Filed: Wednesday, 8th February 2017
It's about quality over quantity this summer, for me.
The basis of Slaven Bilic's first XI and squad is strong enough to achieve an 8th-12th placed finish in my opinion, as we shall see this season despite a poor opening half to the campaign.
Therefore serious investment should be focused on the two positions that should have been addressed during the last two seasons: a right back and a striker.
Assuming a budget of £35-45m, I would be looking at the below targets. Most of these i mentioned in the KUMB Forum's January transfer thread but seeing as the positions weren't addressed, I thought it worth posting again...
Šime Vrsaljko (25) Atletico Madrid
Made a big money move to Madrid in the summer but has subsequently struggled for game time. This shouldn't be used as a stick to beat him with as Juanfran and Felipe Luis are continually excellent and Simeone likes a settled team.
A fellow Croat he should be well know to Slav, and given his lack of playing time may even be available on an initial 6 month loan with option to buy that the owners seem to love so much. Bigger than the average fullback i don't think he'd struggle with the physicality of the league, like Byram has seemed to at times. While he gets forward well too and seems comfortable on the ball.
Mitchell Weiser (23) Hertha Berlin
A player who always stands out to me when I watch Hertha in the Bundesliga Highlights show. In what is a fairly ordinary, defensive team, with little width in midfield. He really gets forward well from RB and provides width to the team.
I think he began his career as a RM at Bayern Munich but like so many modern full backs has been converted to RB, thus he's very confident on the ball and can take his man on and beat him. If the rumoured signing of Fonte is true and 3 at the back a genuine tactic for Slav moving forward i think he could play RWB with ease too.
Rafael (26) Lyon
Must admit to being a little bit shocked when LVG and Man Utd sold him for as little as £3m a couple of years ago. Much sought after Premier League and Champions League experience, and even a title winner, I believe.
Everyone will be aware of his playing style, gets forward well and even know to chip in with the odd goal. Despite his small size he likes a bit of scrap and a tussle with the opposition wide man. Although Lyon and Aulus are known to be difficult to deal with, come the summer he will only have two years left on his contract so I reckon he could be picked up for £10m or maybe even less
Mario Fernandes (26) CSKA Moscow
Admittedly this one might require a bit more scouting having only seen him play a couple of CL games for an otherwise terrible CSKA. But he was the one standout player, and their best attacking player in all games I saw; quite impressive considering he was playing RB.
Physically strong and quite imposing he reminded me a lot of Chelsea's Marcos Alonso in his playing style. Calm on the ball and keen to get forward, he showed good stamina levels to get up and down the flank.
Mario Gaspar (26) Villarreal
I first mentioned him in the summer and learnt in this very thread that he had recently signed a new contract extension. However, Villarreal are a selling club and we could certainly afford a wage increase that would turn his head he was only earning £20k a week pre-contract extension and Villarreal don't have the biggest of budgets.
Destined for bigger things I'm not sure the usual Spanish suitors of Madrid (Carvajal, Danillo), Atletico (Juanfran, Vrsaljko) and Barcelona (Roberto, Vidal) will be in for him meaning we'd have an excellent run at him given the PL riches.
He hhas all the attributes required of the modern FB and being Spanish, as you would expect is technically sound on the ball. Owing to these qualities I would however accept he might be out of our league and wouldn't be to surprised to see him rock up at Man City next year, assuming Pep is still there.
Danny Wellbeck (26) Arsenal
Would be my top striking target in the summer. Knows the league and assuming Sanchez stays at Arsenal this summer, which I think he will, will he be content continuing to play from left wing and only getting the odd run up front given he left Man Utd for precisely this reason.
At 26, I wouldn't be surprised to learn he wanted regular first team football in his favoured position. A hard worker and willing runner he would allow us to press from the front much like Sakho does, whilst his touch and link up play is far superior to that of Sakho's. He's also strong and powerful enough that his arrival doesn't mean a complete abandonment of the direct style Slav seems to favour meaning evolution rather than revolution.
Anthony Modeste (28) F.C. Koln
Linked to him in the summer of 2016. While a little underwhelming at the time given the promise of £20m strikers, given the situation we now find ourselves in, having passed up the opportunity of a lifetime (7th place finish, stadium move and looking upwards), i think he represents an excellent upgrade on the injury prone Sakho.
Like Wellbeck he is strong and powerful enough to lead the line in Carroll's absence, whether injury or tactically enforced, but is a far more willing runner able to run the channels and stretch defences, an option we sorely miss when Sakho isn't available. At 28 he's very much one for the here and now and having played in Germany for the last 3-4 seasons, I think the adaption to the Premier League should be much easier than if moving from a different country.
Jhon Cordoba (23) Mainz
Maybe not the proven quality of the other two mentioned above but has a lot of very similar attributes. Namely, quick, a willing runner who works the channels, makes runs in behind defenders and able to press from the front.
He's certainly a little rawer and less polished than the other two and in that regards is maybe not the immediate upgrade on Sakho the other two are, however I'm not 100 per cent convinced Sakho has been properly re-incorporated in to the squad following the summer; his appearances versus Spurs and Man Utd were probably more out of necessity due to having no other strikers available.
He definitely has the potential to improve and I think his style of play would be ideally suited to the open, slightly frenetic and physical nature of the PL.
Giovanni Simeone (21) Genoa
Son of Diego and very much one who will be attracting a lot of interest across Europe given his age and goal scoring exploits this season. However, Europe's elite might consider it one season to early for him, so now is our time to strike potentially.
Unlike the others on my list he's much more of a poacher who does his best work in the opposition box. Strikes me as as a natural goal scorer given his movement and finishing prowess. Would be capable of playing in a two with Carroll while also having a decent turn of pace, dribbling skills and the technique to play in a slightly withdrawn role.
Also while he might not be 6ft like the others on my list, smaller Argentine strikers like Aguero, Tevez and Lavezzi seem quite adept at rising to the physical challenge when coming up against players bigger and stronger than them. Also being the son of Diego Simeone, it seems like some of his character traits have rubbed off on him and he don't seem like the sort to be bullied out of the game.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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