International tournaments often serve as a showcase for new talent, sparking bidding wars between clubs for their services. Here are five strikers who could be Euro 2012's hottest property.
Tottenham Target Fernando Llorente And Four Other Strikers Set To Light Up Euro 2012
As a child, playing up front is the position that any kid wants to play. Pulling on the number nine shirt filled any youngster with the confidence to smash the ball into the back of the net on a regular basis, whether it was a kick about with friends with jumpers for goalposts or in an 11-a-side game for the local side, nothing felt better than knowing you were the main man; the primary source of goals.
Now, grown up, out of shape and unable to place a pass let alone find the net, the next best thing one gets to pulling on that number nine shirt is to see a world class front-man do the same at my beloved club. Once Dimitar Berbatov left for Manchester United in 2008, it took three years for Spurs to bring that big name striker to White Hart Lane.
In the form of Emmanuel Adebayor, the North Londoners finally had the main front-man that could do the business. Despite the likes of Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe on the books, the duo weren’t in the same league as the Togo front-man and this is evident in his stats from the season, netting 18 goals and assisting a further 12, the only player in the Premier League last season to reach double figures in both categories.
Yet, some believe it will only be for the season, considering Adebayor was on a year-long loan from Manchester City, and while there is an aura of confidence that a deal can be struck, a move for a second centre-forward is necessary. With Louis Saha, Defoe or both set to leave the club this summer, this is of huge importance and below are the five strikers playing at the summer’s upcoming European Championship’s that could end up at White Hart Lane next season.
Now, grown up, out of shape and unable to place a pass let alone find the net, the next best thing one gets to pulling on that number nine shirt is to see a world class front-man do the same at my beloved club
Fernando Llorente (Spain & Athletic Bilbao)
The Athletic Bilbao front-man captured the hearts of many this season and not just because of his dashing eyes that could undress any woman at a mere glance. His goalscoring capabilities has struck fear into the hearts of even the toughest defence in Europe as the Lion King enjoyed his most prolific season to date, ending the campaign with 29 goals in 53 appearances.
His hold up play, finesse, finishing ability and first touch is exactly the making of a world class front-man and at 27-years of age, still has his best years ahead of him. With an injury to David Villa ruling him out of the upcoming European Championships, Llorente is now expected to lead the Spain front-line in Pokraine.
A successful summer could see his value skyrocket and a number of interested parties will be keen to do business with the Basque side before the tournament kicks off next month and after recently claiming he would be interested in a move to the Premier League, teams that could afford to sign the striker would be put on red alert to the statement made by Llorente.
Spurs have regularly been linked with a move for the powerful striker and, despite missing out on Champions League football; the North London side are believed to have not altered their transfer targets irregardless of their participation in the Europa League. Bilbao are more than likely to be forced to fend off intense interest for their prized asset, especially with an impressive showing in Europe against Manchester United and FC Schalke 04.
The Spaniard was in tears on the side of the pitch once the final whistle went before proclaiming that reaching the final of the Europa League with Athletic was the biggest honour of his career
However, one stumbling block in any deal could be his affection for Bilbao. As many bore witness during the semi-final of the Europa League, and in particular the second leg at San Memes against Sporting where Llorente was at his brilliant best, the Spaniard was in tears on the side of the pitch once the final whistle went before proclaiming that reaching the final of the Europa League with Athletic was the biggest honour of his career, despite being part of the Spanish World Cup winning side of 2010.
The striker would be a vital acquisition to any front-line, but with the chances Spurs create and his exceptional goal scoring record, surely a move for Llorente would be a match made in heaven for both parties? His power is exactly what is needed to lead the front-line for the club next season and if the North London side can snare the 27-year-old, surely it will be one of the coups of the summer, regardless of his fee.
Oliver Giroud (France & Montpellier)
The star of Montpellier this season, Giroud finished the season with 25 goals in all competitions, with 21 of these coming in the league as La Paillade secured their first Ligue 1 title in their history. The Frenchman arrived at the club in 2010 and has enjoyed two successful seasons with the club and interest in him is likely to heighten this summer.
Now expected to partner Karim Benzema for France during the European Championships this summer, Giroud showcased his ability to bring others into the game during the national teams’ recent 3-2 win over Iceland, setting up both Franck Ribery and Adil Rami for the duo to get on the score sheet, made all the more impressive considering Les Bleus were 2-0 down at half time.
The 25-year-old is another that has been linked with a move to the Premier League, with rivals Arsenal in particular mooted as possible suitors. Much like Llorente, should Giroud enjoy a successful Euro 2012, his value is likely to increase. However, much has been made regarding a possible release clause in his contract which currently sits at around the €13m mark.
