Around this time of the year, with the January transfer window close, a lot of buzz gets created around young superstars that the world has not heard of, ready to be plucked from obscurity by a big club and put on show for the average Joe football fan. Currently, there are two players in the market with a lot of buzz around them – Hoffenheim midfielder Roberto Firmino and Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte, two upcoming players with good experience under their belts and skills to match. Both have been linked to big clubs of the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Barcelona, Arsenal and Manchester City.
With a host of big clubs interested in their services, we take a look at 5 potential destinations for the duo, clubs where they would slot in seamlessly and benefit from being in the limelight.
Aymeric Laporte to Liverpool
The Reds are currently going through a bad patch, with a drop in player performances coinciding with the departure of talismanic striker Suarez leaving them with a lot of catching up to do to guarantee a similar finish as last season.
The departure of Agger, coupled with Rodgers’ reluctance to field Kolo Toure more often, means the Reds are in need of a ball-playing defender who will also hold his ground in physical battles.
Laporte is just the man for the job. The Bilbao star wins 2.3 aerial duels per match and with the Bilbao badge comes the guarantee that the player is more than capable with the ball at his feet. With the Reds desperately requiring additions to a backline that has seen shaky, Laporte could be the right man at the right place at the right time.
Roberto Firmino To Arsenal
Mesut Ozil’s indifferent form and injuries means Arsenal have had to rely on the creativity of Cazorla and Ramsey in the German’s absence. While both players are good enough to carry the burden of the team, perhaps another attacking midfielder with more drive and pace would inject that much-needed urgency to Wenger’s side.
Hoffenheim midfielder Roberto Firmino, with his explosive pace and ability to thread accurate throughballs, could be the answer to Wenger’s problems. A bid of £20 million may be enough to tempt the Brazilian to London.
Aymeric Laporte to Barcelona
Luis Enrique’s arrival has seen more focus on the defensive side of the game, with the Spanish giants recording 8 consecutive clean sheets before theire mauling at the hands of Real Madrid.
With Gerard Pique rumoured to leave the club and Javier Mascherano on the wrong side of 30, Enrique currently has only Jeremy Mathieu as a genuine centreback with loads of experience.
The time could be right to sign a defensive colossus who could cement his place in the side for the next few years. Bilbao defender Laporte could be that man for Barca.
Roberto Firmino to Manchester City
The reigning EPL champions have had a tough start to the season, with mixed results and below-par performances from the big names. Whereas David Silva has continued his find creative work, the likes of Samir Nasri and Yaya Toure have flattered to decisive.
City are currently missing that incisive, urgent football, and Firmino could be player to provide that. The Brazilian averages 1.7 key passes per game, and with a red hot Aguero in front of him, could open up the floodgates of goals for City.
Aymeric Laporte to Manchester United
Phil Jones is almost always injured, Johny Evans has regressed and Chris Smalling is unreliable. And on top of that, the one defender that has had a decent season so far has dislocated his shoulder and will be out for two months (Rojo).
With the opportunity to slot straight into the first team, and the right education to take onboard Louis Van Gaal’s philosophy, the red side of Manchester might be the perfect destination for Laporte. Having former teammate Ander Herrera at Old Trafford might be the icing on the cake for the Bilbao defender who, at 23, is ready to move to the big leagues.