The post-Bosman age of contractual freedom has made it much harder for the smaller European teams to hold onto their best players. In the case of German champions Borussia Dortmund, however, the fact that it succeeded with the youngest ever side now rather than, say, 20, years ago, actually works in its favor. In those days, every half-decent Germany player was snapped up instantly by Serie A clubs and Jürgen Klopp's side would have been dismantled in the time it takes to drink an espresso. But the Bundesliga's newfound prosperity has stopped the migration across the Alps in recent years. The crème of young German talent will only move to a handful of European super-clubs now, and for that reason alone it is unlikely that Borussia's brave young squad will suffer too much hemorrhage. It's therefore safe to disregard the "Mario Götze to Arsenal" or "Neven Subotic to Chelsea" rumors that will abound this summer. But some -- almost exclusively foreign -- players will still be on the move, of course.
Here are, in no specific order, the stars who could be gone by the time the Bundesliga kicks off again in August:
Price: €15 million ($21.9M)
Interested clubs: Blackburn Rovers, Fulham, Newcastle, Arsenal.
Cissé, a classic, powerful center forward has been one of the surprise stars of the Bundesliga in 2010/11. The Senegalese striker, 26 this week, scored 22 goals for modest SC Freiburg -- only Mario Gomez (Bayern, 28 goals) was more prolific and came close to moving to VfL Wolfsburg in the wake of Edin Dzeko's move to Manchester City. Cissé's style is even more suited to the Premier League, however. The former Metz forward would be happy to go to England -- "it's a dream for me," he said to reporters -- but knows that Freiburg will try to extract maximum value.
An €8 million ($11.7M) offer from Blackburn has already been turned down by sporting director Dirk Dufner, who wants to make sure Freiburg will have plenty of time to line up a suitable replacement. "No one has offered the sum required yet," Duffner told Bild. "And if it happens too late in the (pre-) season, he will have to stay." Chances are, however, that he can be seen muscling his way past Premier League defenders in a few months' time.
Price: €7 million ($10.2M)
Interested clubs: Blackburn, Fulham, Everton
The Ivorian signed a contract extension (until 2014) in December but Hannover will be hard pressed to keep its prize asset in the face of a serious offer. The Ivorian, a trialist at Charlton Athletic in 2006, has been the key to 96's counterattacking play and helped the team to its best-ever Bundesliga season with 14 goals in 28 games. He's fast, strong, and technically adept to adjust his style. "I'm very happy with my season," he told FIFA.com. "I feel like I've progressed and reached a new level. I beat my own personal goals record too, which is always pleasing for an attacking player like myself." Ya Konan, 27, was bought for €500 000 ($732,000) from Rosenborg two years ago and has blossomed at the AWD-Arena. Hannover's qualification for the Europa League -- they came fourth in the league -- might just enable the Lower Saxons to hold on to the Abidjan-born attacker.
Price: €5 million ($7.3M)
Interested clubs: Dinamo Kiev, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St. Petersburg
Louis van Gaal mostly used the Ukrainian veteran as a center back last season. Tymoschuk, a model professional, was happy to help out in defense, with mixed results, but his opportunities in midfield look numbered again next year, especially if new manager Jupp Heynckes gets his wish and brings in Arturo Vidal from Bayer Leverkusen. Tymoschuk only remained at the Allianz Arena for private reasons when offers came in January. "Munich feels like home," he said at the time. Bayern, though, wouldn't mind recouping a little bit of the $12M it spent on the 32-year-old in 2009. He never lived up to his billing as the "new Stefan Effenberg" in Bavaria but could still do a job as defensive shield for the back four, especially at a team who play with less possession.
Price: €15 million
Interested clubs: Santos, Botafogo, Atletico Madrid.
The diminutive Brazilian has it all: vision, skill, an eye for goal and the uncanny ability to play the killer ball. The former Santos player, who made it as a professional alongside Robinho, had three fantastic years with Werder Bremen before a move to Juventus backfired. The step back to Wolfsburg was supposed to resurrect his career but a dramatic last day of the season fallout with manager Felix Magath, who's threatened to banish him to the reserves has put his future in doubt. In terms of sheer ability, the 26-year-old could play at almost any club at the world. He's been hampered by his ego, however, and any club wishing to employ his expensive services will have to build the team around him. Like Rafael van der Vaart, he's not great at tracking back and works best as a No. 10 behind two strikers or in a free-roving Wayne Rooney-type role. "We're monitoring his case and our representatives in Europe are in constant contact with him," said Botafogo president Luis Alvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro. Diego's wages -- estimated at €9 million ($13.1M) -- might prove prohibitive.
