Villas-Boas, Sanchez, Sahin & 10 stars to leave smaller clubs set for the big stage

Goal.com compiles a list of players and coaches who have left, or set to leave, a promising project at a smaller club this summer
FEATURE
By Stephen Crawford

Despite being in the midst of a global recession, football clubs have managed to continue throwing copious amounts of cash around during transfer season. This sort of free spending has seen team loyalty fall and wage offers increase, highlighting the fact that football is ultimately big business.

Goal.com have put together a list of 10 players and coaches who have this summer left – or are odds on to depart – a promising project at a smaller club for the lure of better wages or similar elsewhere. Be it moving on from a recently promoted side, or team-hopping just after achieving Champions League qualification, we run through some footballing figures who are sure to leave a significant void in their team from 2010-11.


Here is our list of 10, in alphabetical order...

YOHAN CABAYE (Lille)
A player with natural talent in abundance, Cabaye spent seven years honing his skills at Lille before finally earning the praise he deserved as a more than competent box-to-box midfielder. Winning Ligue 1 was Cabaye's passport to Europe, but he instead opted to jump the channel to England, taking up residence at Newcastle – a club that has flattered to deceive in the EPL since their recent return from the Championship.

Perhaps Cabaye has moved to a stronger league to put himself in the shop window, but is there any storefront brighter than the Champions League?


ANTONIO CONTE (Siena)

A somewhat strange story, Conte was in a similar situation he finds himself in now back in 2009. Having guided Bari to promotion to Serie A, the former midfielder was tipped to take over at Juventus, but the Old Lady eventually hired Ciro Ferrara instead. This year he has repeated the feat with Siena, and Juve returned to Conte for his skills as a tactician, this time entrusting him with the post.

Tipped to return the former giants to their previous glory in the 'new era' of football at Stadio delle Alpi, big things are expected of the 41-year-old.


GERVINHO (Lille)

Another of Lille's outbound transfers, the winger has seen his popularity soar in recent seasons due to his dynamic contributions in Ligue 1, and with only one year left on his contract with the current French champions, it is no surprise that the 24-year-old is considering his future. But, unlike Cabaye, Gervinho is looking likely to move from one Champions League team to another in the form of Arsenal.

If the exciting attacker's transfer to London does go ahead, it will be a major loss for Lille, but a progressive career move for the Ivory Coast international.


GOKHAN INLER (Udinese)

Part of the young Udinese team that performed so well to finish fourth in Serie A and qualify for the Champions League, Inler is just one of the many names tipped to move on during transfer season. Juventus and Napoli seem to top the list of contenders for the midfielder's signature, but the rumour mill appears to suggest Naples is more likely than Turin as it stands.

Having already worn the captain's armband for national side Switzerland, at only 26 years of age, whichever team Inler eventually chooses will gain a tremendous asset.


NURI SAHIN (Borussia Dortmund)

Sahin was selected in Goal.com's Bundesliga Team of the Year due to his mercurial, string-pulling displays at Dortmund last season. His ability to dictate matches earned him the plaudits of his peers the world over, and he would have been integral to BVB in their Champions League campaign next year.

Unfortunately for Jurgen Klopp's side, Sahin signed a six-year contract with Real Madrid, stating that the incentive playing under Jose Mourinho and representing such a prestigious club proved too tempting to turn down.


ALEXIS SANCHEZ (Udinese)

Originally loaned out for two years following his signing in 2006, Sanchez has been performing for Udinese since 2008, learning his trade and climbing the ranks at the Italian club in the process. He has developed into a world-renowned talent in the past 12 months, but appears to be on the way out of of the young, burgeoning Friuli-based side that punched above their weight in Italy's top-flight last term.

And while Manchester City still seem on the winger's signature, Sanchez himself has confessed that he would prefer to be donning the colours of Barcelona at the beginning of next season.


ADEL TAARABT (QPR)

The undoubted star of Neil Warnock's freshly promoted QPR side, Taarabt's future has been the subject of much speculation even before his club had booked their place in the English Premier League. Lazio, Arsenal and Chelsea are among the plethora of teams reported to be interested in the Moroccan's services – and the player himself has expressed interest in a move elsewhere due to a contract dispute.

However, Taarabt has also claimed he is happy amongst Warnock's charges, and it remains to be seen whether he will stay at the club as they begin their EPL adventure.


ARTURO VIDAL (Bayer Leverkusen)

Despite achieving automatic qualification into the Champions League with Bayer Leverkusen after finishing second in the Bundesliga, the 24-year-old has publicly announced his desire to leave the club for rivals Bayern Munich.

Providing much steel in the centre of the pitch, the Chilean's skills do not lie only in defence; Vidal recorded a total of 13 goals and 12 assists in all competitions over the 2010-11 season, meaning he will be sorely missed if the club to allow him to follow former Bayer coach Jupp Heynckes to the Allianz Arena.


ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS (Porto)

After becoming the youngest coach in history to win a European title, finishing the Portuguese season unbeaten and lifting a domestic cup, Villas-Boas' name was at the head of the shortlist for all major clubs searching for a new boss. The tactician appeared to have it all: Champions League qualification, and a revered squad capable of upsetting some of the continent's more conventional names.

But, as we all now know, the coach handed in his resignation and his buyout clause has been paid; English giants Chelsea have secured the services of the emerging talent.


CRISTIAN ZAPATA (Udinese)

At only 24-years-old, Zapata has been honing his defensive skills in Serie A since 2005. An able centre-back, the Colombian is comfortable on either side of the back-line, and proficient with both feet - Udinese stand to lose a considerable asset if Zapata moves on this summer.

Links with Bayern Munich were well received by the player, but he has said openly that he craves a move to Liverpool, and it appears as though the move may materialise before the window is closed.


So there you have it, our list of players who have jumped ship. Do you think we've missed anyone out? Then why not leave us a message in the comment box below...

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