Chelsea’s London rivals Tottenham Hotspurs narrowly missed out on a Champions League position last season. And manger Andre Villas-Boas has made some good signings that should manage to improve his team’s position at the end of the 2013-14 season.

Paulinho (25) comes in from Club World Cup winners Corinthians. Another box-to-box midfielder, the Brazilian should impress in his first year in London. Nacer Chadli (23) was signed by AVB from Twente in the Dutch Eredivisie. The Belgium winger is another impressive footballer who will be looking for a good season in the English Premier League.

Real Madrid

Carlo Ancelotti is looking to improve things at Real Madrid since the departure of Jose Mourinho. And two of his new signings have clearly been made with the future in mind:

One 2 Watch – Daniel Carvajal

21 | Defender | Real Madrid | Spanish

After two seasons at Real Madrid B, Carvajal transferred to Bayer Leverkusen. In one season the right-back made 32 appearances, and even managed to score one goal. At international level Carvajal won the under-19 and under-21 European Championships.

The defender is another one of many talented youngsters for the next generation of Spanish football. With the departure of Ricardo Carvalho and Raul Albiol the Madrid defence will be altered for the 2013-14 season.

Carvajal has proven to be a great defender for Madrid B, Leverkusen and under-19 and 20 Spanish national teams. And the 21 year-old will probably find himself becoming a key man in the back four for los Blancos in the next few seasons.

One 2 Watch – Isco

21 | Midfielder | Real Madrid | Spanish

At only 21 years-of-age, Isco has already appeared for Valencia, Malaga and now Real Madrid. After four seasons of professional football the Spanish midfielder has already scored 40 goals. Isco’s style of football has been compared to Real Madrid legend Zidane, who allegedly had a role in bringing the midfielder to Madrid from Germany.

Isco is bound to be a key-player in the future of Real Madrid. He is the kind of player that a team can be built around, much like Zidane and the Madrid of the 2000s. At 21 years Isco is already showing himself as a capable player on the field, and very mature of it. He was quoted after a recent friendly for Real Madrid:

The team’s quality is impressive. We are a young team with a future. The way the team plays is more important than individual players. What Ancelotti asks is for us to play well, play creatively and keep the ball.

Swansea

One of the most exciting signings of the transfer season has been Wilfried Bony to Swansea. After an impressive season at Vitesse in the Eredivisie the Cote d’Ivorier striker was linked with moves to a number of big clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester City. His decision to transfer to Swansea at first seemed like a strange one, but upon further thought looks like a right choice.

Despite his impressive football abilities, Bony would likely have been second-place to the likes of Torres and Rooney had he signed for another club. But at Swansea he will probably experience first-team football most weeks, while still playing against quality Premier League opposition. And under manager Michael Laudrup Bony will grow as a footballer and learn from the Danes experience and understanding.

Expect Bony to be a star player for Swansea this season, and expect Swansea to improve upon their 9th place finish from last year.

Schalke

With a fourth place finish in the 2012-13 Bundesliga season, Schalke have added some new talent to improve on things next season:

One 2 Watch – Christian Clemens

21 | Midfielder | Schalke 04 | German

21 this Sunday, Clemens has already made 89 Bundelsiga appearances for FC Koln. Schalke’s sporting director Horst Heldt recently said of Clemens:

Christian Clemens is a German U-21 international with enormous potential. We are delighted that we have been able to tie down another talented and young German player to the club on a long-term contract. He is quick, has a strong shot, can play in various attacking positions and is a goal threat from wide areas as well from the centre.

Clemens has played international football for Germany since the age of 16. He has played for the under-16s, 17s, 18s, 19s, 20s and most recently for the under 21s at the European Championships. The midfielder is another young German to keep an eye on who will be aiming to make a name for himself in European football over the next few seasons.

Stay on top of all transfer news and rumours with next weekend’s Armchair guide to football transfers.

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