With the summer transfer window well underway, clubs across Europe are looking to bolster their squad and often a player or two is just what a team needs to reach the next level.
Similarly, a player can have one or multiple outstanding seasons, and in this sense, perhaps outgrow their current club. It is not a matter of getting too big for one’s boots, as much as it is being capable of playing at a higher level.
With that being said, here are five players who have enjoyed a successful 2022/23 season and who deserve a big move ahead of next season.
Jonathan David is certainly a name that has been circulating the rumor mill for some time now, given his explosive form in France and his importance to the Canadian national team. David is an efficient finisher, capable with both feet, and he also excels at dropping deep to help interlink team play. Premier League sides have been rumored to have previously shown interest, however, this may be one move too soon still. Digging into his stats and analytics, David still has areas of his game to work on, in particular his movement and his physical capabilities.
There is a cliche in English football that buying from the French League can be like buying a lottery ticket, given the physical and competitive step up the Premier League is typically considered to be. For this reason, I think a step before the plunge into Premier League Football may be beneficial.
In Italy, AC Milan have just lost striker Zlatan Ibrahimović to retirement and Olivier Giroud is not getting any younger. With dynamic creative forces such as left-winger Rafael Leão to link up with, this could be the perfect opportunity for David. A promising striker, who may yet still reach the very top.
Joško Gvardiol is similarly hardly a new name in the realm of transfer speculation given Chelsea’s serious interest in him following a very impressive World Cup in 2022. Gvardiol has been an attractive prospect for years, however, and his career trajectory has been meteoric.
Gvardiol signed for German side RB Leipzig in 2020 at the age of 18 and despite signing a five-year contract, has been linked with mega moves away almost since the day he arrived. The Croatian defender cuts an opposing and aggressive figure in the tackle and plays with an experience well beyond his age. Simultaneously, Gvardiol looks like a Rolls Royce in possession, capable of both dribbling and passing out of the back with ease.
Being a left-footed left-sided centre-back who is also capable of playing at left-back, many top clubs are big fans. Leipzig sadly is often used as a stepping stone club, and therefore it has always seemed likely that a player of Gvardiol’s ability would move on to an elite European club. Chelsea have previously been linked, however, the current favorites look to be Manchester City, who may sign the Croatian in the next few days. Regardless of whose hand signs the cheque, Gvardiol is star quality who has earned a move and he will no doubt leave Leipzig in the imminent future.
Fans of the Premier League will already be well aware of the ability of Douglas Luiz, and not just for his knack for scoring directly from corner kicks. Douglas Luiz has been growing in prominence in recent seasons, both in his numbers and his style of play.
From a deep-lying ball-winner to an all-round midfielder who is competent in dominating and controlling the midfield, the 2022/23 season was Luiz’s most prolific. Luiz picked up six goals and six assists from midfield, helping Aston Villa to a European spot. There is a tradition in England to only focus on the top six sides, however, this season Luiz has been arguably the best midfielder outside the top six and certainly one of Aston Villa’s most important players.
Luiz has previously been linked away from Villa and Arsenal were keen to poach the Brazilian last summer. Luiz did sign a new and improved contract at Villa in October last year, and with Villa playing in top European competition this season it may be difficult to prize him away.
Nevertheless, given his form and previous interest, should Villa struggle to compete across multiple competitions this season, suitors may become attractive to Luiz by the January transfer window.
Now a name less familiar to many, introducing the latest talent out of Belgium: Mike Trésor. In the 2022/23 season, Trésor has comfortably been the most impressive player in Belgium and he contributed 32 goals in 39 games for RC Genk.
At 24-years-old, it may seem a little late for a breakout campaign; however, Trésor has always had potential, and this is shown by his continual progression in the Belgian youth system. Trésor has represented Belgium at the U17, U18, U19 and U21 levels. On paper Trésor appeared to struggle at club level during these years, however, circumstances played a part. Whilst at Willem II in Holland Trésor recorded strong numbers for assists but went under the radar as Willem II struggled in the league.
Furthermore, RC Genk had a difficult campaign during the 2021/22 season, which coincided with Trésor having a subdued first campaign in the Belgian first division. Trésor’s career has finally exploded, and he has recently received his first call-up to the Belgian Men’s national team. Given it is his first big season it is more likely a middle-tier club may well snap him up. He is a player who will be in a top-five European league soon.
Pedro Gonçalves is something of a transfer anomaly, as he has consistently been performing at a top level without ever attracting concrete interest from Europe’s elite clubs. Goncalves has played for Sporting CP in Portugal since 2020 and has arguably been the league’s best player since joining. Gonçalves is adaptable and has featured at left-wing, right-wing, attacking midfield, and central midfield. One reason he may have remained in Portugal is that he failed to impress when he was a youngster at Wolverhampton Wanderers in England. Gonçalves is 24-years-old now and is more than ready to make a big step in his career.
The Portuguese first division is a strong league. However, it may be time for a competitive step up. Similar to his former teammate and current Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes, Gonçalves has outgrown his current club and has 68 goal contributions in his last 92 games for Sporting CP. Gonçalves would suit any side looking to bolster their attack, and Tottenham Hotspur could be a prime destination for him given their current lack of attacking midfielders. Another crack in the Premier League and playing at a higher level consistently makes sense as the next move for Gonçalves.