Hector "Tito" Villalba (153 votes)
Player in a nutshell: Young winger for Argentina side San Lorenzo. Tito is not the goal-scoring type who will light up the scoresheets, rather he is a hard-working, pacy, agile winger who likes to blaze past defenders and link up with his attacking teammates.
Recently: Finished his 2014 season in a blaze of glory. This season has been pretty quiet for the lad. With the campaign past its halfway point, Tito struggles to regularly make the bench and only has a few appearances to his name. Tito will soon compete for a spot on the Argentine Olympics squad. In June the squad will be trimmed down to 35 from 57. At least there's that. Tito's side San Lorenzo has been eliminated from Copa Libertadores, but is fighting for first place in Argentina's Primera Division Group A. Villalba has not figured into the starting XI, but is seen as valuable depth heading into the stretch run. If the Sounders wanted to pursue, he wouldn't be available until late May or early June when San Lorenzo's season has come to a close. FYI, Villalba's contract expires on New Years Eve of this year.
Interested parties: In the summer of 2014, Tito was instrumental to San Lorenzo's Copa Libertadores title run. At the time he was getting offers left and right. The rumor mill has long since dried up. According to a tweet, the Sounders looked at him last August. Wouldn't be outrageous if his name resurfaces next month.
Further reading: Scouting Hector Villalba
Jeisson Vargas (148)
Player in a nutshell: 18-year-old Chilean soccer prodigy. With his club Universidad Catolica and the Chile national team, Jeisson can play effectively anywhere behind the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Recently: Through 22 league matches this season, Jeisson has scored 9 goals. Universidad Catolica is embroiled in a title race that will be decided on April 30th. After that, Jeisson's season will be over, and transfer rumors will likely ramp up.
Interested parties: Dortmund and Anderlacht are two clubs that have made serious offers.
Further reading: Sounder at Heart post by Jeremiah Oshan.
Gabriel Jesus (118)
Player in a nutshell: Dubbed 'Palmeiras Neymar' by Brazilian press, the young winger is considered the best talent to come out of the club in a long time. Jesus is renowned for his pace, deadly finishing prowess, calmness under pressure, and even his hold up play is strong for a player of his smallish stature. Palmeiras staff had the following to say about him: "He will become a major player in Brazilian football... He is a boy who is easy to speak with and work with and who is different to the others in the question of training, always giving more than 100 per cent."
Recently: Between Paulista league competition and Copa Libertadores, Gabriel has played in 18 matches and scored 9 times already, although he received red in his last outing. Let the hate flow through you, young Jesus... It gives you focus, makes you stronger. Palmeiras is no longer competing in Copa Libertadores or Paulista A, but is awaiting the kickoff of Brazil's Serie A on May 13.
Interested parties: Juventus is allegedly prepared to offer Palmeiras €25 million for the lad but likely is not moving until after the Olympics.
Further reading: Gabriel Jesus: The Palmeiras Neymar
Marco Fabian (106)
Player in a nutshell: Marco is a classic CAM in the prime of his career. He is a very gifted, technical player: good dribbling, passing, shooting from range/free kicks. Also quite versatile, Marco can play creator at any of the 3 in a 4-2-3-1. Semi-regular member of Mexico's national team. Downsides include laziness, inconsistency and drinking.
Recently: In January he decided to give Bundesliga a shot. Yada, yada, yada, his new club (Eintracht Frankfurt) is flirting with relegation, while the new Croatian coach sees Fabian as expendable depth. No goals for Fabian so far, and very little reason to expect that statistic to change. Frankfurt won this past weekend, while Fabian didn't even make the bench. On May 14, Frankfurt will face off with Werder Bremen for the second relegation spot. If the season ended today, Eintracht (30 pts, -19 GD) would be relegated and Werder Bremen (31 pts, -20 GD) would be safe.
Interested parties: I'm sure somewhere there's a list of Mexican clubs that would welcome Marco with open arms. MLS would be a good landing place, too. Atlanta United FC? Seattle Sounders? We'll soon see.
Further reading: Prior to his move to Germany, MLS reran an ESPN Deportes article that had Atlanta United FC in the running for Marco's services in 2017. Stay tuned for transfer rumors to surface.
Oscar Romero (98)
Player in a nutshell: ESPN FC described him: "small and stocky, left-footed playmaker is highly adept at taking up good positions to provide a link between midfield and attack, and he possesses the necessary inventiveness and deftness of touch to unlock opposition defenses."
Recently: Between Copa Libertadores and domestic league competition, Romero has proved to be a vital cog in Racing's offense. Through 13 matches this year, he has scored 3 goals and assisted 5 times. The regular season ends in less than a month but mid-table Racing will focus its energies on Copa Libertadores Round of 16 (4/27, 3:30pm PST).
Interested parties: The 22-year-old moved to Racing Club in Argentina only in January but could find himself on the shopping list of European clubs if he can be a difference-maker for Paraguay in Chile (ESPN FC). For now I would guess he is happy playing in Argentina, just a short flight away from his national team in Asunción, Paraguay.
Player in a nutshell: Help! I'm in a nutshell! Dudu is a young attacking midfielder who can play anywhere behind striker in a 4-2-3-1. Plays with a lot of flair and a lot of pace. Though a young and exciting talent, he is not necessarily always a lock to start in Palmeiras stacked attacking arsenal. Expect that to change when Gabriel Jesus gets his payday.
Recently: Last season he tallied 10 goals and 7 assists. After 13 matches between Paulista and Copa Libertadores, Dudu finished with a respectable 3 goals and 2 assists. Dudu has three weeks remaining to work on his fitness before Serie A begins on May 13.
