The Premier League season is just past the halfway mark and the January transfer window is still wide open. Players will be switching clubs, as has happened in every window. But for the most part they will be staying put, as lots of managers prefer buying in the summer, when they can better assess targets.
A few big names have moved so far, but mostly to the Chinese Super league, a new power which has been attracting a wealth of talent recently. We can expect some more movement after the season ends, with players already unsettled, unhappy, coveted, or just plain old.
In the list below, we try to give a logical projection of where 15 Premier League stars will be next season or even the season after that. Some of those players won’t be going anywhere; after all there are too many changeable variables to ever properly predict. But there is always a fair idea, given certain circumstances.
Having said that, let’s dive in and take a look at certain players and where they’re likely to be soon.
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15 Wayne Rooney - China
The Manchester United captain is on the brink of becoming the club’s top scorer, having tied Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 249 goals in an FA Cup tie against Reading in January. He should go on to create history any day now, but there’s no doubting he’s in decline.
Wayne Rooney joined the Red Devils from Everton nearly 13 years ago. He has won everything there is to win in a United shirt, however, success has proven hard to come by since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
The club have captured just one trophy since the Scot’s departure and while things may turn around soon with Jose Mourinho in charge, It’s likely that Rooney won’t be around for the party.
Mourinho has expressed his desire to keep the player in the squad for years to come, but football could be a cruel thing when one gets past the age of 30. With the Chinese Super League already showing a keen interest in importing Rooney’s talent to their shores, it wouldn’t surprise to see the Englishman plying his trade in China in the not-too-distant future.
14 Michy Batshuayi - Chelsea
Michy Batshuayi is a fan favourite at Chelsea despite hardly featuring in the team. The Belgian forward has used social media to his advantage, frequently linking with fans on Twitter, as well as providing great humor with his cheeky remarks and witty ripostes.
Batshuayi has found playing time hard to come by, as mentioned before and could be sent out on loan for the second half of the season. Antonio Conte may not have had him in his plans when he took over the reins last year, yet he is a club project and if he could improve his performances when given a chance, he could change the gaffer’s mind.
Expect Batshuayi to carry on at Chelsea and possibly become a club legend, much like Didier Drogba who also joined the Blues from Marseille many years ago.
13 Dele Alli - Real Madrid
Dele Alli is already a star in his own right, and there’s really no telling how far this boy could go. Having broken out at White Hart Lane last season, the young English ace has a very bright future ahead of him.
Spurs may hold onto him for a few more years, but they will find it increasingly difficult every summer. And given Real Madrid’s interest, as well as their proclivity for snatching the Londoners’ best talent over the years, Alli starring at Madrid a couple of years down the line doesn’t seem very far-fetched.
At just 20 years of age, the sky is the limit for this talent. But Spurs will have a real fight on their hands in keeping Madrid off his scent.
12 Harry Kane - Tottenham
Another breakout youngster on Tottenham’s books, Harry Kane is one of the purest strikers in the Premier League. Able to finish clinically, hold the ball up and link up with his teammates quite impressively, the England international is destined for greatness.
Unlike Alli, though, this player might stay put. He has been with the club since 2004 and is Spurs through and through, despite spending one year at Arsenal as a youth player.
Kane is a wanted man nowadays. Manchester United are reportedly preparing a huge bid of £80 million for him and could make a move in the summer. Such an amount will be hard to turn down, yet Kane is a prized asset who wants to win things for the club and will go on to become a legend at White Hart Lane.
11 Alexis Sanchez – Juventus
Alexis Sanchez is the best thing that has happened to Arsenal in recent years, but the club look like they could lose him pretty soon. The two parties have been in a contract standoff for a while now, with the Gunners seemingly unwilling to meet his £200,000-a-week wage demands.
Sanchez is also said to be concerned about the club’s ability to win trophies and with Arsene Wenger’s future hanging in the balance as well, things are looking rather grim.