Very similar in playing style to Llorente, Giroud may well be a viable option for Spurs, with his value likely to be less than that of the former. Like any move for the Spaniard, the North London outfit are unlikely to be deterred by the lack of Champions League football, despite Montpellier’s championship win and participation amongst Europe’s elite next year.
Prior to the Euro’s next month, the Huntelaar is just eight goals short of Patrick Kluivert’s all-time record of 40 for the national side.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Holland & Schalke)
The powerful Holland front-man has regularly been linked with a move to White Hart Lane in recent seasons, yet any interest has never materialised. Spells with Real Madrid and AC Milan saw Huntelaar disappear somewhat off the radar, having failed to live up to the initial hype he sowed with Ajax.
However, his outings for FC Schalke 04, amassing a massive 48 goals last season for the Bundesliga outfit in all competitions, has seen the Hunter’s name mooted with a possible switch to the Premiership. A real handful on his day, Huntelaar certainly has all the attributes to cause damage to defences across England to make a real difference, especially if he is considered the number one striker.
Prior to the Euro’s next month, the 28-year-old is just eight goals short of Patrick Kluivert’s all-time record of 40 for the national side. With the creative influence of Wesley Sneijder, Rafael Van der Vaart and Robin Van Persie supporting him this summer, chances are Huntelaar will indeed come close to smashing that record next month.
His goals will undoubtedly be pivotal to the success of the Dutch in Pokraine, especially if they are to escape the so called ‘Group of Death’ with two of either Denmark, Portugal and old foes Germany set to go home disappointed. These goals will, naturally, see his value, like the two strikers already mentioned, increase significantly, and particularly if Holland manages to progress and even win the tournament.
At Spurs, like at Schalke, Huntelaar would be considered the main attacking threat, especially with the style of play the North Londoners currently utilise, should they continue to operate in a 4-4-1-1 next season. With Van der Vaart part of the set-up at White Hart Lane, he could prove instrumental in convincing his international team-mate to ply his trade in the Premiership and should it happen, it would prove to be an astute piece of business by the North Londoners, especially with Die Konigsblauen set to participate in the Champions League next season.
Alan Dzagoev (Russia & CSKA Moscow)
Ahead of the European Championship’s; it’s hard to believe that there isn’t more interest surrounding the Russian Messi. At just 21-years-old, a lot of pressure has been heaped on Dzagoev to perform at the upcoming tournament, with many believing him to be the creative link between the midfield and the attack for the national side.
With Zenit St. Petersburg star man Andrei Arshavin, on-loan from Arsenal, failing to show any signs that he is to replicate the form he showed at the same tournament four years ago, many believe the CSKA Moscow man is the key to the success of Russia next month and in a group consisting of Poland, Greece and Czech Republic, many are confident that Dick Advocaat’s side should pass through to the knockout stages with minimum ease.
It’s hard to believe that there isn’t more interest surrounding the Russian Messi
Having previously been linked with Chelsea and Manchester United, it is likely that the same suitors will come calling for Dzagoev over the coming months should he excel for his country. Not a striker like the previous three, rather one to play in the Van der Vaart role or out on the wing, he could be the one player to spark attacks out of nothing, given the time in space.
Goals may be an issue for the youngster, having scored just 37 goals in 153 appearances, whilst the recent trend of Russian player’s plying their trade in England hasn’t been all too successful, but Dzagoev has the potential to make a difference to any team that would be willing to take a gamble on him. Should he enjoy his time in Polkraine next month, expect the list of possible suitors to grow very, very quickly.
Ola Toivonen (Sweden & PSV)
Swedish international Toivonen is the final player of the five that could find themselves at White Hart Lane, come September. At 6ft 3in, the PSV Eindhoven man is an imposing striker that can utilise his physical presence to full effect, as witnessed with an impressive return of 35 goals in 76 games for the Eredivisie outfit.
However, his record at an international level is less than scintillating, with a return of just four goals in 22 games for Sweden. Nevertheless, he will be part of Erik Hamren’s travelling party to the Eastern European nations this summer and even if he won’t start ahead of captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, his impact from the bench could be vital.
Chosen, somewhat surprisingly, ahead of Manchester City loanee John Guidetti, who enjoyed a fine campaign with Feyenoord, the 25-year-old may be one player that slips inconspicuously under the radar this summer, meaning his value would unlikely rise, unless he turns out to be one of the surprises of the tournament.
Nevertheless, with Spurs having been linked with the striker before in the past, it would be hardly surprising to see their name alongside Toivonen in the gossip columns this summer. Like Huntelaar, his physical approach to the game could be exactly what the North Londoners need to push on next season, even if it is from the bench.
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