It’s that time of the year when the European powerhouses are looking to offload those considered surplus to requirements in order to fund their latest batch of high-profile arrivals, with many having done just that already. The likes of Xavi, Andrea Pirlo and Iker Casillas have all bid farewell to their adoring fans, with Carlos Tevez, Sami Khedira, Yohan Cabaye and latterly Bastian Schweinsteiger all making moves away from a member of Europe’s elite this summer.
There remain, however, a number of players expected to see their playing time dwindle further for the big hitters on the continent that may still be up for grabs. We’ve asked WhoScored.com to select a handful of potential benchwarmers in the most flush dugouts around that may yet be on the move.
Undoubtedly a victim of the riches that have been available to Barcelona in recent years, it seems as though Pedro’s nearly-status as a blaugrana first team regular is looking likely to come to an end, with Chelsea heavily-linked. Last season the forward’s playing time was restricted to its lowest point since making his mark on the senior ranks at Camp Nou, with 1531 minutes spread over 35 appearances in La Liga, of which 20 came from the bench. Only two players appeared more times as a substitute in Spain’s top-tier.
A tally of 6 goals and 6 assists was a respectable return but way down on what was a highly encouraging 2013/14 campaign under Tata Martino, notching a career high of 15 league goals along with 8 assists for a WhoScored.com rating of 7.14. It’s a figure that would drop to a modest 6.76 last season as Luis Enrique understandably favoured the devastating front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, and with that triumvirate unlikely to be broken anytime soon, Pedro would no doubt be best served looking for more regular action elsewhere.
Asier Illarramendi (Real Madrid)
Another tipped with a move away from one of Spain’s ‘big two’ is Asier Illarramendi, who has failed to live up to expectations in the famous white jersey. Earmarked as Xabi Alonso’s long-term successor due to his impressively efficient passing and ability to break up play in central areas, the midfielder’s career may yet plot a similar path if links to Liverpool are to be believed. Both made their name at Real Sociedad, with Illarramendi impressing to the extent that he became – and remains – the most expensive Spanish transfer in Los Blancos’ illustrious history.
In terms of his performances he has never really let Madrid down following his arrival on the back of a superb campaign for Spain’s Euro U21 champions in 2013, but neither has he convinced that he is the man from which the side’s play should be built. It’s worth noting that while a league rating of 6.66 from WhoScored may seem meagre, when you exclude the 20 substitute appearances he made last season that score is up at 7.18 in 10 starts. Having led Real Madrid in terms of minutes per pass (1.2) and interception (29), the Spaniard just needs a chance but seems unlikely to get it at the Bernabeu.
Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich)
It may seem a stretch to suggest that seemingly unsettled Mario Gotze will be on the fringes of the Bayern team next season but the general consensus on the youngster is that he hasn’t quite hit the heights expected of him since a move to the Allianz. While any transfer would likely set interested parties back a pretty penny, many believe that the club would not be opposed to entertaining offers for the man who scored Germany’s World Cup winner this time last year.
The return to fitness of Thiago Alcantara could have a big say on Gotze’s future, and while he is thought to be a part of the long-term plan beyond the likes of Ribery and Robben, Bayern could yet be tempted to sell the 23-year old. Despite making 32 league appearances last season the playmaker’s WhoScored rating was at its lowest since breaking into the Dortmund side (7.20) and with a direct hand in just 11 goals – a feat he managed from half the number of starts (14) in the 2011/12 season – Gotze’s star may have fallen a little. Often shunted out wide, Bayern man has been used as somewhat of a utility player in attack and may not be against a move where he could gain a fixed, central position in the side.
Ezequiel Lavezzi (PSG)
Following a big money move from Napoli in 2012 it’s fair to say Ezequiel Lavezzi has not reached the form he managed in his final three seasons in Serie A. His creative juices are running dry in the French capital, and while the Argentine’s finishing has always been questioned, his assist tally has dwindled substantially. In his final three years in Naples Lavezzi scored 25 goals but added a further 23 assists. While he has netted a respectable 22 goals in three seasons in Paris, however, Lavezzi has supplied just 6 assists.
Joined by former teammate Edinson Cavani the season after he signed for the club, many expected the arrival of Lavezzi’s fellow South American might see the two forge the sort of partnership that made Napoli a force to be reckoned with once more in Italy. In the 2010/11 season in particular theirs was the most profitable partnership in Serie A, with Lavezzi assisting 6 of Cavani’s league strikes. Since the Uruguayan made the move to the French capital, however, Lavezzi has laid on just two assists for the number 9, and while both have had their problems settling into life in Ligue 1 it’s the Argentine who seems set for the exit following a disappointing WhoScored rating of 6.83 last season.
Fernando Llorente (Juventus)
Despite the departure of top scorer Carlos Tevez, who has returned to Boca Juniors, Fernando Llorente’s time at Juventus may be up. The progression of Alvaro Morata coupled with the signings of Paulo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic and Simone Zaza mean the Spaniard’s playing time is set to fall next season having started 25 league matches in 2014/15. The signing of Mandzukic in particular – who offers a very similar physical threat – is the clearest indicator that coach Max Allegri feels the 30-year old is not up to standard, having scored just 7 Serie A goals and registered 1 assist last season.
His rating from WhoScored.com fell from an impressive 7.21 in his debut season in Turin, in which he had a direct hand in 21 league goals, to just 6.70 last time out. That said, for any club on the lookout for a target man Llorente is still a real handful. Having scored a league high of 26 headed goals in his final four seasons in Spain the former Athletic Club striker notched 9 of 22 with his head in Serie A, which also represents a league record over the last two seasons in Italy’s top-flight.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings. You can follow all the scores, statistics, live player and team ratings with their new free-to-download iOS and Android app.