There are several clubs hovering around and monitoring the situation and Chelsea are thought to be one of the most interested in snatching up the player. Juventus, however, seem the most likely destination, as Arsenal would really hate to sell him to Chelsea.
The Old Lady have been keen on signing the player since his Udinese days and could launch a huge bid in the summer. A return to Italy does look the most probable, although Atletico Madrid have reportedly made him a top priority as well.
10 John Terry - China
The Chelsea captain has served quite admirably over the years, but it’s no secret that his game is in decline. Terry practically forced the club to award him a new deal at the end of last season by revealing to the media that they were prepared to let him go. That caused quite a stir among the fans and the Blues’ board had no choice but to award the defender a one-year deal.
This season, however, Terry has been phased out. Gary Cahil, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta are Antonio Conte’s back three and with Kurt Zouma having returned to the team, as well as Nathan Ake’s loan recall, the skipper has fallen way down the pecking order.
The club are unlikely to offer him a fresh deal this time around, but it’s also unlikely that he sticks around England when he finally leaves Chelsea.
He is already wanted by clubs in China, and they will certainly come knocking with a lucrative deal later on in the year. The aging centre-back will most probably join former teammates Ramires, Oscar and John Obi Mikel in China after his exit.
9 Jamie Vardy - Everton
This striker probably should have jumped ship when he had the chance, given the way Leicester are performing right now. Vardy rejected Arsenal’s advances last year, choosing to stick by the team he inspired to the Premier League title at the end of last season.
Now 30 and with his performances having dipped this season, the star’s stock should have fallen. The Gunners won’t be coming back, that’s for sure, but there are still clubs who could use Vardy’s pace and directness up front.
This one really was hard to call. In spite of his age, It just doesn’t seem like the forward will move to China just yet, but he might not remain at Leicester City either.
Everton seems like a good place for him. The club don't look like they will hold on to Romelu Lukaku much longer and Ronald Koeman could be interested in someone like Vardy, who can counter with pace and score with ease.
8 Dimitri Payet - Marseille
The Frenchman dazzled last season, putting in near impeccable performances last season. His skill on the dead ball was quite remarkable and still is, and it’s quite surprising they were able to hold onto him this long.
Payet worked his way into the France side for last year’s European Championships, helping France to what turned out to be a disappointing final, as they bowed out to victors Portugal. Things got no better for the midfielder at club level after the Euros, and unlike in the last season when the Hammers were flying high and surprising teams, they’re pretty grounded now, all the way in 13th place.
The player has already expressed his desire to leave and could even move this month, but Hammers manager Slaven Bilic is adamant that he’s not for sale. He won’t have much of a choice in the summer, though. And we can expect to see the star back in his home country, most likely playing for Marseille.
7 Romelu Lukaku – Chelsea
The Everton forward has certainly made the Blues regret thy ever sold him. And now they want him back. The Toffees bought Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea for £28 million in 2014, making Spain striker Diego Costa their main man.
The London side did go on to win the title that season, with Costa leading from the front, but Lukaku has been quite prolific as well since then. The Belgian has scored 57 goals for Everton in the last two-and-a-half seasons, 73 if you count the 16 he registered in his year-long loan spell at Goodison before signing a permanent contract.
Lukaku nearly returned to Stamford Bridge last summer, but was convinced by Ronald Koeman to give the Toffees at least another season. The Merseysiders have struggled at times this term, however and Lukaku could be ready to sign for Chelsea again by the time the season is over.
He does claim to have unfinished business there. So as long as Antonio Conte still wants him, Chelsea look to be his next destination.
6 Zlatan Ibrahimovic - MLS
Certainly one of the biggest egos in football, Zlatan has the game to back it up. And at 35, he has proven to be just as good as he was 10 years ago, banging goals in for Manchester United at a prolific rate.