Price: €7 million
Interested clubs: Juventus, Newcastle, Blackburn, Sevilla, Stuttgart, Tottenham
Petric's stock is not as high as in 2007/08, when his excellent performances with club and country (Croatia, conquerors of Steve McClaren's England) saw him linked with the crème de la crème of European football. But the fact that he's only got one year left on his contract makes him a relatively cheap and interesting proposition. A first meeting with new sporting director Frank Arnesen has proved inconclusive. While Arnesen has expressed a willingness to extend the shadow striker's deal, his agent Volker Strüth has picked up different vibes. "From my experiences, things are handled differently when a club is determined to keep a player," said Strüth. Petric would suit a technical side, preferably in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 behind a more orthodox forward.
Price: €15 million+
Interested clubs: Bayern Munich, Napoli, Chelsea
"Napoli offered a sum that was not worth talking about," scoffed Bayer CEO Wolfgang Holzhäuser last week. Apparently, the Italians suggested spending little more than €6 million ($8.7M), a figure that was easily turned down in light of Leverkusen's qualification for the Champions League.The runners-up in the Bundesliga are nevertheless in a difficult spot: Vidal, the club's outstanding performer last season, is out of contract in 2012 and unwilling to extend his current deal. Sporting director Rudi Völler has stressed the importance of keeping the Chilean box-to-box tyro -- "we want to make the Champions League again next year, Vidal is crucial to us" but can't disregard the case for cashing in. Vidal himself has openly declared his intention to go to Bayern. "Munich is a beautiful city and Bayern is one of the best clubs in Europe," said the 24-year-old midfielder to reporters. Leverkusen have insisted that he won't move to Bayern, it would much prefer to sell him abroad. Chelsea is said to have made some tentative inquiries not long ago. The Bavarian's tried and trusted formula of paying well over the odds for players they really want might yet see this one go through though.
Price: €15 million
Interested clubs: Zenit St. Petersburg, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bayern
Every blessing tends to be a bit of curse for Bayer, who has traditionally seen its best players picked off as soon as they come onto the European radar. Brazilian attacking midfielder Renato Augusto was another stellar performer last season, and it was only a matter of time before the scouts started calling. The 23-year-old has reduced the returning Michael Ballack to a bit-player at the Bay-Arena: he marries great technique with considerable physical strength and aggression, and can play almost anywhere. February brought his first cap with Brazil in a friendly against France. Fortunately for Bayer, his contract runs until 2014 but you can expect one or two clubs trying to turn his head before the summer is over. He'd be worth the considerable outlay, that's for sure.
Price: €4 million ($5.8M)
Interested clubs: Newcastle, Aston Villa, Atletico Madrid
Barnetta was supposed to be Switzerland's star performer at the 2010 World Cup but the winger never got going in South Africa. His fortunes at club level took a further dive when the 26-year-old picked up a knee injury in January. On his return to fitness, Barnetta all of a sudden found himself crowded out in Bayer's brilliant midfield. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is expected to follow up his advances from the winter break with an offer this summer. Barnetta, out of contract in 2012, might well jump at the opportunity for a change of scenery after seven years at the BayArena.
Price: €3 million ($4.3M)
Interested clubs: 1. FC Köln, Liverpool
"He wants to go", Pitroipa's agent Nick Neururer told MoPo recently. "He wants to play football, not sit on the bench or in the stands. He needs to play for a club that has confidence in him." Hamburg and coach Michael Oenning seem to have lost confidence in the abilities of the 25-year-old from Burkina Faso. A shame, really: few wide midfielders/wingers in the German top flight are as good on the ball in full flight. Pitroipa has lacked consistency, however, and would probably benefit from some intense training ground on his final delivery. Hamburg are eager to sell.
Price: €15 million
Interested clubs: Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, AS Roma, AC Milan
Marin has endured a difficult season along with most of his teammates at Werder Bremen: the Northerners spent a good part of the year fighting against relegation. Marin, 22, couldn't quite live up to his "German Messi" tag in the process, and he is yet to hold down a regular place in the German national team. The upside, however, is considerable. Out wide, he can be more direct and effective than Mesut Özil, and playing with better players will surely take him to a new level. Bild reported that a €10 million ($14.6M) offer from Liverpool was turned down in May. But that was surely just the beginning of this particular saga. "My agent has told me that Liverpool and Spurs have been in touch, it's very flattering," said the son of Bosnian Serbs who immigrated in 1991. He's got two years left on his contract but missing out on Europe will make Werder more amenable to a sale. For the right price, naturally.