With the dawn of the new season arriving sooner than later, the teams of England’s top tier of football are making final adjustments to their rosters. While many managers have gone out and finalised deals early on, there are still plenty of potential arrivals and departures that could take play around the league. In this summary, we will take a look at one thing each club still needs to do before the campaign begins.
Chelsea – Sort out Diego Costa deal
Thanks to the addition of Alvaro Morata, Conte finally has his striker that he has been begging (blackmailing*cough*) for throughout the entire first half of the transfer-window. The Spaniard arrived for a sizeable sum of €65 Million plus potential add-ons and will be expecting to start for the team ahead of the likes of Michy Batschuayi and Loic Remy. This leaves Diego Costa. Costa has already been told by Conte, via text message, that he is no longer part of his plans. Yet there has been little action of late to move the striker because his preferred destination, Atletico Madrid, is currently under a transfer-ban until January. A deal that includes a loan to some intermediary has been discussed, but it appears harder to find that middle man than expected. Chelsea should therefore look onwards towards other potential suitors for the Spanish-Brazilian since unhappy players are never good for a team seeking to defend its title.
Tottenham – Find right-back and add depth
There has been little to no activity at all at the White Hart Lane this summer, and this could potentially stem from two reasons. Either Pochettino is planning some big swoop that has not come together yet, or the Argentine is happy with his squad and believes additions are unnecessary. For the time being, let us assume the latter is true. The departure of Kyle Walker to Manchester City for €52 Million has left a hole in Tottenham’s defence, one that will be especially hard to fill as not many players have the same traits as Walker. A rumoured replacement is the young-German Jeremy Toljan from Hoffenheim. Alternatively, the Spurs should look towards Serge Aurier of PSG, since the arrival of Dani Alves should allow Daniel Levy to get a good deal for the Ivory Coast defender. Other than that, Levy should look for another striker to backup Harry Kane should Vincent Jansen have another forgettable season. Additional depth in midfield would also not hurt the team.
Manchester City – Make final push for Alexis Sanchez
After some weeks of waiting, Manchester City have finally completed their wing-back revamp with the additions of Danilo from Real Madrid for €30 Million and Benjamin Mendy for €55 Million. With the necessities complete, City can now focus on the luxuries and none is bigger than the Chilean. Sanchez has admitted to favouring a move to play under Pep, and as long as his future is unclear, City have the opportunity to snap up their target. With Sanchez, City would have another super-star calibre player on their team and would give them a big push for both the Champions League and Premiere League.
Liverpool – Don’t break the bank for Keita
Liverpool had an efficient summer so far, bringing in the necessary pieces demanded by Jürgen Klopp. They brought in Mohamed Salah for a price of €42 Million, along with Andrew Robertson from Hull for €8 Million and Domenik Solanke from Chelsea. The Merseyside side have been spending pennies in comparison to other sides like Manchester City or Everton, yet that may be ultimately beneficial for the Reds. Liverpool are still being linked to Naby Keita of Leipzig, and offered a reported €50 Million for the midfielder. Even though he may be a prime target of Klopp, Liverpool should not aim to break the bank and spend up to €70 Million to bring in a player that had one successful break-out season in the Bundesliga. There are cheaper and more proven alternatives available, and while Keita may be a worthy-gamble, the price-risk ratio in this one just doesn’t look favourable for Liverpool.
Arsenal – Go all in on Özil and Sanchez
While Arsene Wenger may not be a fan of this strategy, it may be ultimately necessary to ensure Arsenal’s two stars don’t jump ship. Both Sanchez and Özil are considering their future at the club, and both are on expiring contracts (2018). This would be the time to either cash-in, to ensure some revenue is made back, or give the players what they want; a chance to win. The Gunners should look to bring another star-calibre player to reinforce their intentions to finally do more than compete for 4th place. It would also signal that intent to their two stars, and if they offered enough, maybe can be convinced to stay. Losing two players of such calibre for free would be equally as harsh of a prospect as Arsenal’s title intentions without either.