Interested parties: Palmeiras acquired Dudu from Ukraine side Dynamo Kyiv in January of last year, paying a €3 million transfer. Dudu's contract runs through the end of 2018. No transfer buzz yet.
Further reading: Dudu shoved a ref in the back last season after receiving red. He was slapped with a 180-day suspension, which Palmeiras somehow managed to reduce to 6 games! Now the ref is suing Dudu for damages up to $20,000. Dudu's next court date is May 3. Dudu and Deuce appear to have more in common than just their names.
Alejandro Bedoya (77)
Player in a nutshell: At 28, Alejandro has moved around Europe quite a bit. Now with Nantes FC, he is a versatile two-way midfielder, playing most often as a #10 behind the striker, but can be also play the outside-in threat from either wing.
Recently: Between Ligue 1 matches and French domestic cup competition, Bedoya has proven to be a valued member of Nantes, having scored 4 goals and assisted thrice. Ale' recently signed a contract extension through 2019. Nantes' season ends with a match against Zlatan's PSG on May 14. However, if an agreeable transfer were arranged, I can't imagine Nantes dragging their heels as Nantes is currently ranked 10th out of 20th in Ligue 1 with little to play for at this point.
Interested parties: In early March, UK's Daily Mail reported several scouts from Premier League clubs were scouting Bedoya. Sports Illustrated reported something similar. Transfer rumors have been quiet since then.
Further reading: "Why I Love Playing Abroad" by Alejandro Bedoya. Published recently in The Players' Tribune. Spoiler Alert: He mentions an inevitable move back to the US, followed up by expressing his ambitions to play soccer at the highest level (EPL, Bundesliga). Hard to know what his next move might be.
Manu Trigueros (62)
Player in a nutshell: A Villarreal youth product. The young CM is in his 4th season with the first team. Usually operating in the center next to Jonathan Dos Santos in a 4-4-2, Manu is known for a solid work rate, intelligence, and good ball handling. More of a box-to-box midfielder than an attacking mid, but has racked up 11 goals and 14 assists during his 4 seasons with the yellow submarine.
Recently: A regular starter for Villarreal. No injuries, no suspensions. Villarreal is playing for a spot in UEFA Champions League next year. Its unlikely they would part with a key player like Manu until the season comes to a close on May 15, or Europa League finals on May 18.
Interested parties: Ahead of the 2015/16 season, Villarreal turned down 'several offers' for Manu's services including one from Valencia.
Further reading: Valencia creepin on Manu (liberties taken with original title)
Jonathan Dos Santos (46)
Player in a nutshell: In the same vein as Manu. Two-way midfielder for Villarreal. JDS has more flash in his game than Manu. Comfortable playing behind the attack line in the center or right side of the pitch.
Recently: While on the scouting trail, Chris Henderson attended JDS' first match back from a nasty ruptured achilles tendon injury (out 8 weeks). Since his return, JDS has been a regular part of Villarreal's midfield. As is the case with Manu Trigueros, Villarreal is playing for a UEFA Champions League spot next year and wouldn't voluntarily let go of either key player until the season ends on May 15/18.
Interested parties: Jonathan has played alongside his brother Giovani at Barcelona and Villarreal. When Giovani asked his brother about joining the Galaxy, Jonathan welcomed the idea. LAG, of course, does not have a vacant DP spot... but Seattle does! Jonathan's current contract does not expire until 2019. No transfer buzz on the twitters.
Further reading: SoundersNation published a thing a couple weeks ago after word got out that Chris had scouted two Villarreal matches.
Player in a nutshell: Palmeiras youth product. He likes to play centrally anywhere on the pitch from CAM to center forward. Pacy, Juninho likes to run at defenders and operate in tight spaces. At 20 years old, this kid looks to have the composure and final touch of a veteran. Juninho made two short cameos at the end of last season with Palmeiras. His value is on the rise.
Recently: The young CAM's four-month loan with Sao Paulo side Osasco Audax continues as they play in the title match on May 1, and again on May 8. Juninho has been a key member of his club's starting XI. After the Paulista title aggregate series ends, Juninho will return to his parent club Palmeiras where he will immediately begin training with his teammates and competing for starting minutes once Serie A begins on May 13. Palmeiras has been knocked out of Copa Libertadores and most recently knocked out of the Paulista A1 competition in the semifinal match that went to penalty kicks. If the Sounders were pursuing Juninho, they could do so before the May 11 transfer window closes.
Interested parties: Nothing specific reported on the twitters just yet. His contract with Palmeiras expires in 2018.
Further reading: This just in.
Upon closer examination, I think its safe to close the book on Gabriel Jesus, and probably Dudu. Jesus looks to be the next big thing. After the Olympics, Jesus' value could rise even higher than it already is. With Jesus' seemingly inevitable departure in mind, Palmeiras would be wise to squeeze Dudu with both hands (entering Mad Libs territory now) because to lose both of Jesus and Dudu in a short period would be a major loss to the Brazilian side's attack.
For anyone who is frustrated or anxious to wake up and read the headlines of a new DP signing, I would advise you to settle in for another nail-biter that comes down to the May 11 deadline. As detailed above, the majority of our wish list DP candidates would not be made available until mid-May. My advice while you wait: Take this time to enjoy some exciting high stakes football being played all throughout South America and Europe. As usual, thanks for reading!
In case you were wondering, Jesus was mentioned 12 times, Dudu 14. Please don't forget to participate in the survey below!