After being relegated from the Premier League with Huddersfield Town this season, a host of names in the top flight are said to be touting the services of Aaron Mooy.
The 28-year-old rose to prominence on the English scene with a standout season in the Championship season with the Terriers, guiding them to promotion via the playoffs while on loan from Manchester City.
Watford and Southampton have recently been added to a list of Premier League teams chasing the Australian midfielder, with West Ham and Newcastle originally rumoured to be front-runners to sign the former Melbourne City man.
Each of these four teams provides an interesting proposition for Mooy as he reaches a crucial stage in his career, but which is the best landing spot for the Socceroos’ golden boy?
In Javi Gracia’s first season at Vicarage Road, the Hornets showed fantastic development, and even occupied a top four place after winning each of their first four games last season before competing in the FA Cup final this month.
From there however, Watford struggled mightily for consistency, losing their last three games on their way to finishing just two points shy of the top half in 11th place.
Mooy could fit seamlessly into the heart of midfield, but would face a tough task breaking in past stalwarts Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue.
Will Hughes also impressed in his debut season in the Premier League having signed from Derby County, but Mooy has more than enough quality to rival these names in the centre of the pitch.
Playing behind Watford’s exciting attacking line-up boasting the likes of Gerard Deulofeu, captain Troy Deeney and Roberto Pereyra would be fantastic for Mooy, whose range of passing and forward-thinking play would complement those stars and help to create chances for the side.
Gracia has proven himself to have the tactical acumen to be very competitive with Watford in the Premier League, and having Mooy in his side could help his side along even further.
This is perhaps the option that seems least desirable given the form of the Saints in the last couple of seasons, but one that could well be Mooy’s best bet given the promise the club showed at the end of the season.
When Mark Hughes was relieved of his duties and replaced by former RB Leipzig boss Ralph Hasenhuttl, the mood at St. Mary’s quickly lifted as the Austrian hauled the club out of the relegation zone in a run that saw them beat Arsenal and Tottenham as their home form dramatically improved.
They have built a fantastic young team with the likes of Yan Valery, Jan Bednarek and Angus Gunn impressing, while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and James Ward-Prowse, 23 and 24 respectively, brought creativity and sturdiness to the midfield.
With Mooy playing alongside those two and feeding balls into the pace of Nathan Redmond, Shane Long and Danny Ings, Southampton could rise up the table and challenge in the top half again, and the Australian could become a key part of Hasenhuttl’s Saints revival.
After a stuttering start, Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham went from strength to strength last season and could do with a midfield shake-up as they aim to challenge for European football once again.
Jack Wilshere was brought in at the beginning of the campaign and was unable to find the form that saw him rise to prominence at Arsenal, while the creativity of Manuel Lanzini through the middle was sorely missed while he nursed an ACL injury that kept him out of the World Cup.
Declan Rice earned a first England call-up during a breakout year, while Pedro Obiang and Carlos Sanchez provide depth through the middle.
Marko Arnautovic and Michail Antonio battled consistency in front of goal as they lacked consistent service from an at times one-dimensional midfield that could be spiced up with the introduction of Huddersfield’s star man.
His ability to be a playmaker operating in a deeper position or shuttling from box to box would allow Lanzini to be better used further advanced behind the strikers and provide a tick to the Hammers midfield that has been missing of late.
Immediately what is appealing about playing for the Magpies is the potential to play under Rafa Benitez, a manager of the highest calibre with a Champions League in his list of career honours.
The Spaniard masterminded a superb season at St.James’ Park, finishing in 13th place on 45 points, defying even his own expectations that the club could face relegation at season’s end.
With Jonjo Shelvey playing well in midfield, Newcastle have not quite found the one to pair him in the centre and give consistent appearances, with record signing Miguel Almiron floating in and out of the side after arriving in January.
Isaac Hayden is an outstanding ball-winner but struggles to offer the same quality going forward, and Mooy could be an upgrade on Mohamed Diame as a midfield creator, with the Senegalese due to turn 32 before the start of next season.
Mooy’s quality of delivery into the box would be a tasty proposition for target man Salomon Rondon to feed on, while top scorer Ayoze Perez would also benefit from greater quality coming from deep.
It is imperative that Mooy continues to play Premier League football, and each of these four teams give him many reasons to be excited about joining.
There are plenty of opportunities for the Socceroos star to continue playing at a high-level, and any mid-table Premier League side would do well to snap him up to bolster their assets in the centre.