The former Sweden international could probably go another season or two at Manchester United, but father time is bound to knock on his door at some point. By then, he may not be good enough for the Red Devils, but he’ll still be top class elsewehere.
The lure of China has proven hard to resist, yet Zlatan doesn’t seem the type of player who would move to the Orient, given that ego we spoke of. A move to the MLS seems more like the aging star, and he has already given his thoughts on moving to the United States.
“I can see myself conquering the US as I have with Europe,” he said to a source less than three months ago.
So that's that, right?
5 Philippe Coutinho - Barcelona
Philippe Coutinho has evolved this season and is moving from strength to strength as he continues to play under Jurgen Klopp. The crafty Brazilian attacker spend a chunk of the first half of the season on the sidelines, but should be back pulling strings in the middle pretty soon.
Certainly one of the Reds most prized possessions, but then again so was Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres before him, and Xabi Alonso before him – and the list could go on.
Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have eyes for Coutinho, but given his friendship with both Neymar and Suarez, if it comes to that – and it most certainly will – the player could choose Barcelona.
4 Daniel Sturridge – West Ham
This English striker is always one of two things: prolific or injured. When he isn’t injured, he’s likely to be on fire, but when he’s not scoring, it’s obviously because he’s injured.
Daniel Sturridge has been a faithful servant to his club, yet he just can’t seem to remain healthy for too long. Jurgen Klopp has made Roberto Firmino his main man up front because of the striker’s unreliability and the German will probably offload him next summer.
West Ham have been pretty poor at buying strikers over the years and they could feel that Sturridge could finally be the one who becomes that figure for them at the point of attack. They already bought a crocked striker from the Reds before, so why not?
If he can somehow stay healthy, however, the joke will be on Liverpool.
3 Saido Berahino – Tottenham
This West Bromwich Albion forward has no desire to remain at the Hawthorns and it’s a wonder they’ve managed to keep him there this long. He was on the verge of leaving for Tottenham 18 months ago, but West Brom blocked his move and he has been bitter ever since.
Berahino scored 20 Premier League goals in the 2014/15 season, but hasn’t registered a single goal since February last year. He is the subject of a reported Stoke City bid this month, yet the Baggies want to sign him to a new three-year contract, so they could slap a £20 million release clause on him.
The player has refused to sign, though, leaving the club in danger of losing him for nothing but a developmental fee in the summer. If they keep him from Stoke and Crystal Palace this month, and Crystal Palace stay up this season, then we can expect to see him at White Hart Lane next term.
2 Riyad Mahrez - Arsenal
Riyad Mahrez had quite the 2015/16 season, helping Leicester City win the Premier League title in a historic campaign. The winger scored 17 goals and laid on 11 assists to claim the PFA Player of the Year award as well.
Mahrez was a reported target for Arsenal and Chelsea in the summer, but rejected all advances to help the Foxes keep most of the title-winning core, with N’Golo Kante being the only player to leave last summer.
While his loyalty to Leicester is admirable, it would have probably suited him better if he left, as the title defence is proving to be quite awful. The club is languishing in 15th place (at the time of writing), having won just five games.
So will he remain another season given those circumstances? Quite unlikely. Arsenal might lose two of their best players in Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil this year, and could make a push for the Algerian. This time around, though, he probably won’t resist.
1 Vincent Kompany - China
The Belgian defender could have been so much more for Manchester City had he managed to stay healthy. Since joining City in 2009, Vincent Kompany has suffered 35 different injuries and has missed a whopping 649 days as a result.
There’s no doubting his effectiveness at the back when he’s fit and Pep Guardiola would have loved to have him playing week-in week-out, given the inconsistent performances of Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones. But the crocked captain doesn’t look like he’ll be playing a big part. And despite the two years left on his contract, he might not be at City past the summer.
The Chinese Super League seems the next best place for him, given that he could suffer a career-ending injury at any given time. He’d only have to stay healthy a few months over there in order to make enough to retire a happy man; so why not?
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