The vast array of attacking talent set to move across Europe this summer is beyond comprehension. Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez and Robert Lewandowski have all been subject to intense speculation regarding their future, while Radamel Falcao and Neymar have already secured big money switches to Monaco and Barcelona, respectively.
There are strikers around the world set to swap their team colours before the transfer window slams shut at the end of August and for vast sums of cash. One of those tipped to move on now that the campaign is over is Valencia frontman Roberto Soldado following another prolific season in the Primera Division.
The Spaniard netted 24 league goals for Los Che this year as Valencia narrowly missed out on a place in the Champions League; Real Sociedad securing the coveted fourth place by a solitary point. Not being handed the opportunity to compete amongst Europe’s elite next season will likely see rumours hastily circulate surrounding a potential move away from the Mestalla Stadium.
Understandably, there is no shortage of potential suitors for Soldado following his impressive time in La Liga. Over his three full seasons with Valencia, the 28-year-old has netted 59 of their 190 league goals - an impressive goal contribution of 31%, a figure over the same period in La Liga only bettered by Lionel Messi (39%), Cristiano Ronaldo (37%) and Álvaro Negredo (35%).
Particularly given the lack of Champions League football, Valencia will be loathe to losing another of their key assets. Soldado’s goals have continuously kept the club punching well above its weight, with Los Che securing a top three spot for three consecutive years prior to their fifth placed finish this season.
This came in a period when the La Liga outfit sold off a number of regular starters, including David Villa, David Silva and Juan Mata in order to ease their financial concerns. Nevertheless, Soldado has continuously showcased his striking talents despite being consistently overshadowed by the likes of Messi and Ronaldo.
While he may not have been able to fire Valencia back into the Champions League, the previous campaign was his best in terms of goals since signing from Getafe. On top of that, this season the club scored more goals per game (1.88) with Soldado in the starting XI than they did in either of his other seasons at the Mestalla.
The list of admirers across Europe is supposedly growing with each passing campaign and for good reason. His 24 goals for the club saw only four players net more - Messi (46), Ronaldo (34), Radamel Falcao (28) and Negredo (25) - in the Primera Division. Perhaps pertinently, Soldado scored all 24 of his goals in La Liga this season from in the penalty area, while he also had the most shots blocked (4) inside the six yard box, pointing towards his attacking threat in front of goal. His goalscoring capabilities will likely appeal to teams across Europe looking to add a striker that is confident in the 18 yard box, a facet of the Spaniard’s game that he evidently excels in.
Furthermore, in netting 10 of his 24 goals in the final eight games of the season - failing only to score in the 1-0 victory over Getafe - Soldado is a striker that appears to thrive under pressure, with Valencia at the time in the hunt for a Champions League berth. With the player himself hinting at a move abroad this summer, interest from the Premier League in particular is said to be high; Everton one of those believed to be in the hunt for the frontman.
A poor campaign from Nikica Jelavic and Victor Anichebe has new manager Roberto Martinez supposedly toothcombing his way through his list of potential arrivals and with only Liverpool (151) and Manchester City (146) seeing more shots fail to hit the target than Everton (143) in the Premier League this year, interest in Soldado comes as little surprise.
With Jelavic (36) and Anichebe (18) combining to contribute 37.8% of those 143 chances that failed to hit the target for Everton, the former boasts an in-the-box conversion rate of just 9.1% and the latter 12.5%. Soldado, in comparison, netted 26.7% of his chances inside the penalty area. In addition, 19 of his 24 strikes being from his right foot; no player netted more with their right peg in Europe's top five leagues this season, while five of those 24 came from the penalty spot, the Spaniard netting 100% of his efforts from 12 yards.
Moreover, having regularly operated as the lone frontman for Valencia this season, coupled with Martinez’s insistence on a 3-4-3 during his time with Wigan, it will undoubtedly benefit both parties, especially with Soldado as the focal point of the team and his ability to consistently find the back of the net in and around the 18 yard box.
Boasting a WhoScored.com strength of finishing, Soldado and Everton would make an ideal pairing in the Premier League, with one of the Merseyside outfits weaknesses being the inability to finish scoring chances. With Jelavic and Anichebe proving insufficient to propel to Toffees into the Champions League themselves, Martinez will likely be keen to get his fellow Spaniard onto Merseyside.
Either way, if Everton can convince the Spaniard that his future lies with them, it will be an impressive coup for the club. Soldado is indisputably one of the most prolific strikers in football at present and while the Toffees may not be plying their trade in Europe next season, the need to land a frontman who can consistently find the net on a regular basis could see them firm up their interest in the Valencia ace and look to convince him to sign on at Goodison Park.