With the summer transfer window now in full swing. Richard Jolly takes a look at the deals in the pipeline and those already done.
Transfer window: Who's in and who's out in the Premier League
It is all about the forward line. Arsene Wenger has signed the Schalke left-back Sead Kolasinac and arguably could do with a first-choice defensive midfielder, but the focus is on the attack, and not just because Olivier Giroud may leave. The proposed deal for Alexandre Lacazette shows a new striker is a priority, even if Kylian Mbappe is unlikely to join, while the battle to retain Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez continues. If the Chilean goes, another winger must be targeted, with Riyad Mahrez and Thomas Lemar possible replacements. Wenger could also do with keeping Hector Bellerin and cashing in on unwanted players like Mathieu Debuchy.
Eddie Howe moved swiftly to strengthen at either end of the pitch, bringing in Jermain Defoe to add goals and Asmir Begovic as a first-choice goalkeeper, rectifying a long-standing weakness. Young winger Connor Mahoney is a typical Howe addition. More important is the recruitment of a centre-back. Nathan Ake, who Bournemouth borrowed last season, has become a permanent addition for a club-record fee. Howe could probably do with trimming a squad full of midfielders and wingers.
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
Promoted clubs often require wholesale strengthening. Manager Chris Hughton’s club-record deal for Australia international goalkeeper Matthew Ryan was an indication where his priorities lie. While defender Josh Kerr is one for the future, German midfielder Pascal Gross looks likelier to start now. A new left-back seems another aim but the most important arrival of all could be a striker. Glenn Murray will be 34 in September and has never been a regular scorer in the top flight.
Sean Dyche has been improving his squad every transfer window. Yet Burnley are likely to be weakened at centre-back when Michael Keane leaves and, while James Tarkowski could step up, at least one newcomer is required. Dyche looked for a left-back in January and should so again, with Leeds United’s Charlie Taylor a possible recruit. Burnley could also benefit from a more prolific striker and not just because Andre Gray is tipped to leave. Nottingham Forest’s Britt Assombalonga has been linked, but perhaps sights should be set higher.
A major, and expensive, overhaul beckons. Antonio Conte has raised £63 million (Dh300m) by selling Juan Cuadrado, Asmir Begovic, Christian Atsu and Nathan Ake. Should Nemanja Matic and Diego Costa follow then the budget will be bigger but so, too, the need for reinforcements. Goalkeeper Willy Caballero has joined on a free transfer, Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko ought to join in the centre of midfield. Juventus’ Alex Sandro would be a hugely costly left wing-back. A striker, perhaps Romelu Lukaku, would be pricier still. Another centre-back and competition for Victor Moses at right wing-back are other aims.
Frank de Boer marked his appointment by suggesting he was looking forward to spending a lot of money. Certainly there should be a revamp. De Boer’s Ajax ethos suggests he will look for younger players, along with those with the technique to keep the ball. Central midfielders and centre-backs who can pass should be priorities and bringing back Mamadou Sakho, who excelled on loan last season, would be expensive but excellent. Fringe figures such as Fraizer Campbell and Steve Mandanda may be headed for the exit.
Ronald Koeman has been quick off the blocks, bringing in Jordan Pickford to address the long-standing need for a high-class goalkeeper. Michael Keane should answer the need for a young, quality centre-back and Davy Klaassen, lured from Ajax, is another buy who provides a statement of intent. The quest for further attacking midfielders seems to stretch to Swansea City’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, which is an indication Ross Barkley could leave. Assuming Romelu Lukaku does, Koeman will need striking reinforcements beyond the youngster Henry Onyekuru, who will be loaned out, and Sandro Ramirez.
David Wagner has indicated that attack is the best form of keeping the promoted club up by spending a club-record sum on one striker, Porto’s Laurent Depoitre, and planning to top that for another, Montpellier’s Steve Mounie, while bidding for Derby County winger Tom Ince. That may all suggest Nahki Wells is on his way. Promotion was aided by loanees and Wagner has now made Manchester City midfielder Aaron Mooy a permanent addition. One way or another, he could do with getting the penalty-saving Liverpool goalkeeper Danny Ward back.
The signing of Hull City’s Harry Maguire and the rejected bid for West Bromwich Albion’s Jonny Evans shows Craig Shakespeare’s determination to find successors for the ageing centre-backs Wes Morgan and Robert Huth. Further forward, reported interest in Manchester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho suggest a striker is also on his wishlist. There may be a greater need for a winger if the unsettled Riyad Mahrez leaves, while disposing of last summer’s unhappy arrivals Ahmed Musa, Nampalys Mendy and Bartosz Kapustka could occupy time and bring in money.
Jurgen Klopp has broken Liverpool’s transfer record to bring in Mohamed Salah, remedying the need for a winger to reduce the reliance on Sadio Mane. It appeared he would do so again before Liverpool had to end their interest in Virgil van Dijk after they were accused of tapping the Southampton defender up. Another centre-back must be signed instead, while Alberto Moreno should be sold and a left-back such as Hull’s Andrew Robertson introduced instead. The biggest deal of all could come in midfield if Liverpool meet RB Leipzig’s asking price for Naby Keita. A striking addition is less likely.
