By Kris Voakes
The final week of the summer transfer window has fast become one of the most fascinating stages of any season, and this term is certainly no different. With just one day now left for Europe’s top clubs to finalise trading ahead of the 2012-13 campaign, the next 16 hours could be make or break in the big boys’ hopes of gaining major silverware over the nine months which follow.
With some notable gaps still remaining in first team squads across the continent, there are many clubs still fighting over a host of big names who could be switching allegiances in the final moments of the market. Goal.com takes a look at some of the more high-profile transfers that could be set to take place before the curtains are drawn across the transfer window on Friday night.
|IBRAHIM AFELLAY – BARCELONA TO SCHALKE
The former PSV man has struggled to make himself a key member of the Barcelona squad since his move to Catalonia in January 2011, particularly since picking up an anterior cruciate ligament injury which ruled him out of much of last season.
As a result, the Blaugrana are looking to loan out the 26-year-old Dutchman to give him extra playing time, with Schalke leading the chase for his signature. Striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar recently asked for the Konigsblauen to bolster their ranks, and the addition of Afellay could well further his and the club’s ambitions for the season ahead.
|NICKLAS BENDTNER – ARSENAL TO JUVENTUS
The Denmark striker has had something of a rollercoaster experience since arriving in England, gaining quite the reputation as one of the more brash, bolshy figures in the Premier League during a spell which has seen both highs and lows with Arsenal, Birmingham City and latterly Sunderland.
His talent is without question though, and Juventus seem set to finally end a striker search that has seen the likes of Edinson Cavani, Stevan Joevtic, Fernando Llorente and Dimitar Berbatov come into consideration by snapping up the great Dane. Bianconeri director general Giuseppe Marotta went as far as to admit on Thursday: “Bendtner is already in Italy and will undergo a medical tomorrow, [but] until the final paperwork is concluded, I will not say that the player is ours.”
|NIGEL DE JONG – MANCHESTER CITY TO AC MILAN
Another Dutchman set for a move in the final hours of the window is Manchester City midfielder De Jong, who has found himself gradually sliding down the pecking order with the Premier League champions. What’s more, manager Roberto Mancini’s pursuit of Roma’s Daniele De Rossi has left the former Hamburg man in little doubt that he is not in the club’s plans longer term.
Milan’s massive summer clear-out has left them short in midfield, where the tenacity of Gennaro Gattuso and Mark van Bommel has still to be replaced. De Jong could well come in as the Rossoneri‘s final purchase before the window closes, with CEO Adriano Galliani having travelled to Manchester on Thursday to finalise a deal that could be worth anything between €4-7 million.
|CLINT DEMPSEY – FULHAM TO LIVERPOOL
Clint Dempsey has been part of the furniture at Fulham since his arrival from New England Revolution in 2007, but his career-best 17 goals last season have led to him becoming hot property around the Premier League. The USA international’s head has since been turned, with Cottagers boss Martin Jol admitting that his player wants to leave the club.
Liverpool have led the chase for Dempsey to such an extent that Fulham made an official complaint regarding the Reds’ unrelenting pursuit of the midfielder, but the Anfield club’s efforts may finally come to something before Friday is through. The 29-year-old is not without further options though, with Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill also interested in adding him to his squad for the 2012-13 season, but it is Liverpool who remain favourites to complete a deadline day deal.
|BENAT ETXEBARRIA – REAL BETIS TO ATHLETIC BILBAO
Benat remains one of Europe’s must sought-after players as the summer market reaches its climax, with his displays for Real Betis having been noticed right across the continent. It has led to interest from Wolfsburg, with Felix Magath looking to add a top quality midfielder to his ranks.
However, Athletic Bilbao have emerged as serious candidates for the 25-year-old’s signature, with the €40m earned from the sale of Javi Martinez to Bayern Munich set to be used on the purchases of a couple of additions to their first-team squad. Athletic are favourites as things stand, meaning Wolfsburg could avert their gaze towards Guadalajara’s Marco Fabian, although both suitors could yet miss out after Thursday’s suggestion that both Betis and Benat may look to extend their relationship beyond the transfer deadline.
|KAKA – REAL MADRID TO AC MILAN/SAO PAULO
The Brazilian has been courted by former employers Milan for much of the summer, but with Real Madrid refusing to accept their terms of a proposed loan deal, he could well be offloaded to first club Sao Paulo.
With the Rossoneri having all but given up on the 30-year-old, and Madrid looking to rid themselves of the player three years after paying €65m for his services, Kaka has become the most high-profile subject of the transfer window, and his future is likely to remain unresolved until the final hours of trading on Friday.
|HUGO LLORIS – LYON TO TOTTENHAM
A key player in Lyon’s run to the Champions League semi-final in 2010, Lloris has remained in the European spotlight ever since thanks to his form for both club and country despite the chaos often going on around him. With Les Gones having missed out on the Ligue 1 title for four straight years since his arrival, the keeper looks set to make the move away from his homeland.
The France captain has been courted by Tottenham throughout the summer, and a deal finally appears likely to be completed during the Friday, though the saga could go right down to the wire. Les Bleus goalkeeper has agreed terms with the north Londoners but the two clubs are “significantly apart” in terms of a transfer fee.
|RAFAEL VAN DER VAART – TOTTENHAM TO HAMBURG
While Lloris could be added to the ranks in N17, Van der Vaart could be set to follow Luka Modric out of the exit door. The White Hart Lane club are open to offers for VDV and Scott Parker, paving the way for the Dutchman to leave over the next 24 hours.
Van der Vaart has been keenly followed by former side Hamburg over a period of some weeks now, and with Mousa Dembele having been added to the Spurs staff, the way could now be paved for the 29-year-old’s exit. The one sticking point could be Spurs’ demands, which have been described by the German side as “not of this world”.
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