the activity of looking at the goods displayed in shop windows, especially without intending to buy anything.
Shopping for the perfect holiday gifts for friends and loved ones can be a blast, especially when you know exactly what you want to get for them, but sometimes it's just as fun to look around at all the wonderful wares on display, even if you may not have the money to afford them or the perfect person to give them to. So, as we approach the holidays, I've planned out a series of posts of some players who would make fantastic gifts for your fantasy teams if they managed to be snatched up by a Premier League team this January.
I've tried to be as realistic as possible with these potential transfers, so you won't be seeing the likes of Manuel Neuer, Thiago Silva, Gareth Bale or Lionel Messi on the shopping list over the next couple weeks. Nor are you likely to find too many team captains, players who have recently joined a new club, or players with more than 3 years left on their current contracts.
What you will find, though, are some players who could be snapped up for a fairly reasonable price should the transfer committees and scouts for English clubs go looking for a shiny new gift to present to their fans for the new year. Not all of these players have been linked to Premier League clubs, or even targeted in the tabloids for a move away from their current clubs; they're just some players I found window shopping for my own fantasy team.
Obviously, a lot of the fantasy production for goalkeepers is dependent upon results and a poor defensive setup can make even the best goalkeepers a nightmare to have in your starting eleven, but a great goalkeeper can keep his team in a game and put up massive numbers in the process (look no further than David De Gea's man-of-the-match performance against Liverpool this weekend).
Here are 5 goalkeepers I think you'd love to have the option to pick up for your teams when Thibaut Courtois gets injured or Lukasz Fabianski gets suspended or Fraser Forster loses four matches in a row. These men all have the qualities you look for in a top-flight keeper and would be valuable additions to an already incredible stable of options between the posts in the Premier League.
The former Barcelona number one has been out of contract since the summer, and multiple sources had him heading to Liverpool to provide competition for Simon Mignolet (how they could have used that!). Coming off of an injury to his ACL in March may have prevented the Reds from signing the veteran goalkeeper before the end of the summer transfer window as the Merseyside club were cautious from a health standpoint in their transfer dealings (see: Loic Remy).
In October, Manchester United offered the Spanish stopper the opportunity to rehabilitate from his injury with their squad. He's been training with the team ever since, so a free transfer to the Red Devils seems only a matter of time, and Valdes would be a useful addition to provide backup to the excellent David De Gea. You can't help but think he'd be the starter at Liverpool, though, so maybe there's some crazy last-minute deal to go through. Christmas miracles happen, right?
Currently playing his club football in Serie A for Fiorentina, the Brazilian keeper only has six months remaining on his current contract, so the Viola could look to cash in next month if they're unable to reach an agreement with the 25-year-old. With seven clean sheets and only 11 goals conceded in 14 starts this season, the shot-stopper has seen his stock rise significantly and is entering the conversation of players earmarked for a January move by top scouts throughout Europe. Liverpool have been rumored to have shown interest, though given his potential to produce blunders like the one below, perhaps they'd be better off sticking with Brad Jones:
All jokes aside, though, there is a lot to like about the youngster (in goalkeeping terms) and he'd make a great addition either as a backup for a top club or a potential starter for mid-table sides in need of some competition for their current keepers.
A former Manchester United youth and reserve player, the German-born keeper returned home to play for Hannover 96 in 2010 and has held the starting role since his Bundesliga debut in January 2011. The 25-year-old has also worked his way up the pecking order for the national team set up, earning a call up to the senior squad for the 2014 World Cup.
Hannover will be hesitant to let the talented keeper go and have tied him down to a contract until 2017, but there are sure to be plenty of suitors lining up for the German's services, and for the right price he could be on his way back to the Premier League. A team like Everton who don't have a great backup for the aging Tim Howard would do very well to pick him up.
One of the top young goalkeeping prospects right now, the Genoa keeper is having an excellent season in Serie A, and is still only 22 years old. The Italian youngster has kept six clean sheets in 15 league starts for a surprisingly solid Genoa squad, and his performances have attracted interest from abroad, chiefly Liverpool, who are looking for someone to challenge the increasingly shaky Simon Mignolet and never-quite-good-enough Brad Jones.
A rumored £12m price tag is high enough to suggest he'd be coming in as the starter as the Reds look to get their season back on track. As tends to be the case with the transfer window, though, any player linked with Liverpool is likely to have at least two or three other clubs hovering around, and it wouldn't be surprising to see other European clubs throwing their hats in the ring.
If you were around to watch the World Cup this summer, you're well aware of Mexico's best player from the tournament. 'Memo' Ochoa produced some of the finest goalkeeping performances in recent memory for El Tri in Brazil this summer, and rumors swirled around in the summer about how he was out of contract and unattached to any clubs heading into the 2014/15 season. Spanish club Malaga signed the 29-year-old in the summer, but has been kept firmly planted on the bench due to the excellent form of Carlos Kameni.
There are plenty of Premier League clubs who would do well to secure the services of the acrobatic keeper in January, and given their current injury woes a club like Newcastle seems like a great fit while Tim Krul works on his fitness after his ankle injury. The Magpies are lacking high-quality competition for their Dutch number one even when he does make his return, as Rob Elliot has never been starting quality and Jak Alnwick is still a couple years away from being ready to start consistently in the top flight.
I'll be back soon with another Window Shopping post dedicated to defenders who could rival Ryan Bertrand, Kieran Trippier and Leighton Baines in terms of fantasy production. Until then, be sure to answer the question below and let us know your thoughts in the comments!