Football: Bang for transfer window buck

Above: Southampton's Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk has come of age since joining from Celtic in 2015 and has drawn the attention of City, United and Chelsea. Left: Victor Lindelof could reap Portuguese giants Benfica a profit of close to 200 times,
Real Madrid's James Rodriguez being tackled by Legia Warsaw's Thibault Moulin. The Colombian starred in the 2014 World Cup Finals but injury and poor form mean he has been out of favour in Spain and Real could be tempted by a bid of at least £50 million. PHOTO: REUTERS
Above: Southampton's Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk has come of age since joining from Celtic in 2015 and has drawn the attention of City, United and Chelsea. Left: Victor Lindelof could reap Portuguese giants Benfica a profit of close to 200 times,
Southampton's Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk has come of age since joining from Celtic in 2015 and has drawn the attention of City, United and Chelsea. PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
Above: Southampton's Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk has come of age since joining from Celtic in 2015 and has drawn the attention of City, United and Chelsea. Left: Victor Lindelof could reap Portuguese giants Benfica a profit of close to 200 times,
Victor Lindelof could reap Portuguese giants Benfica a profit of close to 200 times, should the Swede fetch a £40 million fee.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

With football clubs eager to seek reinforcements for trophy push, here are 10 players who could be of instant help to top European teams

LONDON • The January window is only three days old but its alloy wheels are already being oiled for some truly outlandish transfer action.

Most clubs are on the lookout for good buys to shore up their ranks, as they attempt to make a run for domestic and continental honours in the second half of the season.

Here is a look at 10 players from around Europe who could be the subject of big-money deals:

VICTOR LINDELOF (BENFICA)

Benfica still owe the tiny Swedish club Vasteras €250,000 (S$377,500) from purchasing the defender back in 2012, but the Portuguese side could be cashing in to the tune of nearly 200 times that figure this month.

Lindelof began his career in Portugal as a right-back or in central midfield but has emerged as a dominant central defender over the past two years.

Manchester United had a bid of around £30 million (S$53.5 million) rejected in the close season and instead opted to sign Eric Bailly from Villarreal.

•Estimated value: £40 million

VIRGIL VAN DIJK (SOUTHAMPTON)

Manchester City and Liverpool, given their defensive travails, are in need of reinforcements. Luckily for both, the answer may be staring them in the face.

City turned down the chance to sign van Dijk when he moved to Southampton from Celtic in September 2015 for £13 million because of concerns whether he could make the step-up from Scottish football.

But the 25-year-old, who came through Groningen's youth system, has shown he is one of the best defenders in the country since then. United and Chelsea may also enter the fray.

•Estimated value: £40 million.

MAHMOUD DAHOUD
(BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH)

The Syria-born German international has continued his meteoric rise for Gladbach but, with his contract set to expire at the end of the 2017-18, the German club may decide finally to cash in on their prized asset this month.

Liverpool tried to persuade them to sell in the summer but, after losing Granit Xhaka to Arsenal, Gladbach were always unlikely to do business then.

Yet, the 20-year-old's reluctance to sign a new contract shows he views his future elsewhere and Jurgen Klopp will hope that him sharing an agent with Emre Can puts Liverpool in pole position.

Juventus are also interested and this could push up the price significantly for one of Europe's most promising midfielders.

•Estimated value: £25 million

JAMES RODRIGUEZ (REAL MADRID)

One of the stars of the 2014 World Cup Finals has endured a stop- start season, starting only four league games because of a combination of injuries and lack of form.

While Real's transfer ban could end up scuppering his hopes of leaving in this window, the Colombia international has a number of clubs keeping tabs on his situation, including Man United, Chelsea and Juventus.

Any offer in advance of £50 million could persuade Real to sell, however, with Inter Milan also thought to be considering an approach for a player whose contract expires in 2020.

•Estimated value: £50 million

FAOUZI GHOULAM (NAPOLI)

The market for defenders has spiralled over the last few months, with Napoli turning down a bid in excess of £50 million for Kalidou Koulibaly in the summer from Chelsea.

It looks as if they will face another battle to keep the other key members of Italian Serie A's second-meanest defence, with several big clubs looking at Ghoulam and Lazio's Stefan de Vrij.

The Algerian international made his name at St Etienne before earning a move to Italy in 2014 and has been repeatedly linked with a transfer to Chelsea in recent months.

Reports suggest it may take as much as £30 million to secure him, however, with City among the other sides to have scouted the 25-year-old in the past, while United have also been linked with the Netherlands international de Vrij.

•Estimated value: £25 million

LEON BAILEY (GENK)

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, the speedy 19-year-old had an unusual start to his career. After arriving in Belgium at the age of 13, he was forced to leave, having been deemed to be living in the country illegally when his agent returned penniless from Mexico after faking his own kidnapping.

Bailey moved to the Slovakian side Trencin before returning to Belgium in 2015 and has since established himself as one of the Jupiler League's outstanding players alongside his team-mate Wilfred Ndidi, who has joined Leicester City.

Bailey is comfortable on either flank or as a false nine.

•Estimated value: £20 million

ALASSANE PLEA (NICE)

While all the attention at the start of the season was on a reinvigorated Mario Balotelli, the real driving force behind Nice's ascent to the summit of French Ligue 1 has been this 23-year-old, signed from Lyon for £450,000 in 2014.

Having begun his career as a winger, Plea represented France at several junior levels but has been successfully converted to a more central role of late.

With only 18 months of his contract remaining, it may not take much more than £15 million to lure him from Nice - although, with his club aiming to win their first title since 1959, they will be desperate not to allow him to jump ship this month.

•Estimated value: £15 million

MOUSSA MAREGA (VITORIA DE GUIMARAES - LOAN FROM PORTO)

Born in Les Ulis - the same tough Paris neighbourhood as Thierry Henry, Patrice Evra and Anthony Martial - Marega has not exactly had a conventional career.

The striker left the second-tier French side Amiens in 2014 for the Tunisian club Esperance but was then sold to Maritimo in Portugal.

A successful season caught the eye of Sporting Lisbon and Marega had looked set to join them last January, before Porto hijacked the deal and signed him on a contract with a €40 million release clause. He was then loaned out to Vitoria de Guimaraes at the start of this season .

He is quick and dangerous in the air; Tottenham, Liverpool and Sunderland are among the clubs to have been linked.

•Estimated value: £15 million.

DAYOTCHANCULLE UPAMECANO (RED BULL SALZBURG)

The 18-year-old is usually known as Dayot to his friends and family - and there is no doubt the defender is on the wish list of most sporting directors in Europe at the moment.

Upamecano moved to Austria in July 2015 for only £1.9 million, despite offers from United among others. But such has been his progress since making his league debut for Salzburg last March that they are expected to demand in excess of £15 million to allow him to leave.

RB Leipzig may have an advantage, given their close ties to his current club but Barcelona and City could enter the fray for a player who has represented France at every youth level since Under-16.

•Estimated value: £15 million

KASPER DOLBERG (AJAX)

The latest in a long line of Danish teenagers to emerge from Ajax's academy, he shot to prominence in November after scoring a hat-trick against NAC Breda in 37 minutes, including an impudent flick header that drew comparisons with Marco van Basten.

Everton have been strongly linked with an approach for the 19-year-old but the bad news for Ronald Koeman is that bigger fish are starting to circulate for him, with City, Juventus and Napoli all sending scouts to recent matches.

•Estimated value: £10 million

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2017, with the headline 'Bang for transfer window buck'. Print Edition | Subscribe