The Premier League XI that could be leaving for new clubs at the end of the season
Published 18/05/2015 | 14:09
Louis van Gaal has dropped the strongest hint yet that David De Gea could succumb to the lure of his hometown club Real Madrid and leave Manchester United in the summer.
And the Spain goalkeeper may not be the only established Barclays Premier League star to leave England for a new challenge overseas when the transfer window opens in July.
Here, we look at a hypothetical starting XI that could move on when the season ends.
DAVID DE GEA
The 24-year-old keeper has arguably been United's best performer in a campaign which has seen them return to the Champions League places. De Gea has kept 10 clean sheets in the league, comfortably keeping his more experienced countryman Victor Valdes on the bench. United would likely offer him whatever wage packet he desires, but with Real looking to replace the ageing Iker Casillas, the young stopper - whose girlfriend Edurne is also from the Spanish capital - could find a switch to the Bernabeu too difficult to resist.
The 54-time England right-back accepts he is set to leave Liverpool at the end of his contract, with former club West Ham reportedly leading the chase for his signature. However, Johnson could follow in the footsteps of his long-term international colleague Ashley Cole, who joined Serie A side Roma last summer. The Giallorossi are poised to secure Champions League football again and their established full-back Maicon is no longer guaranteed a starting berth at the Stadio Olimpico.
Kaboul may have a year remaining on his Tottenham deal but the French centre-back has been forced down the White Hart Lane pecking order - he has made only 11 league appearances this term - and he may look to move on when the season ends. Newly-promoted Watford are understood to be interested in the 29-year-old, yet Turkish club Besiktas were sniffing around in January and could return with a bid when the transfer window opens.
Serbian left-back Kolarov remains a potent weapon in Manchester City's arsenal, firing home impressive goals for the deposed champions in recent games against Aston Villa and QPR. The former Lazio player has admitted missing life in Italy, though, and could be tempted to reunite with Roberto Mancini, the coach who brought him to the Etihad back in 2010. That would mean a switch to Inter Milan, who currently lack players of real quality down the left.
The Brazilian full-back's influence has waned at Old Trafford since his twin brother Fabio was sold to Cardiff last year. Broken ribs have now called time on a season which has seen manager Van Gaal employ various alternatives, namely Antonio Valencia and Chris Smalling, at right-back with mixed results, and the Dutch boss has turned to Rafael only 10 times in league games when he has been fit and available. United could listen to offers from abroad.
Given Salah made only a handful of league appearances for Chelsea before being farmed out to Fiorentina on loan in January, it comes as some surprise that he is eligible for a title winner's medal. That is likely to be the last honour he receives with the club he joined only 16 months ago. He made an instant impression when arriving in Florence in January, scoring seven goals across his first 11 appearances in all competitions and quickly becoming a fan favourite. It remains to be seen whether La Viola will make the deal permanent, but he appears to have no future at Chelsea.
Ever since it emerged that Kolo's younger brother had not been given a birthday cake by City when he turned 31 last May, the Ivorian midfielder has seemed eager to call time on his five-year stint in east Manchester. Leading the race for the former Barcelona player's signature are Inter, who are plotting an ambitious rebuilding programme under new owner Erick Thohir and Toure's former manager Mancini. Yaya's formidable wage demands could, however, prove a major stumbling block for a club who are unlikely to qualify for Europe.
Paulinho arrived in north London having been the driving force behind Corinthians' surge to glory in the Club World Cup, at the expense of Chelsea, back in 2013. The Brazilian schemer has contributed only six league goals - and none this season - and has largely failed to provide the creative input needed to steer Tottenham back into the Champions League. Should Spurs decide to cut him loose there will be no shortage of suitors across the continent, with Fiorentina reportedly at the front of the queue.
Come every transfer window, Dzeko's name is among those being linked with a move away - but this summer the Bosnian striker could leave City for good. Retained at the Etihad for his propensity for scoring crucial goals from the bench, this season he has been a substitute too often for his liking, managing only four strikes in the league. The former Wolfsburg hitman could remain in England should Chelsea opt to recruit him as a replacement for Didier Drogba, but a move back to Germany or to Serie A seems more likely for the 29-year-old.
ROBIN VAN PERSIE
Sir Alex Ferguson's last marquee signing at United, the Dutchman signed expensively from Arsenal was the toast of Manchester in 2012-13, scoring 26 Premier League goals on his way to the Golden Boot and, of course, the title. He was more subdued under David Moyes but enjoyed a successful World Cup with Holland. However, this season he has been stripped of penalty-taking duties and in between injuries has managed only 10 goals while Wayne Rooney has re-emerged as the Red Devils' key man. It could be time for Van Persie to test himself in a different league and, if the rumours are true, he could get an opportunity to relaunch his career with Real Madrid.
Replacing Luis Suarez was never going to be easy but Balotelli has not even flirted with trying to plug the 30-goal deficit left at Anfield. On his 13th league appearance for the Reds in February, his overdue first Premier League goal beat Tottenham 3-2, yet that is the only meaningful contribution the controversial Italian has made across nine disappointing months. So far has Balotelli's star fallen that he is set to leave Liverpool for a cut-price fee at the earliest opportunity, with mid-table Serie A club Sampdoria reportedly ready to gamble on the striker.