Destination Top 14: Where best suits Danny Cipriani's mercurial talents

Speculation is mounting on where Danny Cipriani could be next season. Henry Browne/Getty Images

Speculation has reached fever pitch over the future of Danny Cipriani, after he put on a perfect 10 performance on his last outing at the Ricoh Arena in Wasps colours.

In front of Eddie Jones, who seems to be one of a select few not to be impressed by the player's talents, the 30-year-old orchestrated the win that guaranteed Wasps a Premiership semifinal berth and gold-plated his legend status at the club.

The question is now, which competition will Cipriani grace with his presence next season?

The Top 14 remains a favoured destination, with the player -- who could have invented the word 'mercurial' but for the fact Freddie Michalak just beat him to it -- linked to both Stade Francais and Racing 92 in recent days.

But how realistic is all this speculation? ESPN checks out possible destinations for the 114-cap England International.

Most likely: Stade Francais

A few months ago, then-Stade coach Greg Cooper rejected reports Cipriani was heading to Paris. But Stade have long looked light at 10 for the 2018/19 season -- especially after Morne Steyn signed a two-year deal with Brive.

Even at the end of April 2018, France's forgotten fly-half Jules Plisson was listed as the club's only confirmed senior fly-half next season, which meant Cips to Stade looked a sensible option.

But, the odds have suddenly lengthened in the past few days. First, reports surfaced on Thursday evening suggesting the club was in touch with Jaguares' Argentinian fly-half Nicolas Sanchez.

Then, on Saturday, Brive were relegated -- and, ironically, Steyn nailed the drop goal that condemned his new club. His contract became void in that moment and he was free to offer his services to Stade's new DoR Heyneke Meyer.

The pair know each other well. They worked together at the Bulls and the Springboks -- and Meyer, while sticking to the appropriate script when he was unveiled at Stade a fortnight ago, hinted he would be happy if Steyn stayed.

It is fair to assume both parties will be keen to work out a deal. A meeting is set to take place this week, according to reports in France, with the player keen on a two-year contract. But if that falls through, and the Sanchez rumours remain just rumours, that earlier-rejected Stade card is very much back on the table.

Cipriani factor: 55% - The most likely destination, but the Sanchez reports and Steyn's intervention have lengthened the odds somewhat.

Least likely: Racing 92

Racing is a rich club, but president Jacky Lorenzetti isn't the sort to hunt shiny player baubles on a whim. Even his Dan Carter big-money mega-deal that changed the face of rugby in 2015 was rooted in cold-hearted business logic. And that suggests it is unlikely the club will seek out another high-level 10 after spending good money bringing Pat Lambie from Sharks and tempting Finn Russell from Glasgow.

The latter will join the French club after Scotland's June tour, but the South African has already made his mark, supplanting Carter as primary choice at 10 in key matches for a large chunk of the season, including the Champions Cup semifinal victory over Munster.

Even allowing for Lambie's versatility -- Racing have played him at inside centre and fullback as well as fly-half this season -- it seems excessive for the Franciliens to fork out yet more cash on such a well-stocked position.

And then there's the playing style. Racing are the French Saracens. Direct. Consistent. Uncompromising. Occasionally brilliant. Cipriani has a huge number of attributes, but he would be a squareish peg in a roundish hole.

Cipriani factor: 40%

Left field options:


Zack Holmes and 19-year-old Romain N'Tamack have shared fly-half duties for born-again Toulouse, but it looks increasingly likely the latter will spend some considerable time away on international duty in the years to come. And with Jean-Marc Doussain leaving for Lyon in search of more regular playing opportunities, Toulouse may well be in the market for an experienced fly-half. The question is, then: Is Cipriani ready for the grizzled aul' legend role?

Cipriani factor: 15%


Ambitious Pau -- or Section Paloise, to give them their Sunday name -- could be the club Cipriani is looking for -- and they look short a 10 next season. He would suit the style of play head coach Simon Mannix has developed at the southwestern side, and he'd offer another option to regular 10 Colin Slade. The problem is while the club may be a perfect fit, the location -- a relatively quiet part of the world in the shadow of the Pyrenees may not be fun-lovin' Cips cup of tea.

Cipriani factor: 12%


Unlike long-time rival Lorenzetti, Toulon boss Mourad Boudjellal has been known go bauble-hunting from time to time. And he has a fondness for high-profile fly-halves. But Francois Trinh-Duc and bright young thing Anthony Belleau are successfully holding down the 10 slot -- and the club has another fast-rising star, Louis Carbonel, in reserve. After last season, when Mourad went fly-half mad, it seems he's learnt his lesson and probably isn't in the hunt for Cips. You never really know, though, with Mourad.

Cipriani factor: 5%


Like Pau, Pierre Mignoni's ambitious Lyon have all the attributes of a club that could tempt Cipriani -- with the added advantage of near-certain Champions Cup rugby next season. But they are also well-stocked in the 10 department, despite Freddie Michalak's impending retirement at the end of this campaign. Next season, they boast Jonathan Wisniewski, out to prove a point after a dismal year at Toulon, as well as Doussain and Lionel Beauxis. That should be enough for any club -- even if two of them are prone to, on occasion, giving their coaches and fans palpitations.

Cipriani factor: 0%