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From Barranquilla to Buenos Aires and across the continent, the best players who could be making the trip across the Atlantic during the upcoming transfer windows

ANALYSIS
By Daniel Edwards | South American Football Editor

Transfer windows are always a bittersweet time for the best clubs in South America, and January promises to be no different for institutions the length and breadth of the continent. The prospect of a big payday is more than welcome as European giants turn their attention to the best players in Argentina, Brazil and elsewhere, but the biannual exodus of stars also means a new rebuilding exercise for those stripped of their most talented assets.

The players mentioned below were amongst the very best performers over 2011, and could represent a great piece of business for clubs looking for a quick fix in order to improve in the second half of the season. Goal.com brings you the gems of South America who could be crossing the Atlantic Ocean within the next month.

EMILIANO ALFARO | Liverpool, Forward, 23


SEASON STATS
Appearances
12
Goals
7
Assists
0
TRANSFER FILE
Transfer value
1-2m
Interested clubs
Catania
Chance of leaving in January
70%

This talented young goalscorer looks set to leave Liverpool de Montevideo in the summer, but the only question remains over whether he stays in Uruguay or heads to the old continent. As the second-highest scorer in the Apertura, however, his options will be wide.

Alfaro has put his career back on track with the Montevideo club after a frustrating spell with San Lorenzo in neighbouring Argentina, and has been strongly linked with a move to Catania if Maxi Lopez decides to move on to AC Milan or another major club. Local giants Nacional, however, are on a high and have shown interest, and the promise of Libertadores football in 2012 could prompt the young striker into staying at home for at least another six months.

CARLOS BACCA | Junior, Forward, 25


SEASON STATS
Appearances
22
Goals
12
Assists
6
TRANSFER FILE
Transfer value
€2-3m
Interested clubs
Club Brugge
Chance of leaving in January 40%

Barranquilla institution Junior romped to the Finalizacion title in December with a final victory over Once Caldas, repeating their triumph in the first half of 2010. The undoubted star of that campaign, and the man who looks most likely to seek a new home in January, was prolific striker Bacca.

The 25-year-old notched 12 goals in 25 games for the Tiburones, giving him the top-scorer award for the league and attracting the attention of sides like Club Brugge. The Belgians and the player are determined to strike a deal, but Junior are equally set on retaining their star for the Libertadores and will fight tooth and nail against any approach.

LUIS CABALLERO | Olimpia, Forward, 21


SEASON STATS
Appearances
15
Goals
5
Assists
0
TRANSFER FILE
Transfer value
4.5m
Interested clubs
Sampdoria, Palmeiras
Chance of leaving in January 75%

After not featuring in Olimpia's plans in the first half of the season, Caballero showed why he is so highly thought of in his native country with a brilliant contribution in the club's victorious Clausura campaign. The youngster's partnership with Pablo Zeballos yielded 17 goals between the two, and bright futures beckon for both stars.

Hard-working, strong and good in the air, Caballero has emerged as a target for several clubs in January. Sampdoria would be keen to bring him to Serie A, and Hamburg have also shown an interest; while Palmeiras in Sao Paulo are keeping tabs on the 21-year-old should he elect to stay in South America.

VICTOR CACERES | Libertad, Midfielder, 26


SEASON STATS
Appearances
17
Goals
2
Assists
0
TRANSFER FILE
Transfer value
€5m
Interested clubs
From France & Russia
Chance of leaving in January 40%

This physical, tenacious defensive midfielder may not be familiar to many outside Paraguay but, to fans of the Guarani and especially Libertad, the 26-year-old is fast taking on a cult status. 'El Topo' made his professional debut at just 18 with the Asuncion club and has been a first-team fixture ever since, racking up over 160 appearances in Paraguay as well as 26 caps with the Guarani.

It seems, though, that the icon may have outgrown his first club and there will be no shortage of suitors if he is cleared to move. Several clubs in France and Russia as well as England have shown interest in taking on the imposing enforcer, but they will have to put in a big offer to tempt Libertad into a sale.

LEANDRO DAMIAO | Internacional, Forward, 22


SEASON STATS (ALL COMPS 2011)
Appearances
51
Goals
40
Assists
10
TRANSFER FILE
Transfer value
20m+
Interested clubs
Juventus, Valencia, Roma
Chance of leaving in January 50%

There is no doubt about it: amongst others, 2011 belonged to Leandro Damiao. Already enjoying a burgeoning profile at the start of the year, the physical striker was in electric form in front of goal as he hit 14 goals in the Brasileirao to add to the 17 harvested during the State Championships. There were also debut goals for the national team, not to mention a classic YouTube moment created by his exquisite 'Lambreta' trick over the head of Argentina's Emiliano Papa.

