With Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City among others expected to strengthen in central defence between now and September we look at what’s on offer to them around Europe’s top leagues.
Diego Godin – Atletico Madrid
The 27-year-old Uruguayan made the most La Liga appearances of any Atletico player in 2012/2013, making his 78.6% pass completion rate all the more impressive. Third-place Los Rojiblancos finished last season as the division’s meanest defence and with Liverpool and Chelsea both credited with an interest in the past, Madrid’s second club may struggle to keep their star defender in Spain this year.
Toby Alderweireld – Ajax
Both of the Premier League’s Merseyside clubs have been linked with Ajax’s Belgian international, who could be available for around £5m with only one year remaining on his contract in Holland. Alderweireld’s ability to play at right-back as well as in the middle will appeal to Roberto Martinez in particular, with Everton still reliant on the steady but limited Tony Hibbert as cover for Seamus Coleman.
Vlad Chiriches – Steaua Bucharest
Loopy Steaua owner Gigi Becali was set to sell former Benfica youth Chiriches to Tottenham before finding himself in jail last week for falling foul of Romanian land laws. The deal is still expected to go through and at odds of 17/10 to get into the top four, Andre Villas-Boas will need bodies in defence at the start of the season following Steven Caulker’s move to Cardiff and Michael Dawson’s injury.
Pepe – Real Madrid
Pepe to Man City is a story that won’t go away, with the Portuguese stopper refusing to rule out a move over the weekend and whispers about Raphael Varane taking his teammate’s place in the Madrid first team emanating from the Bernabeu. City are 11/5 co-favourites to regain the league, but with Matija Nastasic’s injury leaving them with two fit centre-backs for the start of the season, Manuel Pellegrini has to bring in reinforcements in defence or could see his title bid derailed early on.
Kyriakos Papadopoulos – Schalke 04
A knee problem caused the Greek international’s career to be stalled last year after bursting onto the scene in Schalke’s excellent 2010/2011 campaign, when they were knocked out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage by Manchester United. Liverpool want him on loan to assess the knee knock, but it will take at least £10m to prise the talented 21-year-old away from the Bundesliga.