We've heard a lot this summer about the need and desire of the club to add a more creative presence to their midfield. So far, we've found ourselves with two players that we've been fairly reliably linked to and two who we've been mentioned with. Pastore and Modric have been the focus of much debate around here, and if Pastore indeed signs with PSG in the coming days logic would dictate that we'd simply press Spurs a little harder on their Croatian playmaker. While he'd certainly be a tactical fit, he isn't really the attack minded player that Pastore is and would likely create somewhat of a logjam when Michael Essien returns to the lineup (and also probably block Josh).
Wesley Sneijder has been linked to us a few times and he'd be a similar player to Pastore, but it seems unlikely Inter really have the desire to move him unless they do it as part of a player exchange. Ironically, Sneijder's name has been popping up in rumors involving Carlos Tevez and this morning Gazetta Dello Sport got a picture of some Inter Tevez jersey's for sale.
Joao Moutinho was a favorite of AVB's at Porto, so naturally the media has linked us to him. If we can't pry away Modric or Sneijder, Moutinho does have a buyout (albeit a very high one). While I don't think we'd end up being that desperate, I never thought we'd actually drop 50 million pounds on Fernando Torres while we had Drogba and Anelka either. If I was running the club, I'd be passing on all three non-Pastore options and focusing on a few interesting plan B's that I'll touch on after the jump.
First of all, I'll start with a guy we looked at in March. Paulo Henrique Ganso is probably the most similar player to Pastore in terms of both tactical fit and age on the market at the moment. While it's clear that his club would like to see him stay at Santos until after the club world cup, they may be willing to sell him now for the right price and have indicated in the past that he may move on this summer. It's also entirely possible that we could reach an agreement where Ganso is loaned back until January before moving to London. Ganso's form lately in Brazil and internationally has seen his stock soar. The bidding for him is starting to approach the rumored prices for Pastore, and PSG and Manchester United are currently the popular rumored landing spots for him.
Back in February we took a look at Lille playmaker Eden Hazard. Since then the young Belgian's value has skyrocketed, as he was named Ligue 1 player of the year en route to leading Lille to the Ligue 1 title and a place in the Champions League. After selling Gervinho to Arsenal earlier in the window, it's likely that Lille don't have any sort of financial pressure to sell Hazard now with the Champions League paycheck looming. Still, you have to think they'd sell if we just absolutely wowed them with the price.
With Hazard there is also the real chance that by simply saving our pennies until January we'd be able to buy him off of Lille. The club likely won't advance beyond the group stages (although with a good draw who knows), and with PSG spending the way they are, Lyon getting healthy this summer, and the added fixtures they'll be playing there is a good chance they'll be out of the title race by late January. Hazard will be cup tied, but that didn't stop us last year from acquiring David Luiz.
One other player who's club could be in a similar situation come January is Borussia Dortmund. They have a very talented squad, but given that they will be a strong team out of a poor pot they will likely be competing in a very difficult group in the Champions League. It's entirely possible that the club is out of the competition in the winter window, and it seems likely that they will need to cash in on some of their assets in the coming year.
Quite possibly the prize asset in the Dortmund squad is 19 year old Mario Gotze. Having debuted for the club at 17, he bacame the youngest player to ever debut for the German senior squad last November. Like Hazard, Gotze is a technically gifted player who is capable of operating as an attack minded midfielder or on either wing (although he's more comfortable on the right than the left). He'd also be cup tied come January. At 5'9, he's not overly physically imposing, but he's strong enough to hold his own in the relatively physical Bundesliga. His pace is exceptional, and he's not a liability with the ball at his feet or in defense. He's known for covering a bunch of ground as well.
What really sets Gotze apart from others is his passing. As an 18 year old last year, Gotze was amongst the most efficient passers in Germany and was constantly picking defenses to shreds. He's terrific crossing the ball into the box, but he's even better when laying intricate passes onto the feet of running attackers. Because of this, Gotze is likely best suited to the type of role played by Pastore in Palermo. Since we haven't had any Gotze video for you at WAGNH yet, here's a little look at Super Mario against a talented Bayern squad:
All three targets would likely be very expensive, but all three would instantly be able to contribute creativity to the attack. While missing out on Pastore would likely leave a hole we'd like to have filled for the fall, I really think biding our time on these three would eventually allow us to add a player with the upside of Pastore instead of an older player who will likely only give us a single good contract. That said, we'll probably hear tomorrow that Pastore is on his way to London, which would render this whole post sort of moot (but still make me smile).