The past several days have been absolutely hectic in football, with Manchester United and Chelsea making most of the headlines. Mourinho’s departure was almost as shocking as Mike Dean’s performance and nearly as expected as Manchester United’s loss to Coventry while Avram Grant has shown that he is not really a football manager. But, just to shift the attention away from the top two in England, Ajax sensation Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has put himself on the transfer market as he announced he will leave the Dutch capital in the coming summer (if not sooner than that).
Huntelaar has made a name for himself in the season and a half he has spent at Ajax and was poised to leave at the end of last season. So, in characteristic style, the English media drew up a never ending list of possible suitors for the young (but not too young) striker. In the end, the summer passed and Huntelaar was still wearing the Ajax colours. It looked as if all the speculation was utterly pointless — which is hardly ever the case in the English media, right? But now a new list has to be drawn up; a list with all the likely candidates for the Dutchman’s signature.
Who else could be top of the list? The Premier League champions were among the most popular destination for Huntelaar in the media this summer. And it is not hard to see why. Manchester United have struggled for goals as most of their strikers have been unfit for the start of the current campaign, but even as Rooney and Saha have returned, it looks unlikely that they will manage to match last season’s 83 goals. Huntelaar will give that extra dimension in attack; he will be a more mobile version of van Nisterlooy and he might be able to combine well with either Rooney or Tevez.
The main dilemma that Sir Alex will face is whether to sell or bench Saha. The French striker is vital for the team, but since he has moved to Old Trafford he has been hampered by injuries. There is no reason that he would not be among the top players in that squad and the top goal scorer if he stays fit, but because of his injury problems he might have to go and make way for another talented player.
Huntelaar fits the bill for that talented player perfectly and if he does not have an exceptional season (like his previous at Ajax) his price tag might not too high for Sir Alex’s budget which will be much thinner than this summer’s. Finally there is the question over his adaptability: his performances in Holland in recent years have been unbelievable, but will he manage to replicate that for in the Premier League? If other transfers from the Erendivisie to the English league are to be any indication, than he will fit right in.
The Spanish champions will look to bolster their attacking options next summer as their best two — van Nisterlooy and Raul — are getting too old to be as effective as they were in the past. Huntelaar would not be a bad option for them, as he has proved that he can score many goals and he might be tempted to the Spanish capital for a couple of reasons. The first is that every player — more or less — wants to play for Real Madrid; the second is that Schuster has built a Dutch party at Santiago Bernabeu with four Dutch players coming in this summer to join van Nisterlooy. If he is not a very adaptable person, he will be highly encouraged by this as his fellow countrymen could help him fell more comfortable.
There is really no reason for Real Madrid to be reluctant to buy Huntelaar, provided they need him. The men at Santiago Bernabeu have not shown much loyalty in the past and if another player comes in than somebody needs to make room. At the moment the most likely to be out the door is former Barcelona hit man Saviola who has not put on the best performances of his career so far, but let’s give him time. As far as the price tag is concerned: when has Real Madrid ever had any limitation on their budget? This is a sure destination for Huntelaar if they decide they want him.
Benitez does not like a quiet summer, especially if he has money to spend. As he has shown in the past, if there is any one player who has not performed well during the season, he will be out the door. So look out for Vronin or Crouch, because if they fail to impress, Benitez will try to bring someone else to replace them and Huntelaar is one possible target. Tall, strong, is a good target man, the list goes on. In short he is a more efficient version Crouch.
Benitez might have a more limited budget than the two previous candidates for Huntelaar’s signature and the club owners might not be very much interested to give him money to buy another striker provided that Torres can score for Liverpool. Despite this, Liverpool does need someone like Huntelaar currently. When Torres is not there, or he is not playing well it is hard to see where the goals might come from. On the other hand the strike force of Kuyt and Huntelaar could petrify opposition defences as the two seem to complement each other perfectly. Liverpool might not be the only beneficiaries from such a deal as the Dutch national team will also greatly benefit if their two main strikers play together week-in, week-out (or at least train together, provided Benitez is the manager).
Having lost several of their best players following automatic relegation form Seria A for a match fixing scandal (an easy punishment in my opinion), Juventus are looking to rebuild their squad to challenge for top honours like they used to when they were fixing games. They have bought several good players and their squad looks good enough to challenge for a UEFA Cup spot next year, but naturally they want more and Huntelaar would give them much more quality.
The Dutch striker could well be considered better than current Juventus striker Iaquinta and could be used to fill in for the ageing Del Piero and Trezeguet. SkySports reckons that a deal has already been put in place for a transfer which would take place next summer. This could be a major boost for Juventus who will continue to make their team stronger and stronger until they become champions of Italy again (and maybe top the fair play league as well!).
In my opinion these four are the most likely to compete for the signature of Huntelaar and if they all move for the striker than Real might well be the next destination, however, I think that the most likely club to make a move will be Manchester United. They, more than any other team needs reinforcements in attack while the other three would look to expand on already prolific strike forces. So who do you think needs Klass-Jan Huntelaar most? Will he suceed at the highest level?