Pep Guardiola was a fast starter, bringing in Monaco midfielder Bernardo Silva and Benfica goalkeeper Ederson while last season was barely finished. He is perhaps only one third of the way into his summer spending, however. He still needs two right-backs, probably Kyle Walker and Dani Alves, and a left-back, perhaps Bernard Mendy, and a centre-back. A forward would be the most exciting buy, especially if it were Alexis Sanchez. While five players have been released, the departures could be swelled by Kelechi Iheanacho, Eliaquim Mangala, Joe Hart, Samir Nasri and Wilfried Bony.
Jose Mourinho made four major signings last summer and appears to be following a similar blueprint. The first, Benfica defender Victor Lindelof, has already arrived. The second should be Chelsea’s defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic. The costliest should be a striker, with Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata looking the favourite to join. A winger appears the other aim, with Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic the subject of speculation. Mourinho also has to resolve the futures of players such as Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Chris Smalling, whether to trim his squad or raise funds.
It has not been the flying start Rafa Benitez envisaged this summer. The winger Christian Atsu, borrowed from Chelsea last season, has been bought but he is the lone addition amid talk of discontent behind the scenes. The veteran scout Graham Carr is gone but without giving the impression Benitez has the control he covets and the buys he desires. He wants a striker, but Tammy Abraham preferred to join Swansea City, and a goalkeeper. The Eibar defender Florian Lejeune seems another on the shopping list.
Southampton have made the most important signing of all, bringing in Mauricio Pellegrino as manager. The Argentine’s first deal had a significance: Poland Under 21 international Jan Bednarek is a centre-back and a replacement for the January departure Jose Fonte. Pellegrino needs to keep his best defender Virgil van Dijk while left-back Ryan Bertrand could also attract offers. With Jay Rodriguez going to West Brom, Pellegrino may want another winger. But with no European football this season, he could make do with a smaller squad. It is more about quality than quantity.
Mark Hughes’s first move was cost-conscious. The arrival of Darren Fletcher on a free transfer should permit another veteran midfielder, Glenn Whelan, to drop down a division, even if the Scot may double up as a replacement for the club record buy Giannelli Imbula, whose time in the Potteries has proved a disappointment. If Joselu, Jonathan Walters and Philipp Wollscheid also move on, Hughes will have a slimmer squad. One way of bolstering it will be to get a left-back, perhaps Hull City youngster Josh Tymon. Another back-up attacker could also be on the agenda.
While goalkeeper Erwin Mulder was the first man in and Chelsea’s young forward Tammy Abraham is set to follow, the priorities for Paul Clement should be to prevent his two talismen from going: Fernando Llorente and, in particular, Gylfi Sigurdsson have admirers. Another objective must be to get a centre-back as Clement lacks quality cover for Alfie Mawson and Federico Fernandez. While captain Leon Britton was crucial in keeping them up, Swansea could look for a long-term successor for the 34-year-old Englishman.
One aim for Mauricio Pochettino may be to correct last summer’s mistakes. Vincent Janssen failed to provide a suitable back-up for Harry Kane, so a new striker could be called for. Moussa Sissoko’s travails explain why an attacking midfielder, probably Ross Barkley, should be targeted. But the other objective is to keep prize assets such as Kane. Kyle Walker is likeliest to leave, necessitating a new right-back, albeit with the knowledge Kieran Trippier could be the first choice. Pochettino may also want another centre-back, particularly if he carries on with a back three.
The initial focus has been on the midfield. Tom Cleverley’s loan was always going to become a permanent deal, but the surprise deal for Derby County’s Will Hughes gives Watford another English passer. An imperative now is to bolster a forward line that lost Odion Ighalo in January and M’Baye Niang at the end of the season, especially if Troy Deeney follows them to the exit. A side that has lacked width could benefit from a natural winger such as Lazar Markovic, while Spanish right-back Kiko Feminia has joined. Above all, though, Watford need players who suit new manager Marco Silva’s style of play.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Losing Darren Fletcher represented a hammer blow to Tony Pulis, it would be still worse if Jonny Evans also left. One mooted target, John Terry, is set to evade their grasp. Tony Pulis has certainly looked to bring in a left-back, so defensive reinforcements are on the cards. A slender squad could definitely do with a new midfielder while the lack of natural alternatives to striker Salomon Rondon last season explains the signing of Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez, who is also an option on the flanks.
WEST HAM UNITED
Slaven Bilic has spent some of the summer disposing of some of last year’s worse additions, with Havard Nordtveit, Gokhan Tore, Jonathan Calleri and Alvaro Arbeloa all departing. Pablo Zabaleta, the first man through the door, answers the long-standing need for a right-back. The bigger objectives lie at either end of the pitch. West Ham failed in a lengthy search for a striker last summer. They have reopened it, with Olivier Giroud appearing a target. And after the unconvincing job-share between Adrian and Darren Randolph last season, it is unsurprising Joe Hart is being tipped to join in goal.