While we all await the release of next season’s fixtures, our first glimpse of the new kit and the identity of those two players Mehmet Dalman supposedly signed off about a month ago, we are left to ponder potential transfer targets and the sorts of players that could make a significant difference.
Focussing on the top end of the pitch, here are four that appeal, could be attainable and would certainly be enjoyable to watch.
Reiss Nelson was once the one. He was the young tyro that people talked about in hushed tones when they discussed his potential. Along with Jadon Sancho, he was top of every class and destined for great things. We all know what happened with Sancho, but Nelson… not so much.
Still only 21, the Arsenal prospect has been in and around the first team since 2017. Nelson spent the 2018-19 season at Hoffenheim and impressed, but since returning, his development seems to have stagnated. He actually played more in the Bundesliga than he has in total for Arsenal.
Nelson plays mainly on the right wing, but has featured in every attacking role at some point. He has another couple of years on his contract, but while younger players start to overtake him, its time for him to step up. He may prove out of Cardiff’s reach, but as Emile Smith Rowe has proved, sometimes you have to drop down to the Championship in order to find some momentum.
Cardiff used to be blessed with an abundance of adaptable wingers, but that is no longer the case, so Nelson would but an ideal temporary fix.
Not many young footballers have the grounding of Ian Poveda, who spent his youth career at the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Barcelona, Brentford and Manchester City. He is currently impressing with bright cameos for Marcelo Bielsa’s demanding Leeds United side.
Poveda is a baller. A street player, with grit to match his tricks. Leeds use him as an impact sub, to come on and make a difference when legs begin to tire. Like Nelson, Poveda is 21, can play off either wing and the diminutive schemer is looking to make his breakthrough. Leeds appear to be fiercely ambitious and you can expect more signings this summer, which may relegate Poveda further down their pecking order.
The reason Poveda appeals is because he is just about the closest thing you will find to a young Lee Tomlin. He’s the same sort of enigmatic scrapper that will try things that others won’t and can fashion something out of nothing. If Tomlin’s fitness cannot be relied upon, but Cardiff still need a Tomlin type to dig them out of a whole every now and then, Poveda could be just the man.
Izzy Brown is just the sort of player Cardiff should be looking to sign. A little bit further down the line than Nelson and Poveda, Brown is at the same stage of his career as Harry Wilson and Sheyi Ojo. Now 24, he has bounced around on loan indefinitely and now needs to find a suitable home to establish some roots and fulfil his undoubted potential.
Having passed through West Brom, Vitesse, Rotherham, Huddersfield, Brighton, Leeds, Luton and Sheffield Wednesday, the Chelsea prospect was released in the summer and currently a free agent. A standout in Chelsea’s all-conquering youth side, the versatile attacking midfielder, who favours playing as a number 10, is the sort of player that would ordinarily be out of Cardiff’s price range.
They may not be able to afford to sign Wilson or Ojo, but Brown’s price is right and he may prove a shrewd signing for someone.
Slightly younger than the others is Everton’s Anthony Gordon, a ferocious left winger, rich in potential. So much so, that Carlo Ancelotti saw fit to award the 20-year-old a new five-year deal last season, and he knows a player when he sees one. Having made his debut at 16 in the Europa League, Ancelotti gave Gordon his league debut, throwing him in to a Merseyside debut. Very much sink or swim, but Gordon impressed.
He spent the second half of last season on loan at Preston and is sure to head out on loan once again. Like Nelson, Poveda and Brown, Gordon has represented England at every youth level, but Gordon also qualifies for Scotland and Republic of Ireland, so a tug of war is on the horizon.
He is one of those players that is hungry and on the cusp of a breakthrough. Cardiff is finally the sort of club where someone like Gordon would find likeminded players and an environment where he could mature and thrive.