Five players who should move on
Let the transfers begin.
Now that the World Cup is over, attention shifts to who's moving where. Manchester City, surprise, surprise, got a head start on the competition, and Barcelona, as if it needed it, landed the best striker in the world in David Villa.
The following five players aren't going anywhere -- yet -- but for one reason or another, they should move on. Here's why.
Diego Forlan, Atletico Madrid: Even before sparkling for Uruguay in South Africa, Goldilocks deserved better. He bangs in the goals for a modest team in Spain, so just imagine how he'd fare with better players around him. Forlan is lethal in the box and on free kicks, technically superb and a tireless worker.
He says he's happy at Atletico and ruled out a return to England, although rejoining the Premier League and scoring goals would finally shut up all the annoying pundits who equate Forlan with his time at Manchester United. That was a while ago, and Forlan barely started league games, as he had to compete with Ruud van Nistelrooy in his prime.
Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal: What a letdown for Fabregas if he stays at Arsenal. After trading passes with the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Jesus Navas in Spain's midfield, he'll be mingling with the highly inconsistent Abou Diaby, underachiever Samir Nasri and the technically averse Theo Walcott in North London.
Fabregas is too good for Arsenal.
He reportedly has his heart set on a move back to Barcelona, where he'd link up with Xavi, Iniesta and Lionel Messi. Oh, the fun they'd have. If nothing else, the versatile Fabregas deserves to play for the biggest clubs in England.
Should he depart, most of the blame goes to stubborn Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Surround Fabregas with world-class players and he's not thinking of Spain.
Clint Dempsey, Fulham: When agents claim their players are wanted by huge clubs, take it with a pinch of salt. It is, after all, the silly season.
But Dempsey wouldn't look out of place at A.C. Milan, one of the teams apparently interested in the roving midfielder. Call that one a strange fit. Imagine Dempsey's face when told of his increased tactical responsibilities.
What about Liverpool, where Dempsey's former Fulham manager is now in charge?
Roy Hodgson knows how valuable Dempsey is, and Liverpool badly needs goals from midfield, especially with the exit of Yossi Benayoun.
Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus: Gigi, we love your loyalty.
When Juventus suffered demotion in 2006 in the aftermath of the country's biggest soccer scandal, Buffon stuck around as other big names took off. He's been with the Old Lady since 2001, making more than 300 appearances and winning everything there is to win domestically. Buffon remains adamant that he wants to stick with the fading Turin giant.
"I believe the love shown daily by Juve fans is something grand and priceless," Buffon told Sky Italia.
But at the age of 32, still young for a keeper, Buffon has the chance to test himself in another major league. He'd be slightly cheaper than normal, given he's coming off back surgery.
Mario Balotelli, Inter Milan: When your own fans boo you, it's time to go.
The gifted teen endured a stormy relationship with the Special One in Milan, and it carried over to some of Inter's notoriously hard-core supporters.
Where should he go?
Balotelli wants to play regularly, and his suitors aren't short in number. While admirer Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United would be the right guy to nurture Balotelli, he wouldn't be a regular this season at Old Trafford.
The obvious fit is a side in a top division on the fringes of a title race. Problem is, those teams couldn't afford him.
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