Manchester United – Find midfield reinforcement
Unlike most of the more recent summers, Manchester United are actually operating with a strategy on the transfer market. United have filled their need at centre-back with the addition of Lindelof, and replaced Zlatan Ibrahimovic with Romelu Lukaku. Next to this, they have cleared Wayne Rooney’s massive salary off their books. The one addition that evades the Red Devils is in midfield. There are several targets named and linked with them, ranging from Nemanja Matic to Fabinho, along with several other prominent names. While Matic looks the most likely man to end up in Manchester due to Chelsea’s addition of Bakayoko, the Red Devil’s should explore the possibility of adding Portuguese youngster Renato Sanches to their squad. The youngster was linked heavily with them last season, but ended up signing for Bayern. After a disappointing first season, United may finally get their man. Sanches is no Matic, has no Premiere League experience and may need some time to settle in, but he has shown that he can perform when gives the opportunity and the Premiere League’s more physical style should suit the youngster. The Red Devils are also reported to be close to sealing a deal for Inter’s Ivan Perisic for a reported €45 Million.
Everton – Keep Spending?
The blue side of Merseyside have had a summer to remember. Everton ‘City’ have splashed the cash this window, bringing in the likes of Michael Keane, Jordan Pickford, Davy Klaasen, Henry Onyekuru, Sandro Ramirez, and Wayne Rooney for a combined €123 Million. With these additions, Ronald Koeman has a team to work with and if the right player should become available, Everton should not hesitate bringing him on board. They only have a slight net (-€16 Million) loss in terms of revenue vs. costs for the window, which should allow them to bring in another big signing without having to worry about any financial fair-play consequences. The most recent reports suggest they are nearing a deal with Gylfi Sigurdsson for a fee near €45 Million with add-ons.
Southampton – Decide of Van Dijk’s future
Unlike the two previous summers, Southampton have managed to keep their main contributors at the St. Mary’s stadium. The two previous years resulted in the likes of Lovren, Lallana, and Clyne leaving for Liverpool, and the next Ronald Koeman leaving to join Everton. This summer has been a different story as Southampton managed to rebuff Liverpool’s attempts to praise away Dutch defender Virgil Van Dijk. Yet his future may still be unclear as the defender apparently seeks a way to join the Reds. With so much uncertainty around Van Dijk’s future, Southampton should make a firm decision on whether they want to keep a key-piece of their defence or cash-in on the asset. A fee of €55 Million is demanded by Southampton, which is more than enough to cover any costs for a replacement and could finance further additions. Besides young Polish defender Jan Bednarek coming into the side for €6 Million, there has been little activity from Southampton as new coach Mauricio Pellegrino seems to be happy to wait for the right targets to become available.
Bournemouth – Sort of the forward rotation
This summer has been a busy one for the south-west English side, breaking their transfer record along with making a few notable additions. Bournemouth have added an establish keeper with Asmir Begovic, permanently added promising defender Nathan Ake and added age-less striker Jermain Defoe; all at a cost of nearly €35 Million. With Defoe’s addition, Eddie Howe has six capable options for presumably two spots at the top. Assuming one goes to Defoe, Howe must decide what partner complements the 34 year olds skill-set the best. Ideally, a big body that can hold up the ball and allow Defoe to assume his natural poacher role would be preferred. This would fit the description of Benik Afobe. This would mean that Callum Wilson and Joshua King, the latter who performed admirably for Cherries at the end of last season would have to settle for the bench. In turn, this leaves little playing time left for Lys Mousset and Lewis Grabban. Otherwise Howe could choose to start with the quick Wilson playing off Benik Afobe, or pair him with the equally speedy Joshua King.
West Brom – Find a deep lying playmaker
Unsurpringsly, West Brom’s summer has been relatively quiet. They moved quickly to secure the signing of forward Jay Rodriguez from Southampton for €13.70 Million to replace Saido Berahino’s winter exit. They added additional coverage at centre-back with Egyptian defender Ahmed Hegazy coming from El Ahly Kairo on loan. They also secured the signing of promising Chinese talent Yuning Zhang from Vitesse Arnheim but immediately loaned him out to Werder Bremen to continue his development. The Baggies lost two midfielders with Craig Gardner and Darren Fletcher leaving the side. This leaves them a bit short in terms on options in central midfield, but what causes more concern is the absence of a creator in midfield. James Morrison has never been a great orchestrator and Claudio Yacob spends more time defending than he does attacking. If this addition is made, the Baggies can look forward to a promising season. On a side note, expect big things from 18-year old Jonathan Leko as he gets more involved in the first team over the course of the season.
