With the transfer window now a distant memory and a surprisingly entertaining international break out of the way, we’re are now approaching the business end of the season and the next two months will be crucial in separating the real contenders from the pretenders in the race for the top 4.
Champions league qualification means a lot to clubs in this day and age. No doubt the financial impacts are huge, but Champions League clubs also benefit in other ways, such as boosting their chances of recruiting better players come the summer.
The flip side of it, is that missing a Champions League spot can mean losing a key player. A lot has been made of the future of three players in particular in teams chasing the top 4. Those players are Luis Suarez at Liverpool, Jack Wilshere at Arsenal and Gareth Bale at Spurs, and it is no surprise considering their form this season.
We have decided to take a look at these players and the chances of the clubs retaining their services come may if they don’t qualify for the Champions League.
The season so far: Suarez has been pivotal to Liverpool’s performances this season, his 16 league goals make up 39% of his club’s total goal tally, a swift turn of fortunes for a player that had spent the 2011-12 season at the center of so much controversy.
Opinion has now changed as pundits and opposition fans alike have started to appreciate Suarez’s qualities as a footballer. It’s no surprise since only Robin Van Persie has scored more in the Premier League than Suarez this season. Few can argue that the Uruguayan has raised his game to a different level this season.
Transfer Speculation: Luis Suarez’s form has attracted a lot of media attention. Barcelona have been linked with a move to replace David Villa who seems set to depart, while Bayern Munich have also been reported as interested, no surprise since Pep Guardiola’s bro is Suarez’s agent!
Contract status: Suarez signed a new five-year deal worth £100,000 a week in August 2012. He has stated he wants to talk more in the summer – greedy or will he consider his options?
Player quotes: ”We would like to qualify for the Champions League if possible. We should talk [with the club] this June or the next one, in 2014, my contract ends in 2018.”
Verdict: Failing to reach a Champions League spot would be a massive blow for Liverpool, but also for Suarez. He is on a long-term deal, so any move would need to be mega-money and Liverpool may just get another season out of their man.
The season so far: Many would say that Arsenal’s fortunes and Wenger’s future at Arsenal hinge on Jack Wilshere now more than ever. The 21-year-old’s superb display against Brazil on Wednesday – which saw Wilshere completing 93.5% of his passes and winning five tackles – was the last of a few impressive performances since returning from injury. Wilshere is edging closer to become the midfield leader that the Arsenal midfield had been crying out for since Fabregas departed for Barcelona.
Transfer Speculation: Previously, which come as no surprise, Barcelona and Real Madrid, but that was just paper talk and also Manchester City. No rumours at the moment, but don’t be surprised to see newspapers conjure some up if he keeps performing so well.
Contract status: The youngster has recently signed a five-year contract worth £80,000 a week and has repeatedly stated his desire to remain at the Emirates.
Player quotes: “I am really happy at Arsenal at the minute. Obviously I want to win things [but] I want to do it with Arsenal. I have been at Arsenal since I was nine and I have grown to love the club.”
Verdict: Having not won a trophy for seven years, Wenger is well aware of the importance of sitting at Europe’s elite table season after season and not purely for financial purposes. The departure gate at the Emirates has seen some illustrious figures passing through in recent summers, but with a long-term contract it doesn’t seem likely Jack Wilshere will be one of them.
The season so far: Gareth Bale’s performances have been nothing short of outstanding so far this season, the Welshman netted his 10th international goal in 39 games on Wednesday, following up on two screamers that earned Spurs four points away from home in the last two games against Norwich and West Brom. Bale’s tally for the season is up to 13 goals and it will be another very good season for the Welshman if he continues his form.
Speculation: In an ironic twist for Spurs, Gareth Bale’s impressive run could see him lured away from White Hart Lane with a host of top clubs likely to come calling with, unsurprisingly, Real Madrid and Barcelona linked with him, with a dash of Manchester United for good measure.
Contract status: Bale signed a four-year deal in June, which, in theory, means he’ll remain at White Hart Lane until 2016.
Player quotes: ”It would be nice to experience other leagues and other cultures. I’m not afraid to go abroad. If the time comes and a team that’s right comes in for me, then I’ll look at it seariously. I’ll see what happens.”
Verdict: Bale is perhaps the most likely player out of the three to depart and like Luka Modric before him, the move may be accelerated if Spurs miss out on the Champions League.
Which player do you think is most likely to leave if their team does not qualify for the Champions League? Is the writing on the wall for these players departures anyway regardless of success? Leave your comments below.