Window of discontent

Posted by Michael Wade

Amidst all the furore surrounding the transfers of Gareth Bale, Mesut Ozil and Marouane Fellaini we find a group of players who may soon find they wished they had moved clubs, too. Most are men who must face up to the frustration of months on the bench, biding their time while waiting for the opportunity to find first-team football elsewhere. Or in the case of one player, the chance to move on has escaped him again, as has Champions League football. ESPN FC profiles the international players who could be left kicking their heels ahead of next summer's World Cup.

Angel Di Maria:
The subject of interest from Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain, Angel Di Maria is just one of the Real Madrid players whose place in Carlo Ancelotti's team looks to be under threat following the glut of midfield arrivals, and in particular Gareth Bale. Kaka and Ozil have already become casualties of the changing guard at the Bernabeu and it is likely in the coming months that Di Maria may wish he joined them in trying their luck elsewhere. Real were reportedly convinced to keep the Argentina international at the behest of Cristiano Ronaldo, who was repaid in part on Sunday when Di Maria assisted his first goal of the campaign. As a central figure for Argentina, leading the country's assist chart in the current World Cup qualifying campaign, Di Maria may be tempted to reassess his situation in January if he finds himself nudged out of the picture by Los Blancos' latest galactico.

Julio Cesar:
One of the more surprising players not to get a move during the transfer window, Julio Cesar was widely expected to be part of the Queens Park Rangers exodus following their relegation to the Championship. Rangers manager Harry Redknapp even said that he was bemused at the lack of interest in the Brazil international after installing Rob Green as his first-choice goalkeeper on the assumption that Cesar would be snapped up by Arsenal, Napoli or another major European club. With the prospect of a World Cup on home turf next summer, the former Inter Milan goalkeeper played it cool, claiming he would happily remain with QPR in the Championship. It is unlikely he ever thought it would come to that, though.

Iker Casillas is enduring a tough time at Real Madrid.
GettyImagesIker Casillas is enduring a tough time at Real Madrid.

Iker Casillas:
Jose Mourinho's reign of terror at Real Madrid may be over, but for one Bernabeu stalwart, his legacy lives on. Iker Casillas, the five-time La Liga winner, two-time Champions League winner and club legend still can't earn a place in the starting XI. Deposed by Diego Lopez during the 2012-13 campaign, it was widely assumed that he would begin afresh under Carlo Ancelotti. Apparently not. Casillas has been an unused substitute during all three of Real's La Liga games thus far, leading former manager Bernd Schuster to suggest the Spain international could be forced to consider a move in order to safeguard his place in the team as La Roja embark on the defence of their World Cup title in Brazil next summer. A move didn't come, and with Real enjoying a perfect start to the league campaign, regular shots of Casillas looking frustrated on the bench look set to continue.

Daniele de Rossi:
Linked with Manchester United and Chelsea, Daniele de Rossi opted to continue with his hometown club despite a lack of European football and any prospect of a serious title challenge appearing extremely remote. It is a new start for Roma under Rudi Garcia, something signalled by the wholesale changes to the playing staff this summer and De Rossi, 30, could easily have been forgiven for moving elsewhere in search of the honours his talent deserves. That he remained committed to Roma could prove to be a mistake, but the door is not closed on a departure down the line, especially if he inspires an average Roma side to punch above their weight. He will also be free to play in the Champions League after Christmas for another team.

Shinji Kagawa:
After recovering from a knee ligament injury, which restricted him to just 27 appearances in all competitions last season, Shinji Kagawa began to show signs of fulfilling the potential which impressed Sir Alex Ferguson and led the Scot to sign him on a four-year contract in 2012. However, the arrival of David Moyes has surprisingly limited the playmaker's first-team opportunities at a time when his talent for unlocking defences is needed most and he has played only eight minutes as a substitute in the Community Shield against Wigan this season. The fact that Borussia Dortmund remain keen on his return speaks volumes about how highly he is regarded, but the player is unlikely to agitate for a move. Moyes should make good use of his talent while he still has the chance.

Juan Mata:
Chelsea's two-time Player of the Year faces an uncertain future. Linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge after playing a paltry 64 minutes this season, a last-minute move to Paris Saint-Germain didn't materialise, while links to other Premier League clubs came to nothing. Since the latest change of management at the club, Mata has fallen behind Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Andre Schurrle and Oscar in the pecking order, a group of players Jose Mourinho affectionately refers to as "babies," indicating they may remain in favour for some time. At face value, assurances about his place at the club have been kind, with Mourinho claiming that Mata remained "a very important player for us." However, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque is not shy when it comes to making hard decisions and has omitted the player from his latest squad. Unless his situation improves, Mata could become the first big-name casualty of Mourinho's second spell at Chelsea.

Jermain Defoe:
Tottenham's summer business included the arrival of seven players from overseas and the departure of six Englishmen as former England assistant manager and Spurs' newly appointed director of football Franco Baldini delivered his verdict on the country's homegrown talent with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. As if that wasn't enough of a bad omen for Jermain Defoe, the striker has managed less than 45 minutes of football in the club's first three Premier League games of the campaign, hinting at an extended spell on the periphery. For Andre Villas-Boas, it is undoubtedly invaluable to have a player with Defoe's goal-scoring instincts on the substitutes' bench as he attempts to establish Tottenham among English football's hierarchy. But at the age of 30, and in a World Cup season, it is unlikely that Defoe will be best pleased with his new role of "impact sub."

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