West Ham – Establish a 4-3-3
Every summer for the past three seasons, West Ham have made a big name addition whether it was Dimitri Payet or Andre Ayew, who was then declared the saviour to lead the team to the Champions League, and every year this dream blows up at some point into the season. On paper, the West Ham team’s always looked very promising in terms of cracking a top eight finish in the league, but every year, tactical adjustments, unhappy players, or injuries manage to derail the Hammer’s season. This year could finally be different. The Hammers have added English national-keeper Joe Hart from Manchester City on loan along with Pablo Zabaleta. Offensively, West Ham has recruited Austrian winger Marko Arnautovic and Mexican Chicharito (Javier Hernandez) from Stoke and Bayer Leverkusen for a combined fee of €40 Million. The problem that West Ham continuously displays is that they can never get the best out of their team together. Individually, one or two players may have notable performances, but the team never really seemed to click. During the Payet days, everything ran through the French star. After his departure, no player really showed the intention to step up and make plays. With Arnautovic, West Ham have a ball-dominant winger who can beat almost any player in 1-vs.-1 scenarios but has also shown an eye for finding his team-mates more recently. If paired with a complementary wing that can make runs to exploit Arnautovic’s abilities, such as Michail Antonio, West Ham will be in for a successful season. Ideally this is done via a 4-3-3 formation, where they can use the industry that the Hammers have in midfield to their advantage.
Leicester City – Find a balance between terrible and undefeatable
The last two years have been a literal rollercoaster for any Leicester City fan. From winning the Premiere League in 2015 to reaching the Champions League quarter-finals, have been matched by almost facing relegation in the Premiere League during the first half of the Premiere League campaign. While I am sure any Leicester fan would prefer to see another turbulent campaign from the Foxes, Craig Shakespeare should look to establish a balance in the team. The additions of Vincente Iborra and Harry Maguire certainly help that cause, but whether they can project the team to title contention again is doubtful. Leicester may also face the exit of Algerian star Riyad Mahrez, which would be a considerable blow for them. His exit may be ultimately necessary for the team to find that balance as the Algerian form can fluctuate from godly untouchable to plain terrible.
Stoke City – Replace Arnautovic and find a starting striker
The loss of their main orchestrator offensively will surely hurt the Potters, but the €22.80 Million plus potential bonuses will surely give Mark Hughes and his team enough to find a capable replacement for the Austrian. Next to this, Hughes should also look to find a starting striker capable of delivering goals on the regular as the experiment of Wilfred Bony didn’t work out as hoped last season. While Saido Berahino is talented, it remains to be seen if he can return to the form that made him so desirable once upon a time. The team has also added Darren Fletcher on a free transfer from West Brom and loaned out Kurt Zouma from Chelsea. Both additions are welcome for the Potters as they were notably short on these positions.
Crystal Palace – Buy into de Boer
The most prominent addition for Palace is that of new coach Frank de Boer. The ex-Ajax and Inter coach will look to apply his methods of ball-movement and pressing to the Premiere League. If he can find success only time will tell, the Dutch coach a notable scholar of the Johan Cruyff School of football will seek to build his Palace team around those principles. While it didn’t work out in Milan, de Boer was afforded little to no time and had the bad luck of discovering that Italian teams tend to be too tactically astute to fall for his type of play. The Premiere League is an entirely different story as it is far more dynamic and faster than the Serie A, all characteristics which should suit de Boers game. His methods will take time to understand and implement, but adding players who understand what he wants, such as the recent addition of Jairo Riedewald from Ajax, will ease the process.
