5 Clubs To Watch In The Transfer Window - And The Future

DORTMUND, GERMANY - MAY 14: Neven Subotic of Dortmund lifts the trophy after the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt at Signal Iduna Park on May 14, 2011 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Across European football, some clubs are beginning to show real potential as they rise to become more prestigious - some through success, others through money. Here are 5 clubs who have a big summer - and possibly a big future - ahead.

Transfer rumours tend to be focused on the biggest sides with the most cash to spend, but they're never the clubs with the most to gain. Summer is the key time of year for clubs on the edge of domestic or European success. It's all to easy to see key  players seduced by the lure of established clubs, popping the bubble and sending said teams back into the mire of non-contention. But if they do things right, keep the team together, and make some savvy signings, the summer can herald the arrival of legitimate new powers in the footballing world. Let's take a look at some candidates.


PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

For a city as large and influential as Paris, it's quite a shame that they don't have a football club to match. PSG may often be thought of as a 'big club', but they have never enjoyed a period of true domestic dominance, and their last league title came in 1986.

Why should we care?

PSG are one of the clubs bought in the recent wave of Qatari investment sweeping over football, which helped to land the 2022 world cup for the small-but-rich country. With a considerable injection of wealth for new players, and a solid squad to build from, they should be challenging for the Ligue 1 title before long, and afterwards, have the finances to build a side capable of challenging for European honours

Who are they likely to buy?

As with all clubs that undergo such takeovers, PSG have been linked to a huge number of players, and it's difficult to tell who is seriously likely. Dimitar Berbatov was a rumoured target, but more likely is that Le PSG will snap up the top talent from the rest of Ligue 1 - Kevin Gameiro and Nicolas Douchez have already been signed, but though excellent players, they would be within PSG's usual range. It remains to be seen whether PSG will make a marquee signing, but the likes of Marvin Martin have been linked, who would represent excellent, and sensible business.

How far can they go?

With Lyon's dominance at an end, the French league is wide open. The champions, Lille, seem likely to lose a lot of key players, and if PSG were to find themselves in a similar position, they have the ambition, the potential, and the resources to ensure they could keep a team together. Whether they could be talked of in the future as serious Champions League contenders depends on just how much money is invested, and if it is done so sensibly, but they will certainly be aiming to be a regular fixture in the competition within the next few years.


MALAGA

Malaga, another club to profit from Qatari investment, are an interesting case. Unlike PSG, the influx from the new owners has been clear and immediate, and they have been active already in this transfer window.

Why should we care?

It's a sad thought that the only challenge to Real Madrid and Barcelona's dominance could be from a relatively small club backed by tremendously rich owners, and even that day will be a while off, but if Malaga can emerge as a genuine contender in Spain, it will probably be for the best.

Who are they likely to buy?

Malaga have moved swiftly already in this window, signing dutch pair Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Joris Mathijsen, as well as Jeremy Toulalan and Ignacio Monreal. These are all players that are a clear step up from the usual targets of the club, and are all solid players who will form a good squad. Generally, the club seem to be targeting experienced players for the present rather than investing in youth - Lucio and Didier Drogba are two other names who have been suggested, both of whom have experience and are still tremendous players in their own right.

How far can they go?

Without considerable further investment over a number of years, they are unlikely to trouble Real Madrid and Barcelona just yet, but if Manuel Pellegrini can get his new additions to fit in with the squad which finished 11th last year, a push for Champions League qualification may just be possible. In the end, nobody knows if the Qataris pockets will be deep enough to challenge for the title, but the early signs are very promising for Malaga fans.


NEWCASTLE UNITED

Like some other clubs on this list, Newcastle are often thought of as a big club despite having little in the way of recent success. In fact, though, Newcastle have barely had any success throughout their entire existence, and their most recent moment in the sun, when Bobby Robson led them into Europe, seem an age away. Despite a commitment to reducing the hefty wage bill, however, the Newcastle board's seemingly bizarre decisions do appear to be backed up by a coherent plan.

Why should we care?

With money to spend from the sale of Carroll, Newcastle have been able to secure some bargains already and will look to continue to do so as they rebuild their squad. Cheick Tiote was a huge success in his debut season, and Hatem Ben Arfa showed promise when he wasn't injured.