Inter are desperate to hang on to one of their most valuable talents but, with precious little money in the bank, a good enough offer could force their hand. Juventus appear one of the front-runners for the signature, but they are only at the head of a long list of suitors which includes Valencia, Roma and Villarreal, amongst others.

DEDE | Vasco, Defender, 23


SEASON STATS (ALL COMPS 2011)
Appearances
56
Goals
12
Assists
0
TRANSFER FILE
Transfer value
€10m
Interested clubs
Real Madrid, Inter
Chance of leaving in January 50%

Comparisons are thrown around cheaply in the world of football, but one in particular does not seem mere hyperbole. Hulking Vasco centre-back Dede has become Brazil's new defensive hope at the back, and the label of the 'new Lucio' do not seem to be weighing the towering youngster down.

Dede was one of the stars of an excellent 2011 campaign for Vasco, who lifted the Copa do Brasil and took Corinthians to a last-day title battle before eventually having to settle for second place. A host of Italian clubs, including Inter, have been linked with a transfer, while reports from Spain suggest that Real Madrid are looking to take the 23-year-old away. Vasco, however, want him for 2012 and will not give him up easily.

FACUNDO FERREYRA | Banfield, Forward, 20


SEASON STATS
Appearances
17
Goals
6
Assists
1
TRANSFER FILE
Transfer value
Unknown
Interested clubs
Juventus
Chance of leaving in January 60%

The 2011 Apertura was a complete disaster for Banfield, finishing rock-bottom of the league and firing two coaches in the process. One brief glimpse of light amongst so much gloom, however, was the continuing progress of their forward prospect 'Chuky' Ferreyra.

The star of Argentina's Under-20 South American Championship campaign at the start of the year, Ferreyra netted 12 times across the year and established himself as an undisputed starter, attracting attention from Italy in the process. A host of Argentine clubs want to take him from the Taladro, but president Carlos Portell will hold out for a European offer; Juventus have emerged as a favourite to take the powerful yet skilful striker.

GANSO | Santos, Midfielder, 21


SEASON STATS (ALL COMPS 2011)
Appearances
31
Goals
5
Assists
6
TRANSFER FILE
Transfer value
30m+
Interested clubs
Milan, Inter
Chance of leaving in January
40%

While Neymar has pledged his future to the Copa Libertadores holders, at least for the next three years, close friend and 'Big Brother' Ganso has yet to make the same guarantees. For now the talented No. 10 has refused to commit himself, and the right offer could see him leave his boyhood club for one of Europe's most illustrious teams.

He will not come cheap; Santos have the financial muscle and support from investors to hold out for a big sum of money, meaning the €20 million reportedly offered by Milan could prove insufficient. Barcelona and Real Madrid have also been linked after seeing moves for Neymar rebuffed and, despite a 2011 disrupted by injury, there is no doubt that Ganso has what it takes to succeed on the highest stage.

TEO GUTIERREZ | Racing Club, Forward, 26


SEASON STATS
Appearances
15
Goals
6
Assists
0
TRANSFER FILE
Transfer value
7-9m
Interested clubs
Porto, Atletico Madrid
Chance of leaving in January
75%

The talent of this Colombian in finding the net is matched only by his propensity to make headlines, for good and bad reasons. Teo was rescued from an unhappy spell in Turkey by Racing at the start of 2011, and responded by netting 17 times over the year and helping the club to second place in the Apertura.

There was controversy too, including two sendings-off and countless media clashes, and the striker's inner circle insist that he will not be coming back to La Academia. Boca and River had approaches summarily dismissed, leaving a move to Spain or Portugal most likely; but new coach Alfio Basile will make a last-ditch attempt to keep the man he believes can fire Racing to glory in 2012.

EDUARDO VARGAS | Uni. de Chile, Forward, 22


SEASON STATS
Appearances
28
Goals
12
Assists
1
TRANSFER FILE
Transfer value
13.5m
Interested clubs
Inter, Napoli
Chance of leaving in January
99%

No player made as many headlines in 2011 as this wonderfully-talented Azul star, and his presence helped Jorge Sampaoli's team to a year to remember both domestically and internationally. His record-breaking 11 goals led Universidad to the Copa Sudamericana title, and similarly-impressive performances in the club's Apertura and Clausura triumphs made a transfer inevitable.

His move is assured, with only the destination holding the faintest doubt. Napoli have an agreement with the player and need only to iron out a few details before confirming him as their latest South American recruit. There are still some issues to resolve, however, and Inter are watching intently should the transfer collapse at the final hurdle.

Additional reporting by Carl Worswick, Nicholas Rosano and Ralph Hannah

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