With the January transfer window closing around Europe, plenty of big names with just months left on their contracts will be looking for a new club this summer.
These superstars of the game include Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Angel Di Maria, but could these players and more move to the Premier League? Let’s take a deeper look with the help of our contact in the sport, The Secret Coach.
The Secret Coach is a professional football coach in English football… who will remain anonymous. The Secret Coach has worked with some of the biggest names in the game, been through the coaching badge courses and is currently part of the coaching team at an English league side… and that’s all we’re telling you. As ever, this week, The Secret Coach pulls no punches!
Last week, we talked about who might win this season’s UEFA Champions League, but this week, it’s some of the many stars who have graced the tournament who will be looking for a new club in just a few months. We have to start with Lionel Messi. After dominating La Liga, it looks like the mercurial Argentinian might be on his way to Manchester City in the summer. What does The Secret Coach think he’ll bring to the Premier League and will he be as effective as he is in Spain?
“I can’t wait to see him in the Premier League!” says TSC. “It will answer questions on who is the best – him or Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi has been a fantastic one-club man club and achieved so much. He’s a fantastic player but Ronaldo has been in four countries and achieved it all, so to see how Messi would get on in Prem would be amazing. Ronaldo has done a cold wet evening on the South Coast and delivered – can Messi?”
Lionel Messi is currently 3/1 to sign for Paris St. Germain and 7/2 to sign for Manchester City. One of the youngest players who is currently looking like he’ll be available ‘on a free’ is Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, aged just 21. It feels like every club could do with him joining them, but who could use him most and where would he suit?
“He’s interesting – a good keeper for sure and young, but a few clubs have tried and failed to sign him and I wonder why.” Says TSC. “I haven’t seen any ‘Big Six’ sides try to sign him on a pre-contract basis. I feel there are better keepers.”
One to avoid, maybe. Memphis Depay is one of two ex-Manchester United names on our radar, but could the Lyon player really make it in the Premier League second time around or does The Secret Coach think he’d rather play for a La Liga side such as Barcelona?
“Depay didn’t hit the heights that he promised at United, but like all good players, he didn’t let it affect him and has gone away and reestablished himself for club and country, showing the form that got him his United move. The question for me is whether he wants to prove the doubters and himself to some degree wrong and show that he can make it in the best league in the world. He’ll either do that or cash in on his good form and go to Spain.”
Angel Di Maria also spent a year in the EPL but has since been one of PSG’s star performers in Ligue 1 and the Champions League. Is there a way the gifted Argentine could make it in the Premier League and if so, which team would suit him best?
“He’s a talented player,” says TSC. “I personally feel he is not suited to the physical nature of the Premier League as he showed in his spell at United. It feels like he’s been around for so long and at big clubs, too. I’m not sure if any of the current top six would take him.”
Someone else who has played for Real Madrid is Galacticos lifer Sergio Ramos, who seems to have played the Premier League off against Real Madrid in a bid to get another contract more times than he’s been red carded in his career… and that’s saying something. What if Ramos really did come to the Premier League?
“A love him or hate him player! If you play with him, he’s loved as he is a good defender who can score goals and has a winning mentality. If he’s not on your team his ‘dark arts’ and desire to win can be frustrating and annoying for others as can his competitive nature.”
Ramos has a combative style that might suit the Premier League, but The Secret Coach thinks that he might pay for that aspect of his game more than it counts for him.
“With his red card count, could he spend more time on the sidelines? I’d love him in the Premier League, again to see how a one club player at the top of his game can cope in another league. I’d liken him more to Thiago Silva in his consistency rather than a David Luiz-type, but I think London clubs might be tempted!”
PSG winger Julian Draxler has weirdly never played for a Premier League club. In a league where wingers are so highly valued, could he make a real difference at the age of 28?
“He’s a good player that’s been off the radar since moving to PSG. I like his energy and potential as a goalscorer; I can see a ‘Big Six’ side taking a punt on him as a squad player, but not a starter as the Big Six are full of good midfielders and wingers. Could the middle pack like Leicester make him a star?”
Finally, we have to talk about Zlatan. Legendary former Manchester United and current A.C. Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be in his late 30s, but he was brilliant at Old Trafford a few years ago. Does the Secret Coach think he star for a Premier League club if he came back… and would he want to?
“The man is a legend! Even at his age who would not want him? He proved at United as he has done at Milan he can score goals regularly. I’d love to see him back but would he go to a team who aren’t in the Champions League? I would imagine it would be a last season for him, but he’s a great player who I love to watch. He suits the Premier League as he is physical and clever and can score a range of goals, but I can’t see him moving, especially if Milan beat Juventus to the Serie A title.”
And that’s all this week from The Secret Coach, who will be back next week here on Calvin Ayre.
Imagine Zlatan back at a Premier League club. We’d all enjoy seeing another set of highlights like this from the superstar Swede!