Who are they likely to buy?

Three intriguing signings have already been made, and all on the cheap: Lille playmaker Yohann Cabaye for a low price, and Rennes winger Sylvain Marveaux and West Ham striker Demba Ba on free transfers. They have lost their captain in Kevin Nolan, but they are well-equipped to deal with his absence. It's likely that they will buy another striker and a defender before the window closes, which could give them a squad which should certainly challenge this year for Europa League places.

How far can they go?

It all depends on whether Mike Ashley is prepared to sanction further investment in the future. Newcastle are a number of ambitious clubs competing at the same level, just below Tottenham and Liverpool, along with Stoke City, Aston Villa, and fierce rivals Sunderland. With a couple more astute signings, however, their first XI would be more akin to the former group than the latter in quality. It's an interesting time to be a Toon supporter.


BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Dortmund may seem an obvious choice due to their status as runaway Bundesliga champions, but outside Europe's elite, and particularly outside England, Spain, and Italy, the hard part comes after winning the league, in preventing the team from being dismantled for spare parts by Real Madrid and Manchester City. Dortmund have already lost Nuri Sahin to the Bernabeu, and others such as Shinji Kagawa have been linked with a move away, but the German club have a good chance of keeping most of their squad together, and if they can show their worth in the Champions League, could just build something special.

Why should we care?

With German football certain to replace Italy as Europe's third-ranked league in the coming years, Dortmund could find it easier to build and maintain a good team. They obviously have the rest of the infrastructure, with their vast stadium, and unless an unexpected challenger emerges or Dortmund undergo a spectacular implosion (and in Germany, these things often happen), then Dortmund and a resurgent Bayern Munich look to be the contenders for German dominance.

Who are they likely to buy?

In this transfer window, it's less about who they're likely to buy and more about who they're likely to keep hold of. Nuri Sahin is a huge loss who will prove very difficult to replace, particularly since he wasn't able to command a large fee due to his contract nearing expiry. Ilkay Gundogan has been brought in and tasked with replacing his compatriot, but is not yet at the same level.

Ultimately, Dortmund will have done very well if they get through the rest of the window unscathed. For signings, Nicolas Bendtner has been heavily linked, and could be ideal, though how the striker will fare with regular game time is difficult to judge. Otherwise, Dortmund seem to be continuing their strategy of signing young players, with the signing of A-League youngster Mustafa Amini and indicative that they will not change their strategy.

How far can they go?

As stated previously, it all depends on whether they can keep their squad together. Dortmund have the capability to be a genuine force in Europe if they can get the best out of the players they have, and will benefit from a very young squad which will only improve. A good showing in Europe is absolutely vital for them this season.


NAPOLI

Another obvious choice, but Napoli were one of the main surprises of last season. Unlike Lille, Udinese, and Porto, however, Napoli have a good chance of retaining their most prized assets, and will be able to force maximum price for anyone they do wish to sell.

Why should we care?

Napoli are not a tremendously wealthy club, but they have acquired a fantastic team in recent years, the fruits of which were seen with last years Champions League qualification. If Napoli can build on what they have already, then Italy's northern clubs could see their dominance challenged for the first time since Fabio Capello's Roma won the scudetto in 2001.

Who are they likely to buy?

Midfield seems to be the area Napoli are most eager to reinforce, with Gokhan Inler a heavily rumoured target. Inler would provide balance to their midfield, as would Wilson Palacios, who has also been linked to the club. It is also important that Napoli keep as many of their star players as possible - the club president, Aurelio De Laurentiis, spoke of needing ‘a striker who can get into double figures', and their need for such a player will become a lot more pressing should Edinson Cavani or Ezequiel Lavezzi decide to leave.

How far can they go?

As always, a good Champions League performance is essential, as is keeping hold of the likes of Cavani and Marek Hamsik. With an astute signing or two, Napoli could seriously challenge for the scudetto this season, and if they do, they stand a better chance than ever of bringing back the glory days to the San Paolo.

Callum Hamilton is co-editor of Surreal Football.

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