Swansea City – Cash-in on Sigurdsson
Paul Clement has a dilemma on his hands. The Englishman has to decide whether to sell priced asset and best player, Gylfi Sigurdsson, to Everton. Sigurdsson made a significant impact last season, winning games by himself and largely responsible that the Swans were not relegated. But with an offer of nearly €45 Million for a player who was brought in for €10 Million and has probably reached ceiling in terms of development, is too good to be refuse. While his loss would obviously be hard to swallow, they would have more than enough revenue to find a dependable replacement. The additional funds could also be used to bolster the squad. And who knows, if history repeats itself, Gylfi may soon find his way back to Wales like he did previously when he re-joined the Swans from Tottenham.
Burnley – Add depth at centre-back and bring in a winger
It is safe to say Burnley survived the Premiere League last season, and they should aim to repeat that feat. While not a whole lot has changed for the squad of Sean Dyche, they have lost defensive leader Michael Keane to Everton. His €28.50 Million price tag will surely help out Burnley as it allowed them to bring in the likes of Jack Cork and Jonathan Walters from Swansea and Stoke, and more recently Charlie Taylor from Leeds. Their recruitment should not end there; Dyche should look to add two more players as they are notably short at centre back, as well as lacking options out wide. If these additions are met, Burnley should have a better chance of staying in the Premiere League for another season.
Watford – Integrate Obbi Oulare into the first team
In terms of additions, Watford have had solid window, adding midfielders Will Hughes and Tom Cleverly to provide some creativity, Nathaniel Chalobah is an exciting prospect who only cost them a fee of €5.60 Million. They also added Spanish wing-back Kiko Femenia. Assuming Marco Silva implements the favoured 5-2-3 formation that Watford began the season so successfully with last year, the team looks well-set to compete in the English top flight. One thing that could propel the team forward into a possible top-ten finish is Belgian youngster Obbi Oulare. The forward was added last year, but loaned out during the winter window as he was unable to break into the first team. Yet his talents should not be underestimated as the 1,96 meter forward is built for the physical style of the Premiere League and has already shown at his ex-club Brügge that he has a goal-scorers touch.
Newcastle – Trim the squad
Many were surprised when Rafael Benitez decided to stay with Newcastle into the Championship campaign, but it paid off as the Spanish was able to lead the side back into the English top-flight. Now he faces another unfamiliar task, keeping the team in the league. While Benitez has experience in the Premiere League, he never coached at side (besides when he took over Newcastle) that began the season as relegation candidates. While the team was improved over the off-season, with the likes of Christian Atsu being permanently added, and English-youngster Jacob Murphy, along with Frenchman Florian Lejeuene being added to the squad, Newcastle face the trouble that most clubs that achieve promoted have, reducing the numbers of the squad as some players are not Premiere League material. With the addition of Lejeuene, it should spell the end for Curtis Good. Achraf Lazaar is also a question mark. The futures of returning loan players such as Siem de Jong, Henri Saviet, and Emmanuel Riviere should also be evaluated and sorted out. Benitez ideally should look to cut his squad from 32 to 27.
Brighton – Bank on surprising
Brighton have added some interesting additions over the window. Austrian left-back Markus Suttner could prove to have a similar impact to that of his former national-team colleague Christian Fuchs. He is also familiar with midfield motor Pascal Groß from his time at Ingolstadt, who also arrived at the beginning of the summer. The Seagulls have also added Australian national keeper Mathew Ryan and exciting prospect Isaiah Brown. While the team looks relatively weak on paper, and many will be expecting the Seagulls to struggle, they can use this to their advantage. Similar to Burnley last season, who many expected to face relegation, Brighton should look to play solid defensively, and play their game offensively. New addition Isaiah Brown could make a big impact if given the chance.
Huddersfield – Trust in Wagner’s shrewd tactics
Huddersfield may become this year’s underdog team that the nation falls in love. The team from West Yorkshire have made some interesting additions to an already interesting squad. Having spent €43 Million on the likes of Tom Ince, Elias Kachuna(permanently), Steve Mounie, Laurent Depoitre, Aaron Mooy, Danny Williams and Scott Malone; Wagner has some new faces to integrate into his side. All these additions fulfil a purpose in the team and Huddersfield supporters should have faith in the innovative mind of Wagner. Expect Huddersfield to surprise more than once this season and establish themselves in the Premiere League.